Founder/CEO

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Cultural Capital in a Post Obama America

Tulsa Oklahoma: Black Wall Street


Culture is our way of life; the sum total of all of our people activities, including commerce, and how we produce, manage and grow capital [wealth]. This all starts with identity, how we relate to each other, knowing our worth and not selling ourselves short, or selling out, by how we live.

Sometimes poverty has little to do with not having any money. People can be poor, and remain poor, simply because they lack "Cultural Capital", regardless how much money they have. When a person doesn't know or embrace their heritage, they don't have access to a rich ancestral legacy. This wealth of experience and insight is like untouched cultural capital sitting in a genealogy bank.., accruing interest.., for hundreds maybe thousands of years. Without this access, a person now has limited capital, resources and relationships to build something of value their future generations can inherit. One of the greatest forms of financial literacy, and wealth building, is learning the value of one's culture. A culture's value is its worth and importance. Consider American culture for example. This hodgepodge of various cultural influences/ideas is the United States greatest export -even in embargoed countries. 

I've continually seen the slogan to support black/minority businesses which is great as an economic stimulus yet ineffective as a system in and of itself. Supporting black/minority businesses has minimal impact in shaping, controlling and protecting an economy when its members have a limited understanding of Cultural Capital. Cultural Capital is similar to Social Capital; the network of relationships and resources that form the basis of an economy. In this regard, Cultural Capital is a network of relationships and resources rooted in shared customs, principles and values that mark a people's way of life. It's defined by reciprocity, trust and the cooperation of group members who systematically share and maintain the same resources and cultural interests. Thus this system of shared resources and cultural interests existed before money and is ultimately rooted in our relationships.


It's not enough to simply support a local business because it's black owned. That business could be owned by black people who don't share the same cultural interests as us and who are just as parasitic as other ethnic groups who capitalize off of our patronage without supporting our community they're taking from. It's not about putting money in another black person's pocket. It's about investing in businesses, products and services, that mutually support the growth and development of our families and communities. I was recently listening to a podcast interview with Pusha T speaking about his clothing stores Play Cloths and Creme and how acquiring accounts from higher end designers is often challenging. Even though he has been lyrically/visually one of the biggest brand supporters of the Givenchy clothing brand, Givenchy denied him an account to carry its brand at his high end store Creme. Like Pusha T I see our people acting like unofficial brand ambassadors promoting sports team, clothing brands and other products and services on and offline everyday. More times than not, these same corporate entities are doing little to nothing to support the people, families and communities who are enriching them. To boot, many of these corporate entities are Fortune 500 cultural appropriation companies. In other words, some of these companies glean ideas or outright steal the intellectual property from people, create a service/product based upon those ideas and then sell it back to the same people they gleaned/stole it from -who are oftentimes running around promoting it like unofficial brand ambassadors. It's the epitome of a vicious cycle and shows how one's identity is intrinsically linked to economics. This is important to understand because those who have benefited the most from Cultural Capital will inform you that these non-financial social assets are for the purpose of promoting social mobility; code for "culturally assimilating and seeking social status in their society that makes itself rich from your labor while ignoring/marginalizing your minority interests." I'm talking about Cultural Capital as a means of self determination.  

Here in America with the inauguration of President Donald Trump, we are about to witness some national policy changes that we will severely effect regional and local economies, including our access to public goods. With his motley crew of unqualified appointments to various positions in his Administration, we can expect to see how Cultural Capital functions much clearer, under the guise of Nationalism. White Nationalism to be more precise. The most appropriate response to this oligarchy is not assimilation, it's supporting each other. In order to do this our highest value must lie in our relationships; the basis of any economic system. Relationships are the only vehicle that enables us to build the trust and confidence necessary to support each other. This also requires to likewise be trustworthy; demonstrating the kind of ethics, integrity, consistency and moral code people can put confidence in. If there is no trust, dependability or confidence in one another, we will not support each other, our products and services, or be willing to cooperate. Without cooperation cooperative economics or collective work and responsibility won't exist. It brings to mind a recent University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth multicultural economy report that projected black buying power to reach $1.4 trillion by 2020. Leveraging this black buying power to control our economic narrative hinges upon how we choose to reciprocally relate to one another, culturally. 

