The owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, Marc Cuban, made this comment during an interview that he gave a few days ago for which he took a lot of criticism and for which he later apologized…
“We’re all prejudiced in one way or the other,” Cuban said in the Inc. interview. “If I see a black kid in a hoodie and it’s late at night, I’m walking to the other side of the street. And if on that side of the street, there’s a guy that has tattoos all over his face – white guy, bald head, tattoos everywhere – I’m walking back to the other side of the street. And the list goes on of stereotypes that we all live up to and are fearful of.”
Following his apology a lot of folks then became upset about his apology because they felt that he had been pressured into it, and all because of what has become known as “political correctness”. After all what was wrong with his statement? He was just telling us about his fears wasn’t he? Can’t he be afraid of a black kid in a hoodie if he wants to be…without having to apologize for it?
And therein lies the rub, for what lies inherit in Mr. Cuban’s statement is the racist message that many white folks just don’t see…
Because, why isn’t a white guy in a hoodie, late at night, scary? If you put the bald white guy with all the tattoos in a hoodie then you wouldn’t be able to see his bald head and tattoos would you, so he wouldn’t look scary anymore would he? But the black kid in the hoodie is scary because???
A hoodie is just short for hooded sweatshirt which is one of the most ubiquitous pieces of apparel that can be purchased on this planet. They’re everywhere and I would venture to guess that almost everyone has one. Every sports team in America sells them with their logos attached. Every College and university in America sells them too, with their logos attached. Every High School in America sells them also and with their high school’s name and mascot prominently displayed. You can buy hoodies with names and logos attached from Amusement parks, to sporting goods companies, to church groups to the nation’s Armed Forces… to whatever you’d like.
So what makes them look scary when a black kid is wearing one? Is it the hood? When I wear my hooded sweatshirt and I put the hood on it means that I’m cold or it’s raining or perhaps if it’s neither raining nor cold I’m just trying to look cool. If a woman puts the hood up…she’s either cold, wet or just being cute like Little Red Riding Hood. But a black kid with a hoodie is scary because…the hoodie makes him a hoodlum? Or Could it be the black face inside? Is he less scary when he doesn’t wear clothes? Because that’s all a hoodie is isn’t it?
If you are not afraid of hooded sweatshirts then what are you afraid of?
Mr. Cuban painted a picture of a specific white male that scares him: Tattooed all over with a shaved head. We all recognize that stereotype as the description of a probable “skinhead” or “Neo-Nazi” type of white male and our knowledge of the violence inherent in those groups is what triggers our fear…but to simply describe a “black kid in a hoodie” provides no description at all. So what would be stereotypically specific to that description that would trigger his fear? Or trigger your perhaps instant recognition of what Mr. Cuban was getting at?
And that’s why he needed to apologize. and that’s why we all need to examine our fears more closely and ask how we got to be so afraid of what we are afraid of…in the first place.
Here in the USA we have always prided ourselves on our diversity and our cultural “melting pot” that makes us so varied in opinion and population, yet it seems that difference is what most Americans are afraid of…when oddly enough and Statistically speaking… and the numbers here are overwhelming…if anyone were to ever cause you harm, they would almost certainly be wearing the same color and kind of face as you.
Perhaps what we have most to fear is simply fear itself?