Dr. Boyce Watkins

Dr. Boyce Watkins

*Earlier today we ran a piece on Dallas Mavericks owner and participant in TV’s “Shark Tank” series, Mark Cuban, who, for some reason decided to share his thoughts on his own bigotry:

“I know I’m prejudiced, and I know I’m bigoted in a lot of different ways.  If I see a black kid in a hoodie on my side of the street, I’ll move to the other side of the street. If I see a white guy with a shaved head and tattoos (on the side he now is on), I’ll move back to the other side of the street. None of us have pure thoughts; we all live in glass houses.”

Naturally some folks agree with Cuban and some, like Dr. Boyce Watkins, have a real problem with what was said.

“Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is known for speaking his mind.  I respect that, and so should you.   But having the freedom to speak opens the rabbit hole of recursive action:  You can say whatever you want, but people also have the right to express an opinion about your remarks.”

Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban

Dr. Watkins went on to thank  Cuban for his honesty, even though he’s sure the Mavericks owner won’t thank him for his.  The good doctor has a few serious problems with Mark Cuban’s remarks and why the interview was problematic in the first place:

1)    Black men have the right to wear hoodies:  Mark, I respect the fact that black men in hoodies scare you, I know grown men who are frightened by clowns.   I also hope you’re not concluding that because you’ve admitted to your racism that this somehow makes it less painful to those of us who’ve dealt with bigotry our entire lives.  I wore a hoodie to the gym this morning, and it undermines my humanity to know that being a professor in the hoodie suddenly makes me equivalent to “a white guy with a shaved head and tattoos.”

2)    Stop defending Donald Sterling’s right to own the Clippers:  My concern is not that Cuban expressed his inner bias.  Most people have some kind of racial bias, we can agree on that.  The deeper concern is that Cuban is using subtle, relatively harmless forms of bias to justify 30 years of blatant, documented and undeniable bigotry by a man who has consistently made unacceptable remarks about people of color.  If Cuban wants to admit that he’s a bigot, then fine.  But he shouldn’t be using this nationally-televised confession to explain why Donald Sterling is not a bad guy.  One doesn’t have to be linked to the other…..unless you have an unspoken agenda.

3)    Cuban is comparing Apples and Oranges:  There’s a huge difference between admitting to having racist thoughts and admitting to engaging in racist ACTIVITY.   Also, there is a difference between saying “black men in hoodies make me want to cross the street,” and saying “I don’t want black people coming to my games.”   The first comment involves a natural decision by an independent citizen to engage in self-preservation by protecting himself from those he’s profiled as criminals.  The second statement represents a billionaire owner openly stating that he doesn’t want black people of all backgrounds in his physical presence, even if they are law-abiding citizens not wearing hoodies or tattoos.   The first case discriminates against subgroups that you have (rightly or wrongly) identified as potential threats.  The second statement discriminates against EVERYONE.

Dr. Watkins is just getting started. Get the rest of what he has to say at Financial Juneteenth