Throughout our chronology, from hundreds of thousands of years ago as Hunter Gatherers to this Millennial Information Age, our ability to survive and thrive depended and still depends upon our willingness and ability to work together. The 'common' 'unity' that forged our communities was and is culture. Moving forward socioeconomically it is imperative that we seek common ground throughout our people activities. Our lives, and livelihood, literally depends upon each other.

Peace,
Saladin

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Fences: A Generational Breakdown

  



The first time I heard of Fences was my exposure to the works of playwright August Wilson who poignantly depicted snapshots of black family life in 20th Century America. The first time I saw the play was through a local theater company where my physical brother played the role of Gabe [Gabriel]; the mentally challenged character that was brilliantly played by Mykelti Williamson in the film. Wilson once noted in the Paris Review that, "I think my plays offer (white Americans) a different way to look at black Americans" and this is precisely what Denzel Washington set out to do and accomplished by bringing Fences to the big screen as its Leading Actor/Director alongside the incomparable Viola Davis. 

What some do not know about Fences is it's a part of Wilson's Pittsburgh Cycle [Century Cycle] which consists of nine additional plays, ten in total. The backdrop of most of these plays is where Wilson grew up; Pittsburgh's Hill District, with the exception of one set in Chicago, and each play focuses on a different decade. For example:

1900's -Gem of the Ocean
1910's -Joe Turner's Come and Gone
1920's -Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
1930's -The Piano Lesson
1940's -Seven Guitars
1950's -Fences
1960's -Two Trains Running
1970's -Jitney
1980's -King Hedley II
1990's -Radio Gulf

Something else to consider is even though Wilson's plays depict snapshots of black family life for ten decades, Generations are superimposed over these decades. For example:


1900-1910's The Interbellum Generation
1910's-1920's The G.I. [Greatest Generation]
1920's-1940's The Silent Generation
1940's-1960's The Baby Boomer Generation
1960's-1980 Generation X
1980's-1995 Generation Y [Millennials] 


As you can see, the backdrop of Fences is the 1950's during the middle of the Baby Boomer Generation. During a scene when Troy was talking about his childhood and becoming a man at 14 years old he said he walked 200 miles to Birmingham Alabama when he left home. When his son Lyons asked him why didn't he get a ride Troy responded that there were no cars at that time because it was 1918. That would mark Troy's birth in 1914, the year of the stock market crash. Although the Baby Boomer Generation is the socioeconomic backdrop of Fences, its main characters Troy and Rose were born in the G.I. Generation. This is very important to understand because it puts Fences, and Wilson's other plays, within the proper cultural, socioeconomic and generational context. Some of the reviews and opinions I've seen and heard about this film failed to take this into consideration. They were often cosmetic at best and empty of a real substantive analysis of what black family life was actually like for some of us from that generation, during that decade, particularly in the North. 

I've heard everything from how weak and stupid Rose was, how rotten and  chauvinistic Troy was to how Gabe stole the show being batsh*t crazy. Some of us simply ignored the fact that all of these characters in that community, in that decade and from that generation had limited options/opportunities to change their circumstances. Sure there were women such as Rose from that G.I. Generation who found themselves in a similar scenario and did something about it. It definitely wasn't easy but the easiest route out of a life like hers in the 1950's was the underworld and all of its accoutrements. Other than the underworld or a domestic worker, Rose could have been an Entertainer/Athlete like Billie Holiday, Big Momma Thornton, Odetta, Josephine Baker, Althea Gibson or Louise "Queen of the Kitchen" Beavers if she had the talent -yet it would have been long shot at her age. Sure there was welfare instead of asking Troy for money but welfare was shaky in the 1950's when Welfare Reform began. Some things were simply not an option, especially at Rose's age. Many of the modern women I've seen criticizing Rose about her decision to stay in a relationship with Troy after he had a baby on her are accepting stuff from modern day f*ckboys that would make Troy look like Philip Banks from a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Troy's flophouse options were no different if he wanted to walk out on Rose, at that age. Standing in the same place for eighteen years means that Troy and Rose developed very little skills or professional development training to adapt and progress in a changing world. Many of us have likewise been standing in the same place for years too.

