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.
“’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…”
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.