Mark Cuban sent shockwaves Thursday morning with his interview with Inc. when he discussed the most pressing issue in not only sports right now, but society as well.
Cuban, speaking indirectly on the subject of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling who made racist remarks captured by audio recordings last month, didn’t deny that racism and stereotypes exist in society. He didn’t suggest that Sterling is the only one guilty of such acts and thoughts.
Cuban admitted he, too, faces these real-life issues, and while he doesn’t say it’s OK, he thinks it’s a problem many people in society have to deal with.
“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. “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.”
As the NBA looks to exile Sterling from the league permanently, Cuban offered a different solution, one he exercises within his companies.
Instead of banishing racists and bigots, Cuban prescribes them with sensitivity training, so they aren’t just punished but learn to change their attitude for the better going forward.
“When I run into bigotry in the organizations I control, I try to find solutions,” he said. “I try to work with people. I’ll send them to training. I’ll send them to sensitivity training. I’ll try to give them a chance to improve their lives, engage with people they may fear or not understand, helping people realize that while we all have our prejudices and bigotries (and) that we have to learn it’s an issue that we have to control.
“It’s part of my responsibilities as an entrepreneur to try and solve it, not just to kick the problem down the road.”
Cuban may be outspoken at times, but I think in this instance he did a fine job of saying what needed to be said.
In his example of people fearing a black man in a sweatshirt and a white man with a bald head and tattoos on his face, he’s explaining that people fear whoever is perceived as “different.” And that’s true — some people can’t understand “different” or what they believe is “different,” which is the root of the overlying issue.
But while comparing the two people we’d see on the street, he used the example of a black man wearing a sweatshirt as the equivalent as a tatted-up white man that resembles a skinhead, and in no way should the former be considered a threat. That’s where Cuban went wrong in his statement, and that’s why he’s drawing negative feedback.
Still, his comments reign true. Some people simply fear the other race. Others fear both races or anybody that they don’t understand or fit their pre-conceived notion of “normal.” That’s the area that needs change, that needs to be addressed and needed to be said out for the public to hear.
And that led to his second comment — helping people to see the wrongful nature of their ways, and instead of kicking them out of society, helping them to understand it and overcome it, a more permanent way of eventually wiping out racism in our society. While I don’t believe sensitivity training would do much good for Sterling, I think Cuban has a very valid point for the rest of society. If we just fire or exile every racist or bigot, the problem doesn’t go away; it’s simply pushed the curb.
People need to see the flaws in their ways, learn to correct and remain in society as changed people. And I agree with that. I believe people can change, and when need be, should change.