Another thing that's important to understand is that their son Cory, who disapproved of his Father's behavior and Mother's acceptance, is a Baby Boomer. Many of the changes that Baby Boomers brought about within their generation [the 1960's], as with every generation, is oftentimes based upon dissatisfaction/disapproval. Some women during that decade who would have been Cory's Baby Boomer peers made decisions that echoed the same dissatisfaction/disapproval of a Troy and Rose family dynamic. Some women decided the institution of marriage was a prison sentence and vowed never to exchange vows. The Daughters of Bilitis (DOB) was born, America's first formal lesbian organization. Abortion was illegal and birth control pills were approved by the FDA. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was started, bras were burned and the Women's Rights and Feminist Movements were the direct response to a G.I. and Silent Generation. None of these changes we see in the American landscape, in each generation, happen in a vacuum. In many instances these changes are also the result of Socioeconomic Engineering.

Fences starring James Earl Jones, Broadway 1987

   
As I've mentioned, Fences is a snapshot of black family life for some of us in that generation, during that decade, in the North. As black people we are not one monolithic group and there are various perspectives that represent who and what we are as a people. Even though there are many common themes of institutional racism, white nationalism and sexism we as black people had to deal with  and still have to deal with in America, our entire world in the 1950's did not look like Pittsburgh's Hill District. Just like when we see footage of Dr. Martin Luther King's historic March on Washington, all black people in America weren't there or actually cared about participating in it. On August 28th, 1963 some black folks were sitting at home in a middle class neighborhood saying, "That nigga crazy causing trouble. We got it good right now, why he trying to mess stuff up?!" Although we are not monolithic, it's also important to understand that within this society we are a racially defined as a monolith; one minority group that's intractably indivisible and uniform in our sense of powerlessness. This is very problematic when the dominant society has primary control of our individual and collective narrative. A society where uniform caricatures, outright lies and other disinformation is institutionalized and broadcast to its citizenry to paint us as ignorant, inferior, ugly and impotent. Therein also exists our power of identity, when the highest value lies in our relationships and sense of self determination. Solid relationships where cultural continuity, collective work and responsibility and cooperative economics was and is the order of the day. An excellent example of this was Black Wall Street, a society forged by the Lost and Interbullum Generations of blacks who came of age during World War I and II. 

It was hard to find black people in America today from the G.I. Generation who didn't have any bitterness, disappointment or depression in them like Troy and Rose. Many black families moved to the North during the twenties and were stung with the stark reality that there was a lack of opportunities for blacks who were still segregated from American society. The pride on Troy's face and how his family and friends celebrated his promotion to be the first black man in Pittsburgh to drive a garbage truck gives you a sense of those lack of opportunities. Another name for the G.I. Generation is "The Greatest Generation"; those who came of age during the Great Depression, Prohibition and were veterans of World War II. To give you a sense of what the backdrop of this generation looked like, this was a time in America when girls wore dresses and boys wore suits and ties every day. People generally sought the American Dream, were loyal to its institutions and the KKK had a card carrying membership of approximately 3 million members. Seven Presidents, from the 35th to the 41st, were born in this generation as well as Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson and Jack Johnson became the first black heavyweight champion during the height of this Jim Crow EraThe G.I. Generation was a tumultuous time when race riots were common place throughout American cities and leaders such as Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois and Marcus Garvey came along to give black people a sense of direction. This was also a significant time politically; black people who traditionally voted Republican switched in mass to the Democratic Party. At the same time, and in contrast to blacks in this country, white America began its Roaring Twenties; an exuberant, boisterous time of prosperity and freewheeling popular culture.




Fences was more than a poignant cinematic adaptation of an August Wilson play or a critical illustration of how dysfunctional black folks were. Fences is a bold reminder of Sankofa, expressed in the Akan language as "se wo were fi na wosan kofa a yenki" meaning "it is not taboo to go back and fetch what you [we] forgot." Many of us have forgotten these stories of our elder generation and are thus ill equipped to deal with similar circumstances and race-based challenges our families and communities still deal with today. Fences is a textbook social study of some of our G.I., Silent and Baby Boomer Generations during a decade when blacks continued to face white domestic terrorism on all fronts, be it political, economic, social, emotional and of course physical. The murder of Emmett Till, the fortitude of Rosa Parks and the protests of many others during this time were a part of the catalyst to spark our Civil/Human Rights Movement. Each of the characters in this film told a complex story of identity, autonomy and the struggle for upward mobility in a society fashioned to keep black people powerless. Our resolve wasn't always the best. Yet if we look, listen, learn and respect this narrative, we can better position ourselves to not only change it but gather the power to control it. 

