Mark Cuban is a racist? Nope. Mark Cuban was trying to have a conversation. That’s actually a good thing.

There’s the clip. The story that spun off of this alternates between “Mark Cuban is a racist” and “Mark Cuban stirred the racial climate.” In reality, this whole Mark Cuban thing represents two bad elements of society — but not what you’re thinking of, potentially.

First, let’s get this out of the way. It was stupid to make a reference to a “black kid in a hoodie,” even if a lot of people of multiple colors have an association therein. It was stupid because of Trayvon Martin and attaching any race to it; a Hispanic kid in a hoodie and certain types of white kids in hoodies have just the same conjured reality for people. The linguistics and specific example were dumb, and Cuban admitted that.

Now onto bigger things.

First and simply: this is a story because of the 24-hour news cycle and what that concept did to journalism. If you listen to the whole interview — and other interviews available on Inc’s website — you can see that contextually, almost nothing he says is racist. He’s actually talking about reducing bigotry in organizations (a good thing). The problem is, the news cycle needs eyeballs — and especially today, which is a hardcore “get out of dodge” day for a lot of America — and putting up topic bars like “Racist Mark Cuban” might get you those eyeballs for a bit. What I just said is simplistic, yes, but there’s also a few kernels of truth there.

Second and more complex: the mere fact that Cuban talked about these issues, and the subsequent reaction was semi-outrage, is the actual problem. It’s nearly impossible to have realistic conversations in modern-day America about race, gender, sexuality, or a host of other personal-but-massively-important topics without someone screaming foul somewhere. That moves people willing to have these conversations to the fringes, makes legit conversations less of an actual thing, and starts to strip real meaning and context from our society. Now there, what I just said was melodramatic — but again, there are kernels of truth. It’s good for us to have realistic discussions about race and about homosexuality and about kids killing kids.

When the reactions are like this, though … is anyone surprised those real types of dialogue are less prevalent in modern society?

Ted Bauer