At first glance Steve ‘Whitey’ Robertson appears to be just a normal and regular small business owner, but all observations from the outside is where the gross misconceptions of the man known best as creator of Whitey Enterprise begin.
Robertson served 30 years in prison for cocaine trafficking and his street reputation as a drug pusher and hustler are cost him his freedom, but as he reflected in a wide ranging exclusive interview in his warehouse just south of downtown Los Angeles he had little choice but to choose ‘The Game’.
We met at his ‘Just Pop ‘N’ hamburger joint in my old neighborhood on 24th and Central Ave. and he jumped into his Toyota Prius to lead me to his warehouse on 16th Street, where a mural greeted us before we entered to an awaiting videographer.
This is the first time that Robertson has sat down for an interview since touching down and his mind is racing so fast that often his thoughts overlap the words that come out of his mouth.
Once he settles in and exhales a bit, he soothes with a serene calmness and measures his words as if he’s calculating his next move.
Roberson does not blame drugs on the plight of many Blacks who have suffered from its wicked wrath.
“I’ve seen brothers selling their mothers houses, mistreat their sisters and throw them out as a direct result of stupidity,” he began. “There are so many people who would say that it’s a direct fault of drugs, but drugs been in American since time begun. It’s not that, it ends up being that a whole lot of people (from drug proceeds in the 80s) bought their parents houses and left them a lot of real estate and kids who grew up without their father sold the property when their mothers and grandmothers passed away.”
Robertson says that he first got involved in The Game when he was just 11 years old and was swayed by the illicit activity as a method of survival and making a better life for his family.
However, Robertson influences came from individuals whom he says were the Godfather’s of the Black community during the time, individuals such as notorious drug kingpins Tootie Reese, Bill Jones, Jap, Cuz, Louis Turner, Harry Jenkins, Howard Johnson and Raymond Wright.
These are people that Robertson says defined The Game and the rules therein which is why one of his most prominent projects is a future documentary that will pay homage to all of the aforementioned.
While incarcerated for three decades, Robertson says that he spent most of his time in the library and in a reference to legendary boxing promoter Don King, he says that he made time serve him.
His take on gentrification is that white people did not run Blacks out of their neighborhoods, but that Blacks sold their homes in their own neighborhoods.
“In my eyesight, only in mine they didn’t get an opportunity to have their fathers around to teach them business because the proceeds that we made came from doing business. We did business everyday just like the Rockefeller’s did business, the Kennedy’s did business. When it all came full circle the black community got what the whites put in their lap and that was cocaine.”
Robertson says that women should also shoulder the blame for what has happened to Black men.
“Welfare gave the young ladies an opportunity to have some money and they took advantage of a system that was built to just help them get out of poverty. The ladies took advantage of welfare and start having kids by anybody just to get a welfare check,” Robertson stated.
Robertson’s wife was not happy about his statement, but he stands by it.
Since gaining his freedom, Robertson has a new perspective and outlook on life and is pledging to make a positive impact on the lives of young people.
Along with his partners he operates tattoo polar and local store front, and also is among a few Blacks to control a political action committee.
“We have a responsibility to our community to have a say on who serves us in office and I wanted to make sure that we had that.”
With his illicit past behind him and the treasured memories stored and fresh, Steve ‘Whitey’ Robertson will never forget from whence he came, but forges forward with experiences that help shape and steel him for the road ahead.