Peace,
Saladin

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

9 Keys To Success In 2017


   Reflecting upon how positive and progressive 2016 has been for me and looking towards 2017, I just wanted to take a moment to share some of my thoughts with all of you. First and foremost, I want to THANK all of you who invested time in reading my articles, researching the links/information I share via my Facebook Page, checked out and subscribed to my Youtube Channel (A.S.I.A. TV) and Radio Show (Atlantis Build Talk Radio), purchased my literature/music (Quanaah Publishing) and connected with me in whatever capacity we were able to. It is very much appreciated!! The numerous dialogues, testimonials, letters, questions and constructive advice I receive on the daily lets me know that what I do is not in vain. It's serving my intended purpose; inspiring, empowering and educating people. There are some of you I’ve had the pleasure of meeting for the first time and others I’ve had the opportunity to build/rebuild relationships from all over the world. None of us are in each others lives by chance and I look forward to what these bonds continue to positively produce for the future. You are also all very much appreciated!! As far as Resolutions are concerned, I don’t have any. I am a work in progress so I’m always exploring ways to improve myself so that I can be a greater resource to others. Living a way of life that includes the phrase ‘striving for perfection’ as a part of its fundamental principles is the essence of any/all Resolutions. Therefore, I will continue being as resolute as I have been.


NOW AVAILABLE HERE!!
   For those of you who’ve made Resolutions for 2017, here are 9 Keys I revised that will help you achieve your goals in this upcoming year:

1. Although it is your personal Resolution, your Resolution should be something that improves (progresses) you with the intent/consideration of making you a better resource to others and this world we share. Life is interdependent, we all play a role in how the world turns, and there is a constant process of giving and receiving. This intent/consideration ensures that our Resolution is in tune with the universal order and is something that is sustainable -because we are actively providing a service (and/or products) that others, and the world, needs. If all we are thinking about is what we can get (keep), and not what we are able to consistently give, what we get (keep) will eventually run out. If you don't believe this, try it with your breath. Keep it to yourself and see how long it takes for your oxygen to run out...


2. Make sure our Resolution is real and obtainable. It’s less likely we’re going to change EVERYTHING at once so it's important to work on what we can change, one goal at a time. Also, take things one day at a time.... It took a while to create habits/routines and it’s going to take time to change them. The smaller goals we accomplish serve as stepping stones; helping us build confidence and gain the tools and experience that are necessary to forge our larger goals. And with any goal, one of the first and most important steps we need to take, and habits we need to create, is to "Get our day underway with a positive, productive attitude." That attitude sets the stage for our altitude.


3. Make your goals specific. Instead of saying something like, "I’m going to read more" say something more specific like, "I am going to read two novels every month." This is called Specificity. This not only helps you better focus on your goals, but it encourages you to be more responsible and committed to your goals. If you were to say, "I want to be healthier in 2017" there is no sense of ambition or plan of action to achieve that goal. Now if you said, "I am going to only eat baked chicken once a week and go to the gym three times a week for 1 ½ hours" that has a sense of ambition and provides part of a plan of action to achieve your goal of being healthier in 2017. If it's not clear, our path won't be cleared.


4. Set a projected time/date for your goals. Setting a time/date creates a sense of urgency, responsibility, and accountability to meet your goals. If you don’t meet your time/date then set another one. Without setting a time/date then we’re saying our goals aren’t really a priority (important) -because under these circumstances they can happen any time, and any day. That is not resolute, and if you don't have a time/date, there will probably never be a time/date.


5. Write down your Resolutions. I’ve known people who had challenges with organizing their day, appropriating their time, and focusing on achieving their goals. One of the solutions I shared with them was writing down their goals on index cards or signs and posting them in visible places around their home. This helped reinforce/remind them of their goals so they wouldn’t allow themselves to get lost in the hustle & bustle of the day.


6. Only share your Resolutions with those who have shown themselves to be supportive of you fulfilling them. If they’re not there to help you, they’re only going to hinder you. If they're not an asset, they're a liability. If they're not in your life to build, they will destroy.


7. Look into networking with people/organizations that will help you fulfill your physical and mental health goals. If you want to cut back on the substances you’ve been using like drugs/alcohol, or have some mental health issues going on, reach out to any local, regional, national organizations that specifically deal with drug/alcohol abuse and mental health. There are no Resolutions when you don't have your health.


8. Keep a Positive Outlook! Some days it will be easy to maintain a level of positivity and other days you need ‘social equality’ (fellowship) with others -who share the same goals and are just as resolute as you are about positivity. This means, whatever religious, cultural, or secular organization you are a member of or affiliated with, invest the time to be there and learn as much as you can about the positive principles/values they’re sharing with you. This is part of your foundational network and will help you maintain a Positive Outlook when you need the support, which we all do.


