Television Mogul Byron Allen Defends 'Blackface' Obama Comment

It appears television mogul and host of "Comics Unleashed" Byron Allen is standing by previous comments he made referring to President Barack Obama as a “white president in blackface.”

Earlier this week, Allen spoke to a TMZ cameraperson about his disappointment over the words the president chose in discussing last month's violent tensions in Baltimore, referring to some of those rioting as “thugs” during an April 28 press conference.

Yesterday, Allen followed up on his comments during an appearance on “TMZ Live,” elaborating on his frustrations with the Obama administration.

“What we’re witnessing is a national crisis,” he said. “When you see young black men on the streets rioting it’s because of the two Americas. And by the way, in a lot of black cities unemployment amongst black men is 50 percent.”

According to the most recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the jobless rate for African-American males over 20 years old is 9.2 percent -- nearly twice the rate of unemployment among white men in the same age group. An October 2014 report in Al Jazeera notes high incarceration rates, lack of training, and discrimination as some of the contributing factors for the gap.

After launching his comedy career as a staff writer alongside Jay Leno and David Letterman and becoming the youngest standup comedian to appear on "The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson," Allen founded Entertainment Studios in 1993. Entertainment Studios is now a global media production and distribution company with eight HD networks.

In his TMZ interview, the Detroit-native and television veteran claimed his public criticism towards the president stems from a previous in-person encounter during a dinner when he personally invited the president to have a meeting about his concerns over racist comments made by former AT&T president Aaron Slator, and the broader problem of race and racism in corporate settings.

Despite his invitation, Allen has yet to hear a response from POTUS.

“As the President of the United States if you’re going to call those kids in Baltimore ‘thugs’ why don’t you talk to the chairman of AT&T who’s calling us the n-word, covering it up for two years, and say ‘you need to sit down and talk to Knoyme King and Byron Allen and resolve these issues,’" he said. "You can’t be the biggest telecommunications company in the world calling us the n-word. You’re the president, but you’re also black man.”

Prior to Slator’s April termination from AT&T, the former advertising and sales executive was the subject of a $100 million discrimination lawsuit after a 50-year-old African-American woman and employee, Knoyme King, accused him of subjecting her to discriminatory behavior and using his work phone to send racially offensive images, according to reports.

As for a resolution to Allen’s concerns, he went on record during his "TMZ Live" appearance to state that he’s not mad at President Obama and is still open to sitting down with him for a conversation on the topic.

Allen did not immediately respond to a HuffPost request for comment.

Check out more of Byron Allen’s comments in the clip above.



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