A Fist Held High
On this week’s episode, Michael and Pele explore Michael’s decision to sit out the national anthem for several seasons and how it affected their family. They are joined by the great Dr. John Carlos, who raised his fist high from the Olympic medal podium in 1968. Michael, Pele and Dr. Carlos discuss that moment, the aftermath and sports activism today.
The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed the World: https://www.zinnedproject.org/materials/john-carlos-story
[00:12] Michael Bennett: Wake up, wake up! You’re listening to Mouthpeace with Michael Bennett and Pele Bennett.
[00:33] Pele Bennett: On today’s episode, we have a great interview with an important topic on activism in sports, something that Michael relates to. We have Mr. John Carlos, he’s been a figure not only within the 1960s as he raised his fist at the Olympics, but he’s very relevant today in things that are still going on, and its 2020.
[00:53] Michael Bennett: And it’s always been an issue that has drawn a line between what is nationalism and what is it to be a patriot in America. Is it that you stand up and you stand for the rights and the rules of what society is? Or do you sit down and still have the same belief? I think there’s a lot of people in America who are still at odds about what does this really mean? What does this statement mean? And I think it has added a lot of attacks on the culture and added a lot of controversy into the culture, but has also brought a lot of conversation. So I think it has been some good and bad from this thing.
[01:24] Pele Bennett: Right. So I think that in the beginning, when Kaep was kneeling, you decided to get involved also into a movement, that it created a movement. And I think sometimes it’s hard because movements are led by influence. And sometimes now how we get information is not always correct. Or maybe the person that is following this movement needs to do more homework, not just join and follow because you feel like it’s the right thing to do. It’s like what is the work behind it? So like for you, because at that time you decided yourself to kneel, what is it that made you feel that you needed to get involved? And what work behind it, and what homework did you do to make sure that that was the right decision?
[02:04] Michael Bennett: I feel like that’s a good question. You sound like goddamn Oprah over there asking that question. But seriously, I feel like I’ve always felt like I’ve had a PHD in it because it’s just been my experience in society as a black man from the beginning. Like I’ve always had the tales of the father, that my dad always had or my mom always had. Always been reading the history books about what’s happened to black people in America. What’s been our story, what’s been our struggle. So I think at that time, like seeing Kaep bring it to fruition, and having the opportunity to be able to use our platform in a major way, I think there’s always been athletes and people in NFL, we’ve always had conversations. And I think everybody never really wanted to hear, even though we would bring things up like Black Lives Matter, or we have public discourse about an issue and people just kind of, you know, push it away because, oh, that’s not something that they should be talking about. Because it’s politics. An athlete should not be talking about politics. But I think at the time when Kaepernick was bringing it up, it was the first time that the ears were open to want to hear, like, what are you guys really upset about? And why are you guys upset? You guys are making millions of dollars. You’ve married the most beautiful women. You have the cars, you have everything. Why are you upset about your place in America? But I think a lot of people fail to realize is that we still are part of a different America. I think a white America and the black America is different. And I say black America — I think that includes all people of color with it’s Polynesian, where its Hispanic, all brown people. I think brown people in America experience a different America from most white America. And that is just true. They say when white people catch a cold, black people catch the flu. That’s just always been history the history of it. And I think for us, I’ve always had the historical context into what’s happening. And I think him having a platform, and us having the opportunity to say what we were feeling, I think everybody just had it just a different ear to it. I think the ear was willing to be unclogged. And it wanted to hear.
[03:59] Pele Bennett: Right. But my thing is that when it was first going on and it was starting, I felt there needed to be more narrative to it to kind of control that why people were doing that and what it was for. Because that was an issue. I wish even now that there was more being said after the act was done so it could really control onto what the objective was on doing this. It’s not like, you’re not tiptoeing around with it, like this is real shit happening in people’s lives every day. And so how are you taking your moment to speak up and stand up and use your voice, platform, however that looks, but doing it authentic.
