Thank you. Good afternoon. I am very pleased and happy to be here especially just before the first in my lifetime subway series, subway World Series, which will be won by the Yankees in six games. Do we have a couple of Mets fans in here? My condolences. I'm sorry.
As we all know, this is an election year, and I've always found it interesting, especially growing up in the Bronx, during election year because that is one time a year you can guarantee a politician will show up in our neighborhood, anyway. And especially this year with Vice President Gore and George Bush, the two main party candidates. When talking especially about poverty and racism speaking predominately to the black community, everybody seems to have the same idea. Al Gore talks in terms of the oppression of black people in America, how it is a racist system set up to keep us in failure. Of course, he never indicts the government for that. He indicts the private sector for that. George Bush, on the other hand, will talk about having compassion for us. So one, Gore, is paternalistic towards us; the other, George Bush, is maternalistic towards us. Neither one seem to understand. It is more disappointing with Bush because he should know better. But the main thing that has not been given an opportunity to flourish in the black communityit is a dirty word, so I am glad there are no children presentit is called capitalism.
And I come at it from a very personal perspective because, you know, we are taught, particularly in government schools, that historically it is something like this, black America was like a Sleeping Beauty from the emancipation to Jim Crow and was wakened like Sleeping Beauty by the kiss of a prince called the Civil Rights Law of 1964. Up until then blacks lived in adjunct poverty, accomplished nothing, and lived as underdogs. And that is not true. In fact, we are told over and over again that the remedies proposed by the Liberals are the only way to do,anti poverty programs, affirmative action, one government regulation after another, and none of those have produced the results that they have promised. In fact, it actually made the problems or perceived problems worse. Neighborhoods such as Harlem, New York, which was once called "The Renaissance City," are wastelands now resembling Beirut in Lebanon.
My native neighborhood of the South Bronx is a perfect example
of that, which is why they call it Fort Apache, not exactly a
sterling neighborhood when you think of Fort Apache. I don't know
if you remember the movie with, I think it was Paul Newman, Fort
Apache, the Bronx. That was a watered down version of life in
my old neighborhood.
But, in fact, Gore was at the Apollo Theater debating Bill Bradley. Remember? And they were trying to out-black each other. Gore talks about how, going up in Tennessee, his father always tried to make him sensitive to the plight of the black citizens in Tennessee and how it made his heart break. And Bradley talked about his sensitivity. Bradley, who grew up in an all white neighborhood, has this great sensitivity to his black citizens, supposedly. And one is accusing each other of being the biggest proponent of racial profiling. "Yeah," Bradley says, "Why don't you walk down the hallway to President Clinton's office and demand that he sign an executive order outlawing racial profiling?" And Gore turns to Bill Bradley and says, "Well, Senator, your state practically invented racial profiling." Both of them appealing to the lowest common denominator. I would like for once to see a Presidential candidate, a political candidate, talk to us in terms of freedom and liberty, which is something that we really do understand.
Now let me take you back to the 1920s, to Tulsa, Oklahoma, during the days of segregation. There was a town in Tulsa, or a part of Tulsa, called Greenwood. It was the segregated black section of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Now for all intents and purposes black leadership will have you believe that this is a place that would resemble Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, for instance, where there is abject poverty, high unemployment, and a very bad education system. What they had was actually the exact opposite. Greenwood, Tulsa, Oklahoma, was called the Black Wall Street because in that area the black economic life in the black section of Tulsa was actually better than it was in any other part of the state and any part of the country, in spite of segregation. There were numerous doctors' offices, pharmacists, dentists, lawyers, all types of professional life, theaters, the best educational system in the elementary and secondary education system in Tulsa, Oklahoma, all privately run either by the churches or civic institutions in Greenwood.
There was an incident in the white section of town where a black man was falsely accused by a while female of sexual advances towards her on an elevator, which started a race riot where the citizens of Tulsa went into the black section of Greenwood and burned it down, burned it to the ground. I think upwards of 600 people died; thousands more injured and left homeless. The police went in and interred black males and those they didn't arrest had to wear tags. And black Tulsa was no more. It was gone.
The dream of Booker T. Washington was black self-help, which he had talked about since the turn of the century, when he was battling the American Communist Party and the NAACP, which was actually founded as the Niagara movement started by northern Socialists to combat black independence. And shortly after, the black citizens of Tulsa realized that the rebuilding that they had to undertake was an almost impossible task, the rebuilding of Greenwood. Not only did they rebuild it, but the rebuilt Greenwood was actually better than its original state. And it was the absolute envy of the entire country. The black citizens of Greenwood also armed themselves, so there was no more talk of a race riot in Greenwood.
But Greenwood was destroyed once again despite that, not by
a race riot, but by the civil rights movement, by integration.
Because now the black citizens were no longer forced to do business
with each other, to excel at commerce, because not only were they
doing business with each other, white citizens from different
parts of the state would go into the black section of Greenwood
to do business and to buy goods and services because it was better
there than it was anywhere else. But it is destroyed now because
the civil rights movement got in their way. Instead of desegregation,
we got integration and all of the socialist so-called remedies,
which are actually impediments. And the black section of town
became a ghost town. Blacks stopped doing business with each other.
They stopped practicing capitalism and started demanding that
the government blast open the doors of white institutions, instead
of doing business with themselves, and Greenwood was no more.
But you never hear that story. We are always told that affirmative action is the only way for upward mobility for blacks. And you notice you never hear that where blacks excel. You never hear how blacks need affirmative action say, for instance, the NBA. Right? Now, we know that supposedly the left believes in diversity. Why, then, isn't there a larger representation of Asians or Hispanics in the NBA? I mean, if we are really going to take this diversity argument to its fulfillment, why aren't Asians or Latinos or Jews demanding that one out of every three point guard in the NBA is Jewish, for instance. Why aren't Asians demanding that two out of every five centers is Asian? That sounds like a ridiculous argument, doesn't it.
