Clayton Banks

[00:00:00] Jerry Ashton: [00:00:00] Hello there again. This is Jerry Ashton with let's rethink. Topic like let's rethink this as rather broad. What does it need to be thinking? Mr. Banks has kindly allowed us to be able to do an inaugural presentation of LR T thinking and LRT interviews by way of a comic strip. So we're going to come to that and I'll cover that when we finish our interview here to find out why in the world would Mr.

[00:00:33] Banks wants to do that. And what goods does he hope to come up with? So Mr. Banks You realize that Silicon Harlem and my former charity called that's what's called rip medical debt was also born in 2014.

[00:00:52] Clayton Banks: [00:00:52] That's amazing. 2014 has a lucky year. And now that we are literally seven years since then seven is a very important numbers.

[00:01:02] So we are hitting a moment in time. What you've done, what I'm doing is making a difference in this world. And that's why I'm so excited to be on this particular interview with you. I always think in my own mind that I've been rethinking since I was born. So I have always been questioning so many things that are coming my way, which allows me to rethink how we may be able to move forward in a much more positive and inclusive way.

[00:01:32] That has been a part of my life in general from sports to news to just connecting people. So thank you for having me on here. Really thrilled about the idea of the graphic novel. I think that will reach another one that doesn't always perhaps connect with me. So to be able to utilize that platform to enlarge our audience is just a thrill for us.

[00:01:59] Jerry Ashton: [00:01:59] How does the digital divide and what you're doing to bring broadband to your community? How does that tie in?

[00:02:06] Clayton Banks: [00:02:06] What's interesting to me is that there's a bigger elephant than the elephant you just talked about. So digital divide is has been identified as an elephant, but there's a bigger elephant when it comes to divides in general, in this, in our particular country.

[00:02:22] And when you think about it from a digital perspective, that's certainly something we have to address. But if we want to get to the root of why everyone is not connected, if you really want to get to the root of why tribal lands and rule and dense urban markets, why they all have issues, including the Appalachians, et cetera, it's a wealth gap.

[00:02:43] So what's going on here is that we're not able to afford the emphasis. Whether you're wherever you live, the pricing is just too high on a monthly rate and things of that nature. So that's been the case since the nineties. So this is [00:03:00] not been improved over some 30 years. If you think about that 50 years ago, the wealth gap.

[00:03:10] Hasn't changed, right? So since the fifties, there's not been a wealth gap shrinking Institute 8 21. So when you look at that, there's a, real reason why some people are not able to get online is because they can't afford it. Other ways that people get online, going through public spaces, going to libraries and maybe even using their phone, but as any efficient in the long run.

[00:03:31] And we're losing a lot of the brain power of our country because of simple wealth gap. So the digital divide is. Is a part of the wealth gap, right along with health gaps and education gaps and all these other gaps are all related back to the wealth gap. And so I, looked at it from that way and rethought about this heavily, if you will.

[00:03:54] Jerry, that rethinking, why do people are not connected? And that's how I came up with this idea that one of the things we have to do. This major issue that no one really wants to talk about. You can hear digital divide all day long, but nobody says there's a wealth divide, or a wealth gap, or just a reason.

[00:04:12] So what's Harlem and I'm trying to do is put on that Cape of superpower to figure out how we can get at that and get the country to start thinking about that. Because the sooner we can close that the better we are in, the long run.

[00:04:29] Jerry Ashton: [00:04:29] No mention has ever made of the wealth gap as being the, if there were to be an enemy that the superhero would be against, it would be the source of a causes, the other problems. I love it when people point out to me that what they want to do in my world, which was healthcare and medical debt that what they wanted to do was make healthcare accessible.

[00:04:54] Frankly, the rolls Royce dealership is accessible to me, but that doesn't mean I can necessarily drive off in one. So what we have in the world of internet, connectivity, or buildings that are wired for broadband and of course TV shows, but the cost. Unless you happen to be privileged unless you happen to be in a certain income level.

