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March 28, 2024 23 mins

Vanessa Tyler discusses media ownership and it's value to the Black Community with CEO Neil Nelson of Diamond Diaspora Media Group.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
True vision is limitless.

Speaker 2 (00:02):
Vision is an essential part of any success story. I
think that very few people stumble into success. The majority
of people, if not all, I would say, are intentional
about getting somewhere.

Speaker 1 (00:15):
Neil Nelson is very intentional, the driven CEO and founder
of Desta, a video on demand streaming company. He is
also head of the Diamond Diaspora Media Group, a one
hundred million dollar company. Under its umbrella Atlanta black Star,
a black owned and operated digital news platform. Also under

his media empire, the Shadow League, a leading platform specializing
in sports and culture, and he owns Fenora in partnership
with Bloomberg Media. Fenora dot com is a website on
financial news impacting us.

Speaker 3 (00:52):
Wow, it sounds like you're trying to change the world.

Speaker 1 (00:56):
That's the goal the Empire of Neil Nelson. Right now
on black Land and now as a brown person who
just feel so invisible.

Speaker 3 (01:07):
And where we're from, brothers and sisters, I welcome you
to this joyful.

Speaker 4 (01:12):
Day we celebrate freedom.

Speaker 5 (01:14):
Where we are, I know someone's heard something.

Speaker 1 (01:19):
And where we're going. We the people means all the people.

Speaker 5 (01:22):
The Black information that worth presents Blackland with your host
Vanessa Tyler, always wanted to be in the movies, and.

Speaker 1 (01:31):
We are definitely in these movies titles you probably never
heard of. Good movies like this one, The Brown paper Bag,
a period piece in old Hollywood circa nineteen forty two
about a young black man and others trying to make
it and showbiz.

Speaker 5 (01:46):
It wasn't long before I found myself on Central ath
Who cared about them in Hollywood? Or they it's just
a butt of jokes, but down on Central af they
were treating like stars.

Speaker 1 (01:58):
Or this movie titled The Bar.

Speaker 5 (02:00):
Graduate, top of classing at law school. Come on, why
would you sign something without seeking proper council?

Speaker 1 (02:08):
How about the Invite? Another movie from the catalog of
so many to choose from. On Desta dot Com, the
black owned streaming service, Naysha Cajo.

Speaker 3 (02:17):
Is addicted to marymat that's aw she.

Speaker 1 (02:19):
Messing This one titled Broken Ceiling, about a black woman
who gets passed over yet again in corporate America. After
ten years of being the silent assistant.

Speaker 5 (02:30):
It's finally time for my voice to be heard.

Speaker 3 (02:34):
Black movies starring us. Tune into Desta, a new free
video and demand streaming service. But there is so much
more going on here. Than movies. To dig deep into
the motivation behind DESTA is the CEO Neil Nelson, the
mastermind of a one hundred million dollar media empire. Neil,

Welcome to black Land.

Speaker 2 (02:56):
Good to be here, Thanks for having me.

Speaker 3 (02:58):
T be sure is changing and to see anything good,
you need a streaming service more than one actually like Netflix,
Apple Prime and more. It starts to add up. But
DESTA is free. Talk about that.

Speaker 2 (03:14):
Yes, Well, you know, we think that people are pretty
inundated with expenses, says, especially for streaming platforms, and people
are looking for ways to still enjoy movies that they
love without showing up an additional ten or fifteen, twenty dollars.
And so we others we see an open in the

marketplace and we we're looking to exploit that.

Speaker 3 (03:38):
I know, you know the power of media, but the
real power is owning it. Talk about owning the media.

Speaker 2 (03:48):
Yeah, I think that, you know, media ownership is essential
to think to any people community in the world, but
it's especially meaningful, I think to our community as black
folks in this country and really around the world, because
is a part of our story in this country. Along
part of that story is the denial of control over
our narratives, the denial of control over telling our stories,

shaping our realities and determining who we are. And so
media ownership has been one of the all marks of
struggle and movement to uplift our community over the last
tent yard and a half, and so we see ourselves
not just DESTA, but our parent company, DDM Group has

been a part of that legacy and continuing that work
to honor our ancestors, but also for our posterity, because
the future has to be shaped in a way that
benefits not just those who have historically benefited, but also
our community in a much more effective way.