Yet, we had the dunking contest this past spring. When everybody
hears the announcement that there is going to be a dunking contest
on TV, the first question I am asked is which brother do you think
is gonna win? Now that is automatic. Right? Now, what does that
speak to? Expectations. See, liberal racism is the worst form
of racism in this country, because they refuse to see us as human
beings, as equal human beings. If I were to say I am going to
find a lawyer, the first question people ask is, you're going
to get a Jewish lawyer, right? Right? I don't have to be politically
correct here, do I? Okay. That is the first question people ask,
it's about expectation. You know, during the height of the civil
rights movement we got to this concept called "busing."
Remember that? Forced busing, where if you would take a black
child and sit him next to a white child, this was the argument
made by Thurgood Marshall, a supposed hero of the civil rights
movement...You take a black child and sit them next to a white
child, he will become smarter by osmosis. That is an argument
that the Klan used to make, that the black child was automatically
inferior, so you set him next to a white child. Meanwhile, the
black parents are fighting against it. The leadership is not listening.
This is what they want.
What it is doing now is you are destroying black colleges. There are fourteen right now that are getting ready to close their doors permanently. And why were those colleges built in the first place? Because of segregation. In fact, many scholars from the Northeast and from Europe used to come to the United States to visit these black colleges because they could not believe what was going on in these black colleges. The educational achievement was so astounding that instead of calling them institutions of learning, which is what universities in America were called, they created the term "higher learning," just like the saying "The Real McCoy." Elijah McCoy was a black man who had so many patents and inventions that as soon as someone came up with an invention, even if he had nothing to do with it, if it worked, they said, "Oh, that's a real McCoy!"
Now, I don't know how many of you remember Jesse Jackson's address to the Democratic convention in 1984. Do you remember that speech? None of that ever came out. Because it is in their best interests to keep black people exactly where we are thinking of ourselves as slaves, instead of entrepreneurs, developers, engineers, CEOs. They can't stand the thought. It goes back to what I was talking about to the gentleman about earlier, what Malcolm X talked about. The house slavefield slave game, in the days of slavery.
You see, the field slave, of course, hated the evil slave master. They couldn't wait for something bad to happen to him. If they could have, they'd have killed him themselves. Either that or wait for Matt Turner to run through town, or John Brown to get him. The house slave, however, he loved the master. Oh, he loved the master more than he loved his own soul. If the master was sick, the house slave would say to the master, "What's wrong, boss? We sick?" We sick! And as Malcolm said, he loved that master so much that, if the house was on fire, the field slaves would be standing around the house throwing wood at it, but the house slave would be running around the house with buckets, risking his own life to save his master.
And the house slave would play a psychological game with the field slaves. He would tell them, "Look, look, don't run away now because, you know, those other masters out there, they are not as good as our master. Master George has only beat us two days a week." And he would try to make the field slave afraid of his own freedom. See, at least here you got food; you got shelter. Out there you don't know what it is like. This is not our land and you don't know what it is like out there.
The same game exists today. The NAACP, the Black Caucus, numerous
black leadership people...it is the same game. If they could convince
us that slavery is still alive and well today, we will only think
of ourselves as slaves. We'll never see outside of that box. And
that is the game they have played with us, and it has worked,
and that's the game that the politicians pick up to this day.
Let me we get back to the NBA example. When I was growing up in the South Bronx, there was one time a year when there was an occurrence that I would call "reverse busing." It was during the Jerome Pickett basketball tournament, where many of the white basketball players from the suburbs would come into the ghetto. I know it's "inner cities" now, but when I was growing up they called it a ghetto. And they would come in to play their basketball tournaments with these black athletes because they were getting ready to go to college, and they wanted to hone their skills and improve their game so when they went to college, the people that they played against wouldn't be able to handle them. Now, if you can do that because the expectation is these black athletes are the best that there are, why don't we make the same expectation true when it comes to academics and economics?
Now, according to Jesse and the rest, the reason that black America lags behind in this wage gap is because of the lack of capital. White institutions are racistly keeping capital out of the hands of black America. Tell that to Madison Avenue. Tell it to the Commerce Department, because if black Americans were a nation separate from the United States, we'd be the tenth largest economy in the world. Now that doesn't sound like a lack of capital to me. He is down there on Wall Street demanding that Wall Street share the wealth and close not just the wage gap but also the "digital divide." You've heard that term? Now there is a digital divide, yet blacks are four times more likely than whites to own a BMW or a Mercedes. There is one thing I have never understood growing up in the Projects was, why are we living in the Projects and people are driving Cadillacs? Because the old-time religion of delayed gratification was now gone, because of liberalism in the black community. No longer did you delay gratification, work hard, save, get an education, build a business, build a foundation for your family and your community; then you get the luxuries.
No, now it is an entitlement mentality where you don't even have to work. Someone else will work and we'll bring the money to you. Now, I was asked the question, why is it that white college graduates make three times the amount of black college graduates? It is because seven out of ten blacks who graduate go into government service. And they take up courses that have nothing to do with entrepreneurship or the sciences, as the Asians do.
And we're told that the education system is under-funded. In Washington, DC, they spend $10,000 per student. I don't even have to tell you how bad the education is in Washington, DC. Yet the same black students who go to private schools, for instance in Dunbar High School, and this is an astonishing story... The day they passed the ruling Brown versus Board of Education, supposedly one of the greatest days in black American history, there was a school in suburban Washington called Dunbar, where the black students were out-excelling the population of the entire Washington, DC, area. I'm talking about Arlington, Virginia, Maryland, that entire area, and yet the Brown versus Board of Education in essence said that the black schools were inferior by nature. These people are supposed to be my heroes? I think not!