[00:05:19] It means that if I understand correctly, just in the Harlem community alone, some 40% of the population because of the cost, which I believe must run around $75 a month, the cost was too great. Now that is a superhero problem. What technology did you use or did you devise to get rid of that?

[00:05:39] Clayton Banks: [00:05:39] When we start to realize specifically from the pandemic that everyone needs a connection in the home, you really had to rethink.

[00:05:47] Now I've been doing this way before the pandemic, but I'm glad a lot of people started to understand what I have been trying to advocate since 2014. And even earlier than that, I've been in the business a long time. And one of the things [00:06:00] that I had identified even prior to the pandemic, and certainly now.

[00:06:04] Is that people need the internet. Not, it's not that they should have it. You have to have it. Many people have died during the pandemic because they couldn't connect to a doctor. So I say that to say at the end of the day, what we have to do is look at it from a humanizing perspective. And so one of those things is what we've had in the past is that you've been able to bundle internet with video.

[00:06:29] And when that happens, that price that you just talked about is actually $150 average per month. That is expensive for anyone, not just fixed income and poor people. So at a, and that's New York numbers for those who are watching $150 is the average bill for internet because you have it bundled with video.

[00:06:52] So one of the first things I wanted to do is decouple that why don't I just provide broadband. Now when you provide broadband only, and a lot of ways you go where's the money coming from? The answer is, there's not a lot of money in it, but it's an essential thing that people have to have and that you certainly can sustain the model by doing this, which is what we call fixed wireless deployment. I don't want to get overly techie, but what I'm saying is in the traditional way, you've had all wiring, and wire to the building wire in the building wire into your home or into your. And that is expensive. It's a lot of capital outlay.

[00:07:30] And to get your money back, two things happen. One, you have to charge a lot of money until you go to the best places that will pay that bill. That's why 40% of people can be left behind. And this is not just Harlem. This is around the country. It's 25 to 30% of people that don't have it yet. So, on homes approaches, Hey, we don't need the wire, every single unit.

[00:07:49] What if we were able to build out some of these locations like hotels, where you have access points in hallways and at penetrates, this is for multiple dwelling unit buildings anyway, where you can literally get the signal in a sharing way that is in the hallways that penetrate your unit. And this particular process is faster to deploy and less expensive.

[00:08:11] Therefore, I can bring the price way down. So where it's not only affordable, but in the future, it will be practically free. So we're very excited about how that's happening, especially for those who are most vulnerable. Because again, as you mentioned, not having that level of

[00:08:28] Jerry Ashton: [00:08:28] well, speaking of money because in this world, nothing happens without it.

[00:08:33] Did you create a separate corporation in order to create the broadband? Is this all part of Silicon? How Harlem, that's your first question for you? I need to understand how you're able to even bring in enough money to be able to do a wonderful and very essential service. And then the second thing would be assuming that you had the financial backing.

[00:08:54] How long would it. How long would it take in something your size then of course, we can move to Appalachian and we can [00:09:00] move to east Oakland. We can move to any number of places and find out how can this genius be applied there as well. So question number one. What

[00:09:08] Clayton Banks: [00:09:08] about the model?

[00:09:12] Then focused on providing internet. It just took several years to get it together because of the point you're making that it's an expensive thing to do. You have to get licenses, you have to get franchises. There's a lot when you work with the city to even prepare to be a provider. So we've always had it in our business plan while we were we're pulling all that together for a few years, we focused on what we call advanced technology as well as digital education.

[00:09:39] And those two things really sustain the company and continue to sustain the company because we have a very big commitment to the community that they won't be left behind when it comes to technology. And one of the, one of the great things that we've been able to do is create an ecosystem that includes universities and the private sector, and certainly our electives the stakeholders in communities, as well as the people themselves, that ecosystem has allowed us to create opportunities for people of all ages.

[00:10:09] Learning how to become a drone pilot to learning how to navigate virtual reality as well as bill drone, video games, all kinds of cool things and what that does, which allows us to have a educated community that when we come out and say, Hey, we're going to be providing connectivity. There's an embracer right.

