Sista Souljah
Phil Donahue Show 1992
at 28 years of age
( Transcript and Annotations )
Sista Souljah 1992 Phil Donahue Show | Being Black

Sista Souljah
Time Elapsed: 29 years

I think that there have been gains for individual people, but we as African people, as a collective, have not moved forward as we should.

And most of the time the African people that you have, that are able to occupy the positions of mayors and governors, do not occupy it forcefully and forthrightly, for the collective of African people in this country.

And, as a result what you have is millions of young African and Latino children, and youth who are in a state of total chaos. Who don't have skills and don't have any idea how they're going to develop their skills. And are estranged from even the adults in their own race, because of the problem of not dealing with white racism and the real impact it has on our lives.

When we deal with the issue of white racism, white people don't deal with the fact that they are the ones who are sicker than anybody else in this particular issue. Which is why when you deal with the question of race, you cannot deal with "What's wrong with these African people?".

See, the thing that happened in South Central started with a malady in the Justice System, where white people could not see white men who had did something against black men, and penalize them for what everybody in this country knows that they did.

So, the problem with white racism is that we don't look in depth and do these little documentaries on white people.

And, what's wrong with that?

The issue is more than just money.

It's also an issue of control and curriculum, and what type of African adults are you trying to produce within that school system.

I was in the "Intelligent and Gifted Childrens Program", I went to Cornell University Prepatory, I was on welfare, Head Start, free lunch, free breakfast, forced busing for integration -- every single government program, ever created, I have been participating.

Responding to the host's observation that all of this led to her being featured on the cover of Newsweek magazine:
Because I talked about white people. That was why I was on the cover. They were not celebrating my academic victories.

So, the point becomes... my point becomes, Phil, that how you design those programs... In all of the programs that I attended, all of the education that I had -- college, public and otherwise, nobody ever told me that I was an African woman. Nobody ever told me what the history of African people [were]. Nobody every told me that America is business, and without business, you will have nothing and be nothing. And, nobody ever told me how to organize business, so that I would be able to develop institutions in my own community.

So, now the sincerity, the sincerity of all of the programs, and all of the education has to be questioned, indicted, and convicted. Because, the bottom-line is that America is not, and has never tried to produce African adults who are functional, self-sufficient, who understand their politics, their econcomics, and their relationship to the world politics and the world economics.

I think that the dice are loaded. And, that's what left out of Mr. [Tony] Brown's piece.

See, there was a period of time in this country, after Reconstruction, where African people owned a lot of land, owned a lot of businesses, and did a lot of things. But, what happened was, the American government, the Klu Klux Klan, and other organizations organized in smashing their effort.

So, it's not that we haven't tried to own lands and have not organized businesses. It's that if you are African in America, or in Latin America, or in the Carribean, or in the continent, you will be hunted, no matter what you do. Because, they do not want us to survive and become self-sufficient.

And you can say, "No.", but you haven't lived this life. You haven't lived this life.

Senator Bradley, of the all white United States Senate, said "We can't get there, unless we all go there together." Sorry, none of us are where he is -- that's number one.

Number two. You're making a moral appeal to a country that doesn't have a moral conscience.

The question becomes, that when white people feel serious, and angry, and upset about abortion, they come out in the thousands, up to the millions, to say, "This is what we believe about abortion."

Where is the white outcry against white racism that murders African people all around this entire globe? It doen't exist! So, who are these white good people? I want to meet them. I want to see them.

Professor Cornell West states that he knows a few and then suggests that that "might be all that we can get":
A few is not enough. And guess what? I don't work with "all I can get". What I work with is what I have... listen. You have to have some confidence in the power of African people, amongst ourselves, to establish foundations. And, no we haven't. We have utter chaos in our cities and you got to...

Broken dialog in crosstalk with Professor Cornell West:
You can have a program. I can say... I'm not say... We built a lot of institutions and those institutions have not been effective! The majority of millions of African youth in this country are dying mentally, dying spiritually, dying emotionally, dying academically.

And, you may have a program, Mr. Brown may have a program, but what we have got to talk about is an American government that tracks millions of African people who don't go to your program, don't go to Brown's program. Millions of African people, not only here, but all around the world,

And, if we are not honest enough to say who are our friends, who are our enemies, to know what a friend is, to know what an enemy is, we will constantly be trying to get into people's parties, to shake our butts with them, to get them to like us, and that's not the question.

