As a native Texan who hails from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, I am very much a fan of Mark Cuban and his Dallas Mavericks NBA franchise. I follow him on both Facebook and Twitter. I not only admire his phenomenal business acumen, but his maverick attitude (no pun intended).
All of the above said, I am not surprised by his tweet weighing in on the nationwide protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department. Mr. Cuban states unequivocally that it is white people who need to change in order to change the ethnic divide that persists in this country.
(SIDE NOTE: I try to use “ethnic” as opposed to “race” or “racial” whenever practical as there is only one race. The human race.)
While I understand what Mr. Cuban is getting at, and agree with him to a point, I vigorously disagree that it is incumbent only upon white Americans to change in order to bridge the ethnic divide. There are things all of us as Americans can and should do to change things for the better.
For starters, let us correctly identify the real problem. So called “white privilege”.
What we typically call “white privilege” is in actuality “majority aesthetic privilege”.
For those who are still confused about how a mass murderer like Dylan Roof can be treated more humanly than a black person accused of a petty crime, it is because it is far easier to treat a person whom you are able to view as the boy next door or your own son like a human being, versus someone whom you view through a mostly negative stereotypical lens based upon having a different skin tone.
I might add that many black Americans hold the same negative stereotypes about black Americans. This is in addition to some black Americans holding negative stereotypes about white Americans. Whites are not the only people capable of subscribing to white supremacy.
Given these facts, assigning the task of bridging the ethnic divide strictly to white Americans is more provocative than productive.
The elites have considerable power in shaping narratives. Mr. Cuban is as much a part of the elite in this country as anyone, with a reported net worth of $4.1 billion. The elites in this country, historically, are responsible for the ethnic divide, going back to the country’s founding.
The entire concept of “whiteness” is a tool used by the economic and political elites to play “divide and conquer”, all in an effort to control the behavior of the lower classes.
Anti-racism activist and author Tim Wise eloquently articulated this point in a 2006 academic lecture:
To briefly summarize what Mr. Wise said in his talk, “white privilege” is just as harmful to whites as it is to ethnic minorities.
Mr. Wise correctly surmises that centuries of divide and conquer tactics and cultural conditioning has convinced many white Americans (typically lower class whites) that their skin tone has intrinsic value. This is damaging to white Americans because it fuels a false superiority narrative that actually undermines the incentive to improve their collective station in life, as well as promoting dangerous stereotypes about themselves and ethnic minorities alike.
Ironically, many poor whites are just like many poor ethnic minorities in that they use victimology to assuage and excuse their lack of efficacy. This dynamic open them up to political chicanery by the very elites they look up to. This is consistent on both sides of the ideological aisle among whites and ethnic minorities alike.
There is a downside to subscribing to victimology as an ethnic minority just as there is a downside to subscribing to aesthetic majority privilege. It precludes far too many white Americans from seeing that what happened to Americans like George Floyd is their problem as well. It also reinforces the negative stereotypes that some ethnic minorities (black Americans in particular) harbor about white Americans.
Many of the political and economic elites in this country could not care less about the problems that lower class whites experience any more than they care about lower class blacks, and that includes the elite liberal/SJW wing.
“Race” is often used to hide socioeconomic division. Outsourcing jobs and closing mines and factories are often blamed on the presence of ethnic minorities rather than on the decisions of the elites who own and control those industries.
Instead of taking personal responsibility, far too many working class white Americans today take false comfort in drugs, alcohol, and political rhetoric from elites who are more interested in seeking cover for their deleterious actions and pandering for votes amongst this group of people, rather than crafting real solutions and proffering real options.
I might add that ethnic minorities tend to undermine their own cause when they cloak themselves in victimology as well. No one wins when both sides of the divide view the other as an enemy.
This is the crux of my rebuttal to Mr. Cuban.
Until ALL of us as Americans understand that the most oppressed group in America is the individual, and fight for individual rights as well as treat each other based upon content of character instead color of skin, then all of the protests and platitudes in the world will not change things for the better.
Until we as a society hold people, especially those in authority, truly accountable for their deleterious actions in furtherance of the centuries-long paradigm of bias based upon skin tone (no matter what the skin tone of the perpetrators), then our children and our children’s children will continue to grapple with the same flawed paradigm in perpetuity.
-The Rational Ram