*Dallas Mavericks owner and “Shark Tank” shark Mark Cuban, attempting to make a nuanced point about society’s challenges dealing with racism, acknowledged having his own “prejudices and bigotries” during an interview with Inc. magazine that went viral today, according to ESPN.com.
“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,” Cuban said Wednesday. “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.”
Cuban’s comments come in the midst of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racist remarks and the NBA’s attempt to force him to sell his team. Sterling was banned for life and fined $2.5 million by NBA commissioner Adam Silver after the release of a TMZ recording in which he told a female friend, V. Stiviano, not to bring black people to Clippers games.
On Monday, Sterling was charged with damaging the league with his racist comments, and he has until Tuesday to respond to the charge. If Sterling does not respond by then, that would be grounds for termination. Silver’s decision of a lifetime ban for Sterling is subject to a vote by NBA owners in June, with the commissioner needing three-quarters of the vote to enforce his decision.
Speaking at the annual GrowCo convention, hosted by Inc. magazine, on Wednesday in Nashville, Tennessee, Cuban said he knows how he’ll vote but isn’t ready to comment on it.
“There’s no law against stupid,” Cuban said when asked how to keep bigotry out of the NBA, according to the Tennessean. “I’m the one guy who says, ‘Don’t force stupid people to be quiet.’ I want to know who the morons are.”
On the night before Silver’s announcement of Sterling’s lifetime ban, Cuban called Sterling’s comments “abhorrent.” However, he also said that forcing Sterling to sell the Clippers would be a “very slippery slope.”
Cuban pledged his full support of Silver’s ruling after the fact, but he had been guarded on his comments on the subject since then until appearing at the GrowCo convention Wednesday, when he reportedly said he hates that he might have to be hypocritical with his vote on the matter of Sterling.
The point Cuban attempted to make during his videotaped interview with Inc. magazine was the importance of helping people evolve from their prejudices and bigotries.
“I’ll try to give them a chance to improve themselves, because I think that helping people improve their lives, helping people engage with people they may fear or may not understand, and helping people realize that while we all may have our prejudices and bigotries we have to learn that it’s an issue that we have to control, that it’s part of my responsibility as an entrepreneur to try to solve it, not just to kick the problem down the road,” Cuban said. “Because it does my company no good, it does my customers no good, it does society no good if my response to somebody and their racism and bigotry is to say, ‘It’s not right for you to be here. Go take your attitude somewhere else.'”
Meanwhile, TMZ reported that African American ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith applauded Cuban’s honesty.
“I took no issue whatsoever with what Mark Cuban said … not only because he was forthright, very candid and honest … but also he happens to be correct,” Smith said.
Cuban has taken some fire for the comments, but Smith says the people attacking him are missing the point.
“Yes he spoke about hoodies and how if he saw a black individual with a hoodie he’d walk across the street because he’s uncomfortable with that imagery … obviously, he also alluded to a white individual with tattoos all over his body, his face and his head, he’d walk back to the other side of the street.”
“So if you’re gonna have a problem with what he said about the black person with the hoodie on, then you gotta have a problem with the white person he alluded to with tattoos all over.
“I’m sorry, I don’t see a problem with that whatsoever. I don’t think there’s any ethnic group in America that should take issue with it as a personal affront to them as if he was isolating them or talking about them. He was simply being honest, forthcoming and very open about some of the fears and prejudices that he may have.”
Smith concluded, “I applaud his honesty and I took absolutely positively no offense to what he had to say.”
View the reactions of ESPN’s Michael Wilbon and Bomani Jones here.