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Monday, September 15, 2003 FULL SHOW | HEADLINES | NEXT: Israel Threatens to Kill Yasser Arafat ; Ex-PM Peres...
2003-09-15

Second Black Bodybuilder Claims Schwarzenegger Repeatedly Made Racist Comments to Him

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KPFK/Pacifica interview with Robby Robinson who claims fellow bodybuilder Schwarzenegger repeatedly directed the term "nigger" at him. And we hear from San Jose Mercury News reporter who writes that while supporting anti-immigrant Proposition 187 Schwarzenegger himself violated the terms of his immigrant visa in the 1970s. [Includes transcript]

Click here to read to full transcript Pressure is increasing in California on state Republican Sen. Tom McClintock from dropping out of the gubernatorial recall race in order to increase Arnold Schwarzenegger’s chances of winning.

Today Schwarzenegger with his wife Maria Shriver are appearing on the Oprah show for a high profile interview.

Women’s groups are protesting Schwarzenegger appearance and calling on Oprah to ask him about his past treatment on women [to contact Oprah call: 312-633-1000].

Meanwhile Schwarzenegger is also coming under criticism for past comments he made about African Americans.

Robby Robinson, a former Mr. America, Mr. World and Mr. Universe titleholder, who worked with Schwarzenegger in the 1970s claims Schwarzenegger repeatedly directed the term "nigger" at him.

  • Robby Robinson, interviewed by Pacifica host Jerry Quickley on his program "Beneath the Surface."
  • Dion Nissenbaum, at the San Jose Mercury News.
  • Karen Pomer, founding member of the Rainbow Sisters Project and a member of CodePink.

TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN: You are listening to Democracy Now!. As we move now to local politics in the United States. Though many believe that the recall in California is not just about California politics, but may have been hatched thousands of miles from there as a way to shore up republican power in 2004 for a presidential campaign of George W. Bush for republicans to control California. Right now pressure is increasing in California on state republican senator Tom Mc Clintock to drop out of the gubernatorial recall race in order to increase Arnold Schwarzenegger’s chances of winning. Today Schwarzenegger and his wife, Maria Shriver, are appearing on the "Oprah" show for high profile interview. First it will be Maria Shirver, a close friend of Oprah then Schwarzenegger will join them. He has rarely allowed interviews. Women’s groups are protesting Schwarzenegger’s appearance and are calling on Oprah to ask him about his behavior towards women. Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger is also coming under criticism for past comments he made about African Americans. On Friday, on Pacifica station KPFK, host Jerry Quickly on his program "Beneath the Surface" interviewed Robbie Robinson, an African American body builder, who worked with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1970’s.

ROBBY ROBINSON: I came out because I had a dream. I wanted to be a professional body builder. I came in the gym I showed everybody the letter I got from the big company here, which was Weider, they started laughing. Why is everybody laughing, snickering. I come all the way out here, I worked…. as a wild room manager. I came out here, I just dropped all of that because I was so sure that I was going to make it and be a big name in the sport of body building. When I came out here I was rejected. I was told that they wouldn’t give me a contract because I was black. I quit my job, I had a oneway ticket. Okay. Made a mistake here. And this is what I’ll say. I’ve had a lot of people have come along kind of — like my friend Mike, Mike allowed me to stay in his place until I got my head together, he came from Florida, he was a school teacher here, he allowed me to stay in his place and helped me along the way. That was least thing I expected. But I had those people that would pop up sand say, you know, I’ll help you out. But then getting back to the whole situation with Arnold, I’m still baffled by it. That he would use, down with the blacks and 40 or 50 people, I’m the only black person in there and the head of the company, Weider, is there, all the officials are there. I mean everybody was in there. In walked this person he looks at me, down with the black this, Nigger, this, I am thinking, hold it. I’m not hearing this, I didn’t think my brain was hearing this.

JERRY QUICKLEY: I stunned you so much that you say I must have gotten it wrong.

ROBBY ROBINSON: I really did. No disrespect to anybody, I thought I was getting it wrong, no, no, no. I grew up with this guy, he’s not saying this to me in front of all this people. So as he keeps saying there, down with the blacks, Nigger, this, I walk up say you better leave. And instinctively, I’m going to go into a war zone here because I’m hearing this. I just gathered myself and say, just walk out of the room. This is not go to help your career here in body building. I walked out of the room

JERRY QUICKLEY: Beating down Arnold Schwarzenegger in front of these people is not going to

ROBBY ROBINSON: I wasn’t going to let myself go to that level. I said, Robby, walk out of your room, leave early tomorrow morning.

