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Taking a high road on bigotry.

Byline: Clive McFarlane

I am feeling a little sad today, and it is not because I am black and sometimes wear a hoodie. I suppose I could be sad for those reasons.

But I am not sad because people like Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, a National Basketball Association team, seem to view skinheads the same as he does a "black kid in a hoodie.''

"If I see a black kid in a hoodie and it is late at night, I am walking to the other side of the street. And if on that side of the street, there is a guy that has tattoos all over his face, white guy, bald guy, tattoos everywhere, I am walking back to the other side of the street, and the list goes on of stereotypes that we all lived up to and are fearful of,'' he said in a recent interview.

Many people applauded Mr. Cuban for being honest about his feelings, when I believe his honesty on this issue should be feared, not cheered.

The only white, bald-headed and tattooed guys of whom he and I would be wary, should be wary, would be skinheads, which would mean he was implying that a black kid in a hoodie is just as dangerous as skinheads and their neo-Nazi beliefs about blacks and Jews.

But I am not sad today because of that potential implication.

And I am not sad because I believe Mr. Cuban is trying to provide cover for the racist rants and behavior of his fellow NBA owner Donald Sterling, who doesn't want black people to consort with his girlfriend, and who as a real estate magnate was fined by the feds for housing discrimination against blacks and Latinos.

I am not sad because Mark Cuban seems to believe that prejudice and bigotry are like the common cold, things we should treat when they break out, but acknowledging all the while that we will never be rid of them, and I am not sad because he believes fighting prejudice and bigotry exacts a price.

"We have come a long way'' in combating bigotry, he said.

"And with that comes a price. We are a lot more vigilant and a lot less tolerant of different views, and it is not necessarily easy for everybody to adapt or evolve. I know I am not perfect. I know I live in a glass house, and it is not appropriate for me to throw stones.''

I am not sad because he believes a containment rather than an eradication campaign is the best treatment for bigotry.

What we should do with bigoted people, he suggested for example, is to help them "realize that while we have our prejudices and bigotries, we have to learn that it is an issue we have to control. ... ''

"It does my company no good, it does my customers no good, and it does society no good if my response to somebody and their racism and bigotry is to say, it is not right for you to be here. Go take your attitude somewhere else.''

I am not sad because I know that coddling the bigotry of grown men, not to mention 85-year-olds like Sterling, is to hold as an acceptable loss the many lives their bigotry might have scarred over the years.

I am not sad about any of those things, because despite the pain they may cause, and the dreams they would seek to withhold from me, I am still here.

And I can still laugh, and hope and soar beyond their expectations of me, and I am bold enough to stare the slight-givers in the face and say, as Maya Angelou did in her poem "Still I Rise:''

"You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I'll rise.''

No, I am feeling a little sad today, because Maya, that regal lady of verse and prose, she who told me why the caged bird sings, is gone from us.

Contact Clive McFarlane at
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Title Annotation:Local
Author:McFarlane, Clive
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:May 30, 2014
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