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It’s rare to find an older person that will change their ways. Which is why at the age of 73, it seems fair to label Bob Johnson as a person who’s as evolved as he’s ever going to be.
However, that doesn’t stop it from being sad.
Johnson has always been held with high esteem in the black community. As the co-founder of BET, the first black-owned company to be traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the first black majority owner of an NBA team, the Charlotte Bobcats, and the first black person to crack Forbes’ billionaire list, he was…the man.
But that was then, and this is now. And recently, Johnson hasn’t necessarily been “doing it for the culture.”
“The (Democratic) party in my opinion, for me personally, has moved too far to the left,” Johnson told CNBC earlier this week.
“And for that reason, I don’t have a particular candidate (I’m supporting) in the party at this time,” he said. “I think at the end of the day, if a Democrat is going to beat Trump, then that person, he or she, will have to move to the center and you can’t wait too long to do that.”
Given that multiple women, including Kamala Harris, and a black man, Cory Booker, are all running for president as Democrats, on top of serious issues like women’s rights and equal pay are being legislated, Johnson’s words are jarring, especially given that Congress is more diverse than it’s ever been.
Johnson also told CNBC that he was concerned that there were no compromises between Democrats and Trump, because to him there is “really no give or take in terms of trying to come to an understanding of how best to run the country,” as if bargaining with a White Supremacist who hasn’t shown anyone respect, is even capable of bipartisanship.
But when you think about it, Johnson’s words shouldn’t be that alarming given that he praised Trump just last year by claiming that the president’s economy has been good for African Americans.
“You have to take encouragement from what’s happening in the labor force and the job market,” Johnson said last April. “When you look at African American unemployment, in over 50 years since the Bureau of Labor Statistics has been keeping the numbers, you’ve never had two things: African American unemployment this low and the spread between unemployment among whites and African Americans narrowing.”
Mind you, the unemployment rate for black people was on the decline under Obama and was down to 7.8% when Trump took office.
Johnson, who supported Hillary Clinton in 2016, also claims that he met with Trump after the election and was offered a cabinet position, but turned it down.
Last September, Johnson made headlines when he said he was racially profiled in Florida when he wasn’t allowed to check-in at a 5-star hotel after he refused to remove his sunglasses when asked.
It’s funny how America has a way of reminding you that you’re black, even if you forget.
Johnson’s situation is reminiscent of two other older black men that were once, and still, are by some, held in high regard in the culture: Ben Carson and Jim Brown.
Carson, the former world-famous neurosurgeon, used to be someone we proudly touted as he was a trailblazer in the medical field, becoming the first person to ever successfully separate conjoined twins. But all that changed when Carson started to demean black people with his words and actions after taking a cabinet seat with Trump, transforming himself from a Black History Month linchpin to the president’s favorite house negro.
“I’ve had an opportunity to interact with racist people throughout my life, and he (Trump) is not one,” Carson told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham just a few months ago.
And last year, Brown reminded us who he always was when he made public comments supporting Trump and criticized black players in the NFL for kneeling in protest, leading us to remember his long history of domestic abuse and violence against women.
“I should be criticizing Trump on every level because he does certain things that call for criticism,” said Brown on the JT The Brick Show on Fox Sports Radio. “But when I look at television I see all these announcers become experts and they’re pointing the fingers and they’re not doing a doggone thing but pointing their fingers, I find myself really pulling for the president.”
“Now, that would make me very unpopular in the black community, very unpopular with a lot of Americans,” he added, “…but I think that there are certain good things that are coming out of this presidency because we’ve never seen anything like it.”
It’s often been said that age comes with wisdom.
But in the case of Bob Johnson and the likes of Ben Carson and Jim Brown, they’ve proven that seniority doesn’t always adhere to sensibility, just as youth is often wasted on the young.