[04:35] Michael Bennett: But we must remember that we aren’t the people who are the martyrs. We aren’t those people. The people that are really doing the groundwork are the people that we never, ever hear about. They’re doing so much, like Pele said, that they’re sacrificing, that they’re not putting their whole foot in, they’re putting their whole life in. So for us, it’s like we want to be able to help bring attention to certain things, but we must remember that as much as the media builds us up, it’s also not always true that we’re not those people. I think that’s the most American thing you do is the bring up issues that are happening in your country and that you want to see is right, because as a human being, you want to see every human being able to live in a fair America and a fair world. And sometimes people on the other side, they misconstrue the message and they get so caught up in their own beliefs that they’re not even hearing what people are trying to say.
[05:25] Pele Bennett: Do you think that sitting, standing, all that stuff has impacted our relationship at all?
[05:29] Michael Bennett: I actually think its impacted our relationship in a more powerful, in a more profound way than possible. Because it’s allowed us to break down the barriers of our color and our skin and our gender and really connected us as soulmates. And because we experience a lot of different things, we experience a lot of hate from the world, and I think that we can really run to is each other’s arms. I think for us that kind of build our relationship, it made us even stronger because also we’ve experienced other people’s pain. We’ve been in rooms together where we’ve seen people who have dealt with police brutality. We’ve been in places where kids haven’t had a food to eat. We’ve been in places where only somebody that you really, truly love can break down something like that and be able to go to the room together and just hug each other. Because there’s so much trauma out there for other people that I think is built our relationship up to know that, dang, together, we have something powerful, we have a voice, we have our family. But together we also experience a lot of different things that have made us stronger as a couple. I feel like personally.
[06:25] Pele Bennett: No, I agree. I think also sometimes when you’re in those spaces with people that are going through something traumatic, or communities, it’s also hard because you go so hard, you go to this city, that city, this person, that person, this situation, that situation, and you — it’s so heavy that sometimes you bring it back with you. You bring back a little bit of the pain, a little bit of the hurt, the trauma, the conversation, the tears. And it’s heavy that it kind of sits on your heart. So I think it’s good that like for us, that we’re able to come back home and have more conversations that kind of bring us that peace again within ourselves, because I feel like sometimes holding on, it can affect our relationship or our is how we interact with each other. And you’re like, oh my God, like, I didn’t know that this was so heavy in my heart, but really, it was coming from something else.
[07:16] Michael Bennett: John Carlos is one of the most famous athletes in American history who stood upon the 1968 Summer Olympics and raised his fists in solidarity with the world, not only black power, but what was happening to every human being. And he stood for something bigger than just himself. The socks he wore were black to the podium to represent black poverty in America. He wore no shoes. That moment has become one of the most iconic moments in sports. The moment when somebody puts something more significant than just winning a medal, it was the significance of people. The whole race as one. And I think John Carlos has been one of the most special people to ever grace this earth. And I’m so honored to be able to have him on Mouthpeace with us today. So take us back to that moment in 1968. What was going through your mind when you were raising your fist, and what do you think was gonna happen, and what made you do it?
[08:13] John Carlos: Well, Mike, let’s talk a little bit before the demonstration. There was a whole bunch of uproar going around the world. You know, you saw what happened in Tiananmen Square. You saw what happened in Chicago. You saw the assassination that had taken place with public figures and social activists throughout society, the black power movement had just started taking shape. There was quite a bit going on relative to track and field, I think was at our highest level in the sport of track and field at that particular time. We had a concern as young athletes about the plight of black people, or people of color, blacks in particular. We considered a possible boycott to show society that we was disenchanted with the way people of color were being treated in the United States and other parts of the world. We tried to educate ourselves as best we could so when we got in front of a camera or a microphone, we could speak on issues and speak with no hesitation.
[09:08] John Carlos: But greater than that, we needed to try and educate our fellow athletes as well to give them a better understanding as to why we would put a proposal to them to consider boycotting the Olympic Games. When all the dust settled, man, It came down to the point where most people was concerned about that medal. You know, all their lives have been taught from childhood, you know, go for the gold. Be an Olympic champion. And now here we come and tell them to sacrifice all that, take a step back. We know it was a hard pill to swallow, but we felt that the justification would be the fact that we were trying to make change for our kids and our kids’ kids. But as I said, it was difficult for people to make that decision. They wanted to go to the Games. And we had no right to tell them that you can’t go to the Games.
[09:54] John Carlos: So we decided to have a vote, and they voted to go to the Olympic Games. At first, when they voted to go, I really stated that to myself that I would not go. But the power to be, or God, or whoever it is, first lieutenant — approached my mind and told me, “John, if you don’t go to the Olympic Games, someone is going to go and represent you and stand in your spot. But do you think they would represent the way you want to be represented?” When that registered in my mind that it was imperative that I get myself together and go to Olympic trials and proceed to make the Olympic team, which by the grace of God, I was blessed and I had the opportunity to do so. Once we got to Mexico City and all the pageantry — and I would say right away, man, the Olympic Games is probably two steps above maybe a Super Bowl, in a sense that is such an international activity, you know, with all the different coaches and all the different pageantry and a different food and all that. It was just such a great experience for any young individual. But then it became time for competition. We went into competition, and I knew from the start that had I not competed and made the final race, everything else was for naught. That I had to go through the process of running and if I fell off at any line along the way, I would never made it to the podium.
[11:20] John Carlos: But once again, I was blessed by God. And when I made the finals, I approached Mr. Smith at the end of the semifinal and said to him that I was disenchanted about the fact that the Olympic Games was called off. I mean, not the Olympic Games, but the boycott was called off. And I want to make a statement, what was his take? Well, he agreed that we should make a statement. And from that point on, we started realizing that we needed to bring artifacts because it was going to be a silent protest or silent statement, but it also would be a visual statement. So we were look for artifacts that we could bring, such as I had the beads on my neck to illustrate lynches that have taken place during my time, before my time, and I’m sure after my time. Tommie Smith had the black scarf on his neck to symbolize black pride. I had my USA jacket open and I had a sweater to cover my USA jersey because quite frankly, man, I was ashamed of America. I felt America could do so much better than they’ve been producing. Then we both had shoeless feet, we went out there with no shoes on, just with our black socks on to illustrate poverty that was running rampant in the United States. And from time I was a child, my understanding, United States was the greatest nation on planet Earth. How can we have kids, black kids, running 10 miles back and forth to school every day with no shoes, no food in the cabinets.
[12:46] John Carlos: So we wanted to illustrate poverty. And then, of course, we had delivered Project for Human Rights button or badge, you might say, on all of our jerseys to let them know what our battle was, what our plight was, to say we in the humanity business, we Olympic Project for Human Rights. It wasn’t an Olympic project for black rights or red rights or white rights. It was Olympic Project for human rights, which encompass everyone, but the powers-that-be chose to say, well, that was black power. So all these things ran to my mind. When we got to the quarter-, semi-, I felt real good. I felt like now we can get busy because this is what I came here to do, was to make a statement that will be everlasting.
[13:29] Michael Bennett: Wow. The thing for me, though — I was thinking about when you were doing all that, I know fear is a part of taking a risk, right? So how did you overcome that or did you ever overcome the fear, or did you just continuously live in that fear?
[13:43] John Carlos: Well, like, I don’t know if most black man or any black man think the way I think. But from the time I was a kid, as a young black kid, and seeing how society was, I’ve come to the conclusion I was born dead anyway. So I had no fear about losing my life for standing for what I felt was the right thing to stand for, because I wasn’t making a statement for John Carlos, as I stated earlier, it was my kids, my kids’ kids and their peers. Once you make a statement, they can not take the statement back.
[14:15] Michael Bennett: So you said you were born with the essence of not having fear, but what about people who do have fear and they want to make a statement, or they want to take a risk? How do you dig deep into that?
[14:29] John Carlos: First of all, I would say, you know, get a little more accustomed to the mirror in the bathroom and realize it’s not just merely for, you know, brushing your teeth and washing your face, combing your hair, brushing your hair. It gives you an opportunity to get in touch with yourself in terms of who you are. Get a chance to know yourself. If you sit back and think about the average person that go every day of their life to that mirror and never really look at the reflection in the mirror and think to himself, who am I? What am I here for? What is my mission? What can I accomplish? Who can I help? Until you realize these things within yourself, you’re going to be like that dog chase in his tail. You’re just going to be going through the motions, but you’re not really going to set any goals or accomplish anything because you don’t really have any idea of who you are, what you want. Find yourself.
[15:20] Michael Bennett: You really do gotta find yourself, because I do feel like that you get in that place where you just start to think about yourself as is one singular being. But I feel like you, Tommie Smith, and everybody in the ‘60s, as you guys were catapulted to the front of society or making change, it’s like you guys were thinking about everybody else and how could you further the movement for women, black males, kids, whatever it was. Just like you guys were putting that on your back and for such a young people, that felt so heavy. It’s just amazing those that think that as human beings, we can come collectively and finally fight for something. But it sucks that it always has to come after tragedy instead of before the tragedy. It is almost like we’re always reactive instead of proactive, and feel like you guys were trying to be proactive for the future and a better generation for us and our kids.
[16:07] Michael Bennett: Well, the biggest problem we have is they’ve always tried to bury our history. I mean, you sit back, you say, I’m a young man and I’ve made my statement at 23 years old. But if you look back, Nat Turner was a young man. Harriet Tubman was a young woman. You know, Rosa Parks was a great young woman. You know, when Paul Robeson got involved in that civil activities, he was a young man. Adam Clayton Powell. All these individuals jumped in when they were young. And as you stated earlier, this is not in the moment, this is in the movement. This is not a one-day affair, this is eternity. As long as you have existence on this earth, you’re going to try and make things better for society. And people might not agree. And there are disagreements based on negative understanding. They don’t have the understanding. They are naive or ignorant to the fact.
[16:58] Pele Bennett: Amen to that, because when Michael and I — when he first was explaining to me on the stance that he wanted to with the team, we had a conversation together in my bedroom. And when he told me what was going on, and what he wanted to do, I immediately told him I was like, look, this is not only about yourself, but it’s bigger than that. And for me, it was a sacrifice that not only he was making, that I was making, and that we were bringing our children into it. But like you said, I think the important part of it is that it really wasn’t about us. It was about the kids. It was about the future. It was about when our kids get older, what do we tell them what we did at that moment? And so for us, we had the conversation of how does that look like for our family to move forward? So I would love to hear how did you do that and deal with the attention that came through your work? And was your family involved in that?
[17:46] John Carlos: Oh, most definitely. My wife, my kids, they was with me 1000 percent. And I might say, with the exception of my wife and kids, anyone that takes the job or takes the matter which I was involved in, you realize that you’re a lonely individual. Because many individuals have fear for association. And, you know, and it took me a couple of years for me to realize that they didn’t walk away from me because they had fear of me or they didn’t like me or respect me. They walked away from me because they have fear of reprisal. They saw things negative happening to me based on what the government was doing, based on what business was doing. And, you know, in any household with a man and woman, when there is no money coming in, it creates intense friction. And that was going on in my house. A lot of friction, a lot of misunderstanding, not merely because we didn’t have love one another, but we tried to figure out how we gonna pay these bills. What kind of job you gonna be able to get. Why do these people walk away from you? How are saying all these negative things about you? All of these things run through your mind. That’s why I say you’re a very lonely individual because once you start making a turn on that, there’s other individuals, that then they get to the point where now I’m envious of him. I’m jealous of him. I just don’t like who he is because I should be there.
[19:13] John Carlos: Now, you have to deal with all sorts of things when you step out there to make a statement. But the bottom line is you knew what your commitment was when you jumped in, and the commitment hasn’t changed, what it does is escalate. Say, yeah, I’m getting stronger in the movement, I’m going to the end. To the last day of life for me will be to carry the message that we can do better in this society in which we live.
[19:38] What was the mood of the country when Martin Luther King and Malcolm X died, Medgar Evers. What was that like to know — like, I feel like in my generation I haven’t had the person that we look up to, who took risks like you guys are still here. What was it like to look up to those young people and see their lives cut so short?
[20:00] John Carlos: Well, you know, first thing, there was shock. And then when you sit back and think about it, then you realize that you shouldn’t have been shocked based on the complexity of the situation. You shouldn’t have been shocked. So then you become angry. But you have to be angry with some sort of methodical process. You can’t get angry and just say, well, I’m gonna go burn a city down, and we’ll burn up my neighborhood. And I’m gonna do that to show my disdain about what I just saw. I look at those situations in terms of people having life lessons from those that was lost, like Medgar Evers’ life or Martin Luther King’s life or Malcolm X’s life. And my estimation from that is that we should learn from those instances that they took Malcolm, one individual, they took Martin, another individual, they took Medgar Evers, one individual. So it comes to my mind that we can’t have one leader. We all have to be leaders. And come to say we are confronting this one issue. And we all are on the same page with that. Everyone is a leader. Not that one individual. Because it looks like every time they kill our leader, then we are in a quandary, we don’t know what to do with it. We might not come back together for 40, 50 years behind that one individual. When they left here, all of their programs just went to the wayside. So we have to stand up and realize that — I think it was Jesse Jackson made a statement, say, I am somebody. Well, we all have to have that attitude that I am somebody. And want to do the right thing and do whatever is necessary to make it right for my kids down the line.
[21:41] Pele Bennett: Can tell us more about what kind of backlash that you got after 1968? What happened spiritually, mentally, physically. What did you have to endure?
[21:52] John Carlos: Well, the first thing I endured was depression, because, you know, as I stated, people start to walk away from you, then you become even that much more isolated. And then, as I stated, if you had a job now, you lost your job. And you can’t go get any type of decent job. And then your mind is playing games and say, well, man, I’m not going to take a job that pay me $6 an hour. And your wife might be telling you, “go on, take the job.” Then you have to reason to yourself: I’m not going to work for no for six dollars an hour. But then you have to work on through that and realize your wife is telling you to you take the job not so much for the six dollars an hour, but take the job to give you a stationary mind, to the point where you are losing your mind because you don’t have a job and everyone’s running away from you and you’re just shut now. So she’s saying take this job and be active. Don’t just sit there complacent and looking mean and looking angry, looking crazy because of all these things happening to you.
[22:59] John Carlos: You have to make adjustments to yourself in terms of what you can weather. And you have to weather the storm, because I always see in any situation is light at the end of the tunnel. You got to get there and be strong enough to get to the other end to see it. And a funny thing happened to me. I remember we were so depressed and we had so few dollars. So like if anything broke around the house, my lawn mower broke, I couldn’t fix it. Friction would come into the household. There’s no money. Contempt come in. You start feuding. And I remember my wife, she broke some windows out. She was upset and I remember telling her, well, you broke the windows out. You better wrap up for winter because we don’t have the money to fix it. So everything was going down, I mean, to the ground. And one day I had a backyard up my house in Pasadena, and the grass is up to my hips. And it was my birthday, June 5th, and my wife came out and she said, oh, I have a gift for you. And I remember her giving me this gift that was wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper. And she gave it to me and the weight of it dropped my hands and she said, “go on, open it.” And I couldn’t imagine what it was. And when I opened it, it was some shears. And I’m looking like, what is this? And she says, oh, and I have some shears for me as well. And she took me to the back yard and she said, I’m going to start over here and you’re going to start at that end, and we’re going to take these shears and we go cut this grass.
[24:40] John Carlos: And I’m looking at her like she lost her mind, but in actuality, she was giving me therapy because every time I would cut that grass, I remember we would cut it from the top, and every time I would hit it, I would banging my knuckles together. And every time I would go out and bang my knuckles cutting that grass, I would begin to get stronger and stronger and stronger. In other words, I’m just pumping life and energy back into me again, and making me realize that, hey, I still got a long way to go in this fight. And that’s what built me up, that just built my character, built my self-esteem, built my respect for myself again, the whole nine yards, to the point where I said, I’m not giving up the mission at all.
[25:27] Pele Bennett: That’s a beautiful story. I feel like maybe also it’s the place where you got to be quiet and still in your own head and your own thoughts and be alone in a different type of way.
[25:37] John Carlos: Absolutely. You know, it’s not too many times you get, you know, quiet time. It’s really not, you know, because when you’re a public figure, you can go out, you could be sitting down at a restaurant eating and people be so excited about seeing you there. And, you know, you want to talk. So, yeah, man, I’d like to oblige you, but we eating right now. If you wait till we get done eating, I’d be more than glad to oblige you. But it is your responsibility to put people like that in check. Not to be disrespectful to them, but to let them know, man, there is a right way to do something and there is the wrong way. You come about it the wrong way.
[26:12] Michael Bennett: They just can’t understand — it’s like when I’m on an airplane and I walk into the bathroom, I’m about to take a shit in the bathroom, and I know that people are gonna take pictures and I come out and be like, Michael Bennett was taking a shit on Delta flight.
[26:27] Pele Bennett: Stay with us. Michael has to take a shit. We’ll be right back.
[29:50] We’re back. So you don’t get no privacy because when most people use the bathroom, they don’t have to worry about people watching them come out. But I feel like there’s always somebody watching you when you’re famous, and they always want to see you make a mistake. And I think is interesting because my uncle told me the same thing. He told me, look, Michael, if you go out there and you make a statement in the world, your closet got to be clean. You can’t step out and have all these skeletons in your closet. You got to be a great man because they’re looking for something for you to fall. They’re looking for one reason to point a finger or something to say this is why he isn’t who he says he is. So it’s hard sometime when you want to be able to get out and people just looking for something wrong.
[30:30] Pele Bennett: Do you have a social platform? Instagram, Twitter?
[30:34] John Carlos: I’m on Facebook. I’ve got Twitter. I stay with Facebook because it’s more convenient for me. But I have both Instagram and Twitter and Facebook. I have all. And I think my host takes care of those and I just do Facebook.
[30:52] Pele Bennett: So what do you think the role of the social media has done within sports activism, do you think it’s a platform athletes should use?
[31:01] John Carlos: Well, first of all, I think that it’s a great platform because it’s instantaneous. I mean, the only time — or I might say 1968, a demonstration was probably the first window to the Internet. Because what we did, it sparked around the world. Nothing is going around the world like that until they created the Internet where everyone can see two seconds after I do something, I hit a button and the world can see it. So I think it’s great. I think we can reach a lot of people. And relative to athletics, I think, you know, we is for now, as the president of the United States. Michael Jordan was known as great as Barack Obama. LeBron James is known as great as 45. So when you sit back and think about the greatness and the awareness that they have throughout society, I think it’s an excellent vehicle for them to be able to help other people, show them the way, in terms of how you dealt with economics, how you dealt with your education, how you dealt with your community environment and those sort of things. Let them know, say, hey, man, this is nothing new. I’ve done it, and I’m gonna put it up here for the world to see that you can accomplish your goals as well. Athletes play a tremendous role and should play that role in society.
[32:25] Michael Bennett: With athletes playing a role in society, there’s always a lot of conflict between which athlete is the one who should be the leader. Which one should say this? I feel like there’s a lot of infighting. How do we conquer that infighting? You see a lot of it. You saw when Eric Reed and Malcolm Jenkins is going at it, you see where people feel about Colin. How do you see us moving forward within that, being able to come together, realize that all the messages are leading towards the right way, and it doesn’t matter who the messenger is. It’s really about the message.
[32:56] John Carlos: I agree. But first thing we need to do is get everybody in a room. And then give everybody a shovel so they can bury their egos. Once they bury their egos, then we can sit down and confront the issues that we have. And all of us get on the same page in terms of dealing with those issues. Everyone can speak on issues and we have to appoint who the speaker is going to be. And our goal is once we come to that agreement, this is the way we want to go, our mission is to stand behind as speaker and let them know that we are in full support of where this man is going, where this woman is going with this statement. I mean, games is being played constantly. You know, they gonna pit this guy against other guy and so forth. I don’t believe in going no public feud. If I got a feud with someone, I prefer to go behind closed doors and let them understand that we are on the same plane. We just have to come together and try to have an understanding as to how to accomplish what we’re attempting to accomplish. Throwing rocks on one another, we will never accomplish nothing. And those that are supposing us, that just feeds into whatever they want to do to stop us.
[34:03] Pele Bennett: Knowing what you know now, what do you think the biggest lessons that you’ve learned from then to now?
[34:08] John Carlos: Well, the biggest lesson I learned is that I can’t take anything for granted. And when I say for granted, as a young man, when I was in Mexico City, I felt like I was on the highest pine tree that you can possibly be on. And I’m standing on the top branch and I’m looking out and I’m getting ready to make this statement. Now, I know that everyone is not gonna be in the same vein as I am in terms of saying I agree with me, there’s gonna be disagreement or haters, as you might say. But I knew that they was going chop that branch down, that highest branch, but I wasn’t concerned about them chopping it down because there’s so many branches underneath that was in the same situation like that I was in. And they had a full understanding of why I was up there making a statement. But when the branch broke, and I thought they would be there to catch me, they retracted their arms and I went down and banged up against the ground, back and forth, banging and banging and banging. So I realized then that, hey, man, you a lonely man, you in this thing by yourself, and don’t expect anyone to come out and be your safeguard. You still have to go and do what you need to do regardless of if you have a troop of people standing there or one person, or no one standing there. The greatest asset that I had was my family and my faith. My faith in God and my faith in self.
[35:31] Pele Bennett: What advice would you give me to support him? Because I feel like from the beginning I’ve supporting him and I’m here, and I told him that once you step your foot inside, that you have to, you know, slam the door open. It’s not an in and out thing, like you’re in it and that’s it. We’re gonna keep going. But I did tell him from day one that I was going to support him. I was going to be there and I was going to fight along with him. So for me, I think it’s definitely together in a family fight that we’re doing together.
[35:57] John Carlos: Oh, without a doubt. If you don’t have your spouse stay with you during this thing — that’s your comfort. You know, when you come in from fighting the dragon all day and you come behind that door, your wife or your husband, they’re that glowing light. They’re that sunshine, you understand? That’s the energy that they give you and make you confident about who you are and let you know how proud they are of you for what you’re doing. Those things are very important because — as I stated earlier and I’ll state it again — doing this type of work, you become a very lonely individual. And if you can’t find solitude within your family, within your wife or within your husband, then you just hung out to dry.
[36:43] Michael Bennett: What are your hobbies? Cutting the grass seems like it’s one of your hobbies. You don’t even do it with a lawn mower, you did it with some scissors like this. What’s a hobby that nobody really knows about you that is really cool and that you like to do?
[37:00] John Carlos: People go fishing for hobbies and people go to sporting events for hobbies. You know my hobby and my passion is the same is working with young kids, with young minds, and trying to mold them and and help them find their way as early as possible so they can have a full, enjoyable life. And realize that, hey man, the sky’s the limit and you can reach for anything. So many people is so negative against kids, you know, in a lot of different ways, and I tried to be that lighthouse to let him know. Say, man, I am you, I am you. I was you. And the way I come through and you can do the same. So that’s my hobby.
[37:41] Michael Bennett: And that’s a good segue to one of my final questions for you: You are looked at as heroes now. And currently there’s so many social movements — Black Lives Matter, Women’s March, school strike for climate change, kids against gun violence — well, what advice do you give those young people went out there making those kind of statements?
[37:59] John Carlos: Well, you know, the first thing I tell them is get in touch with man in the mirror. As I stated earlier, you cannot help anyone until you know who you are. Find yourself. Where you’re weak, start to build up on it. Where you’re great, escalate it as much as you can that much more. Then you can reach out and reach your neighbor. You know, like I grew up in New York and there is this phrase we used to use: each one teach one. And I think that’s the thing that we need to have going, like a relay exchange. You know, don’t be concerned about what I’m doing in my leg, make sure that you compete in your leg. I try and make kids understand the value of education. And I try to put it in a simple term. I say we had our first black president. I say if the man was to come out and say I’ve got 50,000 jobs I’m gonna give and I’m gonna pay $25 dollars an hour for each one of these jobs. And I want to direct this job to black kids. And now, I’ll look at the kids and as how many of y’all what that job? And all of them put their hands up. And then I say, well, here’s the question: how many of you guys are qualified to do the job? Someone can give you a job, but can you do the job? That’s the question. So I’m letting them know that, hey, man there’s two types of food: there’s food that nourishes your body and there’s food that nourishes your mind. If you don’t eat food for your body, you’re going to die. If you don’t have food for your mind, you’re going to wish you were dead. Because life is gonna be such a piss poor life for you.
[39:40] Michael Bennett: That’s that. Thank you. Thank you, John, for being on today. You’ve been such a mentor for me and my family and watching you become the man you are and the integrity that’s always upon you, I just want to thank you for giving us the time to be able to come on our show today.
[39:55] John Carlos: Oh, thank you, man.
