Stephen A Smith

For his attempt to try have an adult conversation on race and the dangers of trying to police a man’s private thoughts, Mark Cuban found himself attacked by professional race-baiters and the perpetual victim crowd. That in turn brought out ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, who tried to defend him by, interestingly enough, trying to act like an adult. The racial bomb throwers then happily turned their attention towards the First Take host.

What happened next was marvelous. If you haven’t seen Mr. Smith whip out an intellectual machine gun and mow down his would-be character assassins, please do. It’s worth every second. I’ve included the bulk of the text, but it’s really something that needs to be watched.

The ESPN host said May 23:

“’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. When I say I don’t give a damn … that does it no justice. I stand by everything that I said yesterday tenfold, 100-fold. And I don’t care who in the black community disagrees with me — I’m not interested in their disagreement on this particular issue because they are not looking at the bigger picture here.

Mark Cuban in the same breadth that he talked about walking across the street from a black dude in a hoodie followed that up with talking about the white dead who is bald-headed. … Everybody wants to ignore that. … I don’t want to say everybody because I’m not speaking for everybody. … We want to pounce on him making this statement and alluding to black folks or talking about somebody in a hoodie that happens to be black. … He talked about the prejudices that exist in all spectrums by all of us. Are we going to sit here and literally act like we don’t have any prejudices? Like we don’t feel a certain way about certain people or certain people’s appearances and how it makes us raise our antenna and make you a bit suspicious? Of course it does.” …

So what Mark Cuban said was 100 percent right. It’s just that simple.

But the bigger issue that needs to be discussed — it’s the big elephant in the room and no one wants to touch on it because white folks are scared they’re going to be labeled racist, black folks are scared they’re going to be labeled sellouts. See, I tend to look at things a bit differently.

I look at our unemployment rate consistently being double that of folks in white America. I do understand that to some degree there’s a level of racism we all have to overcome — and I get all of that. But that doesn’t mean every single issue is race-related. Sometimes it is about how you represent yourself. It is how you present yourself. When I alluded to walking around with your pants hanging down 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 ‘NawhatImasayin’ … NawhatImean’ — no the hell we don’t! You haven’t said 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 is 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. … I’m trying to educate you about the minefields that await. The stereotypes and the perceptions that you can’t feed into if you want to move forward in life. …

When we talk about the American dream, you know who I think about? Myself.

Hollis Queens, New York City, left back in the fourth grade, grew up poor, the level of education that I had was a public school system, I ultimately graduate from high school, I go to a historically black institution like Winston-Salem State University, I graduate with honors, there is no journalism program, I still graduate with honors, I still beat out thousands of people to get an internship that ultimately transitioned from a career at the New York Daily News to the Philadelphia Inquirer to CNN and then Fox Sports and ultimately ESPN. And I’m on national TV everyday getting paid pretty well, I might add. …

This is the road you gotta climb. Everybody can’t be Jay-Z. That’s one in a billion. Everybody can’t be Shaq and Kobe. That’s one in a billion. But you can be Stephen A. Smith. Educate yourself. Work hard. Do what you have to do. Pound that pavement. Be about the business and understanding what you have to do to work through the political mine fields that wait for you in every step of our lives. That’s what I’m talking about, and people don’t get that.

Do you see that? Look around and you will see the consciousness carcasses of a million race-baiters taken down in one sitting.

People do not like what Stephen A. Smith has to say on this issue because he speaks the truth, and those who do not wish to hear the truth will scream and yell and writhe in pain to avoid having it sink in.

What struck me most about Mr. Smith’s instructions for success was the importance he placed on viewing life as a marathon instead of a sprint. He couldn’t be more correct. But when a guy like Smith spells out his life history, critics then say things like, “Stephen A. Smith is just full of himself. He just wants an opportunity to brag about how great he is.” Why do I know that? Because when I’ve tried to have similar conversations with people and I pointed out all the things I’ve needed to do to get to where I am today, those are the types of comments I’ve received from the America’s woe-is-me foot soldiers.

When I was in the military, one of my favorite NCO’s was a guy named Sgt. Farrow. He’d say, “What, you think this is Burger King? You want things your way right away?” to certain soldiers. It reminds me of millions of Americans who want their professional life to be as easy as going through the drive-thru window at a burger joint. People have high-speed internet, “Instagram,” instant text messaging, constant Twitter streams and Facebook feeds that flow, flow, flow … and then they try and convince themselves that if their professional goals don’t manifest overnight it’s because some nefarious (probably white) force is out to get them.

One of my favorite recent examples from my own life came when I logged in to Twitter and found out that a guy added me to his list “fast-rising bloggers.” I laughed and thought: “Sure, if you consider four years fast…”

douglasernstblog Twitter lists
I’m a “fast-rising blogger” … if you consider four years fast.