Now picture New York City, a place where free enterprise is not really allowed to run unfettered. Remember Danny Glover from "Lethal Weapon" fame went to New York City to dramatize the fact that blacks can't get cabs in New York. Of course, he didn't say the fact that many of those cabbies were victims of crime, and most of those cabbies that were black were victims of crime by other blacks. Be that as it may. The City monopoly prevents other people, the gypsy cabs as we call them, from competing with them. Because of the fact that these cabbies were such victims of crime, many West Indians entered into the marketplace to compete with the City monopoly and these gypsy cab services. For one thing, you had to be crazy to pull a gun on a Rastafarian in a taxicab. You know, they had a reputation that if you mess with them, you might get shot. So, they would serve a part of the population that City monopoly would not service. Also, out in Brooklyn, they would meet you at the train station, at the el, with air-conditioned vans in the summer time and heated in the wintertime, and some Bob Marley to boot. They would take you to your door, armed. So you have single mothers and elderly women who are going out to work living in dangerous neighborhoods, yet they would be taken to their door for just one dollar, with an armed escort. What does the city government do? They crack down on them. When these brothers go to the black leadership, what do you think they tell them? I'm sorry, we can't help you. We have a deal with the unions.
Now if you say you represent the people, then you are supposed to be serving them, are you not? In Witchita, Kansas, excuse me, I've heard the story of a young lady named Monique Landers who started a hair braiding business, something indigenous to African peoples. And a gentleman from Europe by the name of Steve Mariotti, who teaches young people how to become entrepreneurs, specifically in big cities, gave her an award down in New York City. When she got back to Kansas, waiting for her was a cease and desist order from the state cosmetology board, informing her with fine and imprisonment if she did not stop touching hair without a license, telling her that she had to spend tens of thousands of dollars for a course that didn't exist in hair braiding. Something like that, that is indigenous to black people. She turned to the local NAACP, who wouldn't help her. She had to go to the Institute for Justice, a conservative organization.
The Democrats are our best friends, so we are told over and over again. Now the South Bronx is not a place that you would think of as a hot-bed of free market capitalism. I gave you the images of the burned out buildings, and the South Bronx is burning. In fact, the Ohio Players have a song called "Fire" and someone on a radio station in New York, I think it was WBLS, said, this is a theme song for the South Bronx. Fire, because of all the fires we had in the abandoned buildings.
Now, a phenomenon called rap music today is a multi-billion dollar industry. I'm not just talking about the record sales. I'm talking about the fashions attached to it. And it is a throwback to the old movements of black capitalism here in the United States. A guy named Joseph Sadler was a DJ, and he used to do house parties and block parties, parties at community centers and the like. And he was one of the hottest DJ's along with a guy named Kool Herc and Africa Bambaata. Flash realized an ingenious invention. On a turntable you have something called a phaser. It has a needle on it, and when you put it to the right, when you are a DJ you hear the right turntable. When you put it to the left, you hear the left turntable. When you put it in the middle, you can hear them both. So he found a way and said, hey, this is something new.
So he had a way of extending a song, because back then a phenomenon broke out called break-dancing. I don't know if many of you have seen it, people dancing on their heads and spinning and doing all kinds of things with the body that I didn't think the body was meant to do. What they did was they wanted to extend part of the song called the break beats, for instance, most of the records by James Brown. There is a record called "Funky President" where there is just the drums and the bass line, and that is what is called the break beats. To extend you would play one turntable, spin this one where only he could hear it and make it catch up, and you would never tell that the song stopped. As soon as it got to the end of this break beat, it started on the other turntable. So he started this phenomenon called "mixing and scratching," because, as you would spin the record back, you would hear the scratch. He started letting everybody else hear it and it became like an extra percussion instrument.
But then Joseph Sadler, who became Grandmaster Flash, had a dilemma. Instead of people paying attention to the party, they were paying attention to the DJ. He didn't want that. So he started having the dances as part of the show. All of a sudden it became the show, not just a party. And now he wanted people to know where he would be next. So he hired a friend of his named Keith Wiggins, MC Cowboy, to rap on the mike to the people to let them know the great things about Flash. You know, "Flash is the greatest DJ in the world." This and that about Flash. Sort of like they do in the black churches, when the preacher would howl something and the audience would yell something back. We call it responses. And Cowboy became prolific at this to where he said, okay, wait a minute, we shouldn't just do this at the end of the show. Let's do it during the party. So for 15, 20 minutes straight this young black male, who the education system said could not be educated, would rhyme for 20 minutes straight, no break, and would do what they would call free-styling, just coming up with rhymes off the top of his head for 20 minutes. This is just in the South Bronx now. Everybody started catching on to this. Mellie Mel, Busy BeeI am probably throwing names-ask your grandkids. They will back me up on this, some of you.
This became a phenomenon where they said, wait a minute. We could really do something with this. We couldn't just go to community centers all the time and house parties, but now winter was coming, so we had to find a way of doing this. Now, these are the poor black and Latino population in New York, that the politicians are talking about. We started going over to Jackson Avenue to the abandoned buildings, going to an abandoned building and looking on the first floor. There is no electricity, there is no running water. So what we would do is we would go to a graffiti artist and say, look we are going to use this for a party tonight. You know keep it down, we didn't want the cops to come chase us out of the abandoned building, and you are on the first floor in the vestibule and here is the wall, and we have the graffiti artists design a mural on one of the walls. You have the New York City skyline on top, a painting of the Number 5 train which ran on that line, and the abandoned buildings...Many of the buildings we lived in on the bottom of that and the name of the group that was performing that night, Treacherous Three or Cold Crush Brothers or the Fantastic Five. So we had the mural taken care of.
