Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Journey of Sight and Sound

Kontact is my third musical project; a concept album released through my company Quanaah Publishing. Reminiscent of the 1997 film, you are the album's lead character; a scientist listening to coded radio transmissions seeking evidence of HipHop's Extra Celestial life. You learn that each song contains lyrics of technical drawings that reveal a complex world of advanced civilizations, subterranean folklore and self exploration. Through this sequence of sound sent from a star light years away, you've been chosen to make first contact.

Official Track Listing

Kontact is now available globally and can be ordered through any store that sells music, here at this Amazon Link, my E-Store and my Quanaah Publishing Store.

Peace and Thanks for your Support!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Brand Ambassadors
In Search of Coretta Scott
Towards the end of the Summer I was having a very in depth conversation with a close female friend of mine. After explaining to her some of the things I deal with as a public figure, and the considerations/challenges that come along with finding a mate, she said something to me that was both hilarious and insightful in terms of compatibility. She said, "Dang, you sound like you're looking for Coretta Scott King."

Her statement made me reflect upon my past relationships in comparison to where I'm at today. In my teenage years the major qualities I looked for in a girl were how attractive, nice and smart she was. Of course this was before I had my first sexual encounters, and when I did.., this also became important to me. Two decades later, I never thought I'd be considering other qualities that are important to me when it comes to compatibility. Qualities that some of my contemporaries often don't understand because there are things I deal with that others don't have to consider. For example, this niche website now receives over 120,000 visitors a month. Although some of these visitors purchase my books/music via the links I provide, this traffic is primarily for the purpose of reading my articles. This translates into emails, messages and inboxes I receive every day from people throughout the world for various reasons; which means a certain portion of my day, every day, is dedicated to following up with people who are reaching out to me. Mind you, this has nothing to do with correspondences I receive in the postage mail or my other social networks Youtube, Twitter, Facebook and even LinkedIn. Add the various initiatives/events I organize or participate in, my STYA youth program I facilitate in my local community, other projects I work on as a creative artist/book publisher and it gives you a partial glimpse of what my world entails. It's a lot, and sometimes feels overwhelming, yet I love what I do! 

All of this got me to thinking about how my perspective of relationships has evolved to the point of seeing each other as Brand Ambassadors; someone who is capable of effectively representing your relationship [the brand] at home and abroad [nationally and internationally], in person or via their social media networks. Your brand is your mark, label, identity and what you represent. Therefore, when we're considering potential mates, dating/courting is really a rebranding process and how we're living is a graphic representation of that brand. Fresh off of the campaign trail running for public office in my City, I came upon an online discussion where women were talking about attire to wear at formal events. Some of them, although sweet, were totally inexperienced and didn't understand that flats/sandals or other accessories were inappropriate for such a venue; especially when your companion is the guest of honor where you may be called upon to say a few words. Although this may appear to some as a small thing, in terms of cultural competence, etiquette, social graces and the level of sophistication required to recognize certain social cues and navigate various environments, a woman like this would not be readily compatible for me, brand-wise. Consider if President Barack Obama had Joseline Hernandez (from Love and Hip Hop Atlanta) as his first lady instead of Michelle Obama as his Brand Ambassador... Sure she may be perfectly compatible with someone else, yet she is not presently compatible with The President of the United States [POTUS] for various reasons. Can she become compatible? Possibly, in time. Yet a POTUS doesn't have time, they have at least four years and that's a lot of public image/relations work and public scrutiny to deal with while striving to fulfill the duties of that Office.

Ironically, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. chose a woman, who by her own account, was incompatible with him at the time of their marriage. As a young Coretta Scott, she aspired to be in the music industry and had no real interest in MLK or his future as a Minister when they met in College. Coretta wasn't smitten, she looked at Martin as short, literally, and in time he grew on her. Even months before their wedding day Coretta was still uncommitted to marrying him and confided these reservations in a letter to her elder sister Edythe. This wasn't a case of cold feet, she understandably didn't want to give up her promising career and become a Preacher's wife. So on their June 18th, 1953 wedding day, in which she had the vow "obey your husband" removed from the ceremony and retained her name "Scott", Coretta Scott-King reluctantly sacrificed her dream of becoming a classical singer and became MLK's Brand Ambassador. It was actually in the years following the death of her husband that she was brought to the forefront and became the face, political impetus and momentum to carry on the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement. She wasn't down from day one, she learned to love Martin and his mission. I mention this to illustrate that even Coretta Scott King, as notable and world renown as she is, was unresolved about her commitment to the brand. Today, with the proliferation of professional women asserting their autonomy and pursuing their careers, men are more likely to find women who will face this same dilemma when it comes to compatibility. And many of these women are remaining career women because they're not enountering men with an actual mission.