9. Your Resolution is not the end all be all. Some people live to have a Wedding while others strive to be Married, have a family, and etc.. While the former is a place, the later is a state. So although your Resolutions may help you arrive at a place, the ultimate goal should be to achieve a state of existence. And this state of existence should set the stage to help us achieve even higher/greater goals! It’s all about constant growth and elevation, not stagnation. Life is constantly changing & evolving, and so should the living.


   In closing, I want to will every one of you and our families a very safe, happy, healthy and productive 2017! I also will that while reflecting on this past year, we consider those negative things we've held fast to that has not only destroyed our ability to unify with others, but undermined our ability to accomplish anything significant on our own. Begin your new calendar year with the right mindset, on the right foot and making the right decision to move forward. We’ve all had challenges within ourselves, and with others, this past year, and I will that 2017 is much more positive and progressive for us all!


Peace,

Saladin

Friday, December 23, 2016

Dear Santa Claus


Dear Santa,

   I know you haven't heard from me in a while but I'm writing you on behalf of those of us who still believe in you. Many of us may not say it, but we damn sure do. We believe in you just like we believe these women taking contorted body selfies actually got an hourglass figure. We believe in you like we believe the generic commentary people copy, paste and post on Facebook to look intelligent. We also believe in you like we believe these goldbricking charlatans who claim they're for "the people" yet didn't do a damn thing for the people, in-kind, this year. We may not call you Santa, or even write you letters anymore, but many of us still believe in you.
   The other day in my preschool class when one of my students asked how you made all of those toys another student said, "He don't make them, he gets them from Walmart." Although I don't think you're buying your sh*t from Walmart now, it warmed my little Five Percenter heart to know that my four-year-olds haven't been exposed to that flat earth ghetto scholarship that would have them believing your elves are snow Twa people and direct descendants of Bes.
   Anyway, I know that Christmas has always been about the children but I wanted to ask could you do something for us adults this year? I know you know everything Santa but things look a lot different here in America than on Fox News from the North Pole. Some of my people were really f*cked up behind Billary not getting elected. So if you can.., please stuff their stocking with a little pick me up. Aside from that, here's a small Christmas Wish List I came up with if you decide to do something for us adults this year:
  • Please give some substance, work ethic and the ability to execute to people who are a part of the Conscious Community or who claim to be conscious, have knowledge of self, be WOKE or promote black power. Santa these are some of the most sh*t talkiness sedentary people I've ever seen. If that's too much to ask, please just give these Monday morning quarterbacks some constructive sh*t to do next year. I speak for many people in saying that we are tired of seeing and hearing them critique stuff they have no intention of doing anything about. 
  • Please give some solid reference materials to women throwing around the title Queen. Many of these women primarily define a Queen in terms of extravagance, appearance and Diva-like decorum. Even the names some of them identify with are aesthetic, lacking substance and have nothing to do with a woman's character and virtues. Better yet, there are quite a few sisters I know who exemplify what a true Queen is. If you can just amplify their social media platforms next year so when women are looking for that sense of consciousness, integrity and empowerment, they'll primarily come in contact with them. That would be excellent.
  • I'm not sure how cool you are with Mark Zuckerburg but can you please see if you can get him to automatically flag the bullsh*t memes and gossip in some of the Five Percenter Facebook groups I'm in? I think if people are forced to only post things that practically engage others for the purpose of actually building something tangible, especially for our children, as opposed to theorizing, debating or having pissing contests on Nation History, we could lighten your sleigh Santa.  
  • I would ask for something for these die hard Trump supporters but I'm not sure how you could make their Christmas any whiter. Well, just for sh*ts and giggles leave them and their children a gang of President Obama paraphernalia. 
  • Lastly, could you please give some brothers a list of agencies, organizations and institutions in their city where they can volunteer throughout the year. We need more men involved in helping build strong communities.
   Santa I hope these things weren't too much to ask on such short notice and I understand the enormity of getting it done. I'm only asking you to help us help ourselves. As always, I will continue to do whatever I can to add-on and I want to THANK YOU again for all you do to brighten our children's day in the dark world we adults have made for them. Tell Mrs. Claus I said Peace!

