Ellis Henican Newsday columnist Ellis Henican

Henican is a columnist for Newsday. He also is a political analyst at the Fox News Channel and

OK, he could have chosen his words more carefully. The hoodie crack was unfortunate. But shouldn't we all be praising Mark Cuban instead of blasting him for speaking honestly on the dicey topic of prejudice?

Prejudice festers in the dark and the quiet. The best antiseptics are still conversation and light.

The billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team and a veteran loudmouth, Cuban caused an uproar by telling an interviewer: "I know I'm prejudiced, and I know I'm bigoted in a lot of different ways. If I see a black kid in a hoodie and it's late at night, I'm walking to the other side of the street. And if on that side of the street there's a guy who has tattoos all over his face, white guy, bald head, tattoos everywhere, I'm walking back to the other side of the street."

Now, everyone in sports is still on high Donald Sterling alert. Cuban has to vote June 6 on his fellow NBA owner's fate. But Cuban's no Sterling. He's no borderline-senile antebellum lug. He's honestly grappling like many people are -- and brave enough to do it openly.

Of course, we all have prejudices. They alone are not a mortal sin. What matters more is how we deal with them. A frank admission is rarely a bad place to start.

NOT PREJUDICED

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1. Just picky

2. Just harshly judgmental

3. Just dumb

4. Just can't keep my mouth shut

5. Just never met anyone I like as much as me

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LONG ISLANDER OF THE WEEK: CHRISTOPHER LONG

Carnegie Hall was good enough for Frank Sinatra, Jay Z and the Rolling Stones. Why not the FREE Players too? That's the special-needs theater troupe at Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, the Long Island-based autism-and-more group. As chief operating officer, Chris Long and his team were instrumental last year in getting the FREE Drumline onto the main stage at Disney World. And here on Wednesday night were the theater kids and adults at the Best Buddies Benefit Concert, singing and dancing and giving their everything on the highest-profile stage in New York. "We have some amazing talent here," Long said. "Shouldn't we show it off?"

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