Who Am I:
I'd like to start off by giving a small introduction of who I am and how I got here.
My name is Ryoga Vee. I was born in a small town in Southern Oklahoma, but the bulk of my upbringing was in Greenville MS. In my early days, I was surrounded by poverty, imagery of of the confederacy, and attended two schools named after Robert E Lee. I even lived not too far from where a Sundown sign stood until 1995 -- and if you don't know what a sundown sign is, it's pretty much a marker that tells black folk in no uncertain terms to get indoors before sunset. I’m telling you this just so you get an idea of where I've been, and that racism, ignorance, and bigotry have been a constant in my life.
What really turned my head was when I witnessed the savage acts of violence done to peaceful Trump supporters in San Jose, CA last year. There were no Nazi flags or KKK hoods at that gathering -- just a bunch of mostly elderly men and women who were attacked and beaten in the streets while the police stood by, mere feet away, and shrugged. When the dust settled, the mayor blamed Trump for what took place and ignored the irresponsibility of his citizens and the inaction of law enforcement. And while I'm not a Trump supporter, I said to myself, “That's not right.”
Months later, Milo Yiannopoulos was tearing up the college speaking circuit, pissing off liberals and conservatives alike for being a young, gay, jewish provocateur. I read the headlines that made assertions that he was a white nationalist, homophobic, anti-semitic, racist. And I thought to myself, “Wait a second, the gay, jewish dude who can't stop talking about his black boyfriend?” So, out of curiosity, I went down to Berkeley just to hear the man speak. I wanted to know for myself if he really was as dangerous as people said. Instead of hearing Milo, however, I watched some 1500 Antifa protesters set fires, attack people with sticks and mace, and cause upwards of $600,000 in property damage. Even I was the target of assaults, and I was called a nazi just for showing up. And, once again, I said to myself, “That's not right.”
Skipping ahead, in March of this year I once again found myself witnessing a repeat of horrific acts of violence unfolding on the streets of Berkeley. I saw an elderly man laid out at on the MLK park lawn, wrapped in bandages. I watched as law enforcement stood down while citizens begged for help. I wondered why there was no one brave enough to stand up to these kinds of thugs. But that afternoon I also saw brave men and women charge in to defend the public from violent anarchists who have continually caused havoc in the bay area. Those made a huge to sacrifice of their own safety to stand up for what’s right.
Each of us out here today made some form of sacrifice to be here -- some with time, some with distance and travel, and others in our personal lives. Just being a part of this has cost me numerous friends.
These times are not supposed to be easy. Regardless of whether you are left, right, or centrist, you're making a sacrifice by being here. Some of us might be doxed by the end of the day just for showing up. There is a chance someone will mistake your intentions and place your very livelihood in jeopardy. Some of you might be arrested for protesting and demonstrating for what you believe in. Make no mistake, I greatly respect your presence here. But, sadly, some of you will be bruised and bloody after being here. But freedom is not just given to you. It's not a right bestowed by god. We have to earn it. And we have to continually fight for it. Just by being here today, you are showing your willingness to fight. And regardless if you are for or against the speakers here today, you are participating in the process. Our governing leaders tried REALLY hard to prevent this from happening. We’re here so that on the day you want to take this space and have a demonstration, it's not censored by your mayor or congress.
That’s what’s happening here: it's a form on censorship. My mayor and congresswoman knew this was not a nazi rally. They knew weeks in advance that there were no white supremacists here, but they called you up to come out and protest. They are using you as their defensive arm for censorship. And I’m here to tell you, don't believe the hype. Don't take the bait. Don't fall in that trap.
The vast majority of you are here because you heard a lie.
Every single major local news publication kept spreading the lie that this was a white nationalist rally.
I read that the Southern Poverty Law Center listed Joey Gibson as “alt-right" and Patriot Prayer specializes "in rallies aimed at provoking far-left and anarchist groups.”
The SF Examiner posted an article, “‘White supremacist’ patriot rally coming to San Francisco!”
SFGate: “White nationalists planning rallies in SF, Berkeley”
KRON 4: “Mayor Ed Lee is calling on federal officials to reject permit for alt-right group”
KTVU: “Mayor Ed Lee denounced Saturday's event as hateful”
Representative Barbara Lee just said Tuesday that this was a Neo-Nazi rally.
All of it is FAKE NEWS!
Even when these outlets are told directly that their information is wrong, they double down.
Did you know Joey sent out open invitations to both Ed Lee and Nancy Pelosi to speak on this very stage? If they really wanted an opportunity to speak to the citizens of this great city, to champion causes like inequality, to speak out against hate and racism, what better place to do it? “Where dey at, doe?!”
And it's because we have Liberal democratic leaders who categorize conservative views as hateful and divisive. As a liberal myself, I'm here to tell you I want to hear from the other side. But day by day y’all make it harder.
It saddens me deeply when I read the news and…
Black women like Diamond and Silk are targeted by YouTube for speaking against the narrative and having the wrong politics.
Patriots like Robert Peete get called “house negro” and “uncle tom” for not buying into the liberal agenda.
