Mark Cuban is the outspoken owner of the Dallas Mavericks. Cuban, who’s certainly not a stranger to controversial statements, is under fire because of comments he made during a recent interview. In admitting that he is prejudiced in some ways, Cuban stated “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.” That comment in particular has drawn the ire of many for a number of reasons. First, his illustration seems insensitive given that less than a year has passed since George Zimmerman was acquitted on murder charges after he shot and killed Trayvon Martin, a Black teen whom he thought was suspicious in part because Trayvon was wearing a hoodie. That case made national headlines and resulted in protests all across America. Second, some have interpreted Cuban’s statement as laying the grounds for defending Donald Sterling, the soon-to-be former owner of the L.A. Clippers who made comments about Blacks that many thought to be racist. So what should we think of Cuban?
First, I don’t think Cuban had Trayvon Martin in mind when he referenced a Black kid in a hoodie. In fact, he said as much when he apologized to the family of Trayvon Martin via Twitter. Chalk that comment up to absentmindedness. Second, I think Cuban has publicly made it clear that he does not agree with Sterling’s statements. Cuban seems to be against the idea of the punishment handed down to Sterling. Cuban is concerned that it could set a bad precedent where owners are forced out of the NBA for any statement deemed by some to be wrong. In my humble opinion, that doesn’t make Cuban a racist, that makes him right. A life-time ban and being forced to sell his team is a punishment that may have been warranted when Sterling discriminated against minorities in his housing and hiring practices because that caused actual harm to people’s lives. The appropriate course of action for hurtful comments should generally start with a public censure regarding the comments and some open dialogue with the offending party. In admitting his own prejudices, Cuban’s comments serve as a timely reminder to all the self-righteous people who are out for Sterling’s blood, that everyone has biases in one area or another. Kudos to Cuban for being brave enough to hold a mirror up to the angry mob.
In Matthew 7:1 we find everybody’s favorite Bible verse to misapply when they don’t want to be called out for doing something wrong: “Judge not, that you be not judged.” I think this verse applies here. While I vehemently disagree with Sterling’s statements, I have to remember that I also harbor some biases. When one approaches this situation with that context, it also reminds us that even the Sterlings of the world deserve forgiveness.