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Mark Cuban's comments on prejudice were on the money

On the heels of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling's ugly, racist rants caught on tape, then shared with the world, another NBA owner has stepped into the fireline of racism.

This time it's Dallas Mavericks' controversial owner Mark Cuban — and this time, it's an absolutely overreaction.

So, what did Cuban say that was so horrible? In an interview last week, he admitted that he was prejudiced, then said we all were. He's absolutely right. We all pre-judge, we all generalize, men and woman from all races and nations. We all do.

Cuban, who is white, received the most heat for saying that seeing a "black man wearing a hoody" coming down the street at night would prompt him to move to the other side of the street. He added seeing a bald-headed white man covered in tattoos would prompt the same reaction, but that statement didn't render as much attention.

Cuban's only real mistake was using the "hoody" reference. That reference is too closely tied to Trayvon Martin, who was killed last year by George Zimmerman, who testified that he felt threatened by the appearance of the teenager, who was wearing a hooded sweatshirt. Cuban recognized that and promptly apologized to Martin's parents, and said he should have used a different example. He's right.

Sterling's comments were from an elderly man apparently suffering from the onset of dementia, spewing words from another generation. Cuban's comments were benign in comparison. What's more, Cuban's main point was factual and should not have stirred any controversy, outside of the "hoody" reference.

Cuban brought a lesser amount of heat upon himself soon after the Sterling tape and punishment went public, when he said it was a "slippery slope" to immediately throw Sterling out of the league based on racist comments. What other detestable character flaws would allow a league to toss an owner, he wondered.

The NBA was correct is moving to ban Sterling based on the elements of that taped conversation. They faced a players' revolt and a public relations nightmare if they did not ban him and force him to sell the franchise. The league (and the world, for that matter) doesn't need people of that mindset. Still, many legal experts feel Sterling would have a great case to fight the punishment, though courts have usually sided with sports leagues on self-regulating action. Word is now that the Sterling family is moving toward selling the franchise. Good.

But the Sterling and Cuban "cases" should not be combined, other than to view their vast differences. We won't evolve in regards to treating people based on their character and not race, weight, sexual orientation, or what have you, if we fear open, candid conversation. Until we can openly discuss truths — like, for instance, that people of all races endure prejudice — in reasonable ways, without the fear of the political correction police sweeping in, our evolution toward enlightenment regarding prejudice and racism will be stunted.

There is harmful, hurtful racist talk (Sterling's rant) and factual, realistic talk about racism (Cuban's words). One's shamefully negative; the other can be positive toward understanding our differences and breaking down barriers.




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