Speaker 3 (04:57):
You know, Elon must comes to mind a now how
he owns a platform and he can just kick anybody
off and cut off that voice, cut off that perspective.
In the news lately, TikTok again ownership, Chinese ownership is
a concern for the US government, And when you think
about our voices on those platforms, we're at the mercy

of those those people.

Speaker 2 (05:21):
That's indeed the case, and I think that one of
the struggles that you know, we just saw on X
that Don Lemon show got canceled or he's quitting. I'm
not sure where the exact details of that are, but
they're they're no longer together Elon Muskin and Don Lemon
on X, and I think that what it tells us
is that if ever there's a need for us to

own our own platforms, it is.

Speaker 1 (05:46):
Now case endpoint. After a tough interview, billionaire Elon Musk,
owner of X, and journalist Don Lemon parted ways for
a new show. Since it seems all humanity is on
X makes for a lot of voice as one man
can silence here, Don Lemon takes to social media.

Speaker 2 (06:04):
Apparently this speaks absolutism, doesn't apply when it comes to
questions about him from people like me.

Speaker 1 (06:11):
And that is what propels Neil Nelson when you own
your own Sure, Mega Media is a bigger platform, but
it is also one on a whim that can be
snatched away.

Speaker 2 (06:21):
I know that many folks in our community have made
a lot of money on being content creators and other platforms,
from social platforms to others like to be, and they
should continue to do that. But I think we shall
also never see the need to replace our own sense
of ownership in the sense of power that comes from that,

because otherwise you're always at the bis of other people
that they can simply dismiss you to the extent that
they tolerate you in the first place and allow you
to generate income and of a voice in those places.
The person who moderates those platforms, who own those place
always get ready for you if you don't own that platform.
And so while we want to encourage folks to continue

to build and have a voice in other places, let's
not forget those places and places that we own and
control and can moderate on our own to our own interests.

Speaker 3 (07:20):
Who decides the content and where do you get it?

Speaker 2 (07:24):
So we have a team internally that handles content is
headed by a wonderful women, Julie French. She heads up
that part of the DESTA team. And we partner with
independent film distributors across the country and really across North America,
so also in Canada. And these are filmmakers that don't

go the typical route through Hollywood. They actually go directly
to s bods and t VODs and A VODs like us.

Speaker 1 (07:55):
He says, there are so many different ways we're getting
media now.

Speaker 2 (07:59):
So SVOD, the subscription based platform like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney,
plus the concert to be your svods, meaning that you
pay a monthly subscription fee to get and see their content.
And then there's also it's called a t BOD which
is a transaction based and so you pay per view,
you pay for a particular title each time you go

and make a transaction. And then there's what's called a
VOD which is Desta to be those kinds of platforms
you don't pay, but you get to watch them for
free with because they're ADS supported.

Speaker 1 (08:39):
We are speaking with Neil Nelson, CEO and founder of
the Diamond Diaspora Media Group, under which is Desta, the
free black owned streaming service with quality black movies.

Speaker 2 (08:51):
Indeed, thank you. So you know Atlanta Black Star, it
was our first property that we launched back in twenty twelve,
so it spent twelve years now since we've been you know,
in this in this industry. And again we got in
it because we wanted to make an impact. And so
you know, we've been through the ups and downs of
the industry, and you know, we've been here when it

wasn't popular to be here, when it wasn't evantageous to
be here monetarily. But we have a purpose. We're a
purpose driven organization, and so we use our platforms to
nudge our community in a particular direction. And when we
think about our community's interest, we think about it from
the perspective of what we call the three gaps. We

think that there are three gaps that separate our community
from other communities and raised to accomplishments and well be
And one of them is knowledge gap, that's the first one.
The second one is a capabilities gap, and the third
one is wealth gap. And so we use our platform

to help close those gaps for our community so that
our people other community can be more effective when they
attend the world.

Speaker 3 (10:04):
Wow, it sounds like you're trying to change the world.

Speaker 2 (10:08):
That's the goal.

Speaker 3 (10:14):
This is obviously bigger than money, your vision what you're saying,
But it takes money. How did you do it? I
mean we all have ideas, we all have dreams, but
how did you physically do it? I mean, let's say
you had one red cent and now a multi million

dollar company. Did you do it?

