Saturday, June 09, 2018

What is the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center?

Take a journey and learn all about the new Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center. The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center is an experiential museum that reveals authentic stories of Underground Railroad freedom seekers and abolitionists in Niagara Falls. The Heritage Center inspires visitors to recognize modern injustices that stem from slavery and to take action toward an equitable society. Take a brief tour of the Center with my Atlantis School For Gifted Youngsters Animation video below.

Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Area Commission
825 Depot Avenue
Niagara Falls, NY 14305

Phone: 716-300-UGRR (8477)

Heritage Center Hours:

Monday     Closed
Tuesday     10AM – 6PM
Wednesday   10AM – 6PM
Thursday   10AM – 8PM
Friday         10AM – 6PM
Saturday   10AM – 6PM
Sunday      10AM – 4PM

Admission Prices:

General Adult: $10
Student 13+ and college w/ID: $8
Youth 6 – 12: $6
Youth 5 and under: free
Group Rates Available - please email: for more info.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

The Greatest Story Never Told...

This animation video is about the Youth Advocacy and Community Outreach of the man known as Allah, whom the youth affectionately called The Father [of the Five Percent Nation].

Saturday, March 31, 2018

What's this #AtlantisBuild Animation Series about?!

   As a Creative I'm always striving to push myself in regards to what I can do next. The other day I was discussing this with a Queen and shared that there are two ways in which I operate: through Creative Intention and through Creative Inspiration. Because of my level of discipline, the willingness to sacrifice and other qualities that enable me to be successful in my undertakings, I've learned to be very intentional about what I create. For example, if I plan to produce, write and record two songs tomorrow I will do it. I am not have any idea what I'm going to do yet at the end of the day these projects will be done. That is Creative Intention because I've taken a determined idea from inception to conception or knowledge to born. That is a space that many Creatives find hard to operate in; the ability to manifest something at will. Lauryn Hill is one of those Artists. There have been many instances where she recorded/performed later or didn't record/perform at all because she was not inspired. This is what many Creatives rely on; Creative Inspiration, and that is the motivating factor behind what we see. I can also operate within that space and I always remain open to ideas. The various projects, programs and initiatives that I create and partnerships I have are a combination of both intentional and inspirational creative expressions. What you see below is an example of this: 

Who are the 85%, 10% and the 5%?

   For the longest time I've wanted to do something in the realm of animation that enables me to engage youth in another way. As a Preschool Teacher and Preadolescence Program Facilitator I'm engaged with youth every day and I'm always thinking of ways to build upon that relationship. As an Author I'm presently crafting some literature within that realm of youth advocacy. Most recently I created a unique Youth Outreach Development Course for people who are interested in being a youth advocate and professional development for those who work with youth in any capacity. This has culminated in the creation and current renovation of my Atlantis School For Gifted Youngsters.

   The NEW Animation Series is just an extension of everything I do and I appreciate how well it has been received! While there are some conscious animation series out there, as a Five Percenter there is no animation series that shares our unique cultural perspective, chronology and addresses the challenges we face as a Nation. So I've created this series with the intention of filling that void and to continue moving our culture forward. If you enjoy what you're seeing and would like to support my efforts to continue creating this kind of content, please feel free to make a one time/monthly donate here: I 💓 This! It's much appreciated.


Saturday, March 24, 2018

Unpacking The Attacks On Minister Farrakhan and His Nation of Islam

In my last article about Shootin Ya Shot I elaborated on how challenging it can be sometimes be to translate real-time customs into a virtual reality. Some of those challenges are not just technological, but they are also generational. The appropriation of the English vocabulary and social media slang is largely the part of a Millennial Generation who have developed their own standard of normalcy in how they communicate and interact with each other and other generations. In many ways, their standard is vastly different than past generations. As a youth advocate for for over two decades I have seen the best and the worst of this standard. 