The point is that success typically comes from the slow and steady accumulation of many small victories. At some moment there is a tipping point and all those hopes and dreams manifest — seemingly overnight to the outsider who hasn’t experienced the long hard slog.

I do not always agree with Stephen A. Smith, but on this issue he is on the mark. Some of his more intelligent critics would be wise to take a step back, reevaluate their personal attacks and then take a page out of his book. It’s a blueprint for success.

Kudos, Mr. Smith. You knocked this one out of the ballpark.


  1. I don’t always agree with Stephen A. Smith, either, but he hit a home run with this and makes some great points. He has a positive message that too many in this country dismiss because they’re too busy non-existent problems like “white privilege” and “micro-aggressions” instead of actually doing something to improve their situation.

  2. I had seen his original comments and this response on the 1st Take show; sometimes him and his cohost Skip get a little silly; but this one made me sit up and listen as he was speaking from the heart and really driving a message home. Presentation is so much, fair or not. I’ve told countless kids that have worked for me over the years to tone down the piercings, tattoos, saggy pants, and have some command of the English language as they move on to hopefully bigger and better things. Some listened, some didn’t, and by and large those that didn’t are still stocking shelves or something similar.

    Second is the “pound the pavement” line, so important. Kudos to Mr. Smith, his messages are vital for all races. The entitlement thing that seems so prevalent with some (not all) millenials doesn’t often work in the real world job market. In this uber PC world, a lot of people are shocked when they enter the workforce and no one gives a damn if they think they are special or entitled; it must be earned.

    Third thing I loved about this clip was his actual response to the uncle Tom comment. Usually when that term is used, the recipient often doesn’t dignify with a response. Stephen A. responded and basically gave them a verbal middle finger; and I loved his strength of conviction. I don’t always agree with him either, but you have to respect the guy for having an opinion…..a thought out opinion; and being confident enough not to let others, who aren’t looking at the whole issue, sway him with name calling and slander.

    1. Stephen A. Smith used to annoy the heck out of me. I was always like, “This guy thinks he’s hot s**t.” Well, over time I came around and thought, “Okay, well, he can still be annoying but he probably thinks he’s hot stuff because…he is a pretty smart dude.” Perhaps in real life he’s more humble, so I’ll cut him some slack in case he amps up his personality for the show.

      The reason my Smith’s commentary hits so hard is because it would be very difficult to try and say he isn’t “authentically black.” Whenever a black guy says anything remotely conservative, critics try and say, “Oh, he’s an ‘Oreo'” or they use the “Uncle Tom” slime to take away his legitimacy. You can tell just listening to him that he didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in his mouth.

      I wish more people would push back against the character assassins. All too often people just short of shy away because they’re scared of being labeled a racist or an “Uncle Tom,” as he stated.

    2. “I wish more people would push back against the character assassins. All too often people just short of shy away because they’re scared of being labeled a racist or an “Uncle Tom,” as he stated.”

      I do, too. Not speaking out against these clowns only strengthens them and gives them a sense of validity.

      Plenty of black conservatives or African-Americans who say something conservative, the critics always pull out the “Uncle Tom” and “Oreo” and “Cornball Brother” slime to delegitimize them. It’s disgusting. Look at the way Mia Love, Clarence Thomas, Alan West and other black conservatives have been treated by so-called “tolerant” liberals.

      A Democrat state senator here in MN referred to Clarence Thomas as an “Uncle Tom” last summer. But because he’s a Democrat, he wasn’t called racist and there was a deluge of letters from liberals to my local rag of a paper justifying what he said.

  3. I agree Douglas, why do people want to be identified with stereotypes. I once used the Cosby show as a point of discussion in class and I was told that “they were not real black people”. I asked the man what is a real black person (the student was black) and I was saddened by his response. It was clear to me that what some people accept as the norm is rather sad.

    1. One of your students said that? That’s sad. I’ve always hated this “authentically black” nonsense spewed by the left. I’ve always liked the Cosby Show myself. Not only was it funny but the fact that they were black was secondary to who they were as human beings. The characters weren’t stereotypical, either.

      I didn’t care for the spinoff “A Different World,” but that’s neither here nor there.

    2. Carl, yes the student was very clear about his views on what a true black person was. I told him that I was sorry to hear that he felt that way and asked him why he would want to be viewed in such a way.
      I asked him what was wrong with them being professional and successful. why is that a bad thing?
      I think some people need more or better role models.

    3. “a Different World”- With Dwayne Wayne, Sinbad, and a young Marisa Tomei; what could possibly go wrong?!?! :).

      I agree, was pretty bad at the end especially!

  4. Douglas, with all of the social responsibility movement being highlighted that would be a great idea. Show how the kids grew to be responsible smart and successful adults. Spotlight topics of how they made good decisions and corrected mistakes based on the lessons they learned from good parents.

    We may get a bit of that with the new show Girl Meets World.

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