By Miles Brown
May 25, 2014
Mark Cuban’s comments on race last Wednesday have sparked a firestorm of debate from pundits and citizens all over the country — a national figure admitting his own prejudices makes for incredible controversy. Some have asserted that, while his comments were hard to digest, they were unflinching, honest and a great way to start a healthy and long overdue discussion on race.
Even Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich, who at first denounced Cuban’s statements, ended up agreeing with him after fully discussing the issue. Honestly, it is pretty jarring to realize that there are people out there that become suspicious of me (a young black male) if I happen to wear a hoodie at night. But it’s not something that is entirely new to me or to other African Americans in this country. I feel as though the sooner we air out grievances, the healthier the conversation on race can and will be.
The negative reaction to Cuban’s comments is very intriguing, as well as problematic. The most prominent and vocal criticism came from Think Progress in their article published Thursday entitled “Mark Cuban and How Not to Start a Conversation About Racism.” Their issue, (besides the Trayvon Martin allusion that definitely is a legitimate concern, but had little to do with Cuban’s main idea behind his comments) is that even though Cuban has these prejudices, he does not do anything about them. They then advocate Cuban vote to kick Sterling out of the league to solidify his newfound attempt to stop his own racism.
There is a lot wrong with what Think Progress advocates. First, the solution is surface level and doesn’t actually fix his own internal prejudices — as if that’s something easy to get over. Also they expect, rather demand, an expedition of this process. You can’t fix a problem that you can’t admit even exists. Not only is this view hypocritical and self-righteous, but it is also counterproductive and sabotages any real hope for a substantive conversation on race in this country. Finally, it defeats the point of what Cuban was trying to say in the first place.
He should not condemn someone for their views when he himself holds views that are not pure — views that are inherently human. It should not be a crime to harbor these viewpoints. What we need is to have a more inclusive society that faces these viewpoints head on with facts and differing perspectives rather than sweeping them under the rug through condemnation and punishment.
The false phenomenon of “color blindness” has to stop. Rather than a solution, it is a mindset that if you just ignore something, then that problem will go away. In reality, you’re absolutely lying to yourself if you don’t think you hold some sort of bias towards another group in some form or another. We all say that we want to have that conversation on race, but when someone comes in and tries to start it by speaking their own truths we immediately shut them down and call them racist.
The truth is that those condemning Cuban are the ones who love to take others down for sharing their opinions, but do it only because it distracts them from conducting their own self inventory to fix whatever prejudices they may have. There is a lot that we assume about each other regarding race in this country that is not wholly accurate at all. We will never make true progress as a nation if we keep our color blinders on and continue to live in the world of delusion that is the “post-racial” American society.