To have a show you have to have electricity. So we checked out the outlets. Of course, abandoned building, no electricity. So these poor oppressed black youth would do something ingenious. We would take an extension cord and run it into a lamp post on a street corner. I don't know how any of us did it without getting electrocuted, run the extension cord in to another extension cord into another one that went into the building, plug in the DJ equipment, got the lights hanging from the ceiling, and we lit up the place. Now we had electricity where none existed.
This is why people started calling the South Bronx "Hong Kong, USA," unfettered free enterprise. We didn't have the government regulation of how to properly use electricity. These were government-owned building, by the way. You know we had the homeless problem in New York. Government-owned buildings that we were now going into to have the parties. But you had to have security, of course. You know, sometimes things can get a little bit out of hand. So Africa Bambaata organized the Zulu Nation, members of gangs, to monitor the security at these places and the DJ and the MC would pay them cash money, untaxable income, to guard the entrances and make sure the security was tight at the venue.
Now, sometimes word of mouth wasn't the most effective way about getting people to a certain venue. So what happened was those of us who had real jobs in the South Bronx, who had real jobs downtown, would get flyers printed up and we would have friends, secretaries, legal secretaries who would print up these flyers and we would take pictures of different parties; and we had friends who worked in photography stores, they would surreptitiously make photos and mass copy them, take the copies to the guys, they would take it down to their jobs and where they work the mail rooms, mass produce them and take them back uptown and distribute them at barber shops and grocery stores. So everybody knew that Jazzy Jay would be on Jackson Avenue, for instance, that night. Unfettered free market enterprise.
More and more of us in the Bronx wanted to catch on with this thing and, of course, you couldn't afford the best stereo equipment. So what we would do is we would go to a junk yard or to where the garbage was taken out, find discarded furniture. Go to a junk yard where the cars were and take the car stereos out of these discarded cars and build stereo cabinets from discarded furniture and discarded automobiles. Did I tell you that these were poor black youth we are talking about here? Do I have to remind you that, because we are not talking about Silicon Valley here, as most people would think. And you would pay people cash money to build your equipment. That is how the boom box was born. People think it was invented in Japan. You know, these boxes people carry on their shoulder about this big. That was our CNN, that was our advertisement, because DJ's and MC's would make tapes of their parties. You want to get a tape of Grandmaster Flash or Busy Bee, for instance, you had to find somebody who had those tapes and most of the way you did that was you would see somebody going by with the boom box, blasting it to kingdom come, playing a tape of a given MC or DJ. This is pre-1979.
Actually the real hip hop started in 1972 and we just called it "rap" then. An MC by the name of Grandmaster Caz called it "hip hop," the culture. And on any given day in the South Bronx you could be, say, walking up Morris Avenue and you see a crowd of people gather around, and you would see battles going on between one group of MC's and another group of MC's which was Bambaata's idea. He said, instead of killing each other and fighting, physically fighting over turf, fight it out over the mike. So one day you might look like the old West, Dodge City, you see one group of guns coming this way and another group that way. You see a group of MC's approaching this way and a group approaching this way. And somebody would call out this MC's name and they would start rapping. Then you would call out these guys and it would go back and forth, and the one that got the best crowd response they were the winners and the other guys would have to leave. You have dancers doing the same thing.
Then let's move forward to 1979, first rap record. Somebody finally caught on to the phenomena, and said we have to have rappers on records. How do we do this? So they hired real musicians from the neighborhood which was good for me because I am a drummer. They had to bring us into the studio to make these records and that was the first time it was taxable income because now it was on record. But just like the internet was allowed to grow because they kept the taxation off of the internet sales, so did rap start to grow because of that very instance. And rap has had a residual effect on the larger economy.
There was a song by Run DMC called "My Adidas." Now Adidas did not ask them to make this song. They were not even paid for this song, but just because Run DMC made a record about Adidas, Adidas became the number one sneaker in the world. Just because these guys rapped about Adidas.
How many of you have heard of Puff, Puff Daddy, Sean Puffy
Combs? I met him ten years ago. He was an intern at the record
company I worked at, and he was an intern for Uptown Records,
a former rapper who is CEO of his own record label, which my record
company distributed. And Puffy's job was to make remixes for different
artists, for free. He wasn't getting paid. I remember people telling
me back then, see that kid Sean over there. He's never going to
amount to anything. That guy will be poor and broke just like
he is right now ten years from now. Today he is worth $245 million.
The same guy they told me wouldn't amount to anything.
There is a guy from New Orleans named Master P, Percy Miller, who seven years ago lived in the poorest neighborhood in Louisiana. Now that is real poor. And he started his business by selling his own records and tapes out of the trunk of his old broken-down car. Today he is worth $361 million. He owns not only a record label but a movie company, a sports representation company, a fashion company, a toy company.
Russell Simmons, who is considered the godfather of rap entrepreneurs, started Def Jam Records 20 years ago. Trial and error. He didn't have Jesse Jackson or anybody like that to back him up or government regulations to make it fair for rap entrepreneurs. We didn't have affirmative action that said you have to have x amount of black rappers. We tried affirmative action in "hip hop action." Anybody remember Vanilla Ice? Remember how great that worked out? And I don't care where I went in the United States, everywhere I went people knew, they could detect a New York accent, and the first question they would ask me was, can you rap. That was the expectation.
But the phenomenon of rap was that we were not just the employees of record companies, now we are running them. Once I heard, I think, it was Samuel Jackson was complaining that so many of the plum roles in Hollywood are going to rappers now. And just a couple of years before that Jesse Jackson was complaining that there weren't enough blacks in front of the camera in Hollywood. Now they are claiming there's too many of them. And most of them come from the area of hip hop. If it wasn't for rap, in fact, most back youths today would not vote because it was considered a white man's thing until Public Enemy. In fact, if it wasn't for them, Mayor Dinkins would never have been Mayor Dinkins, not that that is a good thing.