JERRY QUICKLEY: And Robby, let me set the stage for our listeners, first off let me remind our listeners this is KPFK in Los Angeles. I’m speaking to Robby Robinson who is known as black prince and has had titles of Mr. America, Mr. World, Mr. Universe over 21 different first place titles and he has had experiences with Arnold Schwarzenegger that were overtly racist, there’s no other way to describe it. And to give a little bit of background to the scene that Robby was describing in this racism that, this overt horrific racism that Arnold Schwarzenegger is alleged to have engaged in, it happened in San Jose during the

ROBBY ROBINSON: Russ water classic.

JERRY QUICKLEY: Russ water classic, right, and there was apparently seven or eight of you body builders that were invited to guest pose, you were all paid to do it. And after the show there was a large banquet, and is was kind of a celebratory thing and there were a lot of people eating and dancing and having a good time. And in walks Arnold Schwarzenegger shouting, you’re the only black person there he’s shouting stuff about down with the blacks — niggers this —- blacks -—-

ROBBY ROBINSON: There was two. There was Robby Robinson and now big time promoter in San Jose, Paul law. But these people are not going to come forward and say anything that business depends on it. That they say something they’re not going to get their pictures in the magazine. They’re used to that, to have that taken away from them is like not being part of the family. And when it happened, I didn’t expect when I came out and said what I’ve said to the press. I don’t expect anybody that is a part of the whole body building family to come out and support that because a lot of people have companies and they’re involvement with getting the ads in the different magazines. Even some of the big magazines won’t come out and say anything. They will talk about it in their banquets but not to people outside of body building be entertained by it. They won’t do it.

JERRY QUICKLEY: Now Robby, you were relatively close with Arnold you definitely counted him amongst your friends, is that correct?

ROBBY ROBINSON: I counted more on social, because I really didn’t know him that well. I trained with him for I think second to last Mr. Olympia. And he won and I won my title Mr. World. That was about that much of it. All I can say, I was motivated by that person, because that’s what it takes to be a successful body builder. You have to have that string of energy, that will transcend you the person that has already been there, they will carry you through that a little bit quicker. That I can say I was totally respect him as professional body builder. But outside of that have, I don’t know him as a person, there were too many, which I would say, negative encounters.

JERRY QUICKLEY: Now, this encounter that happened in San Jose, the Russ water classic, as I said there were seven or eight of you folks, of you body builders that were invited to guest pose and all paid to appear and guest pose. After the show as I said there was large banquet and many of you there, dancing, having a nice time in walks Arnold he start shouting "down with the blacks —-— niggers this — and blacks — and this proceeded on for about ten minutes until everyone is dead silent more or less and you eventually just got up and walked out as opposed to furthering the scene. Is that a fair rendition.

ROBBY ROBINSON: I couldn’t allow myself, I am not used to that. The Army taught me different. I know only three things, if you come in and beat me to death that’s what I’m going to say to you. And I was taught that way so those kind of things don’t do too much damage. I’m much stronger than that.

JERRY QUICKLEY: You know, I imagine as a young man growing up in Tallahassee there’s it was certainly not the first time in your life that you encountered language like that. What I find to be of somewhat amazing about it that here is someone who — OK, you are not close personal friends with — but someone certainly that you know on professional level. And someone that you have spent some time with on a professional level. In fact you hear this

ROBBY ROBINSON: Every morning.

JERRY QUICKLEY: In fact you hear this here at this event with a professional capacity, I wanted to ask you, I know you might not know the reason why, but I’d ask because you were there, experienced it, what would you speculate the reason why, why did he behave that way towards you, why do you any he said those things?

ROBBY ROBINSON: It goes back to a conditioning, you’re younger, you come out, here is this big star here and you’re just coming out, you’re more like the person that will be looking up to this person. And you train, but doesn’t mean that you know that person, you don’t know what kind of person that person is, because maybe they haven’t exposed themselves. But what it brought out to me of think and going over when I was living in Europe, I was speaking out. I brought it down to two things. I was in better shape at that show, that’s the only thing that I can think about in that scenario, I was just in better shape. And being the time of "Pumping iron" when we were doing the movie, we were all at his house in Santa Monica at the time, his apartment house was Santa Monica in at the time, we were trying to find out if we were going to get paid. At least some money for being the characters in the background while they’re shooting "Pumping iron" and what happened and came out of it I said, at least give us $100 a day that’s what I said that was a normal fee for the background people. And when they say they wasn’t going to give us any money I got up and walked out. Everybody followed me out the door. So me going out of the door putting that kind of and Europeans are very not too clear on, that’s a sign of disrespect, in other words, if you get up and walk out of that person’s house in a disagreement, it’s disrespectful. That time he just said, that nigger, that’s the second time that that nigger walked out of my house. I heard them, they were both standing in the doorway, I thought, okay, I just kept walking that’s the second time. I didn’t say anything because you’re in that person’s house so I walked outside with … who was actually the producers and directors of the movie were behind me. Because I was one of the principle characters in the movie, too.

