Lyrics from Broadway’s Avenue Q hit “Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist” sing, “If we could just admit that we are racist, a little bit / Even though we all know that it’s wrong / Maybe it would help us get along.” Their lyrics raise a question we should all think a bit more deeply about, a question Mark Cuban is struggling with: would the world be a better place if we just admitted that we are all a little prejudice?
In case you haven’t heard, Mark Cuban is the latest victim of the media. He has fallen into the classic race trap. His recent comments regarding race have been taken out of context and used as ammunition for race baiters. We’ve seen this with many different public figures from Donald Sterling to Donald Imus. The key difference between them and Cuban is that Mark Cuban isn’t having it.
This ordeal started in an interview with INC magazine at the 2014 GROWCO convention. Cuban was pressed with questions regarding Donald Sterling and the future of the NBA.
When asked about how to eliminate racism, Mark Cuban responded by saying:
“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.”
Contrary to popular belief, he makes extremely valid points. There isn’t any feasible way to eliminate racism across the board. Every human being is raised in an environment that teaches the world in a slightly different way; no matter who you are, you have certain beliefs and expectations for certain races.
Popular ESPN commentator, Stephen A. Smith defended Cuban’s remarks, explaining it isn’t always about race. As a result, Smith has been called a sell out, Uncle Tom, and the media has even questioned his “blackness”.
On ESPN’s First Take, Stephen Smith took time to address his critics because frankly he doesn’t give a damn.
“When I say I don’t give a damn… that does it no justice,” Smith said. “I stand by everything that I said yesterday tenfold, 100-fold. And I don’t care who in the black community disagrees with me — I’m not interested in their disagreement on this particular issue because they are not looking at the bigger picture here.”
“I don’t want to say everybody because I’m not speaking for everybody. … We want to pounce on [Cuban] making this statement and alluding the black folks or talking about somebody in a hoodie that happens to be black… He talked about the prejudices that exist in all spectrums by all of us. Are we going to sit here and literally act like we don’t have any prejudices?”
Stephen Smith did something remarkable. He stuck up for Mark Cuban, even when the media saw it as unfavorable. It isn’t just Stephen Smith who’s defending Mark Cuban. Former NFL punter Chris Kluwe said on Fox Sports Radio,
“To Mark Cuban I say, thank you for saying what we all know. But use a little bit more context next time. Hopefully people will understand that this is a quote that has to be taken in context because we know Mark Cuban isn’t a bigot. We know Mark Cuban isn’t prejudiced and the point he’s making is a good one: We all have that little voice. We all need to understand that acting on that little voice is what defines us as people. So remember, don’t act on that little voice. It leads to bad things.”
As an Asian-American, I have experienced first-hand the stereotypes associated with Asians. I’m not hell-bent on changing them; instead, I’ve learned to laugh at the truths they are based upon. Stereotypes are completely different than prejudices. Stereotypes are societal patterns. Believing a stereotype doesn’t make a person a bigot, but hating someone because you believe a stereotype about that person does.
In my opinion, Mark Cuban’s comments aren’t offensive. His comments made the news media feel a little too uncomfortable. The media is uncomfortable with Cuban’s remarks because they hit a little too close to home. Mark Cuban is saying what Avenue Q has been singing: everyone’s a little bit racist.