Just the other day, I saw black conservative R.C. Maxwell get choked, dragged, and sucker punched for just standing on the wrong side of the political aisle, and for standing up against illegal immigration that affects black people far more than the coddled gentrified kids in the mission that march for it. And it's not that I don't like undocumented people -- but it's us that have to fight over the last few crumbs of affordable housing in the city.
Truth be told, I think black people are THE most patriotic among us. We fought hard to earn our right to vote in this country. And many of us did not make it to see that victory. So don't be upset that fellow brothers and sister want to vote conservative. Be pissed off when they DON'T vote. That’s what’s really holding us back.
It reminds me of black folks and that crab bucket mentality -- and if you don't understand that phase, then this part ain't for you. But I'm here to tell you that just because another brother doesn't share your vision does not make him your enemy. Conservative black folk are most likely the strongest voice out there that wants to see us succeed. They don't blindly pick a side, but do research, attend meetings, and look at each candidate before stepping up to the ballot box.
And I'm happy they are out there -- not because I agree with them or the policies of the current administration, but moreso because I don't. I don't want to live in a world where everyone thinks the same, follows the same path and drinks the same kool-aid. I want to hear from the other side, learn from different opinions, and see the perspectives of those that walked a different path.
I told you before that I grew up in Greenville, Mississippi. I was surrounded by confederate imagery. I saw the KKK first hand. As an adult, however, I choose to pay them no mind. The reality is that while white supremacists and so-called nazis exist, they are not my oppressors. A nazi can't stop me from being educated. A nazi can't prevent me from getting a job. A nazi can't take away my right to vote -- but the government can. The unfair judicial system that harshly punishes my black and brown brothers and sisters can. Corrupt judges and crooked politicians can, like a poorly focused congresswoman. Those are my oppressors.
Some of you are standing next to my oppressors right now. I didn’t want to talk about the elephant in the room, but there are a lot of people who identify as Antifa out there. Antifa is my oppressor. You riot in the streets yelling “Black Lives Matter,” but smash the windows of black-owned business, hispanic-owned business. There was a youth center in downtown Oakland that primarily served people of color that never recovered from the actions of Antifa riots. These actions are taking opportunity away from my people. Black people, don't be fooled by the wolf in sheep's clothing. When we stand up and march against injustice, we get the dogs and the firehoses. When Antifa march, they get a smile and a nod. Hell, it might as well be a police escort.
When I look out onto the streets and see tent cities stretched from San Francisco to Berkeley, I don't pout and say “awww, that's sad...” NO! I want to know who’s responsible. We have Democratic mayor, city council, congress, and governor and we’re still out here struggling. White supremacists aren't creating homelessness on the street. Nazis aren't taking our health care. I don't see any confederates evicting people from their homes. But I do see a lack of leadership from the city that allows for rich foreign interests to come buy up all the land and not pay their fair share in taxes, and kick us to the curb. And they wonder why homeless are on the streets and why people are living in warehouse spaces.
Man... I wish we had the gall to to take this energy we have here today, all this hate and anger, and direct it at our true oppressors. Close your eyes for just a second and imagine the imagery if we took the 10,000 people here right now and marched on city hall, marched on over to Nancy Pelosi’s house, took a trip up to Sacramento with this same vigor and fire, and demanded change. Demand an end to provate prosions. Health care. Afordable housing.
But you won’t. Y’all don't care. The establishment has been railroading us since we were born and until we wake up and stay woke this cycle will continue.
If I can step back for just a second: It’s funny how I rarely see other black folk with BLM shirts on. It’s likely because we don't need it. We live the struggle every day. And while some of my caucasian friends out there might have them on right now, the shirts don't impress me. You picked up a $15.99 shirt off Amazon Prime and clicked the free two day shipping for a shirt made by child labor in the Philippines for 7 cents an hour just so you can post up on Instagram to show the world how woke you are. That ain't cutting it. If you want to impress me, post a picture of your donation check to the united negro college fund. Post a photo with the Valencia filter of a check made out to the NAACP. Donate to any of the charities that Colin Kaepernick is promoting that help children in the intercity get a leg up and the opportunity to break free from the ghetto. Until then, all I see you doing is jumping on the bandwagon and participating in cultural appropriation. My culture.
If you take nothing else from my words today, please walk away with this: You can't fight hate with hate. Truth be told, racists need love too. You can't blame somebody for the ideology they were born into. It's the system of the world that tells us to hate. You can't blame a white person for not liking black people if everything they see, read, and hear are stereotypical images of black folk. That constant image will only perpetuate that person’s beliefs. Hate perpetuates hate. But love begets love. You wanna be loved, give love.
Many of you chant bash the fash. I'm here to tell you from experience that only drives the nail harder into their ideology. It solidifies their beliefs. If you truly hate their ideology, love the person behind it. Stop and ask yourself how they got there in the first place. What did they see, experience, what were they taught that brought them to this place?
I challenge all of you, TODAY: Seek out someone from the other side and ask them how their day is going. No politics, no Trump, no left or right. Just ask how they are, and wish them well. See how much you have in common. I ask you to do this because it's hard. It’s the hardest thing you could possibly do today. I'll be honest, I'd much rather square up and swing on someone than than talk to them. But I put it out there because it's what should be done, and so much good can come from it.
Thank you for your time.
~ Ryoga Vee