Saladin

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Lover's Lane: What I've Learned In Relationships

   

     One of the most accurate commentaries I've ever heard to describe my life was by Will Smith during an interview with Tavis Smiley. In part, Will Smith said, "The only thing, that I see, that is distinctly different about me is I'm not afraid to die on a treadmill. Right. I will run. I will not be out worked, period. You know, you might have more talent than me. You might be smarter than me. You might be sexier than me. You might be all of those things you got it on me in 9 categories. But if we get on the treadmill together, right, there's two things: you're getting off first or I'm going to die. It's really that simple. ... You're not going to out work me. ... I say all the time, 'If you stay ready you ain't gotta get ready'." I have the exact same attitude. The only difference is I'm not afraid to die on my path or in a library. Over the last decade there are numerous goals I've reached and contributions I've made because of that attitude. Yet with that level of ambition, discipline and time appropriation, there comes many sacrifices. Many. An average day to me begins at sunrise and ends after sundown. In addition to teaching preschoolers during the day and pre-adolescents after school, my weekends consist of activities/events in and out of town. Even with all of this I'm still in my studio producing/recording music or working on articles, books, researching something or etc. Naturally people often ask me how am I able to do so much. Essentially, I'm just pretty good with my time. 

     I'm going to let you in on a little secret... In addition to time appropriation and having a strong brotherhood, one of the reasons I've been able to accomplish so much is because of the critical mass of women I am connected to and love dearly, starting with my young Queens Asiyah and Aziza. If it wasn't for their insight, guidance and support, especially when it comes to their critical analysis of other women, I would have fell victim to some BS a long time ago -like many of us men do. One of the craziest things I've seen men do is start denouncing all of the women in their life once they're in a relationship with one. Because of the life I lead I don't see the functional benefit in curving, cutting off or "acting brand new" with the women in my life simply because I'm in a relationship now. In fact, my Queen would have to genuinely appreciate these women, because she'll be joining a L.O.E.L. [League Of Extraordinary Ladies]. Not every woman is comfortable with this and I respect that. Some men, many men, aren't comfortable with a woman who has a  L.O.E.G. [League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen].  

   When I meet any woman that I'm getting to know, the fundamental question I ask myself is, "What role does she play along my path?" Whether getting to know her evolves into exploring a potential companionship, business relationship or something platonic, I always debrief her about certain things that come along with my path, as I am also debriefed about certain things that come along with hers. In assessing those things, be it personality, profession, core values or principles, it's all about compatibility and congruence when it comes to exploring a potential companionship. I once met a woman who had two things to read in her home besides the mail. She lived in a city for almost a decade yet didn't know where her local library was. Although her profession, looks and sexuality may have been compatible and congruent with someone else, that, among other things, didn't work for me. I couldn't imagine being out in the public, or not being present, and someone asks her opinion about a project I've done, an article I wrote, book I published and she doesn't know what to say because she never saw it, cared to see it or didn't even know it even existed. This is not pride or self importance talking. I'm talking about a person not being genuinely invested in, an Ambassador of or defender of our legacy. Don't get it twisted, this goes both ways. If my Queen was an artist and she had various pieces she's working on, selling and displaying at galleries, I should know the ins and outs about that. I wouldn't want to drop the ball speaking to a person who appreciates the arts or an art collector looking to invest in her work. Of course my twenty-year-old immature self didn't think like this; I evolved and continue to grow. The worst part is some of us men never evolve to think like this and regardless of our path we're only interested in what a woman looks like, what she feels like and what that mouth do. Not a legacy.



                                               "Love is a rose but you better not pick it
It only grows when it's on the vine
A handful of thorns and you'll know you've missed it
You lose your love when you say the word 'mine'."

-Love Is A Rose, Linda Ronstadt-

   As I grow, one of the most important things I've learned is that it's a better investment to share time with a potential companion along our path, not apart from it. Being apart from my path, there are women I've "crossed paths" with, or veered off of my path to share time with, that I don't even cross paths with anymore. Why? Because we crossed paths to begin with. We genuinely didn't share the same path nor were we headed in the same direction. Some of that time I enjoyed. With others, I know my time could have been better invested. Hell, some of them may think the same thing about me. Sharing time along my path means I've learned to invest time with women who are already going in the same direction. Going in the same direction doesn't mean if I'm an MC she got to have bars or we both need to be preschool teachers. I'm talking about sharing some of the same core values, a similar vision of the future and a tangible investment in a legacy. For example, I may work in the field of education, she make work in government, yet we're both pro-advocates for social justice. She may work in the entertainment industry, I may be a tradesman, yet we're both invested in community outreach and volunteerism. Our paths gotta be compatible and compatibility is about being congruent, not clones. We don't need to do the exact same thing, we just need to be headed in the same direction. When people cross paths, they are not going in the same direction. This doesn't mean that crossing paths is wrong or it won't last. Sometimes one or both people who cross paths may join their partner's path or they may choose a new path to share. That can be a very exciting and positive thing! The negative side of crossing paths is when either person tries to force someone on a path they didn't choose for themselves, even if they think or feel it's for all of the right reasons. 

