Mark Cuban, the Dallas Mavericks billionaire owner, is in trouble for remarks he made in a public forum about race, prejudice, biases.
Here's what he said:
"I also try not to be a hypocrite. I know I'm prejudiced. I know I'm bigoted in a lot of different ways. I've said this before. If I see a black kid in a hoodie at night on the same side of the street, I'm probably going to walk to other side of the street. If I see a white guy with a shaved head and lots of tattoos, I'm going back to the other side of the street. If I see anybody that looks threatening, and I try not to, but part of me takes into account race and gender and image. I'm prejudiced. Other than for safety issues, I try to always catch my prejudices and be very self-aware."
The problem line? "If I see a black kid in a hoodie..."
Cuban has been deluged with criticism on sports talk shows and social media. He has tried to defend himself, but it is of little use. Once you admit to expressing fear of a black kid in a hoodie, you are George Zimmerman, the kid is Treyvon Martin, and the case is closed.
(Update: Late today Cuban tweeted: "In hindsight I should have used different examples. I didn't consider the Trayvon Martin family, and I apologize to them for that. )
What was Cuban doing talking about this anyway? Race is a big topic these days, And as an NBA owner the subject of Donald Sterling might come up anytime Cuban appears in a public forum.
But looking at the bigger picture, Cuban was engaging in the "conversation about race" which Attorney General Eric Holder famously called on America to have, and at the same time said "Americans are cowards" on the subject of race.
The case of Mark Cuban illustrates why Holder was right about many Americans: fear of speaking up on race is widespread and natural. That's because if you are white your role in the race conversation is to shut up and listen to the race lecture.
You only have to read the new piece in The Atlantic by Ta' Nehisi Coates to see how this is supposed to go. In his very long essay, Coates makes an argument for reparations for blacks on the basis of white exploitation going back several centuries. The piece is overwhelmingly tilted toward the indictment of whites in the treatment of blacks in this country, with a small portion of the lines of type devoted to what "reparations" would be.
"Reparations--by which I mean the full acceptance of our collective biography and its consequences--is the price we must pay to see ourselves squarely," Coates writes.
It turns out, in the view of Coates, and Toure Nesbett of MSNBC, and like minded others, there is a long lecture on the history, the catalog, of bad things that have happened to blacks, and the job of white people is to stay awake, listen, absorb, and be prepared for a pop quiz.
Just a day or two ago Toure delivered this precise lecture on MSNBC at the close of his low rated program The Cycle. He said white people who interrupt a black person talking about structural racism, or the history of slavery to say that they didn't do it, or their ancestors arrived in this country after slavery and Jim Crow and segregation--those white people were not good allies in the cause of oppressed people. Don't interrupt, don't derail the "conversation", don't think you can add anything because you are ignorant.
I'm paraphrasing, but you can wade through The Cycle's website and perhaps find it, if you don't believe me.
The point is, whether it's Coates, or Toure, or Al Sharpton, the black grievance industry has made it clear why Eric Holder is right about the conversation on race. Who wants to suffer the consequences now facing Mark Cuban because he thought an honest conversation on race was what the country wanted and needed.
He's finding out his role in the conversation is to keep his mouth shut, and settle in for the lecture on all the bad things white America has done to black America.