[00:10:27] So people are like adopting this idea. So we had to rethink all of the. Approach, if you will, especially when you're looking at vulnerable, communities that are already careful about who they let to do business. Burn so many times in these areas. And so we want it to really build up that credibility over the years, which we did by, educating their kids by helping senior citizens by really being accessible.

[00:10:57] I always love it when a young person will come up to me and say, Mr. Banks, you're the first CEO I've ever. And that may sound trivial, but I don't think you or anybody even knows who the CEO of Verizon is or charter is even, I don't really even know who those people are.

[00:11:14] Jerry Ashton: [00:11:14] That raises another question that is nobody makes it in this world alone.

[00:11:19] You've worked hard to get to where you are to be able to even entertain making the impact that you're going to make. That means you had friends along the way, that means you had supporters, you had investors give a shout out to some of the people that, that you feel have been on board to help you get to where you are right now.

[00:11:36] And then I'm going to come up with a second important question.

[00:11:38] Clayton Banks: [00:11:38] I've done it all by myself. Actually I'll start and end with one thing that most people would probably want to say. And that's just mom and dad, were really good. Great parents. I had a great growing up, I had a wonderful background that set me on that.

[00:11:58] I was embraced with my [00:12:00] rethinking, my parents were never, ever focused on me being in one lane. It allowed me to do whatever I wanted to do. Experiment. Set the garage on fire, we're using chemistry and things of that nature they'd never were restricting me in any kind of way. So that capable that growing up that way allowed me to have this way of thinking now.

[00:12:23] And I think the other really good value system that was embedded in me is that people are all the same. There's really no difference. The issue is the differences, whether you have exposed. And we'll talk a little bit about that later, but when we talk about exposure, that really we'll also get to the root of all the issues in this country.

[00:12:42] But we'll talk more about that as we move on this I'll, actually go back to your other question. Yes, there's been a lot of people supporting Silicon Harlem. Those investors, those people, who've just been big time supporters. I take my hat off to the ecosystem. I described, particularly with the universities where we've been able to drive in over $50 million in the Harlem from tech research.

[00:13:08] And we're very proud of that because we were the only place on earth. And particularly in the United States that put up the. Outdoor in community 5g, testbed, no one's ever done that. And I'm very proud that Harlem and upper Manhattan is getting that kind of, of support because oftentimes we're late in the game or ahead of the game.

[00:13:32] Jerry Ashton: [00:13:32] Then speaking of being late, if you get the financial support you need, and you certainly have partnerships people need to go to your website to really check that out. And that's Silicon Isn't it

[00:13:44] Clayton Banks: [00:13:44] is. And they can also email me. My email is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. So please email directly what Jerry is talking about and what I'm seeing.

[00:13:55] Is partners and investors collaborators, et cetera, that are going to help us with this incredible opportunity to provide internet across the country, but particularly starting in upper Manhattan where we already have a license and we already have a contract in place. So we need the financial partners to come in now, as it is expensive to deploy network, but that will be a safe investment.

[00:14:17] We have.

[00:14:19] Jerry Ashton: [00:14:19] I see that money coming in, because number one is deserved number two, and there will be an ROI for people. But the next thing is how long was it going to take?

[00:14:29] Clayton Banks: [00:14:29] Yeah every, we're at now, right now, we're looking at three major campuses in upper Manhattan that serve public housing that, that accumulates up to about 25, 30,000 people and seven, 8,000 units.

[00:14:46] That's going to take six months to do so it's not a long time actually, because of the way I said the deployment is much more efficient with the with the way that we thought it. So anyone that wants to get involved, [00:15:00] it's a six month deployment. So we'd love to get the resources as soon as possible.

[00:15:03] It's basically driving with a lot of the hardware, which is quite expensive in terms of the initial. And then and then some operations as well. Certainly anyone can email me directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. And we can talk specifically, send the deck out, give you the financials, all that.

[00:15:22] Well,

[00:15:24] Jerry Ashton: [00:15:24] the, this is the point where we returned to being a superhero and the idea of creating a comic strip let's rethink, this was fortunate and acquiring the talents of Mr. Vic Guiza who is a resident of Mexico, city also lived and worked in California and has drawn for many major organizations, including Marvel comics.

