Fli Tv Correspondent 

October 6th, 2020

Mark Cuban Weighs in on Police Reform and Racism in America

With heightened racial tensions in the US, many players and organizations within the NBA have chosen to take a proactive stance on police reform and systemic racism. When Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times by Kenosha, Wisconsin police officers the NBA boycotted 3 playoff games in response.

Many players have been using their platforms to speak up for justice and accountability for bad policing. There has been a push for team owners and CEOs to become more involved and use their influence and the power of the purse. The NBA has received a lot of backlash from those against the movement and Black Lives Matter, although the NBA and its players have not directly aligned itself with any organizations.

The Rematch with Etan Thomas recently had the pleasure of talking with Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and leading investor on ABCs Shark Tank, about basketball, police reform and politics. In recent years Cuban has begun using his platform to speak out about issues in policing, healthcare, education and stresses the importance of voting.

The recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery have been an eye opener for many that didn’t see racism as a major issue in this country.

“George Floyd had the biggest impact because that was straight out murder with everybody watching,” says Cuban. “It hit me hard and made me a lot more aware and a lot more sensitive to the issue, and made me want to help out where I could.”

Although the players only boycotted for one day they are making their stance clear. Players can be seen wearing t-shirts or other articles of clothing to show their involvement in the cause.

“Every couple generations have moments in time that are defining actions of those generations. We look back at Martin Luther King and the marches that were defining acts that led to a change with civil rights. Now here we are 60 years later and a lot has changed but not enough. So this really felt like it was a chance to have an impact and leave a lasting impression. And most importantly start to move towards change. And because it felt that way it made it clear this was bigger than basketball,” said Cuban.

Many players such as LeBron James have been very vocal on their social media and during interviews and press conferences. However some feel as though sports is not a place for such controversial matters. There has been a lot of resistance, particularly by President Trump who said that political activity by the NBA will “destroy” the sport.

“We have players with bigger platforms than any athletes in the country and in many cases the world. It made perfect sense to use those platforms to try and change something that really needed to be changed and to have an impact on racism and police reform,” explains Cuban to The Rematch.

While speaking up and gaining your followers attention is good, more on the ground work has to be done. While Cuban admits that he doesn’t have a direct answer for what needs to be done, he is working towards helping push for change. Cuban informed The Rematch that he has meet with police chiefs and officers in Dallas to try and strategize ways to improve the system. Cuban suggested that police align themselves with other organizations such as schools, hospitals, and churches who have community outreach programs. Cuban believes that police often try and do too much and that their efforts can come off as disorganized. He believes that better communication with the communities and community programs is a good start to fixing a deep rooted problem. Cuban says he hasn’t heard much back but plans to follow up with his suggestions.

The biggest issue that people have with police brutality is the lack of accountability when they abuse their powers. Cuban agrees stating, “You can’t have the immunity levels that officers have. That’s just not how it should work. They should have every right that’s awarded to every American citizen, the right to a fair trial. But they shouldn’t have more rights.”

Many attribute the issues in accountability to the police unions and associations that do everything within their power to protect cops, even when they are abusing their power. The issues within the police department are so deeply rooted that it’s hard to even know where to begin. The police system is one that was originally made to keep black people enslaved and for decades have policed urban streets through force, violence and intimidation.

Cuban like many others who are actively addressing the issues are left scratching their heads at where to start. Cuban tells The Rematch, “Yes, you could train more. But who’s doing the training? They could hire better, with better qualifications, but if the people managing and training aren’t doing it the right way it’s not going to change.” He states that bringing newly trained and educated officers into a negative culture could be detrimental to them thriving and bringing about change.

Cuban believes that majority of cops are good and have good intention and believes the way to change is to address the systems that are protecting bad cops. “What is it that is preventing the good 98 percent from stopping the bad 2 percent of cops?” questions Cuban.  

Cuban also believes that there needs to be more unity and leadership in the fight for equality. He feels the movement lacks a face, someone who can be there to speak up for the movement on all fronts. “There has to be somebody with a bigger voice that’s there all the time. Because this is a non-stop issue that’s not going to go away and you don’t want it to fade off, because there are two big issues that aren’t going to go away, racism and police reform.”

Any individual that is willing to stand up for any cause that does not directly concern their lives should be commended, because that requires a level of empathy that many Americans lack. Cuban’s willingness to help shows his character. We saw some more of that with his willingness to help Delonte West, one of his former players who has fallen on hard times. However there are two points that Cuban made I would have to question. One, I don’t feel the bad cop/good cop ratio is 98 percent good and only 2 percent bad.  We’ve seen countless police forces through many recent protests act forcibly together, as one unit. We’ve seen police brutality across this country in what almost seems like back to back instances. While I do believe that it may not be the majority acting outside the guidelines of the job I do believe it is closer to 50/50. And if you are witnessing a fellow officer abusing their power and you chose to turn a blind eye, you in my opinion are just as guilty.

 I also disagree on his belief that the movement needs a face to be more creditable to those that are still on the fence. In my opinion if you refuse to acknowledge that there are major discrepancies in policing, education, housing, economic opportunity, and healthcare, between black and white communities then you just don’t want to see the issue. Racism has plagued this country for over 400 years, if you don’t recognize that by now it is because you don’t want too or simply don’t care enough. Conservative whites don’t like the Black Lives Matter organization because they believe they are too radical and will disrupt white corporate America. But what about when we had Martin Luther King, a man of God and peace, and they still killed him. He still wasn’t a good enough face for white America. I don’t think putting a face to the movement is going to change anyone’s opinion. And we all know how the media loves to smear the images of African Americans, so whoever we find will never be good enough to some. Breonna Taylor went from a young black woman who worked two jobs, one as an EMT, to Griselda Blanco within a matter of weeks. I do agree that accountability is where we start, if cops know they will be charged and convicted, and lose their jobs and pensions; I think they would think twice before acting outside the realms of their job. Isn’t that what keeps the rest of America in line? Cops shouldn’t be held to separate levels of accountability and laws than the rest of us.