"In this day and age, this country has really come a long way putting any type of bigotry behind us, regardless of who it's toward. We've come a long way, and with that progress comes a price. We're a lot more vigilant and we're a lot less tolerant of different views, and it's not necessarily easy for everybody to adapt or evolve.
I mean, we're all prejudiced in one way or another. If I see a black kid in a hoodie and it's late at night, I'm walking to the other side of the street. And if on that side of the street, there's a guy that has tattoos all over his face -- white guy, bald head, tattoos everywhere -- I'm walking back to the other side of the street. And the list goes on of stereotypes that we all live up to and are fearful of. So in my businesses, I try not to be hypocritical. I know that I'm not perfect. I know that I live in a glass house, and it's not appropriate for me to throw stones."
So says Mark Cuban to Inc. Magazine in an answer to question about his upcoming vote in the NBA and the Sterling saga.
Of course yet another firestorm has emerged from these statements. Somehow this is becoming about Trayvon Martin. I suppose the Martin family have some sort trademark on the word Hoodie now. To the point that Cuban has issued an apology to the Martin Family:
“In hindsight, I should have used different examples. I didn’t consider the Trayvon Martin family and I apologize to them for that. Beyond apologizing to the Martin family, I stand by the words and the substance of the interview.”
There is nothing that Cuban said that is untrue. The problem is that in today's society the truth is no longer valued. What a sad state of affairs that is.
We are human beings. As such we all have frailties. We all make judgements every single day about people we see out in public. We do that for safety purposes. If you are on a first date and that person rubs you the wrong way due to any number of reasons, you are making a judgement not to have a second date. How you dress for a job interview can, and likely will, make a difference in if you are going to get a job offer or not. Do you honestly believe that a law firm is going to hire someone who shows up in flip-flops and cut off jeans shorts? Not likely. Fair or not fair, it is the way it is.
I will be the first to admit that if I was walking down the street in the dark and I saw someone with a hoodie on, I would think twice. It has nothing to do with the color of their skin, but the fact that they are trying to hide their face from view. I would wonder why. If I saw some big burly man that had wild tattoos all over I would also feel a little fearful. The same way a black person would feel fearful if they saw a person walking down the road in a KKK hood. Heck, in fact I would be fearful if I saw someone in a KKK garb and I am not black. In my mind someone wearing that is someone worth being fearful of. It is going to set off red flags in my mind. A swastika is another fearful sign to me. Does that make me a racist?
Another thing that I am fearful of is neighborhoods with high crime rates. I lived just outside of DC for almost two decades. I didn't go to certain neighborhoods unless it was absolutely necessary. To me that is common sense and has nothing to do with skin color. I would feel the same way regardless of skin color of the majority of people living in that neighborhood.
We must talk about these issues instead of labeling someone a racist. Which of course is exactly what happened to Mark Cuban once this interview went viral:
“Mark Cuban is racist. If I see him walking down the street I’m walking on the other side [because] I’m scared of him.”
This from Michelle Obama:
No matter what you do, the point is to never be afraid to talk about these issues, particularly the issue of race, because even today, we still struggle to do that. This issue is so sensitive, so complicated, so bound up with a painful history.And we need your generation to help us break through – we need all of you to ask the hard questions and have the honest conversations because that is the only way we will heal the wounds of the past and move forward to a better future.
She may have said it a little differently, but ultimately the context is the same. We must talk about these issues. We must face our own biases and prejudices in order to deal with them and overcome them. We all have them. Even if it is as simple as our political views. Many in this country put the democrat in a certain box, put the republican in certain box. Very few people fit neatly in the boxes that they get stuffed in.
Telling the truth shouldn't be as controversial as it has become these days. At this point in history we should be able to handle the truth that people carry stereotypes with them in life. That virtually all people see certain things in their life and respond in ways that can be conceived as negative. We make judgements based on how one is dressed. We make judgements based on the neighborhoods that one lives in. We make judgements on what type of work someone does. It is only when we acknowledge these judgements and yes talk about them openly that we can finally break through the barriers of our preconceived notions that we all carry.
In 2014 we should be able to handle the truth.