ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith refused to backdown on Friday after he came under fire for defending Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s comments about bigotry in a recent interview. Despite being labeled an “Uncle Tom” and a “sellout” by some in the black community, Smith made it clear that he stands by what he said “100-fold.”
“‘Stephen A. Smith is a sellout,’ ‘Stephen A. Smith is an Uncle Tom,’ ‘Stephen A. Smith ain’t black,’ ‘you ain’t one of us’ — these are the kinds of things that were said to me yesterday,” Smith said on ESPN’s “First Take” Friday.
Regardless, he said he doesn’t care who disagrees with him and they would be smart not to expect an apology.
“When I say I don’t give a damn… that does it no justice,” Smith said. “I stand by everything that I said yesterday tenfold, 100-fold. And I don’t care who in the black community disagrees with me — I’m not interested in their disagreement on this particular issue because they are not looking at the bigger picture here.”
While Cuban did say he’d “cross the street” if he saw a black kid in a hoodie at night, he also said “in the same breath” that he’d have reservations about a bald guy with tattoos all over his body, he continued.
“Everybody wants to ignore that,” Smith said. “I don’t want to say everybody because I’m not speaking for everybody. … We want to pounce on him making this statement and alluding the black folks or talking about somebody in a hoodie that happens to be black… He talked about the prejudices that exist in all spectrums by all of us. Are we going to sit here and literally act like we don’t have any prejudices?”
Smith went on to argue that what Cuban said is “100 percent correct.” The commentator also addressed the “elephant in the room,” which he said many white people won’t talk about out of fear of being labeled “racist.”
“I look at our unemployment rate consistently being double that of folks in white America. I do understand that, to some degree, there’s a level of racism that we all have to overcome… but that doesn’t mean every single issue is race related,” he said. “Sometimes it is about how you represent yourself, it is about how you present yourself.”
He wasn’t even close to done:
“When I talk about not having a command of the English language, and still you want a job, and you want to have a career, but you don’t want to get your education, you don’t want to go out there and pound that pavement. Everything’s about the sprint, it’s not about the marathon, it’s not about you putting forth the necessary effort and due diligence over the long haul to get the thing you need. That’s a reality in our community.”
Smith also explained that not everyone in the black community can be Lebron James, Jay Z or Dwayne Wade — because they are “special.”
The rappers and professional athletes don’t represent the real “American dream,” they represent a “fantasy turned reality,” he added. Rather, Smith said he looks at himself as a good representation of that dream.
“Queens, New York City, left back in the fourth grade, grew up poor, the lever of education that I had was a public school system, I ultimately graduate from high school, I go to a historically black institution like Winston-Salem State University, I graduate with honors, there is no journalism program, I still graduate with honors, I still beat out thousands of people to get an internship… and I’m on national TV everyday.”
Trust us, you want to watch the entire segment via ESPN here: