Burgess Owens: Are the Riots Really About George Floyd?

By Jan Jekielek
Jan Jekielek
Jan Jekielek
Senior Editor
Jan Jekielek is a Senior Editor with The Epoch Times and host of the show, "American Thought Leaders." Jan’s career has spanned academia, media, & international human rights work. In 2009 he joined The Epoch Times full time and has served in a variety of roles, including as Website Chief Editor. He is the producer of the award-winning Holocaust documentary film "Finding Manny."
June 11, 2020 Updated: June 17, 2020

How have Marxist organizations become involved in the protests for justice following the killing of George Floyd?

Why would defunding the police hurt black Americans?

And in the eyes of retired football player Burgess Owens, who grew up in the segregated south, what can we learn from his parents’ generation about overcoming injustice?

In this episode, we sit down with NFL star Burgess Owens, a Superbowl XV champion with the Oakland Raiders. He is also an author, an entrepreneur, and a candidate for Utah’s 4th congressional district.

This is American Thought Leaders 🇺🇸, and I’m Jan Jekielek.

Jan Jekielek: Burgess Owens, such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.

Burgess Owens: Thank you, Jan. I look forward to it very much.

Mr. Jekielek: Burgess, these are very crazy and difficult times following the killing of George Floyd: mass protests, riots, calls to defund the police. You grew up under Jim Crow laws in the South, and so you very much experienced firsthand racism in its raw form. How do you understand what happened and what should be done now with respect to the killing of George Floyd?

Mr. Owens: Well, first of all, we need to start off with the understanding that we as a country have all come together with the same conclusion that no one’s life should be taken away the way George Floyd’s life was taken. There’s no doubt about it; it was brutality; it was evil. But what we don’t do is return evil with evil. We have rule of law in this country. What we have to understand is that this movement that we’re speaking of today, that has now continued to roll across our country, that’s continued to now devolve into a conversation of defunding the police or making the police [out to be] the worst things ever in the history of our country, is not about George Floyd. … As the riots were going on, his brother said, “This is not what George would want.”

What it comes down to is: we have people out there [with] an evil ideology. I have to make this point very clearly when I talk about Marxist, socialist, communist, I’m not talking about a person. I’m talking about ideology. People change. Ideologies do not. So we have here a movement that’s been laying in wait, waiting for an opportunity to pounce on American people. I could have told you last year that this would be a year of riots. … Just like four years [ago], I could have told you it was a year of riots, and four years before that.

Notice in these riots, guess who gets hurt the most? We have this ideology, so people hide behind things that sound good and go and destroy our own communities. They go and destroy black businesses. They go into the inner city where people are trying to work hard to pull themselves up, to reach that middle class, to serve their community and project their goals and dreams and take risks. Guess who’s destroyed? The black lives. Nothing’s ever said about it.

Every four years [something like this happens] in these communities as this movement continues to move forward. I can take a look at it and see it this way. I believe in basic laws that God has put in place like gravity, as I talked about before. There’s also a law called “seed to harvest.” Basically what you plant, you’ll get.

I look at a movement like the civil rights back when I was a kid, when I see Martin Luther King, the seed was a very pure one. It was one of non-violence. It was one that was based on faith, one that brought people together, no matter what their faith was or their color. They came together, because they saw this non-violence against evil. People were drawn to it with empathy of what these great people were doing.

Guess what happened? During that period of time, we had a revolution in terms of acceptance of each other, and now we are here today, having this conversation, where color should not be an issue, because of what happened back in the civil rights movement.

Well, let’s look at the seed of this Antifa or this Black Lives Matter. This organization that is now running the whole thing across our country and is being televised, was started by three Marxists, whose purpose was to destroy the nuclear family, because it’s not a cool thing and destroy capitalism. What is the end result of what we’re seeing here, [initiated] four years ago? With things like “Pigs in a blanket!” or “Dead cops now!” [chants of] the Black Lives movement, these people that have hidden behind the pain and anguish of the black community, and they ingratiate themselves. They make themselves look like an oppressed race, when in the meantime, they’re trying to destroy our country.

We end up having five policemen assassinated in Dallas. …What we’re going through right now, as we talk about George Floyd, understand there are fourteen black Americans that have been killed over these last two weeks. Nobody’s talking about it, because those black lives really don’t matter, because it’s not part of the narrative. I have no problems with celebrating George, but there’s so many other thousands of black people … whose lives have been stricken who no one ever talks about, because it does not go with the narrative that the left right now wants it to go with.

I’m all for this: I’m all for All Lives Matter. By the way, when we get to the point where we can’t even say something as simple as All Lives Matter, without being called racist, who’s controlling the narrative? …There’s a guy that was fired because he said, “and walls matter.” There’s a football coach down at Clemson now that’s getting heat because he says, “Football matters.”

If we get to the point where we let the socialists and Marxists control the narrative, then all of a sudden, they’re the only ones who can say what matters. When they say Black Lives Matter, they really don’t mean it. There was a video that went viral of this black woman—she had to be in her 70’s —who was standing outside a destroyed business, and she was so upset because her life was put into that business. They came through and destroyed it. Black people destroyed it, because the same black people that talk about Black Lives Matter think they’re entitled to somebody else’s property.

When I talk about what we’re up against today, it truly is we’re fighting for our culture. We cannot be hoodwinked into believing that because there’s a group that looks black, because the group that says the right things, that their endgame is for our good. Look at the seed and understand that a bad seed would never turn into a good fruit. Never can.

I just want to give Americans an understanding of something we’re not taught. I grew up in a community that was truly living the American dream and the most competitive minority race in our country, the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, and this is something you were not taught. It is not taught on purpose. We have an ideology within our school systems that wants to hide truth from us, because the more truth we have about we the people, who we are, what we’ve done together throughout history, the harder it is to divide us. But when we can actually separate ourselves and act as if there’s an oppressive race and another race is so hapless and hopeless, they can’t do anything without the help of the oppressor, then we have a whole different narrative that we live with.

So a little bit of history: [In the] 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, the black community led our country in the growth of the middle class [and] led our country in men matriculated from college. Men committed to marriage; over 70% of men committed to the mothers of their children. Those who didn’t were looked at as lowlives. They were not respected. They could not gain any entrance into our community and have any say, because if you didn’t take care of your family, if you didn’t stand up and man up and take care of your wife and family and be the first to face evil, you were not looked at as a man.

Last but not least, over 40% of black Americans were entrepreneurs, business owners within the community, a segregated community that did not have any white people, any other folks at all. You have a black community in which you see across the board, every single segment that makes that community thrive [is black people], whether it be … grocery store, perkin [car] service station, bakers, pharmacy, a hospital with nothing but black nurses and black doctors, coaches, teachers, administrators. Guess what comes out of a community like that? We have a young black boy growing up and seeing it across the board. Now we’re living in a middle class family of a professor that travelled across the country, travelled around the world and made sure we experienced every single bit of education possible. [This was a] community that was also middle class.

You have an upbringing in which you think, “I can do anything. I can literally do anything I want to, because I see it in front of me. I understand that there are those who don’t want me to succeed, but guess what? We’re going to work hard, and we’re going to ride harder, we’re going to study harder, we’re going to do whatever we have to do to show them wrong. We’re not going to demand respect. We’re going to command respect.” That was the community I grew up in. … I had a father who came back from World War II, a proud veteran like 100,000 other black soldiers, one that actually could not go to college in the Deep South because of Jim Crow laws, so he ended up going to Ohio State where he got his Ph.D. in agronomy.

I ran across a letter by the way, a box of letters, of rejection letters, after he passed away. All these rejections. You know what he never did? He never pulled it out and said, “This is what happened to me.” He used that when he was going through the process as a motivation. He was going to show those who didn’t believe in him that he could make it happen and guess what? He made it happen, and for the rest of his life along with his brothers and his sisters.

On my mother’s side, there’s 13 kids. All of them got college degrees, all of them living the American dream, the American middle class. All of them struggled, because that’s life. If we understood the lesson of America, … Personally, I think it’s the greatest insult to my family, my race, my dad and my granddad, for us to be put down as a race that cannot achieve, and [that’s] what I’m so disgusted to see today. It is so demeaning to my parents’ generation, of those who accept the fact that because they are black, that they don’t have to do anything else. They sit back and wait for white people to now give them what they’ve never earned, what they never took the time to work for, take somebody else’s property.

That was the biggest downside of this forced integration back in the day. The idea that we as black people can demand somebody else’s property because we’re black and they’re white. That is not the American way, and that was the downfall of our country. We should have done the way that Booker T. Washington [advocated for]. We earn the right for respect by doing those things that demand respect, command respect.

[If] we do that, we have what’s happened with the NFL today. It’s called meritocracy. What’s the reason why the NFL is different today than it was … in 1973? Because race is not an issue. It’s all about “just win, baby.” They will pick anybody who’s the best talent, no matter what the color is, what the size is, what the religion is, because that makes that team win. We have to get back to that.

If you ever go back and look at Martin Luther King Jr., look at those days—of course, they were fighting Jim Crow, the KKK, and segregation; they were fighting another narrative that’s just as important. When you look back and you see in the summer months, in the Deep South, men wearing white shirts, dark ties, jackets, hats, business shoes, it is because the narrative they were really fighting for is they did not want their kids to think that we’re the race that the others were saying we are.

We were articulate; we were courageous. That’s what drew Americans to us. We were so disciplined that when evil came to our doorstep, we were still nonviolent. We were able to have conversations across the country which drew America to us.

It was not the narrative that the other side was trying to put on us at the time—which was hapless, hopeless, and uneducated, can’t speak, can’t control your sexual desires—all those things that were placed on the black community at that time, that generation showed is not true. I can’t say enough about how proud I am to have been raised in that period. Yes, it was all the negatives: KKK, Jim Crow, and segregation, but boy within that community, it was an oasis. For those kids who wanted to understand and live the American dream, they made sure we knew how to get there. That’s what to get back to.

That being said, it’s going to be a country that comes back together again. We’re going to win this, by the way, because that’s what we do as Americans. We’re going to be okay. We’re going to get through this because we always have. What happens with Americans, we are eternal optimists.

… Sometimes we fall asleep at the wheel because we’re so focused on our dreams, on our kids, on our vacations, on our retirement, on making sure we have respect in our community. We do all those good things so we can feel good about ourselves. Because we do, we sometimes forget there’s evil at our doorstep at every single minute, and that evil is an ideology: is socialism, is Marxism, is communism. It’s those who take away everything that makes us who we are—freedom. It puts everything into a central place, where it is a certain small group of people that control everything, and if you don’t go their way, they will destroy you. That’s what we’re fighting against.

That being said, sometimes we need things like a 9/11 or a Pearl Harbor, where all of a sudden, we had no idea that there were people that hated us the way they do, and now that we know, we wake up, we do something that’s very, very simple. And I’m going to say it the way that Al Davis did in Oakland Raiders, we “just win, baby.” We come together, we forget all our differences, and we focus on our enemy, and we just win, because we want our freedom. We want our kids to have a much better future.

That’s what we’re going to be at the end of this process. We’re going to be okay, because Democrats, Republicans, Independents, who love our country, those who are associated with no party whatsoever, those who love our country will say, “You know what, we now understand we have more in common than what we have against us.” The ones that are against us hate our education, hate our being faithful, they hate us being industrious, and they hate our family unit. They hate it, and they’ll do everything they can to destroy it, and we’re not into that. So we’re going to start having a conversation that we never might have had if we had gone through this process we’re going through now. At the end of the day, America will come together, and we’ll win just like we have done in the past.

Mr. Jekielek: Burgess, we talked a little bit about “defund the police” earlier. There’s a new poll that shows 16% of Americans believe that defunding the police is a good idea. That’s 1/6, not a very majority position. I actually know that in your congressional run, you’re endorsed by the Utah State Fraternal Order of Police.

Mr. Owens: Yes, yes.

Mr. Jekielek: The police seem to like what you’re doing. What do you make of this whole defund the police direction?

Mr. Owens: Again, it’s not something new. When I say this is not about George Floyd, [it’s because] they were saying this four years ago. When Black Lives Matter started eight years ago, that was one of their premises, that was their foundation, that’s one of their tenets, to not only defund the police, but get rid of prisons. Obviously, it’s hard to believe we’re having this conversation. It really is. …

I would say that 16%, if we go back and find out who they are, I project that these are probably graduates of Harvard, Yale, our educational system today that really has turned into Marxist laboratories. People who probably live in very nice communities, the gated communities. They can afford to buy guards, having guns around them.

No one in their right mind wants to not be protected when evil shows up at their door. No one who has any vision at all. I’ll say this: any man who feels this way, first of all will allow them to take away his Second Amendment rights. He doesn’t have a gun, because he’s told it’s a bad thing. His leadership told him that, “You’re a bad person if you get a gun.” So first of all, he allows him to take away his gun, and then he sits there and says that it’s okay for the police to go away. What is he going to do when evil shows up, and he’s sitting there with his wife and his kids? Does he get on his knees and start begging now for mercy? It’s the same as the idea of a whiner winning a whip [car]. I just described him.

No, this country is based on rule of law. We build our businesses, we work in our families, we go to work every single day. The reason why we’re such a free country? We take certain things for granted. We drive on a certain side of the road and expect other people to drive on the other side of the road, because we don’t want to think about that as we’re getting to work. We want to think about what we do when we get to work, want to be creative.

You take away the rule of law and you have a mindset that you cannot think past, “What am I going to do to survive today?” You get these people in these communities, these black communities, in which they literally have their kids going to sleep on the floor, because there’s gunfire coming through their door and their home. We read about a little girl, six years old, back in 2005, the mother had her go to sleep on the floor [for safety]. She happened to be sitting at the table and having dinner with her family, and she was killed by a stray bullet.

This is the life, by the way, that’s in the black community today, the life that many of these elitists—black and white—will not acknowledge, will do nothing about. [Instead, they] now talk about defunding any kind of protection. Go into the black community and ask those people what they think about the police force. Go to Chicago, where just last week, I think it was 18 people were killed. I’m talking about those who live in the city, not those who live outside in the outskirts in their integrated communities, the politicians and the very wealthy people.

Those who live in the city will tell you, “We want more policemen. We want more protection. We want to walk down the street without seeing a drug dealer on our corner. We want our kids to be able to go to school and know that they could come back home without having a thought of whether they can make it back or not.”

This idea of defunding police is nothing new. When I talk about the Marxists, the socialists who take advantage of every bit of pain we go through, they were waiting all year for something to happen so that they can now pounce on our police, pounce on our people and call them racist. We find an example of a bad person. By the way, I don’t know of any industry that has a totally good record of having all good people. How about football players? We find knucklehead football players all the time. We read about them all the time. How about lawyers? Doctors? Every generation, every different career.

The fact is, we have a police force, people who decide to put on a uniform and literally go out and serve and protect their community. Who does that other than people who really give their lives for other people? The police do that. Eighty-nine policemen were killed last year, by the way. We have nine unarmed black people killed last year, nine. Of those deaths, two policemen were charged with murder. We have nineteen white Americans killed by police. No, we don’t have a police problem. We have a narrative problem. We have a media who loves to put down everything that’s good about our country.

At the end of the day, it comes down to this. We have issues we’ll continue to work through. America is not a perfect place and never will be. But I’ll say this: 50% of people in the black community felt comfortable with the police back in 2015. It’s now 75% in the black community. The black community is embracing the reform, the embracing of the connection with their police force, more now than ever before.

We have the same Marxists telling us we should get rid of them altogether. What’s going to happen with that? Very simply and it doesn’t take rocket science to understand this, who gets hurt first? Those who are in communities that are not protected, where you find the most criminality. When you get rid of prisons and let people out of jail who do not need to be out of jail. Murderers, rapists, those who enjoy the pain of others, guess who gets hurt most? The black community does. That’s where they go back to.

They don’t go to Pelosi’s gated community. They go to the black community where people are not safe, do not have guns, cannot protect themselves, and all sudden the police force runs like cowards when evil shows up at their door, like they did in Minnesota, in Minneapolis. It is important that we understand this.

Let me just say this, is one little note, as I’m thinking about it, the biggest win out of this whole process will be the Second Amendment. Our Founders had some remarkable insight and inspiration to give us rights to protect life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

I’ll mention one thing that was dear to my heart, which I loved [when I saw] it. It’s just amazing, because it’s old school. Again, I talk about the community I grew up in. One of the greatest videos I’ve ever seen that just warmed my heart is a series of black businesses, it says “black-owned,” with these young men standing in front of them, and what we witness was what I call the Passover, because there’s these riders and these looters coming swarming down, but they passed over these black businesses. You know why? Because these young men had AR-15s on their shoulders. They had guns and rifles. They were there to protect their families’ businesses.

Guess what survived during that period? Those families’ businesses, because somewhere they were taught, “This is my dream. This is my life. I deserve to not only understand how to defend it, but when the day comes, which hopefully it never will, I will be in front of my doorstep defending it.” I loved it. It was the greatest thing, because it showed to me not only the ambition and the pride of business ownership, which I grew up with, but those who have the common sense to know, “I’m not going to wait for a police force to come and protect it. …I’m the person that’s gonna do that. We the people say that I’m empowered to do those things that no one else should be given responsibility to do. Protecting life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness should be my responsibility.” That should kind of nix the idea of getting rid of guns for the next decade, because we’re going to remember these days when our government did not show up when they should have.

Mr. Jekielek: One of the things I noticed, as I was looking through your social media where you’re quite prolific, was something that you remarked on: a discussion that needs to be had within the black community itself, basically that if you don’t have a certain perspective, you’re not black enough, if I read that correctly. Please correct me if I’m wrong. There’s this kind of sense, and this is something you feel that isn’t right. Can you tell me more about this and the discussion within the black community?

Mr. Owens:  Well, let me just start off with the tenets that help us to become the country we are. I think once I define this for you and you see how simple it is, then it’s the foundation for everything we’ll be talking about from this point moving forward. We have a country that is very, very unique. The race I just talked about came out of slavery to actually lead our country in so many different ways. By the way, …  there’s a college down in Tuskegee called Tuskegee University. It’s started by Booker T. Washington. Booker T. Washington was a former slave, who taught himself how to read and started a college called Tuskegee in 1882 [1881]. By 1905, that college in Alabama, Tuskegee, was producing more self-made millionaires than Harvard, Yale, and Princeton combined. In the mid-1900s, 1915, in that range, we had the first female millionaire, which is a black woman, Madam C. J. Walker.

I’m saying all that, because success is something that anybody can experience if you understand the American tenets. Those American tenets are very, very simple, something that we can teach our kids, which we need to start doing, because we’re in a position where we take so much time to try to explain conservatism or try to explain our American way, what the founders of our country really looked for and what we need to do as we come to this country. I don’t care how poor we are, a little bit of the language, everyone can experience the American dream, the middle class, if you remember these tenets.

It’s called head, heart, hands, and home—education, faith, industry, and family. It’s really that simple. Head, heart, hands and home. Those who adhere to those tenants can become successful. Those who adhere and focus, work and overcome, and stay attuned into those tenants can live the American dream, which is the middle class.

Let me just say this one thing about the middle class as I segue into the question you just gave me. What has made our country so different, the magnet of the world, is our middle class, because out of the middle class comes empathy, service, faith, vision, tenacity, the desire to leave a good name to their kids—that’s the middle class. The middle class has been driven forever by small businesses. … That’s what powers that middle class. The greater the middle class, the greater our freedoms are, the more we have empathy for each other, the more service we have, the more we think outside the box to find solutions. The bigger [the middle class] is, the more American we are.

As we contract that middle class, that’s where we get what we have and what’s going on today. We get an elitist class. Those are people who have no clue about empathy. They think of themselves as the source, the North Star, and the only way they succeed is by expanding the poor class, because they need to have a class of people that adores them, that worships them, that thinks that they truly are all that. You have a great, big, elitist class, an enormous and growing poor class, and a shrinking middle class.

That’s the enemy. That’s the end game of socialism and Marxism. When they talk about anti-capitalism, when they talk about defunding the police—we will talk about all that at that point—they’re talking about shrinking that middle class.

Now, what’s happened with my community very simply is this: we had this enormous, prolific middle class that I grew up in, that we had people proud of who they were, focusing, putting themselves back in the service of our kids, making sure that the next generation was even better than they were. It was a remarkable, remarkable growth, unbelievable. [We’re] talking about the greatest generation; that’s my parents’ generation.

Well, what happens is this: you get elitists. You get people in there who don’t quite understand this process. They see their power and their prestige, and they begin to change the narrative. If you go up against them, then they’re going to call you names.

What we had in the past were people saying, “You ain’t black” and all that kind of stuff. See, those are things that in the past kept black people in their place. When you called a black person, “Uncle Tom,” in our community in the past, they would do anything they could not to be ostracized. They’d be doing anything they could to not be called “white” or “tokyo” or “oreo,” whatever they might [be called]. Those are the words that blacks will call other blacks to keep them in place.

The way this worked out is that whites in the past understood that. I’m talking about the leftists, the racists, the ones who use race against us. They had a playbook, and they knew that they couldn’t do those kinds of things. They’re not going to call a black person an Uncle Tom. They’ll leave a black person to call that person an Uncle Tom. We’re over that.

Here’s my point. We’re at a point now where black Americans are waking up. Black Americans have gone through the last six decades of nothing but misery. From that time when I was growing up in our community, [it] has been downhill ever since. They destroyed our black family. Now only 30%, actually less than 30%, of black men commit to the mothers of their children. It’s kind of cool to walk away, as long as you throw money at the problem. What do you have here? We have over 70% of black boys who have no father image, they have no idea what respect looks like, they never worship God, they never say a pledge, they don’t even know how to read and nobody cares. That is a destruction of our society when you get people who cannot do the basic things of thinking, talking, and using common sense.

… Thomas Jefferson [wrote]: Ignorant and free can never be. You cannot be a society in which people cannot think, cannot read, cannot rationalize, cannot ask the question “why,” cannot connect with a god in heaven. If you can’t do that, society will be destroyed. Look at the black community today and you see exactly that, so we’re not falling in. At this point, we have black Americans who understand that they deserve the American dream.

… The last three years, we’ve had an economy, a society, that’s literally giving black Americans the same access to the American dream that every other American has. It comes down to this. We have the lowest unemployment in the history of our country, of blacks, Hispanics, Asians, women, veterans, teens. You have hope. You have people saying, “…I can go to work, I can bring an income back in, I can actually dream and find out how I’m going to get there. I can now take care of my family, get respect for my kids. I can actually start a business.” How about that?

Save money, start a business, which is what happened. We had a 400% growth in black business ownership in the first two years of the Trump administration. That is so powerful because it’s the business owner, like I said before, the entrepreneur that drives the process. It drives out our nation.

Those business owners will open their business. They’ll learn how to have people skills, because they want their customers coming back. If they get a customer who just is a knucklehead, they’re going to still treat them right because they want them to come back to buy their product. They’re going to teach their kids how to do the same as they grow up and take that business on to another level. That is the American dream.

We do have an enemy, but it’s not an enemy that we see. This is why Americans have to truly understand this is a spiritual war. It’s the values that our parents passed to us, our grandparents fought for. Those who came across the prairie, those who came across the oceans, those who came here with no understanding of the American language, but with a dream that this America, this could give me a place I can succeed, I can grow my dreams. This is what we stand for.

We have an ideology which hates every single bit of that. The same ideology, by the way, is responsible for over 100 million men, women, or children dying this last century. The verdict is already in. Marxism and socialism and communism and all that is evil that destroys people’s lives. Whether it be the heart that they destroy first of all, or the actual tangible body, they will destroy you, will destroy us, if we allow them to rule. That’s what we’re fighting against. It’s great that we’re having this conversation now, because I think America is open to a conversation about what’s going on right now, why is this happening, and we can kind of point to what it truly, really is.

Mr. Jekielek: Burgess, just to be clear for the benefit of our viewers, … you’re talking about Christianity, or you’re talking about faith in general, faith in a higher power? Can you just clarify that?

Mr. Owens: That’s a very good question. I’m a Christian, but the thing about the Judeo-Christian values is very simply this: all faiths are welcome. …This is what makes our country so unique because of the way it started [with] the Judeo-Christian values. The pilgrims that came from England, came from Holland actually, … weren’t coming here to mandate a particular type of faith. They just wanted to have the freedom to worship as they wished. Our Constitution allows us to have a country that worships or not.

It just so happens that those of faith, we have one thing in common. We realized that we’re not the source, that we make mistakes, that we want to have our conscience free of guilt, if we can possibly get there. We do that by helping other people feel good about themselves.

That’s the faith-based country we are, which allows us to say, “You know what, whatever faith you are, come join us. Or if you’re not a faith person at all, come join us.” But at the end of the day, it’s going to be those who believe and have a faith who drive our country and who will keep our country safe, because only through a belief in a higher being that lets us know that we’re not perfect and that we have to become better by helping others become better, can we save this culture we have, that allows us not to be self-centered sociopaths and narcissists.

If we think that we’re the North Star—which is what’s happening in some of these organizations like Black Lives Matter and all these Marxist organizations—when we become this North Star, we all of a sudden are the perfect being, and we can now judge everybody else and tell them how bad and terrible they are, because we’re so good. I tell you what, that’s the beginning of a very big fall when we allow people to believe they’re the North Star.

Mr. Jekielek: Burgess, this is really fascinating. This kind of opens up a door to this other topic I wanted to talk to you about, bringing things more into what’s been happening out there. You describe in a tweet that the most popular racist term today is “white privilege.” That seems to be counter to what a lot of people are thinking and believing, and frankly, one of the reasons they’re out there. I’m talking about well-meaning people here. Can you explain what you mean here?

Mr. Owens: … This is why that piece of education is so important. We have to recognize that words truly have meaning and that we just can’t redefine it, because we feel like it’s a cool thing to do. Remember what racism really is. The basic definition of racism is when you judge someone else or you define someone else based on their color. It’s just that simple. I don’t care if you’re black, white, yellow, green, it makes no difference. If you look at somebody from outside in, you judge them. You either highlight them because of who they are, or you demean them for who they are. That’s called racism.

If somebody says “I have white privilege,” what does that mean?  First of all, what do we start off with? The premise is we’re looking at our skin color. There’s somebody that is in a position to believe that they are truly superior to me because of their skin color. You have young kids coming out of college now that have no clue about life, have never experienced anything about running a business, who don’t know what it is to raise a family, to go through the process of balancing budgets, to know what it is to have years of working hard to gain respect for your name, who can tell me by looking at me that they’re more privileged than I am. You know how ridiculous that is?

It comes down to a couple things. First of all, these people [have experienced] some kind of training through their college experience. Because of their history— their ancestors are a little bit more of an oppressive group, they’re a little bit smarter, stronger. To oppress means you got to have a lot more strength than the person you’re oppressing—they’ve been trained to believe that somewhere through their genes, their lineage, that they are born to be oppressors, and therefore, anybody who is a different color they owe an apology to.

This is how people divide other people. I want to go back again to the foundation of our nation, the Judeo-Christian values I talked about. What makes us so unique is we truly do learn over time to look each other inside out, not outside in. We look at character, we look at vision, tenacity, ingenuity, how well we treat other people. Those are things that are colorblind. We need to make sure that we not only understand, but respect the English language [when we use words like “privilege” and “racism”].

We need to understand that our diversity’s true acceptance is being able to use the same words for any person, any people. If somebody says “white privilege,” I should be able to say “black privilege” … I should be able to say “Hispanic privilege.” I should be able to use that same term across the board, if it’s not being used to divide us.

So just be careful. I think the biggest problem we have in our society today is that we don’t know our history. Because we don’t know our history, we have white Americans being told they should be guilty because of their ancestors that came and forged this country, made it the country that gives us the freedom we have, the opportunities we have today. People are literally so ashamed because of what’s being taught in our history, that they’re sitting around apologizing for being American.

At the same time, we have in that same educational system of Marxism [and] socialism, black Americans who feel, what’s the word, entitled. They feel entitled to success, to happiness, to … a problem-free life just because of the color of their skin. That was never promised of anyone coming to this earth. We came here. This is the reason we’re here on this earth all together at this time: to learn our lessons about how to be better people, to learn.

There’s so many lessons that come out of failure, for instance. [There are] those who don’t quite get it. Failure is a very, very important part of growing up. If you don’t get that, if you think that … people should be exempt from failing, or if you think that people that appear to be living the life of rally [with] everything’s going well, don’t have any problems, you don’t quite get it. Everybody [fails and has problems].

The deal with our country, the deal with life, the deal with being a better human being is not to embrace the failure but to look at it as a stepping stone to success further down the road. Everybody goes through it. Those who get this are the ones who live a life that is still encouraging, because they don’t live a life of darkness. They live a life that says, “You know what, even though I’m going through this stuff, it’s gonna get better. So why don’t we just treat people right, treat people good. As a matter of fact, I’m going to serve harder during my tough times so I come out of it quicker.”

Just know that this idea that there is a race, a people, individuals, that have no problems, that does not exist in this world. Everybody does. Everybody will. Get over it. Man up, woman up. Go and live your life the best you can and encourage other people.

The greatest thing that one American could tell another in this life is very simply, “If I can do it, you can do it.” That’s the message. That’s the message of hope that one American can share with another. Once you do that, we do it consistently enough, we’ll pull ourselves through the tough times that we all face at points in our lives.

Mr. Jekielek: What is it that you think we can do now as people, myself, other people that are, again, deeply, deeply concerned about how things have turned out and deeply concerned about police, deeply concerned about their neighbor, racism and so forth. What should we do now?

Mr. Owens: It’s really all about leadership. That’s a good question, because we have so much coming at us, and we know there’s certain things we can control. We have our kids, our job, our home, things that we can control, but what can we do as a country to really get ourselves back? We need to understand what we’re up against. If I could save Americans, go back to that same idea I talked about before: head, heart, hands, and home.

If we really care about our country, let’s look at the policies that have been put in place. Do they give our people an opportunity to learn and educate themselves, or do they take that away? When I talk about statistics like 75% of black boys in the state of California cannot read and write, that is, in my mind, evil. That’s saying these young people will never have a chance to have hope, because they’ll never have a chance to read about their opportunities. They never have a chance to read about their linkage to a God in Heaven that loves them, … they’ll never read about the history of people who came through the worst times. Take away a person’s right to read and write, you take away their hopes and their future. What policies allow that to happen?

We go to Baltimore, right now. There are thirteen schools in which there’s zero math proficiency. Zero. Kids in thirteen Baltimore schools cannot do any math. So no, they will not be part of the spaceforce. My point is this: this is not by accident. When this happens to Americans, when people are targeted the way they are, when we can look at a community like a black community, in which 80% of the Planned Parenthood laboratories are placed, we have as a state like New York, where for the first time since the American Indian, we have depopulation of a race. There’s more [black] deaths than births in the state … of New York just a couple years ago, depopulation.