[00:15:52] When he learned that he was going to have an opportunity to turn you into a cartoon strip, not just a single piece on her eye strip, beginning with here's the need superhero appears resolution comes and people are happy ever after. What I like about comic strips is that they simplify things. It's very simple.

[00:16:16] I ain't got the money is very simple. We got the answer and yet we need to put a big ass on your, or in your case, S H a big Silicon Harlem symbol on your chest to demonstrate that you are the, entity that will come in and make that difference. So I understand you've had. In cartoons themselves.

[00:16:41] Anyway, is that true?

[00:16:43] Clayton Banks: [00:16:43] I certainly grew up with comic books. Obviously when cartoons were the original cartoons and a lot of ways that we would watch the afterschool and even as I was growing up around middle school or so I had started to tell people to call me clay tune. It was. So it's not just a cartoon, it's a Clayton and a it's been a lot of times as I even said that, but it's just wonderful to reminisce about those good old days of coming home, watching the Flintstones and the Jetsons and all those types of things.

[00:17:17] Certainly it's on Nickelodeon now, but when I was growing up that. The way to start thinking again in much more colorful way, a much more fun nothing is limited. You can in cartoons. And I wrote, and I actually drew, if you will, not like Vic, but certainly was creating my own cartoons.

[00:17:38] And there's nothing when you know nothing great. When one of your characters can pick up a truck, you can blue with that and you imagine, and that's why my imagination is so big to this day.

[00:17:52] Jerry Ashton: [00:17:52] You're a hard act to follow. When you interview some people, you got to put stuff in place. That's not true for you. Clayton. You've [00:18:00] got, you are a wonderful source of wisdom experience and you are in the process and, I've always been in the process of making a difference for your team.

[00:18:11] So in the larger picture, the work that you're doing with education, the work with the universities, the way that you're going to be displayed by way of our website, let's rethink this. How does that relate to being in, in the larger community of Harlem and the upcoming Harlem week one? What role does your organization have in that?

[00:18:33] Clayton Banks: [00:18:33] Even beyond Harlem week, I would say that and this, I would hope everyone can listen very carefully to. Which is what at the core of what I do is what I call provide as much exposure as I possibly can. Because when we talk about the differences or even to some degree, the gaps, it creates it is created by a simple equation.

[00:18:56] If you have an exposure gap, it leads to an access gap. If you have an access gap, it leads to an opportunity. If you have an opportunity gap, it's a recipe for poverty and it's cyclical. So I'll give you a perfect example. I've been all over the world, so I can name a country and say, have you been to Cuba?

[00:19:20] And a lot of people might say no, and I'll say I have that exposure. And when I was there, I met a lot of great people. So I had access. I ended up having an opportunity with a particular company and I made some money. And therefore there's a level of sustainability, same thing I did in Panama. And that's just from traveling and not, everyone's going to have the same exposure, but the more exposure you have, the more access you have, the more access you have, the more opportunities you have, more opportunities.

[00:19:48] You have creates a level of sustainability for your life. Why am I saying this? Because I have a solution and that's the good news. I'm not just telling you the problem. I don't think anybody would argue with what I just said. Me and just let, just to put a pin on the problem when I was growing up. And the teachers as a young kid, it's a little bit odd when the teachers tell you're the smartest kid in the class.

[00:20:11] And I thought all my friends were smart. I'll take notes and it's embarrassing. But what I realized later was my parents did something that maybe some kids didn't have. Yeah. I had an encyclopedia set. So whenever the teachers gave me an assignment I'm in those inside whoa, I have all the information here.

[00:20:29] That's equivalent to the internet right now. You don't hear about encyclopedia sets anymore. You hear about the. So the encyclopedia said when I was growing up was the internet without being the internet, but it was the internet. So I had something that another child didn't have. And as a result that exposer created, what access for me was great.

[00:20:47] It, what opportunity for me, it was great. It was, oh, you're the smartest kid in class. So what's the solution. Gee, let's give people more exposure. That's all it is. We [00:21:00] have to figure this out, but this is my super hero inside of me. If you will, is to provide that extra exposure, I'll give you a perfect reality example of it.