But in 1995, 1993, excuse me 1989, the West Coast started getting their prominence in rap. Now, you know how we hear the antitrust suit against Microsoft and the like, the West Coast not only became preeminent but totally dominant in rap. It was a complete takeover. You had groups like NWA, Ice Cube, Tone Low, Hammer. In fact Hammer made rap to the point that people who buy country records were buying Hammer's records. He made it more palatable to a larger audience. It wasn't just for a "gangsta" audience.
The West Coast became so dominant; but somehow we on the East Coast didn't grasp the concept of antitrust suits. We should have filed one against the West Coast, because they were so dominant that we couldn't compete any more. So we got complacent and the West Coast became innovative and creative to the point where we couldn't keep up. And unfortunately Jesse didn't go to bat for us and protest the fact that the West Coast had a virtual monopoly. I mean the West Coast was actually forcing people to buy their records. I mean they actually went into people's homes here on the East Coast. I am sure some of you have seen them in your homes, haven't you? Didn't they wake you up out of your homes and tell you to go and buy those records?
Of course not, I'm just kidding. But that forced the East Coast to do what? To become even more creative. Now come on, this is our thing. We can't let the guys in California where they do lunch take over our game.
So the man at Arista Records, a man by the name of Clive Davis who brought us people such as Whitney Houston, saw the handwriting on the wall. He woke up one day and he said, "You know, I have to do my part for civil rights. I am going to hire a rapper. I am going to give a rapper venture capital of $1 million and have him start up a company. This I do because it is good to be nice to people of color."
You believe that story? No! This is what actually happened. CEO's of record companies started looking at the ledger lines and seeing how the profit margin was so huge for rap records. Most record companies are funding other ventures based on rap sales.
Arista Records had no rap division. So Clive Davis said to this young man, Puffy Combs, who by the way had been fired from Uptown Records. He said, "Sean, I got an idea. I'll give you $1 million start-up capital. Start a record label. We will distribute it. In seven years your company will be a free-standing alone company. If you would like us to have a distribution deal, that'll be fine. But I want to see what you can do, especially since you have such a big mouth and such a big ego you think you can do anything."
Clyde Davis gave him this $1 million in 1993. That's Bad Boy Records. He signed Biggie Smalls, Craig Mac, and others, and this is the company that today is worth $252 million. What happened was the dominance of rap swung back to the East Coast, and we forgot about that antitrust suit that really would have worked out so well for us.
The residual effect again has been in fashion, for instance. I remember when I think it was Donna Karan was on the Ophra Winphrey show one time. Now Ophra was wearing one of her dresses. And she said, "I do not make clothes for black women." Oh yeah, she said that, and instead of us marching on Washington, singing "We Shall Overcome," what did young black youth do? Four young men from Queens said, it is about time we started a company that made fashions for us, by us, whose initials are F. U. B. U.FUBU. Today FUBU is the most sought after clothing line at Macys. They didn't go to Washington to ask for any money, they pooled their resources, they went to the West Indies tradition of Susu. West Indians come to this country, they pooled their resources, they worked sixteen-hour days at menial jobs, they saved their money, and they opened up businesses. Which is why there has always been an antagonistic relationship between native-born blacks like myself and West Indians who come to this country.
Who remembers the show "In Living Color"? It used to be on Fox. Do you remember the part of the show where they had the West Indian family, the Headleys, and the laziest member of the family had five jobs. Now that is, of course, kind of a dramatic way of saying the West Indians will work, you know, ten or whatever jobs it is. There was one episode where they had their own airline, West Indian airline. The father was the CEO of the airline. He was the pilot, the co-pilot, the stewardess, the maintenance man, and his daughter brings home a black American that she wants to marry. He asked the young man, you know, in essence, what is your job, young man? It was something like the CEO of whatever company. He said you lazy boy, get out of here. But he is the CEO of a company. But because he only has one job he is lazy.
So these young men followed that example. They pooled their resources and they started FUBU. Another young man by the name of Karl Cani and I started Karl Cani fashions. Russell Simmons started Fat Form Fashions, another leader starts Wu Wear. And a funny thing is that people who are buying most of those fashions are white teenagers, the same audience that buy rap records. Now I am not talking about a lot of the garbage you hear today, the modern misogynistic garbage you hear today, I am talking about the stuff that I grew up on. I wouldn't let a dog hear most of the stuff that's out here today. I'm not even a dog lover. But they pooled their resources and they grew their fashion companies to be envy of the whole world. Look at what is going on in Hollywood as I spoke about a few minutes ago, the phenomena of rappers getting the plum roles. Will Smith, Ice Cube who was in "Three Kings" and "Anaconda." The list goes on. One of the rappers in the movie that will be coming out next year with Sean Connery. Well, you don't get any bigger than Sean Connery except maybe Marlon Brando.
But the phenomenon has taken hold at the same time that NAACP is protesting that there aren't enough blacks in television and in the movies. First of all, blacks watch 70 hours more per week of television than whites, so I would say that black faces on television is the least of our problem. Watching too much of it is one of our problems.
But a lot of these rappers now are taking up the task of producing and writing and directing and financing their own movies. They are not going with hat in hand to Hollywood like Jesse is demanding that Hollywood share their wealth with them. They are taking power. Nobody ever gives you power. It is something you have to take. They are entering.
The funny thing is many of my rapper friends will vote Democrat and I will ask them, why would you support a system that says that what you do making a profit is illegitimate. Why would you support a system that had government programs that destroyed where you and I lived, that did not help you get out of poverty. Free enterprise did. Why would you support that system? And after you die, I told this to Chuck D, that very angry leader of Public Enemy. (Every time he sees a guy on TV he is angry.) I asked him, I said, "Chuck, don't you realize that what you guys did would be illegal in a Communist country. You guys love Castro, but you couldn't say what you say about the government in Cuba. And, Chuck, after you die, you and I are basically the same age, after you die, do you realize that what you leave for your family will not belong to them. The government will take that."
