Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Condemning Mark Cuban's apology

“There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery. Then [I] look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.”

Condemning Mark Cuban's apology

Mark Cuban. (File photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)
Mark Cuban. (File photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

“There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery. Then [I] look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.”

That’s a painfully honest statement for someone to make in this politically correct day and age – when acknowledging the fear of a young black man is a no-no to the thought police.

That’s the kind of statement that could make an NBA owner the next Donald Sterling.

Only one thing. Just one minor detail.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban didn’t say that.

Nope. Not by a longshot.

That remark was made by Jesse Jackson more than 20 years ago.

In an article penned by Pulitzer Prize-winning Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko, Jackson was described as “talking about individual responsibility and black community action. He’s attacked drug use, teenage pregnancy, gang membership and dependence on government. What he seems to be saying is: In mounting crime, poor education, collapsing family structure, we have deadly problems, so don’t wait for white professors with their tedious studies, government bureaucrats or anyone else to solve them. We have to do it ourselves.”

Hmm. Sounds a lot like Bill Cosby.

“Dependence on government?”

Jesse Jackson, a closet Republican?

One thing is plainly clear.

If Mark Cuban is a bigot, then so is Jesse Jackson.

But Jesse Jackson didn’t apologize to anyone for his statement. Unfortunately, Mark Cuban did.

Why he did is beyond me and many others. Perhaps Cuban feels liberal white guilt. More likely, Cuban doesn’t want to develop a “Sterling reputation” and have the NBA force him to sell his team.

The late, great Jerry Garcia said it best: Money, honey.

Who knows the real motivation? At this point, who really cares?

Let me be clear: Trayvon Martin’s death was a preventable tragedy – and it rightfully became a rallying call for examining Florida’s controversial "stand your ground" self-defense law.

But young black men wearing hoodies existed way before Martin’s killing, and they will continue on well into the future.

And despite what Cuban thinks, most black men wearing hoodies are not trying to emulate Martin. And most people that fear black men wearing hoodies are not equating them with Martin.

It’s too bad, though, that Cuban dropped the ball and didn’t use his follow-up as an opportunity to send a message to our youth – black, white and everyone else.

Roman Sosalski, a friend of mine, posted on my Facebook page that “Cuban should have doubled down and given America a beneficial message. ‘Tuck your shirt in. Keep the tattoos in concealed places. Don't run around with a hood on your head. Be cordial, friendly, and presentable.’ These messages from successful people mean something to our youth. Instead, he backed down and called the millions of Americans afraid of the thug appearance the bad guys. Shame on Cuban here.”

Former Inquirer reporter/now ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith took a similar position, saying, “It is about how you present yourself. When I alluded to walking around with your pants hanging below your behind, that's trifling. That's just trifling, and it's counterproductive. When I talked about how, you're sitting there, and the first words out of your mouth are 'You know what I'm saying? You know what I mean?' No, the hell we don't. You ain't say anything yet. That's a reality. When I talk about not having a command of the English language, and still you want a job, and you want to have a career, but you don't want to get your education, you don't want to go out there and pound that pavement. Everything's about the sprint, it's not about the marathon, it's not about you putting forth the necessary effort and due diligence over the long haul to get the things that you need. That's a reality in our community.”

As a consequence of his initial comments defending Cuban’s original controversial statement, Smith said he was told, “‘Stephen A. Smith is a sellout,’ ‘Stephen A. Smith is an Uncle Tom,’ ‘Stephen A. Smith ain’t black,’ ‘You ain’t one of us’ — these are the kinds of things that were said to me yesterday.”

Unfortunately, I couldn’t agree more. If you are a black man criticizing your own community, you are ripped up, torn apart and discarded. You are a traitor for airing dirty laundry.  

But Smith didn’t go far enough. Cuban started his conversation by speaking candidly and boldly. Unfortunately, he finished it off by backtracking. And Smith should have called him on that.

Perhaps another Facebook friend, Fred Gusoff, put it best: “Mark Cuban should apologize for apologizing.”

John Featherman
About this blog
John Featherman is a contributor at Philly.com and writes about politics and consumer-related issues. Reach John at john@featherman.com.

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