[00:21:08] I teach kids every cell. Four years ago had one of the kids in my class, a senior in high school, she was very shy, very nervous, and also the stuff at the end of the summer, she was blossomed. She became this great leader and also stuff. She ended up getting accepted into Boston college. She is now a senior at Boston college.

[00:21:30] He called me before the summer started and said, Mr. Banks had been four years since I've seen you. I haven't forgotten about my experience. Had a lot to do with me where I am now. I want to come back into home and I want to support any educational activities we have going on so that I can give back to.

[00:21:46] This is what this happened. She got the exposure. She ended up with access. I wrote the letter to help her get a college. She then boom, he's in a school taking full advantage of that opportunity and now has a sustainable way to move her life. This is not complicated people. We just have to provide more exposer.

[00:22:05] If one school is teaching something, the other school, a lot of teeth in that.

[00:22:10] Jerry Ashton: [00:22:10] We are connected in many ways. Apparently Mr. Bank. I once sold a cycle previous door to door. It wasn't in Harlem. So it might not have been your parents or anybody on the east coast. I was in San Francisco bay area doing that in Los Angeles.

[00:22:26] So yeah, selling encyclopedias was important to me because I knew I was bringing knowledge into a home. And once again, there was a gap there into the family could afford it or the family.

[00:22:36] Clayton Banks: [00:22:36] That's what it was. That's all it was, but that's the key. And by the way, I grew up early on in San Diego, California.

[00:22:42] So my father being a lifelong Marine, I grew up on camp Pendleton. So definitely someone like you came across our, we bought and you

[00:22:53] Jerry Ashton: [00:22:53] can thank me for that. The other thing of course, is that thank you for doing a shout out at what we are based on in let's rethink. This is called I'm sorry. Oh,

[00:23:06] Clayton Banks: [00:23:06] white light.

[00:23:07] Jerry Ashton: [00:23:07] Okay. And what you provided when I told you about our work ignite

[00:23:12] Clayton Banks: [00:23:12] That's right, absolutely. You're seeing that happening look from when you first started brainstorming around this and I wasn't around enough to hear a lot about it. And all the people around the country that were logging into it from new Orleans and New York and all over the place.

[00:23:29] We're actually seeing some action happening here and I'm very proud to be one of the first people to be in the public with this, with you. So I want us to keep going on this and spread it across the world because the more we can get people to rethink, the more reality can become to where everyone can benefit.

[00:23:45] So there's a real motive for me. That we can literally start to move all we want to do every day of our lives. At this point is just moves things forward. Let's just move things incrementally forward. [00:24:00] And part of that is in the mind, a lot of the tragedy in this world is basically the kind of indoctrination where people aren't able to think for themselves.

[00:24:08] So the more we push this kind of ideas out, the more they're going to, oh, wait a minute. Let me rethink what I've been told. So I appreciate what you're doing. Yeah.

[00:24:18] Jerry Ashton: [00:24:18] Thank you so much. And I certainly don't have to rethink the intelligence I had when I decided that you were the person that we at LRT needed the feature for our very first cartridges to.

[00:24:31] I thank you on behalf of our team all the people that owned by the way, those of you who don't know about us, visit our website. Let's rethink wandered around. Find out if there's a family or a community or a way of thinking that you'd like to incorporate or make herself aware of, or he'd be delighted to have you there.

[00:24:51] So let me end this by asking one more time, how people can get in touch with.

[00:24:57] Clayton Banks: [00:24:57] Again, thank you. Jerry Ashton, and all the folks that are supporting you and all of the work that you've done in the past, and certainly current, you just can't get out of the game, but we're going to, we love having you here.

[00:25:09] So for those who are still on the call and we, are very happy that you've joined us. I can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. That's This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please feel free. I get those directly. I will respond. And hopefully we can find some collaborations along the way.

[00:25:30] Jerry Ashton: [00:25:30] Thank you Mr.

[00:25:30] Superhero.

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