Yet, the black politicians you see on television today are absolutely dead set against repealing the estate tax. They are screaming about the plight of black farmers, but won't repeal the estate tax. They talk about the lack of formation capital in the black community, but won't repeal the capital gains tax. They keep talking about this nonsense of the richest one percent. "The rich get richer and the poor get poorer." I have heard that since the Reagan years and I have a question. If the rich keep getting richer, and the poor keep getting poorer, why are the poor still here? You know, "Reagan stole from the poor and gave to the rich." Now how do you rob a poor person? You see, the doctrine is to hate success, to hate the wealthy. I know what it is like to be poor, and I got poorer when I left home.
You talk about children born into poverty. Well, if they are poor, then parents must be poor. When I left home and left on my own, my father said, "Yeah, it's tough out there, boy. It's tough out there. You'll see how tough it is."
My family had moved to New Jersey by that time. I am in New
York on my own. I go to work at a record company. I keep my job
at the record company, in the mail room. And I'm told by my black
friends, you better get used to this job, brother, because none
of us ever make it out of here. Eleven months later I proved them
wrong, because I went to that job with the purpose of learning
everything I could. I was in the mail room, the nerve center where
all the information was coming in. As soon as a publication like
Billboard came in, I read it. Advertising agencies, I read
it. I started writing down names of CEO's and department heads
of different record companies. So whenever there was a gathering
or a convention, I would walk up to somebody like Cecil Holmes
and say, "Mr. Holmes, I'm Reginald Jones. I am a big fan
of yours. The move you made signing, whoever it was, Anita Baker,
that was a brilliant move." And "Oh, thank you, thank,
you Mr. Jones." And someone else comes up and he says, "Hey
this is my friend Reginald Jones. I've known him for a long time."
Now, I didn't go to college. What was supposed to be my college years, I spent the first one and a half of those years still in high school. They had a five and a half year high school career, and what that would say is I am supposed to be a statistic. I'm either supposed to be in jail or in such desperate need of affirmative action. And it is a funny thing, black people will say to you, well, you had to have benefited from affirmative action. We can't even see ourselves excelling in the free market. Even though I've shown you here how we've proven it. When there is absolutely open competition, we excel. And the expectation is that.
Look at golf for instance. I love this example. Tiger Woods goes to Augusta in 1997, those of you who know golf, shoots 18 under par, an absolutely insane score at Augusta. I never thought I would see a score. I think Nobilo might have been the one behind him, about 12 strokes behind, good enough to win any other day, but Tiger Woods just crushes the field. And I am always told, well, you know, brother, when we as black people win in white folks rules, they change the rules. And I said, you know what, okay, you know, you got a point because they said, after Tiger did that, we have to reconfigure the golf courses. We can't let one man dominate the sport like that. What has been the end result? Nobody but Tiger can win now. And I heard then, black people are going to take over golf. Now one black guy is out on the golf course, but we are all gonna take over golf.
Around the same time the Williams sisters started coming up,
and I remember when I think it was Serena won a tournament and
then I heard, they're going to take over tennis, too. So the inference
then is if one of them is that good, then they are all that good.
Now, so if one of us is as smart as Reginald Lewis, the late CEO
of Beatrice Foods, or Addison Rand at Avis or William H. Cosby,
if one of us is that intelligent, then we're all that intelligent.
It is about expectations.
I heard a story of a teacher in one of the big cities who took over a class of predominately black students, special ed, of course, because that is what the government system does with us. They put us in special ed. So she goes to special ed class, and within a month the special ed class has the highest reading scores in the entire district. The principal says, wait a minute, there is something going on here. So they re-tested them. This time the gap was even higher. And he tested them again. Finally he said, okay, this is too much. He goes to the teacher and he says, "You know what, you are the absolute greatest teacher of all times."
And she says, "What are you talking about?" He says, "The way you taught those students. How did you get them to do that?" She said, "I didn't get them to do anything. That was the high I.Q. class." He said, "Are we talking about the same class?" She said, "Yeah." He said, "No, no, that is the special ed class." She said, "No, no. Here." She gave him a sheet of paper that she thought was their IQ's. They were their locker numbers.
So she taught to the level that she thought they were at. She
thought these were the Shakespearean type students so she taught
them accordingly. You know, because she thought they were that
intelligent, that was the level she taught.
Marla Collins did this in Chicago. She started a private school in Chicago against the objections, of course, of the education establishment and many black parents. Their school district in the area lost $30 million, can't find it. She educates her students at a fraction, less than a quarter of the cost of these government education students and they excel.
So I say the same thing to the politicians today. Why don't you talk to us like you talk to everybody else? Talk to us as entrepreneurs. Talk to us as property owners, as business people, as you would to anybody else. Don't talk to me about a "digital divide." When 36 percent of all malt liquors in this country are bought by 12 percent of the population, don't talk to me about a digital divide. When 50 percent of all movie tickets are bought by black teenagers, don't talk to me about racism in Hollywood. Because a black teenager will more likely spend money on a Mel Gibson movie than he would on a Spike Lee movie, although, if you've seen Spike Lee movie's, I don't really blame them.
But you get my drift? The power is in the hands of the consumer and the creator. If you create something, you have a right to decide who you hire and who you fire. I don't want to belong to any organization that wouldn't have me as a member, plain and simple. I get that on college campuses a lot. The Boy Scouts, for instance. What if they didn't want blacks in it. Well, then I won't join. Plain and simple. I can't join the National Organization for Women. It's just that simple. Freedom. Freedom is what we have lacked and longed for it in this country since the time we have been here, and nobody wants to talk to us on that level because the only way to people is victimship. Black media is doing it.