Keep in mind that everything I'm saying goes both ways! A woman should also consider if a man is capable of representing their brand at home and abroad [nationally and internationally], in person or via their social media networks. Sometimes I see brother's women leisurely post statuses/comments via social media that a woman by my side would get publicly burned at the stake for, but I have to remember, "That's their brand." Some people exist in a world where they only need to consider how their words/actions affect their family members, friends or co-workers because that's the extent of who they deal with and their sphere of influence. In my world I may get an email from France or South Africa about something I say/do or meet some random person who recognizes me in a different State/City who'll ask me about it. Its happened and happens so I have to consider differently what I say and do. I also have to consider differently how I respond to what people say and do against or in alliance with what I do. 

You know, I've been intimate with women over the years, more often than I'd like to admit, yet as I've grown in my purpose I understand the level of responsibility, accountability and scrutiny that has come along with being a public figure. Even if we aren't, I think being responsible and accountable is important. I also understand that the women by my side will immediately inherit that responsibility, accountability, scrutiny and probably more so because 1.) How society defines females and 2.) The lens females assess each other through. It's a lot to deal with and in some cases I've only shared a part of my world with women in order to not burden them with everything I do. The more I shared, the more they learned they would have to share me with the world, and would ultimately be expected to speak for me in my temporary [schedule conflict/sickness] or definite [death] absence. Some women are simply not prepared to be an active part of a legacy and I've learned to accept that, sometimes reluctantly. The opposite is also true; Some men are simply not prepared to be an active part of a legacy and women must learn to accept that. So No, respectfully, I am not looking for a Coretta Scott King. Although she grew to embrace his mission, Coretta was a career woman who wasn't looking for MLK and didn't recognize him, or his purpose, when she saw him. I am looking for someone different.


Monday, November 03, 2014

Veiled Prophets, Profits and Veils
~The Racial Backdrop of Ferguson~

First and foremost I would like to THANK ALL OF YOU who helped support our Ferguson Fundraiser Initiative thus making it possible to send two of our community members Saia HuKeekui and Pocahontus "Cush" Sanchez to Ferguson Missouri on October 10th. Following their return, we held a Community Information Session on October 28th  at our public library where they shared their experiences and insights about their journey and some of the ideas we have in terms of organizing locally and continuing to support our community members in [Ferguson] St. Louis. I also want to THANK my Universal Family in Saudi and other Community Activists in St. Louis who have been a tremendous help to all of us for providing an accurate narrative of the events happening in Ferguson. 

October 15th edition of the Buffalo Challenger News

One of the common phrases I've continually heard from people living in St. Louis and reiterated by our community members and others who traveled there is, "There's a long history of racism here!" From the 1857 Dred Scott Case declaring that black people had no rights to claiming citizenship, the 1917 Race Riots in East St. Louis and the history of police brutality leading up to the recent murder of Michael Brown, it seemed to make perfect sense until I began to hear about a hidden history, veiled even, that began to provide a clearer socioeconomic backdrop of this divided city.

People with a level of prosperity bankroll Politicians, to produce Policies, that protect their Profits and Property with the help of the Police. In other words, the law is only as strong, and legit, as the people who write it and are willing to enforce it, and these are usually those in a position of power pulling the strings; the elite. In order to understand who is pulling the socioeconomic strings just follow the money. You'll see an elaborate often tangled web weaved with Politicians, Policies and the Police. So in considering [Ferguson] Missouri, let us examine that web. 

