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Carl West Story (by Justin Wesley and Ariel Gans)

CarlWest“I have no competition.”

So said media mogul Carl West in his interview with the After School Matters Lost Boyz Sports Journalism Team on July 27 regarding his international blog, Truth Be Told News Service.

“Truth be Told News is something I started about five years ago. It’s just a subscription-based daily platform where we write content in four areas: business, politics, community service and education,” Mr. West said. “We do sports and entertainment, but our main focus is those four areas. It’s a great way to communicate to people positive content.”

As CEO of MG Media, a promotional marketing and media company and both founder and managing editor of Truth Be Told News Service, one of the things Mr. West prides himself on is Truth be Told’s commitment to positivity.

“We try to do stories that are motivational, uplifting and that are meant to inspire.” Mr. West said. “Very seldom, probably ever, do we talk about violence and crime, because you hear about that stuff enough on just your regular news.”

Mr. West also believes that the discussion of violence is overblown by what he calls the “hidden hands of power.”

“Violence isn’t as bad as they say it is,” Mr. West claimed. “It’s not as bad as it was, but the hidden hands of power want you to think that it is. The hidden hands of power control the media, and when you control the media, you control the way people think, what they buy – so many things. They make you think that it is because there’s more media and back in the 90’s urban communities got no press. Back then there were 1000 murders, and now we are having 400-500. That’s too many, but it’s better than it was. Now urban communities have become the new reality show – let’s just show urban chaos and murder – it’s cheap to produce,” West said.  “They’ll show you the same murder over and over and over again until psychologically you think it’s multiple murders. I believe that it’s designed to distort and diffuse progress in urban communities so that as a young brother I’ve got to be scared of you. All that stuff distorts the concentration and the mindset of young people so that y’all can’t progress even higher.”

It’s because of the fear produced and kept present by the media that Mr. West avoids talking about violence on Truth Be Told.

“It’s meant to just bring fear,” Mr West explained, “because when you bring fear, people that are trying to be successful stop. So now communities and neighbors don’t know each other because they’re staying in their houses. And I believe that, so I ignore it. I think that the most important thing in a community is how you build wealth or your economic base, because once you do that you can do everything. You can invest in businesses, you can invest in homes, you can invest in each other, but there’s no investment in violence– it’s just destruction so I ignore it. The community has to say, “look, stop feeding us that propaganda.” So that’s what TBT news is all about: telling the truth about what our community really is all about, and the best and the brightest of our communities is what I say we should always focus on. We should always be around people that inspire us to be the best in the business, and we should expect people to give us that. Instead they give us the worst, so we want to be like the worst.”

Mr. West, a graduate of Marshall High School, is often most inspired by his 14-year old daughter, (name).  

“She is my everything,” he gushed. West admits that much of what he does in his business and personal lives is driven by his commitment to provide opportunities and valuable experiences for his daughter. He tries to be the best provider, father and example of a strong Black man he can be so she will understand what the terms “good father and good man” actually mean. He insists on demonstrating this in his everyday life as well, so that he is a living mentor and positive example to everyone with whom he interacts. One of the keys to this demonstration is thinking clearly and acting responsibly. West stresses his belief that we must become more disciplined in our thinking and our actions and especially how we spend our personal and collective resources.

“They say well oh Michael Jordan, he made all this money and he sell Nikes and now get Nikes so you can be like Michael,” Mr. West said. “That’s the propaganda again, they don’t want you to make money like Michael, they want you to buy Michael’s shoes so he can get the money and Nike can get the money. It doesn’t show you how you can make the money. It’s that mind game, but building wealth is the number one thing that any community should focus on, because now if I’m building wealth, now I’m able to invest in and help whoever else build wealth. Really money is meant to make money – that’s what they don’t tell you. Money isn’t really meant to be spent, money is meant to be saved so that you can learn how to utilize it to make more money. It’s a simple formula, but they don’t tell you that.”

West further insists that African Americans can have considerably more financial success if they only understood the nature of, and proper respect for, money.

“They have portrayed the black community as a community that only wants to make money so that they can buy stuff,” Mr West said, “and are just going to lose it. They talk about athletes, and they pretty much always highlight a black athlete, that makes all this money and then goes broke buying stupid stuff for his whole community – he got 20 cars and three houses, he’s buying these gold chains and blah blah blah. What he didn’t understand was that all that money was meant for him to make more money, so he ain’t never gotta work again in his life once he retires. That’s a perception. It sends the message not that you’re unintelligent, but that you’re careless – that you haven’t been trained.”

West recalled the sad ‘rags-to-riches-to-rags tale of enigmatic basketball superstar Allen Iverson to make his point.

“Allen Iverson was spending $10,000 a night-on clubbing and putting his boys up in hotels every night because they all grew up in the hood with him,” Mr. West continued. “He could have just as easily bought a house and said everybody live here, but nobody ever thought of that. All it took was one person to come around and say “hey Al, we can do this a little differently, you can have all that but you can have some for later when it’s over.” No one ever came around and told him that, so when he got done playing, he looked up and it was all gone.”

West doesn’t blame people for poor decision-making where money is concerned. In fact, he understands the dynamic appeal of fast, seemingly limitless money. What West stresses is the need to learn how to build and manage money over long periods–over generations.  .

“Wealth building and investment is what they call generational wealth,” Mr. West said. “That’s when anybody who gets money for the first time is going to be an idiot with it no matter who they are. There’s a difference between the intelligence that you needed to get it and the intelligence needed to manage it. There’s a greed and hunger that’s overwhelming. You grew up in the ghetto, never had no money, your whole family is dirt poor, so now you finally get it. People who come from second generation, third generation money, they’ve been taught how to manage it. They don’t understand the value of it, but one thing that they will not do is lose it.”

West took a moment to share his admiration for professional athletes who he believes are doing the right things with their money, including Lebron James.  

“That’s why I love Lebron James. Forget his basketball, that’s a given, but Lebron says, ‘you know what? I have the power, I have the leverage, to put all my homies in school, give them degrees, and they’re going to be my agent and my managers.”

In closing, West shares his advice for young people.

“I think that critical thinking and leadership skills are the most important things that young people can have.They think they want to buy all this stuff today, but everything you do in your life should be about tomorrow at your age.”

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