They had Al Gore on BET. Tavis Smiley is interviewing Al Gore and he is talking about his struggle for civil rights and in fact his father lost his Senate seat because of his support for civil rights. There is only one thing, one little bitty thing wrong with that. It was a total lie. You see, Albert Gore, Sr., and Robert Byrd,you remember the impeachment where they are talking about the "conscience of the Senate," the Senator from West Virginia, former Klansman, did they tell you that part or did you just hear that for the first time. That William Fulbright, who is the idol of young William Jefferson Clinton, led a 74 day filibuster against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He says this stuff in front of the NAACP and nobody ever calls him on it.
You know the Confederate flag issuedoes anybody know that there is a monument in the state of Tennessee to a man named Nathan Bedford Forrest, the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klana state-financed, taxpayer-financed monument. Why are we upset about the Confederate flag in South Carolina. The Confederate flag, by the way, is a symbol of freedom. Let's get it right. Because when they passed Dred Scott, the Confederate flag wasn't flying in that building, was it? They go after a symbol of freedom, yet, a monument..? Hey, I mean everybody wants their hero. Let them have it, but not at taxpayer expense. Why aren't we talking about that?
Racial profiling. Nothing gets the black electorate stirred up more than racial profiling. But if they are looking for a mass murderer, a serial killer, you think they are going to go to Harlem or they are going to go someplace in the Southwest? Yet we're supposed to think that racial profiling is only against blacks, and it is a problem, don't get me wrong, but let's be honest about it. While they are debating it at the Apollo Theater, you know, why don't you go down to the President and tell him to sign that executive order. Your state practically invented racial profiling. The President himself is doing it right now. The federal government is doing it right now. Ask black women flying in from overseas about racial profiling. They are 900 times more likely than anybody else to be x-rayed, looking for drugs, and handcuffed to railings, to a toilet seat, until they pass drugs. This has had a 900-fold increase since the Clinton Administration.
And as governor of Arkansas William Jefferson Clinton was the strongest proponent in this entire country of racial profiling. You heard this on CNN, didn't you? Come on, don't look surprised. And yet these are the people. He is the first black President? The first black President, and the "conscience" of this whole debate, signed into law Confederate Flag Day making it punishable by fine and imprisonment for anybody to deface or defame anything having to do with the Confederacy. But, I'm supposed to believe that these people have our best interests at heart. It goes back to the house slave-field slave mentality.
Capitalism. That's the word that I want to hear from now on. You want to approach the black community. Talk to me about free enterprise. Cut our taxes. Oh yeah, black people pay taxes. You probably didn't know that, did you. You would never have guessed it. Racism did not destroy our neighborhoods. Government did it. Government regulation, rent control, demolishing private property. That was one big mistake that Franklin made, "life, liberty and property" was the original wording. Changing it to "pursuit of happiness" has been our downfall ever since.
We must hold onto freedom. It is precious. We must be diligent and if they continue to use the black population and poor, the mascots of socialism, then all is lost. I would like to, because if the election swings, if the black population and the black youth are catching on to this because of the speeches I give about hip hop and capitalism are starting to catch on, there will be a titanic shift in this country and maybe we can turn the tide of tyranny in this country.
So reach out, reach out with the greatest system known to man,
the boon to mankind in this country and all over the world. It
is capitalism. Thank you. (applause)
Thank you. Thank you.
I have a few minutes for questions. Yes sir?
QUESTION: Has capitalism taken on any roots in the South Bronx?
Is there any progress to report there?
REGINALD JONES: That was the first thing that I know of was rap music because like I said, there were no regulations that said you had to have this large a turntable, the speakers have to be this high, your rappers have to be this tall, you know. That was the best example that I know of.
On top of that, you know, you have to have a license to cut
hair in New York. When I was growing up in the Projects, sometimes
it was too dangerous to walk your kids to where the barber shop
was. So on Saturdays you see a guy out on the bench in front of
the building with his clippers, and he would cut hair of all the
young boys in the neighborhood for lower than it cost at the barber
shop. Sometimes when they had three or four kids he would give
them a package deal and cut their hair. Then, the housing police
would come and chase them off. Because the government doesn't
want you making money at something they can't tax.
QUESTION: And they blame it on health.
REGINALD JONES: Yes. But that is one example. Another example I talked about was the fashion industry; because what happened with FUBU, when I talked with them, they told me that once people found out about them, they couldn't keep up with the demand. Their clothes are made in the neighborhood. They had to hire people in the neighborhood. When Puff Daddy started his company, when Russell started his company, when Bess Pea started, they hired people in their community. They had to go where they work and in fact FUBU now has the NBA apparel contract.
And a lot of the companies now are screaming, you know, what about us, what about us. Well, what about you? They didn't get that through some affirmative action contract. They got it because people were demanding FUBU, and FUBU is having trouble keeping up with the demand. No matter how many people they hire, they can't keep up with the demand. So these are things that are going on in these poor communities. I mean I speak specifically of the South Bronx because that is where I am from, and it is spread across the country.
I remember 20-20. One of the first shows 20-20 ever did was "The Phenomenon Called Rap Music" in an area called the South Bronx and how it would not last. In fact, it showed some black leaders saying this was a ghetto phenomenon which showed why we needed more government funding in public schools. Right? I remember that show so well. It would pass from the scene, they said. I would hate to have been a predictor on that show, or put any money on that. And the same people now are singing the praises of hip hop. And they were downgrading it before.
There are some things about it I don't like, obviously. Because I remember in days you would never think of being on the stage and saying the things about women that they say now. You would never think of doing that. When they started doing that stuff on the West Coast, we had a heart attack. They were going to be shut down for sure. Now, hey, I am a big proponent of the First Amendment, but as a person with class, there are some things that you just don't say. Plain and simple. And I think that now it's being used as a destructive tool towards our youth, because they think it is so cool to be a "gangsta." You know, we got fools out in California shooting each other over colors of a rag. I remember speaking at a prison out there. I said, you guys are idiots. You put the Klan out of business. You are killing each other over color, the same thing that your ancestors suffered under because of their color, you're doing it to each other. You are destroying one another over turf that you don't even own. So now it is being used as a destructive tool.
