A Nation of Cubans?

Mark Cuban, outspoken Mavericks owner,  has waded into the shark-infested water that is the Donald Sterling situation with comments he made recently at Inc Magazine’s GrowCo conference this week in Nashville.  Take a quick listen to his comments below:

Cue the media firestorm!  Owner makes racist remarks!  Less than a day later, Cuban has tweeted out a 5 part tweetpology:



Despite justifiable sensitivity to the still open wound of the Zimmerman case,  I want to put a pause on the mob calling for Cuban’s head.

In our 140-character universe, we have a hard time listening long enough to recognize nuance and complexity.   Listen as the Today hosts brush over Cuban calling out prejudiced behavior as explicitly racist, instead opting to say that the threat response is natural.

Feeling threatened and afraid is natural.  When feelings of fear are tied to all  people of that race that’s racist.  All the people of one particular race cannot be painted with the same brush.  The Today hosts and many in the twitterverse point out that we use stereotypical information to assess threats a process of stereotypes.  Listen to that again–we judge people based on stereotypes.  This is bias behavior.  Just because we all do it, that doesn’t mean that it is right, or that it’s who we ought to be as a society.

We do it, now what? Since we don’t make up and manage stereotypes, if we want to avoid connecting these stereotypes to our own personally held ideas about race, then we have to be aware of when that is happening.  We need to call out ourselves–and other–in the moment.

Cuban is right–most people do hold some prejudices.  But Cuban is also right that we must call it what it is–bigotry,  prejudice, and racism.  We’ve got to begin by owning it and being aware of the thoughts and actions we take on a daily basis.

While you cheer the end to the labored Donald Sterling case as he transfers ownership to his wife to sell off, take a good look at yourself. You probalby don’t operate at Sterling’s extremes, but do you think you are bias free?  And which of your biases are tied to society’s stigmas of race, class and gender?


We are all multifaceted humans living complex lives. Can you be honest with yourself when you judge people on what you see instead of who they are?  I challenge you to call yourself out when you stereotype people with race, gender and class stereotypes. I challenge you to be aware of bigoted ideas that float into your head–whether you want them there or not.  Own them, look at them, and challenge  yourself to think differently.

We can’t change what we won’t see.  Start looking and let me know how it goes!


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Princess and The Pant

Artist Claire Hummel has a fantastic set of illustrations of your favorite Disney princesses–with a twist.  She has taken all of your favorite Disney princesses and given them historically accurate costumes.

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Surprisingly, some of these accurate costumes are not far off from Disney’s own.

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What I want to know is, why have we not created a female heroin since women started wearing pants?  Hummel’s drawing point out that the Princess is outdated–none of them exist in our own modern era.  None of them are young enough to wear pants.  So why does the toy isle for girls look like this?

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Art for Ears

The Roots, for the uninitiated, is a live hip hop band that has been challenging the status quo of Hip Hop for more than 25 years.  You may know them from their most recent gig as Jimmy Fallon’s house band on his show and the new Tonight Show.

With skits like these, it’s easy to see The Roots are more than just a backing band, they’re an intricate part of the show.  Likewise, they are more than a Hip Hop act, they have been an intricate part of the Hip Hop landscape for decades.    Sadly, if you are using wikipedia to see if I’m right, you will miss out on some of their oldest, amazing work on Do You Want More and Illadephia Half-life .

This week, The Roots release their 17th album, …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin.  Once again, they ask us to reconsider what Hip Hop is, and can be.  The album is by turns deeply emotional, unexpected, and solid head-nod-inducing.  Well worth a listen.  Check out their live performance of the operatic  …And then You Shoot Your Cousin, from their NYC Public Theater performance below.


Don’t Call Me Pizza

Domino’s, in its never-ending quest to gross you out, has decided to top a handful of chicken noobs with a bunch of sauce, cheese and meat a la pizza.    The crispy Bacon Tomato Specialty Chicken is a trifecta of vegan nightmares, combining cheese, bacon and chicken–leave no barnyard animal behind!




At just $5.99, seems like cheap eats, but don’t forget that its also going to cost about 600 calories and 30+ grams of fat.


Still sucked in by its siren song of cheesiness? Just don’t call it  a pizza.  It ‘s “specialty chicken.” Its specialty?  Being the next nasty entry in the hall of fast food failures.


What Lies Beneath

Men’swear fashion brand Paisley is creating a stir with this spot featuring a day in the life of a burqa-wearer–only not quite.

Beneath that burqa with all the lingering gazes it attracts is something surprising.   So , before we’re quick to write it off as typical cultural misappropriation, there is this from the editors over at Ad Age:

{I}t also brings up interesting points about how people view the burqa — as a way for the women who wear it to “hide” their beauty, or a way for those of the opposite sex to do it for them. There’s also an interesting discussion to be had about gender identity and what it really means.

Okay, Ad Age, I hear you, and I watched the ad again–a good practice if you’re really trying to read any ad closely.  I imagined what it was to be on both sides of the burqa.  I am aware that the ad encourages us to think as life under the burqa as life in hiding–is it empowering for our business conducting burqa-wearer to be free of the objectifying male gaze or is the figure trapped in an invisible life?  The scenes are scenes of power and privilege–luxury autos, high end design, model-ly looking models–but our burqa babe moves silently through these scenes, seen and unheard.

In the final scene,  the body beneath the burqa is unveiled.  Well, actually the burqa is unzipped down the back–an interesting nod to the hundreds of scenes of women being disrobed by their paramour.  Disrobed, we are met with one final surprise–a simple code switch.  Who wears burqa and why they wear it is all worth questioning.  Paisley certainly isn’t shaking their fist at Muslim patriarchy, but with a little imagination, they might make you think.