Speaker 2 (10:38):
You know, it really began with my father. You know,
he came to this country as an immigrant in the
nineteen seventies and as a farm worker actually, and you
know he worked several blue collar jobs and saved up
his money and eventually bought a house, and he eventually
allowed me to control that house as a as a property,

as a real estate property, and you know, we sold
it and bought other real estate property, but some portion
of those money as we invested in launching this company
twelve years ago. And because of that sense of responsibility
to him and his work and his sacrifices, I've always
felt like it wasn't my money to spend. And so
whatever surplus we made on an annual basis, we've reinvested

in a company and we saved it because we want
to make sure that we accomplished the goal and the
mission that he blessed. When I was free as out
of college and I said to my dad that don't
quit my job, so I don't think that what I'm
doing I can really help our people and be impactful
the way I wanted to. And he gave me his
blessings to you know, to quit my job at at
twenty five and that he would support me with this investment.

And so that's been a how we kind of physically
got the resourcess to invest, but also that commitment to
his sacrifice, and his legacy drives and motivates me and
the team to a be very resourceful, to not over
indulge in start plus, but to put it aside for
future you know, uh, rainy days when there isn't as

much and and that's been the kind of the financial
fiscal policy that we've taken that has allowed us to
build up these resources and to do it without any
debt because of that initial investment.

Speaker 3 (12:24):
This is mind blowing. So you basically just take any
profits you reinvest and you keep moving forward. And I
guess you know the whole thing with compounding, you know,
it just grows, but it takes vision. And I've seen
some interviews that you've given and you talk a lot

about vision visualizing. So that's truly of course, you know,
of course, with blessings from above, that truly is what
propels you and how got you to where you are
at now.

Speaker 2 (12:58):
Yeah, I think that, you know, vision is an essential
part of any success story. I think that very few
people stumble into success. The majority of people, if not all,
I would say, are intentional about getting somewhere, and they
may not get all the way there, mean that they
may never fully realize their vision. But if the vision

is big enough, wherever they get on that journey beyond
where they are is really a success. And so for us,
our vision, to your point earlier, is really to have
an impact in the world, to make the world more
friendly and more positive in the way it receives folks
from our community, and to make sure that we don't

cause it to be more negative towards other people. So
we have no intention of harming others. But at the
same point, we're very intentional and focus on it being
receptive to our people's interests and goals, both collectively and personally.
So that vision does and powers. But the faith in

that vision, you know, comes from ours, our experience, you know,
growing up in very poor community in western New England
and having blue collar parents that are hard working and committed,
you know, doing working two jobs each of them, both
of my parents, to make sure that we were able

to have you know, a roof over our head and
you know, a warm place to sleep at night. And
so that kind of blue collar work ethic with good education,
I think is often behind these kind of success stories
that we're talking about. And you know, and I think
that you know, my father passed you know he passed
away ten years ago this year, and you know, I

know that he's looking down on what what I have done,
and he's he's probably really happy that his sacrifice produced
much of this success.

Speaker 3 (14:54):
Yeah, your dad is definitely proud of you. You know.
I almost also hear you speaking a lot about Marcus Garvey.

Speaker 1 (15:03):
He was a hero to you.

Speaker 2 (15:05):
Why Marcus Gary was a hero because I think that,
as doctor Martin Luther King said when he visited Marcus
Garvey's memorial site in Jamaica in the nineteen sixties early sixties,
he said that Marcus Garvey was the first black man
to reconstitute and give the Negro of the world a
healthy sense of himself again the world, but the.

Speaker 4 (15:28):
Benefits to some scientists from Africa, then why should he
be ashamed about?

Speaker 2 (15:37):
What's that? After five centuries of systematic dehumanization and mental
brainwashing that had us see ourself as not being deserving
of our own best interests, of not being deserving of
pursuing our own goals, of having a healthy view of
who we were and our contribusion to the world. Marcus

Garvey restored that Marcus Garvey gave us again a sense
of self respect dignity in the world, that our interest
was worthy of commitment, of sacrifice, of being pursued without
apology to anyone else in the world. And so, you know,
looking at him as an example is also why we

named our first publication, UH the Black Star, because of
Marcus Garvey's Black Star line.

Speaker 4 (16:25):
Lead depend upon another of it. The leader kept the
parents and that leader kept Madam Clais. But we have
decided to find a leader tap of our own to
make up a top three.

Speaker 3 (16:39):
Minutes with all the Dei setbacks, and that the elimination
of certain aspects of our history and schools. What you're
doing now is more important, frankly than ever, because we
have to set our narrative, and even with artificial intelligence,

we have to make sure that this information is put
in by us. Because of not you know, the way
things work, it gets repeated and repeated and repeated. We
can literally, and people don't realize, wipe out our history
and wipe out our truth.