Approximately 20 years after the Dred Scott decision, a group of Caucasian businessmen got together to found a [Secret] Organization called The Veiled Prophet Society. Because this special interest group was comprised of strictly members with money/political clout, this was more like a Veiled "Profit" Society. A year before its founding, the City of St. Louis suffered a major blow to its economy due to a strike of its railroad workers, many of whom were black and obviously working class. So the founding of this Society, under the auspices of being civic minded, was really about reestablishing the idea of who was top billin'. And what better way to flaunt this than with a parade? Thus in 1878, this Veiled Prophet Society held its first Veiled Prophet Parade and Fair leading up to what became its annual Veiled Prophet debutante Ball held in December. Aside from the Mardi Gras-like pomp displayed as prosperity to the public, and racial stereotypes depicted in the floats, what was most notable about this Parade, smack dab in the middle of the post-Reconstruction South, was the regalia and symbols associated with the Veiled Prophet; he wore a white hooded costume carrying a pistol in one hand and a shogun in the other; replicating another Southern-based Organization called the Klu Klux Klan [KKK]. And history teaches us that the Klan's sole purpose was to intimidate, harass and murder blacks and other people of color who sought to do anything for themselves socioeconomically. Their mission, in the words of many white Political Candidates, was and continues to be to "Take Back America" and the Veiled Prophet Society's Annual Parade, which is one of the oldest in this country, Fair and debutante Ball, simply echoed those elitist sentiments. Reinforcing this Society's idea of hegemony, prominence and legacy, the Ball culminated with the Veiled Prophet crowning a Queen [of Love and Beauty] from his Court of Honor and given an expensive piece of jewelry to be kept as a family heirloom. In 1972 Activists successfully infiltrated the Ball and tore the veil off of the prophet, revealing the identity of Monsanto Executive Tom K. Smith. I think it's also worth mentioning that 11 years later, the Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm [M.O.V.P.E.R.] or The Grotto [Cave], was founded in the North as an appendant body in Freemasonry. So in terms of special interest groups, there's an obvious link between the ideology and socioeconomic associations of these groups that whites often belonged to simultaneously. To research this correlation further, check out my article Pike Dreams.

The Veiled Prophet and Gandalf The White (Lord of the Rings)
Fast forward to 2014. This public display of power, with some modifications, has continued to exist as the socioeconomic backdrop of St. Louis, especially in a municipality like Ferguson where only 3 people on its 53 police force are black while the population is almost 70% black. Yeah the Veiled Prophet Parade is now known as the VP Parade and Fair Saint Louis. Yeah people of color can now participate to some degree. Yeah their official throwback flyer looks like a benevolent Gandalf from the Lord of the Rings, but there still remains one common denominator; the same elite controls it. It is this perverse mentality of white supremacy, elitism, exclusivity and privilege that sets the sick backdrop of systemic racism that continues to erode this country and undermine the relationships of the human family, whether it's being carried out through police brutality, redlining, tokenism, crony capitalism or the demonizing/objectification of people of color in their media. This is the backdrop of Ferguson and every other city in America. Regardless how primitive or progressive it appears to be, the power dynamics of race relations are present and wherever you see people of color in proximity to whites, we are not in the seat of power. Even in a Chocolate City like Atlanta, whites still control the major financial institutions, traffic system, utility companies, zoning boards, medical facilities and of course the food/textile industry. This article is not to imply that the Veiled Prophet Society is some new age Illuminati that put a hit out on Mike Brown. What I am saying is that in the eyes of the elite, the lives of outsiders have little to no value. It is only until we look behind the veil and realize that we, people of color and poor whites, have been and are being kept apart from their own socioeconomic equality, can we organize to transform our collective condition. There's a longstanding history, yes his-story, of racism in St. Louis. The kind of racism that helped shape and mold the cultural consciousness of people such as Dick Gregory, Maya Angelou, Miles Davis, Redd Foxx, Donny Hathaway, Maxine Waters, Nato CaliphAli of the St. Lunatics [Power God Allah] and Tef Poe to name a few. The events in Ferguson are successfully removing the veil, not just in St. Louis but throughout this country and the injustice there is a threat to justice everywhere. Be studious to learn what's going on, assist our organizers in Ferguson financially, with consumables or etc., organize locally to establish a network of support in order to help prepare each other for incidences happening like this where you live. And above all, keep in mind that our "Unity" is the key and answer to solving social ills like this. Whether it's unifying to police our own communities, unifying to support our own businesses, unifying to privatize our own schools or just being a unified voice in rearing our children. It is through this unity can we forge our own special interest groups and ultimately rival the power and shift the dynamics of the elite.