So if we understand what evil looks like—and we have to use that term because this is what it is; it is what it is— it is when people are targeted, or a race are targeted, for the purposeful destruction and taking away of their hope, so they can be used as collateral damage for those who want power. This is what’s happening.

My answer to your question is this: it comes down to who we put in position to represent us. Our country is blessed in that we the people decide who’s going to represent us. We have an opportunity right now. We’ve seen in the last three years, what happens when a president does what he can,  not only [for] the black race and the Hispanic race, because at the end of the day, it’s not about black and white policies. It’s about American policies that help us all.

When you lower taxes, when you open up opportunity zones that allow blacks to finally, finally have business ownership, you see them running toward it, at a pace that we’ve never seen before. You see a connection with our President with historical black colleges. My dad was a college professor at Florida A&M [Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University] for 40 years. I understood the pride of that community when I was growing up. I understand now that they’re actually, every few years, come in begging for more money. Well, what President Trump did was give permanent funding for these colleges. They don’t have to do that anymore. They don’t have to come back begging for more money. He took away debt that happened through hurricanes, so they don’t have to worry about the debt load. He allowed more blacks, more at-risk kids who cannot afford to get there, to have a college education and an environment they can be taught the right stuff.

I’m saying this: the next four years will be really critical. We have an opportunity right now to put in place a Congress, it’s a Congress that could be so unique, so different. The Congress we’ve had before, I believe, has been full of elitists. People go there so they can become lobbyists or have a lifetime of pure pleasure. We have a president who came to office not to be a politician, but [because] he loved our country, period. Seeing how he’s doing that by the heat he’s taking by those establishment types and the results he’s getting.

What would happen if we had a SEAL team, a House of Representatives of freshmen around the country like myself, who never saw themselves as being politicians, not going there to be the career politicians or not going to be lobbyists, going there to get our country back, going there to make sure our kids are educated, so they truly do come through and they come out feeling good about our country?

… How about being able to take care of a budget, so we balance the budget so that Americans can truly look forward to not giving their kids such a heavy load that they’ll never be truly free? How about a healthcare system that … is not going to be our biggest focus and concern, with which we can get what we need at a cost we can afford, because we have competition, transparency across our country? How about a social security process in which literally those who have given their promises can get their promise when they [retire] and those young people, 25 years old, who know [social security] will not be there [when they retire], are given options? [That way] they can now put things together for themselves [and] when they get to that point, they have a much better life than we can ever think about, because they’re controlling their own future.

What I’m saying is that we have an opportunity right now, to really put in place the leadership that can help our country move forward, because they prioritize our country first. We’re fighting an ideology that’s been so anti-America, so against our country, that we have a division now, because people have become hopeless because of policies. Nothing else, policies.

The answer to your question: let’s educate ourselves. Let’s do our homework. I would say don’t worry about being a Republican or Democrat. Look at your policies and put your values and principles first. Be independent. I would love to see in my community a big ol group of independent black people who say, “You know what? Prove to me that your policies will work for me and my family.” If they can’t prove it, if they can’t show they can educate them, give them freedom to worship their faith, give them an opportunity to go out and work and start a business, give them the right to have a family they could protect, pass a good name down to, if they can’t show their policies are going to do that, then vote for the other guy.

I don’t care what party they’re a part of, vote for the policies that are in your best interest. Be independent. So my message to Americans is this: don’t let party proceed our people. Don’t let our commitment to a political [stance] and a politician overwhelm our commitment to our country and we the people. We do that and put our priorities right, then we will do what we have always done in the past, and have done very well. We’ll come out of this. I just have so much faith that because we understand and we have a taste of what freedom looks like, we can roll up our sleeves and get our country back again by helping each other to understand the concept called the American way.

Mr. Jekielek: Burgess Owens, such a pleasure to have you on.

Mr. Owens: Thank you, it was a real pleasure. Thanks so much, I appreciate it.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

American Thought Leaders is an Epoch Times show available on Facebook and YouTube and The Epoch Times website

Jan Jekielek
Jan Jekielek
Senior Editor
Jan Jekielek is a Senior Editor with The Epoch Times and host of the show, "American Thought Leaders." Jan’s career has spanned academia, media, & international human rights work. In 2009 he joined The Epoch Times full time and has served in a variety of roles, including as Website Chief Editor. He is the producer of the award-winning Holocaust documentary film "Finding Manny."