So okay, we’ll give you $100. Fine, they gave everybody $100. Everybody was happy about that. And then after we got back to the gym, first day of shooting they pull out contracts, which supposedly gave us $10,000. Those contract were never paid. They left everybody hanging. At the same time I found out through a friend of mine that he spent a million dollars to buy the movie up so that everything about the racism and Hitler didn’t kill enough Jews was taken out.

JERRY QUICKLEY: Were you present when Arnold Schwarzenegger made the statement, Hitler didn’t kill enough Jews?

ROBBY ROBINSON: It was like a little banquet. Everybody was smoking a joint, they were passing joints around, everybody is not going to care about anything too much. So in that process that Nigger walk out of my house the second time. I just kept ongoing because it’s not really I’m not going to go to jail for somebody else’s stupidity.

JERRY QUICKLEY: Exactly, I have — brother, I’ve been there myself. Where you really people test your zen and you know you’re going to have to leave or you the way you are going out with the police pull you off of that person.

ROBBY ROBINSON: Oh, yeah. I’m not going to let myself made a promise to my mom, I’m not going to get in any trouble, I’m not going to wind up in jail, I haven’t done. That so I’m not going to let somebody else bring me down to that level.

AMY GOODMAN: African American body builder, Robby Robinson, describing his interactions with Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was interviewed by Jerry Quickly, who is the KPFK host of "Beneath the Surface", KPFK, Pacifica station in Los Angeles. When we come back we are going to turn to a reporter with the San Jose Mercury News for more information about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s comments and also about how he first came to the United States as an immigrant and allegations that he broke immigration rules in this country. Karen Pomer will join us, she was one of those who spearheaded the protest outside Arnold Schwarzenegger’s talk to republican women this weekend. Stay with us.

AMY GOODMAN: And this is music by William Parker and Hamid Drake here on Democracy Now!, the war and peace report. I’m Amy Goodman as we continue on the issue of Arnold Schwarzenegger who will be making an appearance on the "Oprah" show today along with Schwarzenegger’s wife, Maria Shriver. We’re joined on the phone right now by Dion Nissenbaum, who writes for the San Jose Mercury News in the Sacramento bureau. You have been following Arnold Schwarzenegger and talked about how he, "didn’t shy away from controversial views." As you listen to Robby Robinson, the African American body builder you quote a black body builder from St. Lucia, Rick Wayne, can you talk about him?

DION NISSENBAUM: Sure. I spoke with Rick Wayne a few weeks ago and he’s another African body builder who works here in the United States as black body builder. And he is actually been fairly close friend of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s over the decades. And met him when he was a young man who was a fairly staunch defender of the Apartheid system in South Africa. Mr. Wayne told me that Arnold Schwarzenegger told him that he believed that if the white regime turned the country over to the blacks they would run it into the ground. Now, I did actually speak with Robby Robinson last week about these allegations, which I think are more disturbing. And at this point I would like to say that I have yet to find people that can verify that story that apparently happened in a banquet room with a large number of people. So if true, I do think that is disturbing. At this point the people that I have spoken with that were also at that event have challenged his claim.

AMY GOODMAN: You say, Wayne said in a recent interview at the time I just thought he was an out and out racist.

DION NISSENBAUM: Yes. That’s true. But also Rick Wayne does say that he is still friends with Mr. Schwarzenegger and that a lot of what he believes Mr. Schwarzenegger was doing at that time was sort of being a Muhammad Ali of the body building industry and just trying to goad people as Robby Robinson said. How far he went and how deeply rooted those attempts to goad people were I think is

AMY GOODMAN: You also say, Wayne said he watched Schwarzenegger upset Jewish friend, Joe Weider to the point of tears, which as crass jokes which including doing an impression of Hitler.

DION NISSENBAUM: Yes, that’s true.

AMY GOODMAN: You have also broken a story on allegations of Arnold Schwarzenegger breaking immigration rules when he came to this country. Can you explain what he did.