The question is, "What can we build amongst ourselves to secure ourselves from our enemies, so that we will be able to survive into the future?

Sista Souljah: I never surrender to anybody. But, I'm wise enough to know that if I walk out [into] Washington DC tonight, some Black kid in Washington DC is blowing off another Black kid's head for a pair of sneakers, because the institutions that we're talking about --- not the things that we hold up and say, "Look, this is one example". The institutions that we're talking about are not saving the minds of those African children. That is the honest truth.

Professor Cornell West: Look how your mind was saved Sista Souljah. Your black family. Your black church.

Sista Souljah: You. Her. None of these negroes saved me. None of these negroes saved me.

Professor Cornell West: Your mother didn't help save you? You did it by yourself?

Sista Souljah: Listen. You know who saved me? A man named John DeSain in Englewood, New Jersey,

  • who told me who I was
  • who showed me my history
  • who told me who my enemies were
  • who let me know that this was not an easy world
  • who let me know that this was a cold environment
  • who let me...

Professor Cornell West: He's a product of [positions] and institutions.

Sista Souljah: No. What he's not a part of is dilly-dallying with the minds of African children, and letting them know what the real situation is in America. Where the [undistinguishable] killed if they do not know.

Alan Keyes, Notorious Black Republican: Apparently [he] left out some very important facts.

Professor Cornell West: He represents the best of the [undistinguishable]?

Sista Souljah: People get the impression that when you're an activist, that you don't also do business, that you aren't also involved in programs, that you don't also attend church. You can do all of these things and still see the savage inequalities and the evil of this society.

And the reason why we speak clearly and fiercely and strongly about it, is because if we don't, you have people suffering in silence, who never get the opportunity to be on the... the... you know, with Phil Donahue. Who never get... See, we can't look at the world as... as "the mayor of Washington, DC", or as "Cornell West, the Author". You see what I'm saying? You got to look through the eyes of the majority of your children -- how they see the world, what they feel. You know, the pain that they experience. How they would... [overtalk by Alan Keyes] Excuse me! How they... How they... [overtalk by Alan Keyes] How they... How they... [overtalk by Alan Keys] How they... [overtalk by Alan Keyes, Phil Donahue, multiple voices] How they would [undistinguishable] it.

Alan Keyes: We are also forgetting...We are also forgetting that the majority... [overtalk from multiple male voices] We are forgetting... We are forgetting

Sista Souljah: The evil is all over. Right now, right now in South Africa, African people are in a system of... [increasing overtalk and background conversation until Sista Souljah drowned out]

Dhoruba al-Mujahid bin Wahad, co-founder of Black Liberation Army: Look at this dynamic! Look at this dynamic! [trying to gain exclusive attention] Look at this dynamic! I want people to understand this dynamic. You have a Black man over here... he didn't cut nobody... [with the same disrespect that he has just shown Sista Souljah -- implied].

To the African youth... that you have to educate yourself. Don't depend on Black leaders, because most of them are insincere. And, don't depend on white America to embrace you, because it will not.

During the 1992 presidential campaign, Sista Souljah gained prominence after Bill Clinton criticized her remarks about race in the United States. Clinton's well-known repudiation of her comments led to what is now known in politics as a "Sister Souljah moment".

Sista Souljah responded by denying she had ever made remarks promoting murder and accused Clinton of being a racist and a hypocrite because he had played golf at a country club that refused to admit black members until he decided to run for President earlier in the year.

Jesse Jackson harshly criticized Clinton's response, saying in part, "Sister Souljah represents the feelings and hopes of a whole generation of people". He also claimed that she had been misquoted.

What is a Sista Souljah moment?

In United States politics, a Sister Souljah moment is a politician's public repudiation of an extremist person or group, statement, or position perceived to have some association with the politician or the politician's party.

  • "a key moment when the candidate takes what at least appears to be a bold stand against certain extremes in their party"
  • "a calculated denunciation of an extremist position or special interest group."
  • designed to signal to centrist voters that the politician is not beholden to traditional, and sometimes unpopular, interest groups associated with the party
  • a repudiation runs the risk of alienating some of the politician's allies and the party's base voters