Speaker 2 (17:18):
Absolutely. That's such a great point that you're making, because
you know, one of the things that doctor Jeremy Clark,
you know, one of the foremost historians and scholars in
this country, UH said, was that a part of the
crime against the Negro is the crime of writing him
out of his role in history, trying to remove him

from the respectable commentary of history, that he didn't belong,
that he had no they had played no significant role.
You know, I'm a I'm an avid reader. I read
probably you know what, a book or so many two
books a week, and I love to read history books
and ancient culture and societies. And it's very rare that
you find that the scholars who are writing these books

that they talk about black culture and history in these literature.
And so because of the fact that AI is gonna
use these books and these articles and these other mediums
to base its responses to any kind of prompt that
is given to it, oftentimes our narrative will be left

out of those stories, in those responses, and it will
become a negative loop where it will constantly generate responses
based on responses that will then remove us, potentially permanently
from this record. And that's why this is so important
that we create, to your point, these kinds of platforms
that generate these stories. You know, one of the most

repeated and popular articles on a lone of Black Star
is an article that was written back in twenty and
thirteen about seven medieval African kingdoms, and every so often
that story picks back up over the last eleven years
or so. And so it gives me hope that this
is the kind of content that we have created and

published and sustained that is still popular. And those kind
of content, here's the rub. That kind of content is
not well monetized by Google and other advertising platforms. In fact,
we get emails from Google telling us to either delete
certain content like that or they will not monetize them.

And so there is one second, Yes, do.

Speaker 3 (19:36):
You repeat that Google sent you letters to remove material?
Are they saying it's not true? Remove it?

Speaker 2 (19:44):
Their system flaggs certain content as being what there's what
they call inappropriate. And so if certain if you if
you read an article about let's say, lynch could happen
in the South to people of African descent, and they
may their process might see that content as being harmful

to someone you're talking about lynching, and so they demonetize
that content. And so even though it's not really harmfuls
is the history of this country, they demonetize it. And
they also say that you can't use our monetization platform
I Google, I mean add AdSense to monetize that content.

And so we've gotten several emails through our third party
vendors that from Google that says this particular article either
has to remove our technology from it monetizing it, or
be deleted. And so there are other forces, intentional or unintentional,
that are at work that are attempting to erase the

reality and the fact of our history is the people
now and in the past, and we have to be
vigilant in protecting our narrative against these kinds of aggressive tactics,
whether their intentional or unintentional, whether that's a human being
us doing that or an algorithm that's doing that, we
still have to be vigilant detecting ourselves.

Speaker 1 (21:08):
The article, Nelson says Google flagged is titled the seven
Medieval African Kingdoms Everyone Should Know about. Read it on
Atlanta Blackstar dot com.

Speaker 3 (21:20):
What's coming up next? On Desta, What can we expect next?
What's happening?

Speaker 2 (21:25):
So we're in the process currently planning our first a
Vard Film Festival, which is will happen in June during
Black Black Music Month, and during Juneteenth that week, we're
going to encourage filmmakers new film mailk filmmakers to submit
their films for this festival, but it'll be it'll be

online film festival, so the whole work can attend from
their home and so this is going to be a
way for us to kind of, you know, give more
new filmmak filmmakers opportunity to get their content out of
the world. So that's coming up in in uh June
between the eighteenth and twenty second of June, and we're

calling that whole week Black Star Week. We'll have some
events here in Atlanta, but the biggest part of this
will be on Desta.

Speaker 1 (22:16):
You can see it on Desta d E S T
a H dot com.

Speaker 2 (22:20):
It's also available on Roku and on Apple TV as
well as Amazon Fire TV, so if you have those platforms,
you can go and look for the Desta app. We
can also we're also in the process of developing a
Samsung Sony and other apps that it will be on
by June of this year.

Speaker 3 (22:40):
And the other media offerings of d d M.

Speaker 2 (22:43):
So you can also visit us on on a Blackstar
dot com for your daily news that's what's happening around
the world from a Black perspective. You can also check
us out on Finora, f I, n U r a
h dot com for news about wealth and finance. You
can also visit us towards on the Shadow League dot com.

Speaker 3 (23:04):
Neil Nelson, Wow, you not only keep us entertained but educated.
Thank you for your vision.

Speaker 2 (23:11):
Thank you for having me
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