DION NISSENBAUM: Sure. In California immigration is almost a perennial issue in politics. And Mr. Schwarzenegger has made his immigration story sort of a cornerstone of his run for governor and has said that people that want to come to the United States should follow the rules. And so we wanted to look closely to see if Mr. Schwarzenegger had himself followed the rules and that seems to certainly be in question. When he first came to this country as 21yearold body builder in 1968 he received what’s known as a B1 Visa, which is essentially a restricted Visa that allows athletes to come and take part in competitions or allows engineers to come upset up computer software, allows missionaries to take part in evangelical tours. And Mr. Schwarzenegger appears to have gone, used that Visa to come to California to train and to work for Joe Weider who is the founder of "Muscle and Fitness" magazine and a large magazine industry and in his own 1977 biography he said that he was paid a weekly salary in exchange for information writing columns for the magazine. And I’ve talked with half dozen immigration attorneys across the country who say that that would have been a violation of his B1 Visa.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, Arnold Schwarzenegger is wellknown for posing for for supporting prop 187.

DION NISSENBAUM: Yes, governor Pete Wilson was the is the co-chair of his campaign, he said that he voted for prop 187, which would have denied illegal immigrants access to social services and public education. And again that’s why we started to look into this because he’s saying that people should come to this country legally and people that come to this country illegally are breaking the rules and are essentially ruining it for those who followed the rule as he said did he.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re also joined by Karen Pomer, who is one of the organizers of a protest outside of a Republican women’s event that Arnold Schwarzenegger addressed this weekend. Karen, can you tell us what the scene was there and why you were there.

KAREN POMER: We were outside the Republican convention, because we felt very strongly that Arnold Schwarzenegger was not an appropriate candidate because of the comments he’s made about women. We were also joined by immigration rights activists who were very upset about his support for 187 and about his membership in a group — an English only group called "U.S. English", which he’s been on the board of — advisory board for 16 years and this group, as reported on Democracy Now!, has ties to several hate groups. We also had a person inside of the convention at the luncheon that he had spoke at to Republican women. And one of our members had bought a ticket went inside. When Arnold was speaking and going down the points of everything that he was going to do for the state of California one of our members got up and unfurled a banner, she got up on two chairs and unfurled a banner and said, what about this. And her banner read "sexual misconduct is not a family value."

AMY GOODMAN: And the allegation, sexual misconduct, about what?

KAREN POMER: Well, Arnold Schwarzenegger has apparently has been accused of many different things including touching women on his set, pulling their breasts out on the set of "Terminator 2" according to Premiere magazine. In fact, when he does appear on Oprah today what we’re saying to Oprah is that she should read Premiere magazine before she has her season premiere of her show today with Arnold. Because there are just countless, countless things that she needs to ask him about, which is comments that he has made, things that he has said to the Entertainment weekly, this just past July. Not just the Oui article that appeared 20 years ago but the one that talked about how he enjoyed putting a woman’s head in a toilet for one of his movies, that he wishes there was something floating in there. I mean, we find that very offensive. We also find that the comments that he’s being accused of by Robby Robinson very offensive and we’re wondering. I know we know that Oprah has been a long time friend of Maria Shriver, Arnold’s wife. But we’re wondering what is he doing on a woman’s show and if she’s going to ask him tough questions. She should. Also what about some of the other candidates that are running for governor. Why is it just being limited to Arnold.

AMY GOODMAN: Well on that nore, I want to thank you both for being with us. Dion Nissenbaum’s pieces appear in the San Jose Mercury News. He’s doe a series of pieces following Arnold Schwarzenegger and Karen Pomer is founder of Rainbow Sisters, a rape survivor herself, based in Los Angeles.

KAREN POMER: We’re also encouraging, Amy, for people to call Oprah Winfrey today at 3126331976 to call her this morning before her show is taped and urge her to ask the hard questions. Also people can go to Oprah.com send her an Email message, and we’re urging everyone who is listening who might have some questions or suggestions for questions that she could ask Arnold Schwarzenegger or Maria Shriver and just urge her to ask these tough questions. Thanks.

AMY GOODMAN: Karen Pomer and Dion Nissenbaum, thank you very much for being with us. You’re listening to Democracy Now!. As we turn now to our last subject today, Israel deputy prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said yesterday his government would consider assassinating Yasser Arafat in order to remove him from power. Meanwhile, former Israeli prime minister Shimon Perez criticized the government for it’s treatment of Arafat. Perez said, exiling or killing Arafat will only strengthen Palestinian groups including Hamas. We’re right now in our studio by Ali Abunimah. He is the founder of Electronic Intifada. Welcome to Democracy Now!.

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