[39:56] Pele Bennett: Yes. Thank you so much for taking your time.
[39:58] John Carlos: Oh, thank you. Thank you so much.
[40:04] Michael Bennett: All right, everybody, it’s that time of a week where we have our little pro tip and Pele does her little thing. Sometimes we respectfully disagree on certain things, but the same time we still love each other.
[40:19] Pele Bennett: Hey, guys, so our pro tip: if you’re wondering how you can get active in your community, or a certain cause that you really want to participate in, what is the best way to find information on that?
[40:31] Michael Bennett: I think my pro tip is what you said — the most important thing that you said was information. I think it’s doing the right research. Who’s leading the protests? Who’s leading the cause? And do your due diligence to find out where organizations that you could find out that are close to you. Doesn’t have to be that you have to be on the picket line or you have to be out in the front doing crazy things. It could be simple as donating money or influencing your kids. What do you think? I think it doesn’t have to — because some people were scared to make those impacts.
[40:58] Pele Bennett: And I know like a lot of people always want to get involved in different things going on, but they’re not sure how they do it, or how their impact would make an impact. But I do think, like you said, it is due diligence. You need to — even if you are admiring a cause, I feel like whoever is leading that, if it’s, you know, and big name, I think to go back and research on what it is that they stand for, what is the work that they do. And then also look behind the movement and the cause and what all the details within it.
[41:28] Michael Bennett: Also, I think, too, one thing that I think is really important now, I think that we’ve done a great job of this, is to go find out what that experience is like for that thing that you’re interested in. If it’s incarceration, spend some time in the prison with people who are in prison, so you can have a better understanding, have some empathy for what they’re going through, not just so you can get a sense of like you feel spirited about it. Because there’s a difference between passion and conviction. You know, you’re passionate about something, you lose it, it goes up and down. But to really, really convey that conviction, I really feel like you need to be able to have some kind of connection to it in a deeper way.
[42:03] Pele Bennett: And I think that any time, effort is amazing. I think that whatever you can do, go out of your way and look within your communities. Of course, social media, I will say, does help if you want to find different organizations that are in your community. But if you’re wanting to do something that’s further on a broader scale, you can look online and just Google, Google things that ,you know, that you feel that you want to participate in, that you want to get active on. And when you find those, then do the homework behind that to make sure that whatever you’re supporting, doing, that you’re doing it the way you would want and have all the information behind it.
[42:37] Michael Bennett: The last tip that I will leave you within that pro tip is to just be you. Be you. And go for it. Don’t be fearful. Don’t be the person who looks back in retrospect and be like, I didn’t do enough. I think that happens to a lot of people in life, they forget. So don’t be scared to be you. Stand firm on what you believe in and believe in your principles and always follow that moral compass. And that’s the end of today’s show.
[43:09] Michael Bennett: Hey, that’s a wrap. That’s it. I mean, I know you want more, but that is it.
[43:15] Pele Bennett: On next week’s episode, we’re joined by Ricky Rose.
[43:18] Michael Bennett: No, Pele, not that Rose.
[43:21] Pele Bennett: Oh, my bad. We are joined by the one and only Freeway Rick Ross, the true real boss.
[43:27] Michael Bennett: We’ll talk about his life and what he did with some kilos in his time that he had in jail.
[43:31] Pele Bennett: And we’re also going to talk about his legacy to be.
[43:34] Michael Bennett: Please subscribe to us or like us on anything that you’re listening to. Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, whatever you’re listening to get away from your family, whoever you don’t want to be around. And make sure you rate us or give us a comment. Even though we don’t give a fuck about your comments, give us a comment. Mouthpeace is a production of Lemonada Media, which you can find online on all social platforms @LemonadaMedia. You can follow me on social media, @MosesBread72. I love bread, and biblically, I always thought I was Moses.
[44:10] And you can follow me on Instagram at @pelepels. Mouthpeace with Michael and Pele Bennett is executive produced by us, the Bennetts. Our Lemonada Media executive producer is Eli Kramer, and our producer is Genevieve Garrity. Our assistant producer is Claire Jones and our audio is edited by Bryan Castillo. Thank you to our ad sales and distribution partners at Westwood One, and to all of our sponsors for making this show possible.