On June 1, Mark Cuban, the Dallas Mavericks owner and “Shark Tank” staple made a direct appeal to white people on Twitter, asking them to change their ways to improve the world for people of color.
Dear White People: We are the ones that need to change. This is not one man’s story. This is almost every black man’s story. Which is why the problem is ours. We need to find OUR way to change what we do. There is no quick fix. It’s a moral imperative https://t.co/V6VVAlvpB7— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) June 2, 2020
The blowback was immediate. “When I say ‘It’s white people that need to change’ I had so many — if you read my mentions it was crazy — I had so many people saying ‘You’re not white, you’re Jewish,’” Cuban said on a new episode of “The Jordan Harbinger Show.”
After a wide-ranging discussion on automation, changing industry and competition with China, the billionaire investor explained how he likes to try and change the mind of some of his critics. Using the example of how a person wearing MAGA clothing might feel uncomfortable in a liberal crowd, Cuban said he’s tried to explain to conservatives who took issue with his statement how the world always feels for people of color.
Asked if he had an increased awareness because of his Jewish background, Cuban said it had more to do with what he learned during the 2018 investigation into the Mavericks’ history of sexual misconduct.
“I learned very painfully — and more painfully for some of the women that worked there — that treating people equally doesn’t mean treating people the same,” Cuban said. “I was gonna treat them exactly the same and didn’t really realize that particularly the power dynamics were so different and that you can’t do that. You can’t literally treat them equally. You’ve got to be able to recognize who they are, where they’re from what challenges they have and once I did that our business got a lot better.”
But, Cuban added that being Jewish made him more empathetic, explaining how a quarter of his mother’s family was murdered in the Holocaust and, when his grandparents came to America from Russia, “they didn’t come here because they thought the weather was nice. They came here because if they didn’t leave they’d be dead.”
Asked how Cuban would improve race relations if he were president, he said “I’d hug a few people. I’d walk out there and listen. I’d take advice. I wouldn’t think I had all the answers.”
But, he did have an answer for how he felt the current administration was doing to address the issue. “Just look outside,” Cuban said with a laugh.
PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture fellow. He can be reached at Grisar@Forward.com.