Friday, May 23, 2014

Mark Cuban is Both Right & Wrong Regarding Race

By Shane Kastler
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban recognizes the slippery slope the NBA is on with it's lifetime ban of Clippers owner Donald Sterling for his perceived “racist” comments. Cuban said as much in an interview when he confessed that: “We're all prejudiced in one way or the other.” He went on to use the example of a young, black male in a hoodie and a young, white male with a shaved head and tattoos. Cuban admitted that he would tend to avoid both such people if he could, stating that this is a form of bigotry based solely on how they look. Would Cuban be wrong to make such judgments of people? I say
We all avoid people who look threatening to us. That's not necessarily due to racism, but rather a desire to stay alive. Of course Cuban should be free from any charges of “racism” anyway because he quickly pointed out an example of a white male whom he would also avoid. In all honesty, neither of Cuban's examples really has anything to do with race; but other external facts about the people. The young black male in the hoodie might be avoided, not because he's black, but because the hoodie could suggest he's enamored with the gang culture. Young black males wearing hoodies have been known to commit crimes. That doesn't mean every “hoodie-wearer” is a criminal. But taking personal precautions doesn't make you a racist either. I suspect if Cuban saw Walter Williams walking toward him in a three-piece suit he would not feel the least bit threatened. Why is that? Especially if Cuban is a racist? The answer is because older black men wearing suits, are not perceived as a threat. Both Williams and “the hoodie-man” have black skin, but skin color has nothing to do with it. Other outward signs do. And Cuban (like all of us) is well within his right to make such judgments concerning his personal safety as he sees fit. This doesn't make him a racist and it certainly shouldn't be perceived as wrong. And this is where I would disagree with Cuban.
As a business man, Cuban said that his job is not to “ban” those with prejudiced views but rather to help rehabilitate them through things like “sensitvity training.” While I appreciate his refusal to jump on the “ban” bandwagon; I disagree with the notion that those who are cautious of certain people need “re-educated” with sensitivity training. Of course I have no idea if Cuban really believes this; or if he's just politically savvy enough to know this is what he has to say.
Cuban is right, in some ways we are all prejudiced. But this shouldn't always be seen as bigoted racism, but rather an exercise of caution. And it's a caution exhibited towards ANYONE we see as a threat. If someone avoids me because I'm a tall, white man with a beard; they are well within their right to do so. I might try to assure them that they have nothing to fear, but I wouldn't accuse them of “racism” (or “beard-ism) because of it. Let's be honest, even most white people would cross the street to avoid the Duck Dynasty Robertsons if they saw them coming and didn't know who they were. And who could blame them! While they may be the nicest guys in the world; they look threatening to some. And you have a right to judge the appearance of any person for any reason and take preventative action to protect yourself. That's not racism. It's just common sense.
Mark Cuban is both right and wrong. We are all prejudiced. But in most cases the prejudice has nothing to do with skin color; and everything to do with other external factors. Sometimes our judgments are wrong. Sometimes the young black male in the hoodie turns out to be the nicest kid you ever met. Sometimes the clean-cut white kid in the dockers is a murderer on the run. You never know. Which is why you use whatever parameters you want to make whatever decisions you want regarding your safety. If that means crossing the street to avoid a possible threat then do it. That's not racism, it's freedom of choice.  And though it might get your branded as a bigot, it might also keep you alive.
Shane Kastler is Pastor at the Heritage Baptist Church, Lake Charles, LA and Co-Host; "Church & State" KELB Radio, 100.5 FM. He blogs at The Narrow Road.

1 comment:

  1. Cuban never said he was racist, only that he was prejudiced. He would pre-judge a person based on appearances, and wisely so if he wants to avoid being the victim of a crime. But he also knows that he might be wrong in his pre-judgement, as outward appearances do not always reflect the inner person. This form of prejudice is prudential, but it is not always accurate.