Truth and Reconciliation.
I am deeply saddened in a moment so close to reconciliation that the powers that be, misused an important moment for us to all grow closer together and learn more about one another. Instead the moment was stolen and highjacked to make an example of an outspoken black man. I will not be bullied, silenced, or continuously oppressed by any organization, group, or corporation. I am disappointed that Viacom does not understand or respect the power of the black community.
I was a member of the Viacom “Family” for over Twenty years. Since I was a minor, we worked together to make great positive entertainment and I was handed many opportunities that I am grateful for. At17 years old, I was deemed the youngest staff writer in TV history on their various Nickelodeon series. In 2009 the wonderful and amazing Cyma Zarghami blessed me with the opportunity to become the youngest television Chairman in history, placing the teen division of Viacom solely in my hands as an executive. She along with the strong and brilliant Marva Smalls guided me through the corporate infrastructure that at times felt overwhelming due to many doubting my abilities as a black man. I am forever grateful to them for their love and kindness as leaders and their matriarch like care for me over the years. With their support, I rose to the occasion at Viacom creating philanthropic opportunities and award programing such as the HALO Awards which awarded youth grants for their nonprofit organizations to change the world and end everything from bigotry, homophobia, racism, and even attempting to find a cure for AIDS and Cancer. These young people had big ideas, big hearts and more importantly big optimism, just like myself. We successfully brought the world closer together for over 9 years with every big-name celebrity and major corporation you could think of, truly one of my proudest accomplishments in entertainment. Not because of ratings or numbers, but because I was able to empower the next generation. My time at Viacom also birthed one of my other greatest creative accomplishments; their longest running comedy series and the most successful Hip Hop programming in Television History “Wild 'N Out”. An idea in which I self-financed out my own pocket and presented to MTV. I created a billion-dollar brand that expanded across a multitiered empire that is still Viacom’s biggest digital brand, touring business, talent discovery and incubation system and successful restaurant franchise. Based on trust and empty promises, my ownership was swindled away from me. For Viacom to be so deceptive is no surprise; they have been mistreating and robbing our community for years, underpaying talent on their biggest brands like Love & Hip Hop, all of BET programming and of course, Wild 'N Out.
I don’t have to defend myself here, the proof is in the history. I believed that the corporation was becoming more progressive and willing to create helpful spaces and dialogue in these difficult and uncertain times of 2020. Instead they chose to recently ban all advertisement that supported George Floyd and Breonna Taylor who we are all still seeking justice for. I also went as far to reach out to Ms. Shari Redstone, the owner of Viacom, to have a conversation of reconciliation and actually apologize if I said anything that pained or hurt her or her community. Dead Silence! So that’s when I realized they don’t want a conversation or growth, they wanted to put the young negro in his place. They wanted to show me who is boss, hang me out to dry and make an example of anyone who says something they don’t agree with. But like the great Shirley Chisholm, “I am unbossed and unbought and unbothered”. I respectfully stepped away from oppressive corporations in the past. NBC threatened and mistreated me for years, but I was the bigger person and abandoned an 8-figure salary on their number one hit show “Americas Got Talent” and currently stand by my friend and Queen Gabrielle Union in her fight against oppression.
I took my talents and executive creativity to my open minded and willing partners at the Fox Television network to create the current #1 hit show on television “The Masked Singer” in which I host and executive produce. We are also gearing up to launch a daily talk show based in the historic community of Harlem, where the ultimate goal is to bring people closer together during these difficult times. Right now is the time for strong voices and compassionate thinkers to step up and create a dialogue of healing. Dr. King said, “We must learn to grow together as brothers, or we will parish together as fools”. Ironically at that time our government called him “the most dangerous Negro in the country” and labeled him a Terrorist. As we all know Hollywood and the media is a dirty business. Still, I honestly can’t believe that Viacom has such poor council that would allow them to make such a divisive decision in the midst of protests and civil uprising within our current pandemic. Truly an unwise decision. For them to take it one step further and flat out lie in their official press release, saying that I didn’t attempt to reconcile the situation when on two separate occasions I specifically acknowledged and openly requested a forum to be corrected. Malcolm X said it best, “The media is the most powerful entity on earth, it will have you hating the people being oppressed and loving the people doing the oppressing; making the innocent guilty and the guilty innocent.”
My hope and original goal was to use this moment to show healing and acceptance and prayed that Viacom would use their powers for good. Instead I am now receiving death threats, hate messages calling me an ungrateful Nigger and beyond. Viacom’s goal to keep me from providing for my family and lineage will be foiled. They can try to kick me while I’m down or force me to kiss the master’s feet in public for shame and ridicule, but instead I stand firm on my square with my fist in the air repeating my mantra, “You can’t fire a Boss!”.
In a pleasant turn of events and the best blessing in all of this hurtful attack is the outpouring of love and support from the Jewish community. It has been amazing. I have spoken with many Rabbis, clergy, Professors and coworkers who offer their sincere help. I must apologize to my Jewish Brothers and Sisters for putting them in such a painful position, which was never my intention, but I know this whole situation has hurt many people and together we will make it right. I have dedicated my daily efforts to continuing conversations to bring the Jewish Community and the African American community closer together, embracing our differences and sharing our commonalities. Through the guidance of my multicultural team which embodies several people from the Jewish Community, specifically Michael Goldman my business partner for 3 decades who discovered me at the Hollywood Improv when I was doing Stand Up as a kid. Through thick and thin he has been by my side. Yelling at me when I talk too much and laughing with me as we’ve always overcome adversity together. I love you my brother, thank you for helping me become the man that I am today. And as we embark on this next “Ncredible” journey together we will bring our two persecuted communities together like we always planned. He and so many gracious people from the Jewish Community are showering me with love and helping to guide me to the Promise land, literally l am excited to announce that I have been invited to Israel which is a lifelong dream where I will receive teachings, lessons and truth about the Jewish history. As someone who is in pursuit for my PHD in Theology and Divinity and just received a degree in Criminal Justice from the Great Howard University, this will be an enriching, enlightening and overall exciting trip!
As for Viacom, who is now on the wrong side of history, I will continue to pray for you. I don’t blame any individual, I blame the oppressive and racist infrastructure. Systemic racism is what this world was built on and was the subject in which I was attempting to highlight in the recent clips that have been circulating from my podcast. If I have furthered the hate speech, I wholeheartedly apologize.
But now I am the one making demands. I demand full ownership of my billion dollar “Wild ‘N Out” brand that I created, and they will continue to misuse and destroy without my leadership! I demand that the hate and back door bullying cease and while we are at it, now that the truth is out, I demand the Apology!