Friday, May 23, 2014

Mark Cuban and the Good of Admitting Prejudice

Honestly, there was nothing wrong with what Mark Cuban said when he admitted his prejudices. My first reaction when I saw this was YES! A White person who wants to be honest and admit their prejudices with the hopes of working on them.

(By the way, watch that entire video. Cuban, one of my favorite people in sports, speaks frankly and honestly like he does when he criticizes in the NBA. Don't take the soundbyte, swallow this and then process what I say next)

This is what I want more people to do. I've written about it before (see the bottom of this post) and I think that the best way we can understand and live with each other is to work on our prejudices as much as we call out others for theirs along with ignorance and racism.

Yet because people are such children whenever we get honest on discussing race, this became a bigger deal. I'm not speaking on good folks like Bomani Jones and others who pointed out worthy critiques of what he said. I'm talking to others who are unable to distinguish between Cuban and Donald Sterling and think this is a bigger deal than it is.

If Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, Jordan Davis and others taught us anything, it's to look within and realize how poisoned we are being in this environment called America. Sports does a great job of highlighting certain stereotypes and attitudes and it's a mirror of what people tend to do at large.

As many said in Sterling's aftermath, it's easy to point out the obvious racist. It's much harder to point out the dangerous policies and attitudes that harm people of color. It's much harder to look at yourself and say that as I blow out the sawdust in other eyes, I also chop down this plank in my eye.

Prejudice is a seed that creates an idea. It's one thing to have it but when you harvest it and let it grow, then it's a problem. Our job is to capture that seed and replace it with an open mind. So I like to salute anybody who decides to be a farmer instead of pretend it's not there.

Fighting racism, sexism, homophobia, prejudice, ignorance or any preconceived notion is something we always have to do. And it also starts with us looking within ourselves, me included.

I'd like to say I'm not prejudiced. But I'd rather admit I'm on a journey to remove them and let actions guide me. To say I'm a finished product shuts the door for growth. I learned a lot in college on dealing with race/ethnicity/gender/sexual identity and I'm still learning today, especially when dealing with folks with different political views. As much as I act like I'm open-minded, I know that I have work to do to remain that way as I get older.

The best way to deal with our fears is to acknowledge them AND work to conquer them. We all assume things about people but if we don't let those assumptions guide our actions, that's growth. As much as we attack institutionalized "isms", we must also look inside ourselves to defeat it as well.

So Cuban didn't do anything groundbreaking or say anything mind-blowing but he tried to show people how rational adults think and deal with prejudice. Not running from it, not just pointing it out in others, but seeking to understand it in ourselves and acting on that to make the world better.

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