   We all have our own expectations, boundaries and goals in regards to how a companionship should be and look like. Some things that work for others may not work for us. Some things will. As a public figure and one of the more visible representatives of the Five Percenters/Nation of Gods and Earths, there is a definitely degree of scrutiny that comes along with what I do, or don't do, that some don't even think about. As a Preschool Teacher, Author of over a dozen books and now a Human Rights Commissioner for my City, this further compounds that scrutiny. I have to be on point in ways that some could never imagine because they don't share my responsibility. My life is very different than working a 9-5 and then coming home to watch the ball game on T.V. If some dudes choose the wrong companion they can just change their Facebook relationship status and move on. If I choose wrong that would unquestionably affect thousands of people who trust my sense of discernment and see value in the things I consistently do. Over the last few years I've thought a lot about the level of scrutiny my Queen would have to deal with simply because she is by my side. There were some women I once took an interest in I knew would not be able to handle that when I saw how they consistently responded to being scrutinized by a handful of local people. They were overwhelmed. So I knew it would be more difficult for them to cope with people globally scrutinizing them, or coming for them, simply because she's my companion. This is often why you see certain public figures yet not their companion. Their companion is not in the public eye or all over social media to minimize the scrutiny of them, their companionship and the bullsh*t that will come along with that. Usually they were prepared for what to expect; debriefed and coached by public relations staff for how to handle being in the public eye and use social media. I never thought I would be in a place in my life where I would have to even consider things like that and I've only begun to accept that reality over the last few years. In accepting that, I also learned that it would only be right to share that responsibility with someone who is willing and able to positively represent, defend and add-on to our legacy. I, nor she, deserve nothing less than that.

Peace,
Saladin 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Madam Alchemsa and the Metaphysical Music Serum



   As a Creative Artist I'm always inspired and working on some project whether it's literary or musical. The other day I woke up with an idea of putting an album together and making it a free download so I went into my studio and about an hour later I was finished. To include my readership and listening audience I put out a call on my Facebook Page for people to share a photo of themselves, an image they took or an image they created and encouraged people to vote on the one they liked best. The one with the most LIKES I would use as the Album Cover for this music project. I received many entries and all of them would have made beautiful covers yet the winner was the above image submitted by a Queen named Shaina. Based upon her image I also came up with the Album Title: "Madam Alchemsa and the metaphysical music serum."

   I want to THANK EVERYONE who participated by submitting images and voting and I will that this project is inspirational, empowering and educational.


Peace,
Saladin

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Deconstructing Kanye West





  
   Kanye West is arguably one the most creative, insightful visionaries of our time. Many would also argue that he is one of the biggest a**holes and the most immature. Whatever we think or feel about him, fifty years from now it would be virtually impossible to discuss Pop Culture during the Millennial generation without mentioning the social commentary, musical and fashion contributions of Kanye West. 

   Since the mid 90's of his Roc-A-Fella Producer days up to the present, West has evolved into somewhat of a Pop Cultural Messianic Figure and people either love him or hate him. Coming from an educational background in Chicago, I could always see a growing social consciousness throughout West's music and that's what resonated with me. It wasn't until September 2nd, 2005 that he took a public stance and vocally expressed it during the live Hurricane Katrina telethon by stating, "George Bush doesn't care about black people" in regards to how the government handled this natural disaster. Although he later clarified his statements, West's often unpredictable social commentary began to take center stage, often to the point of eclipsing his artistic contributions. Since 2004 to the present date West is known for his anti-Award Showism. He's done everything but storm out of, publicly criticize, boycott and even take the microphone from an artist who received an award he felt she didn't deserve. Some shows have strived to accommodate this by giving West a platform to speak and this often comes back to bite them in the a**. He's walked out in the middle of concert performances and stopped performances midstream to share his philosophical views about everything from the music industry, fashion, politics and humanity. He's turned interviews upside down, he's shared his frustrations with the Paparazzi and has even announced his run for Presidency in 2020. On top of that he dated stripper Amber Rose and eventually married and has two children with Kim Kardashian who was catapulted into the limelight because of her sex-tape with Ray J. Most recently West cancelled the rest of his Saint Pablo tour dates before being hospitalized at the UCLA Medical Center for sleep deprivation and exhaustion. Through all of this, and more times than not, West has expressed very lucid thoughts on everything from capitalism, politics, human/civil rights, religion, the music/fashion industry, relationships and etc. Oftentimes his delivery is questionable. The very best interview I've seen was with Zane Lowe for BBC Radio.


