"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."
That's Dallas owner, Mark Cuban, doing his best Donald Sterling impression.
(I have news for Cuban: If a black kid in a hoodie or a white bald headed kid with tats sees his crazy ass coming, they might switch sides of the street as well.) Although, to be honest, I am glad that he is being honest about his feelings. We don't have enough of that these days. Most people are afraid to discuss their prejudices and face their benighted state of mind, publicly.
Still, as someone who should be worldly and somewhat sophisticated, I am surprised at Cuban's simplistic views about street smarts.
The truth is we all have to practice some level of street smarts. I have been told --that even in my old age--- I look like an NFL linebacker. I am black (not beige) and I have a bald head. So I am sure that if Mark Cuban saw me on a very dark night while I was leaving the gym--- and we were both alone--- he would probably cross to the other side of the street to avoid me.
He says that he would do the same to a bald headed white guy with tattoos, and he would be just as ignorant to do that as well. Unless, of course, he was standing outside of an Aryan or Nazi training camp in the middle of Idaho.
This is also true for the black guy with the hoodie. It's all about where you are and what you are doing. Cuban should know that. And I suspect that he does. Someone like Mark Cuban will never find himself in the type of neighborhood where he would really need to watch his back. I have been in those neighborhoods, and I practice street smarts; not profiling.
But let's be honest, Cuban's views are shared by many, and I am not surprised to see that there are already op-eds praising his stance.
"Let's be honest, white people don't write or talk publicly about race unless it's to condemn people for being racist. It's easier that way. If we all create a universe where everyone and everything is either racist or not racist, then it's about identifying your camp, you're on one side or the other, either entirely racist or entirely not racist. There's no room for nuance or awkward uncertainty.
The company line from most white people is this: Racism is bad and we're not racist. In fact, most white people today fear being called racist more than just about anything in the world. How much so? Put it this way, if your average white person had to choose between getting arrested for a DUI or being publicly branded a racist, just about every single one of us would pick getting a DUI. That's right, we'd rather put countless lives in danger, go to jail and face criminal charges than be called a racist in America today.
That's how potent the charge of racism has become.
And you know who talks about race less than white people? White people involved in business. Aside from a generalized and glib stance in favor of affirmative action and diversity -- buzz words that frequently translate to insubstantial action -- most white executives would rather be waterboarded than asked for their personal views on race relations. I mean, sure, every CEO in America hates racism; we all know this, right? They abhor it deeply from the depths of their nearly all-white gated communities and the nearly all-white private schools they send their kids to and from the nearly all-white country clubs they play golf in. Why do you even have to ask? These people hate racists.
Which brings us to Mark Cuban.
God love Mark Cuban for being an NBA owner who didn't see the ongoing Donald Sterling mushroom cloud and think, "You know what, maybe I'll avoid talking about race today in a business interview. Maybe it's not the right time to talk about who I cross the street to avoid. Maybe it's not the right time to admit that I sometimes judge people based on what they look like."
Nope, Mark Cuban saw all this controversy and thought, "Now's the perfect time for me to talk about race in America today." [Source]
And I am glad that he did. I am glad to know that Marc Cuban is not a racist like Donald Sterling.
Nope, his racism is "nuanced and awkward."