Who do you think bit you off the most?
The other guys, you can understand. They were established already. But Tommy Hilfiger, his whole style was off our backs. The other guys were already in business. All they had to do was change a little. Tommy Hilfiger, he came in with the whole nine. His whole platform began when he started sending his brother Andy to rap clubs. So he built everything on that. I pick up the paper and I think, Oh ,God, if I was white…
Can you talk about how your story would be different if you were white?
If I was white? Oh, man, I didn’t have to be all the way white; I could have been Jewish... I would have had a clique. [laughs] The only thing that ever held me back was… Actually, my color didn’t even hold me back. My perception of my color held me back. Reverse prejudice held me back. If I had been more open to dealing with white people and Jewish people, I would have been more successful today. Back in the day I stayed angry, and I didn’t even realize how angry I was. But anyway, that’s my problem. That’s why I’m so happy about my son. He’s growing up in a different world. Do you think the same limitations are there today for a young black man that were there when you were growing up? No. First of all, the white guys coming up today are different. The large majority of them are not like their parents. They just have that subliminal prejudice; they don’t even know they’re prejudiced. And some of them have even overcome that! And a lot of the young black guys coming up, they’re not as angry as I was and as distrusting as I was of white people. So it’s a big difference now.
Why do you think you were so angry?
I got tricked. I have to admit it. I got tricked in the sense that those demagogues who needed us to think that the white man was such a devil exploited us to the point where it stunted our growth. I’ve seen guys where it had a more detrimental effect on them than it had on me.
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