It is kind of a turn-around happening. There is a young man by the name of Common who does what we call "conscious rap." So it is not all bad. But that is free enterprise, young people in the cities now are getting are more interested in computers.
There was one young man I met in Harlem. His mother was worried about him, she said, because, she was talking with Tony Brown and myself, and she said she was so worried about this young man. He is always off to himself and he doesn't socialize much. So we asked her, is there anything that he likes to do, figuring if we can find something that he is interested in, we can get him involved in it. She said, "No, he just goes and gets these old computers, takes them apart, and puts them back together." We said, "You are worried about your son? You need to be pricing a house." More and more of that is going on.
A lot of us are involved after the Million Man March, for instance, actually went back and followed through and kept our word and went back to these neighborhoods, got these young men involved. We allow young people to do things that were never allowed a long time ago. When I was grew up in the Projects, the Black Spades were the most feared gang in the country. Because I was raised in the church I was one of the kids they would not allow in their gang because they felt like that would be stealing from God. Now these are gangsters. They said, no, no, no. We can't have no churches in our gang. And if they caught you doing something wrong, not only did they beat you up, they would report you to your parents. I'm talking about thugs here. And, you know, if they saw somebody they knew went to church, they wouldn't rob them. They would rob everybody else. That's bad, but look at it in context. They wouldn't rob an old lady they knew went to church.
You know we hear this stuff about a day care crisis. You know,
women not having a place to leave their children. I don't care
what black neighborhood you go to in this country there was always
somebody named Miss Williams that people left their kids with,
10, 15 of them and everybody in the neighborhood could say they
were raised by Miss Williams. Miss Williams could be walking down
the street, and catch you doing something wrong, and if they saw
her coming, they would stop and wait till she passed by. If they
were so much as smoking a cigarette, they'd put it behind their
backs, to show her respect so she wouldn't catch them doing something
wrong. Yes sir?
QUESTION: In my remarks this morning before you arrived I was talking about the need for people concerned with copyrights to link up with urban interests. I gave the example of rappers in the fact that now we see rappers in the courts fighting over copyrights and property rights and trademarks, and I indicated that there is some hope perhaps that the inner city renter can be brought to see that he has a stake in property rights because his heroes have a stake in property rights. Am I right to think there is hope in that line?
REGINALD JONES: Oh absolutely. And for a couple of reasons. One, there is an area near 174th Street in the Bronx, where Hillary Clinton grew up... And Father Frank Gigante, who is a brother of Vinny the Chin, the reputed don of the Genovese family, he has helped them rebuild, in areas that looks like paradise surrounded by Beirut and they are privately owned, and the people there are starting to understand what property rights mean. They don't want the government on their land. In fact, they went to the Nation of Islam to hire their security guards, the Nation of Islam to patrol the area and you know they don't see drug one in the area. Because the Fruit of Islam is not even going to allow you to bring alcohol in the area. You go to the liquor store, you better go the other way around and come through the back. They don't even allow that. Private police, and you never hear about police brutality. There is nothing about private property. You have the government patrolling private areas. Now you never hear of a private police force brutalizing their customers. Why would you do that? You know, if you're paying me, I'll do anything for you. I'll come and cook your food for you. I'll make the beds for you. That's why you are absolutely right.
As far as the copyrights are concerned, in the old days before these rappers were copyrighting their materials, we had what was called a moral code, like you see the show Larry Elder hosts now. I don't know if it is shown up here. Larry Elder, the great Libertarian out in California, moral court. If we knew you were using someone else's lyrics, you were absolutely ostracized. You would never work again. We called it "biting." They said, "Wait a minute, you are biting Busy Bee's words! You are out!" We didn't have copyright laws then. It was truly free market. Everybody was always there. They said, "Wait a minute, I heard you using someone else's rhyme." Imagine the creativity you had to have in order to do all of that, all these rappers and you couldn't use somebody else's rhymes.
But in fact Dr. Dre from, the one that founded Death Row Records, was in court over that very issue of copyright because I think it was Napster and maybe MP3. I don't know about MP3. I know Napster for sure were violating his copyrights. Now Chuck D, of course, is so anti-corporate he is on the side of Napster. And as I told him, I said, "Wait a minute, they are using people's material without asking them. An artist has to get paid on his air play." You know if you want to use my material, ask me.
So absolutely there is some coalition building now. A lot of
the rappers are now starting to find out and realizing especially
when they become CEOs. I asked Puffy, why in the world are you
supporting Hillary? She is not from here, number one, and number
two, you are in court now because of a gun, right? You are going
to court over a gun. Your God-given right to own that gun and
you are being taken to court over it and she is one of the biggest
proponents of gun control.
I just want to mention one last thing, the issue of gun control. One of the most racist laws in this country is gun control because the first laws on gun control were passed to disarm black citizens especially after World War I and World War II, and especially because they had lynchings, because they realized if we are going to lynch them, they can't be armed. They might shoot us. Monroe, North Carolina: In 1957 the Klan went to a man's house to have a lynching party. A caravan of 80 to lynch the man, because he was protesting the fact that blacks were paying taxes that were going to a swimming pool that they were not allowed to swim in, and in rolled a caravan of 80 vehicles up to this man's house. What they didn't know was that they were war veterans that had 600 gas masks, helmets, mortars, rifles, machine guns, and the like, and they had built a trench around the man's house so when they got out of their vehicles they let out a hearty "Hee-haw!" The black citizens, the black people that lived in the house opened fire and total chaos ensued. There was not another lynching in Monroe, North Carolina, after that.