"I've been sent here to give y'all my truth even at the risk of my own life, even at the
risk of my own success, my own career. I've been sent here to give y'all the truth."
-Kanye West-

   I think in order to gain a sense of where Kanye West is often coming from it's important for us to consider, and strive to understand, the perspective of a Creative. Although the content and contributions may be different, as a Creative, there is not much of a difference between Michael Jackson, Phyllis Hyman, Dave Chappelle, Nina Simone, Basquiat, Sly Stone, Lauryn Hill, Jimmy Hendrix, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Pryor, Marvin Gaye and many others. To be a Creative and simultaneously exist within a racist/sexist entertainment industry that seeks to capitalize off of ones intellectual property is very difficult to cope with. Many have literally lost their mind. Others became drug addicts and alcoholics. Some left America while others walked away and became a recluse. Many died here, from a broken heart. 

   Being a Creative requires a person to think differently about life and solve problems in a new way. In order to do this, Creatives face fears, self-doubt and take risks that many people don't. Thought leaders; Creatives are ambassadors of an uncharted territory the world has yet to discover and fully appreciate. They are the subject matter experts of the unknown. To be this kind of person we must be open to inspiration at all times. Inspiration that often defies social norms and conflicts with the status quo. As a painter that may mean working countless hours and through sleepless nights to finally unveiling a social justice painting at a gallery owned by the very people who've fought against it. As an actor that may mean turning down the highest paid role you've ever received and Grammy shoo-in because it conflicts with your core values. As a musician that may putting your career and family security on the line to fight getting out of a record contract. As a fashion designer or model it may mean walking the long hard road of independent slow money instead of selling out your image, and images, to the highest bidder. All of these are life decisions that people often take for granted that Creatives have to make. There are many times I've literally been in my recording studio all night. There are many times I've been stirred out of my sleep in the middle of the night with an idea that I immediately start writing about. Many of these articles and chapters in my books are the result of this process. Being a Creative is like being on call from the universe because inspiration is a round-the-clock devotion to work. Although the beauty of what we manifest is timeless, the backstory, blood, sweat, tears and hours of dedication that often goes into forging such beauty is something many never see. What many also don't see is the stress, frustration and physical/social strain. As I've said, many Creatives have always strived to find various methods to cope with this in a society that tries to quantify, package, sell and often simultaneously marginalize, genius. West is not known for having a history of drug use or alcoholism. Aside from past lovers, he has not been associated with any women except his wife. The question many of us should be asking is how has he coped? I would argue that what we've seen from his off-the cuff interviews, public meltdowns and concert rants is not him simply venting or throwing a tantrum. I would also argue that this medium has become his coping mechanism; a platform he's learned to use as an outlet and form of therapy.

   There's an earthly gift and worldly curse that comes along with being a Creative. On one had you may be gifted to write the most beautiful poetry or paint the most brilliant picture the world has ever seen about love, yet be companionless or experience some of the most tumultuous relationships a person could imagine. Creatives are some of the most complex, sophisticated people to understand and the perimeters of a world always proves to be a societal box not large enough to contain their spirit. To paraphrase what Dave Chappelle once said, it's easy to call someone crazy. It's dismissive. It doesn't require you to examine anything they're saying or what's behind them acting the way they do. Maybe the environment West, and countless other Creatives have been in, is a little sick. If that is even part of our conclusion, we must ask ourselves what can we do to teach them, about healthy ways to disengage or healthy coping skills to thrive? I challenge all of us to not just consider that but strive to actively seek solutions; the mental, physical and socioeconomic health of our growing Millennial and Alpha generation depends upon that. 

Peace,
Saladin