I lay this as the groundwork because it is important to understand the lens in which many view Minister Farrakhan today is within a social media Millennial context. Within that context and from that perspective, there is a difference between the critiques and criticisms of him. A critique is an impartial assessment or analysis of something while a criticism is not impartial and expresses a sense of disapproval based upon perceived faults of mistakes. Considering this, while some critiques may be fair about Minister Farrakhan's Nation of Islam's today, some of the criticisms may not be. Additionally, some critiques may be inaccurate while some criticisms may be fair. Unfortunately, that consideration of a critique, or a criticism, is not something one should expect in a Believer or Follower of any leader. In their eyes, that person is beyond critique or criticism and that, in part, is what maintains their hierarchical structure. This is also what enables people, the vast majority, to be easily led. Now lets get into unpacking these attacks on Minister Farrakhan.

In a recent series of Youtube videos, Vloggers Young Pharaoh and Sara Suten Seti have openly critiqued and criticized Minister Farrakhan, his Nation of Islam, The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Master Fard Muhammad and other elements associated with that religion. While some of things I saw and heard were inaccurate and unfair in terms of criticism, some things that I saw were a fair critique. One of the things I must add to this is that their content, whether a critique or criticism, is often explicit, vulgar, belligerent and out right disrespectful in its delivery. This provocative "Keeping it 100" Reality TV way of delivering content is a not only a part of the Young Pharaoh and Sara Suten Seti brand, but it also reflects a standard of normalcy of how many Millennials communicate and interact with each other, and other generations, today. For example, it was and is rare for members in my generation to curse in front of elders. Nowadays it's not rare to see youth in the present generation "cuss" elders out. In my generation we said how "cold" or "cold blooded" something was to define how cool it was. In this generation it's the total opposite: "that's hot!" or "🔥🔥🔥" In my generation AFTER someone shared something we didn't agree with our response was "I'm not hearing that." In this generation? "I'M NOT EVEN TRYING to hear that" Meaning, before you even share it, I'm not listening. In my generation within the secular world people had a safe space to critique and criticize something. In the present generation people are immediately labeled a hater if they don't like or disagree with some person, place or thing. This is the medium through which the public is viewing these series of videos about Minister Farrakhan, his Nation of Islam, The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Master Fard Muhammad and other elements associated with that religion. As someone who comes from a "don't curse around your elders" generation, there was a lot I had to filter to even consider what these series of videos proposed. While I will say unequivocally that Young Pharaoh and Sara Suten Seti were out of line in their explicit, vulgar, belligerent and out right disrespectful way of delivering their information, I will also say that some of their points about feeling disrespected as non-Muslim Black Nationalists are valid. 

One of the main issues I wanted to bring some clarity to that I think got lost in their vulgar translation were the points of hypocrisy concerning Followers. In terms of hypocrisy, this is not something exclusive to Minister Farrakhan's organization. Every person and people are subject to this critique. The challenge is who is willing to do it? In a religious hierarchy, that is unlikely to happen. It is unlikely to happen among its members and it is especially unlikely concerning their leader. This has always been problematic because every hierarchy has something shady about it by the nature of its structure. Whenever you have one person at the top, that no one can overshadow, everyone below them operate in the shade. It doesn't mean that everyone below them are shady, it means that this structure and environment encourages shady dealings and in today's lingo, opportunities for people to "throw shade." Think about that for a moment.

Anyway, here are some of those points of hypocrisy concerning Followers, in particular, whom Young Pharaoh and Sara Suten Seti critiqued and criticized: 

*In the above video, when Minister Farrakhan openly said he was a hypocrite for denouncing Master Farad Muhammad and The Honorable Elijah Muhammad after being in the NOI [Nation of Islam] for 20 years, his Followers sympathized. Minutes later when he said, "kill every hypocrite in sight!" his Followers cheered. A am unsure if Minister Farrakhan was suggesting that he was the exception or that his Followers should have dealt with him accordingly when he was a hypocrite. Some Followers are quick to call people hypocrites and completely cut them off for even questioning something Minister Farrakhan says and does. If Minister Farrakhan "came back from a mental death", as our 13th degree in the 1-40s [Lost-Found Lesson #2] states, then surely other brothers/sisters who also strayed and are straying away from civilization should be given the same consideration and patience Bro. Jabril showed Minister Farrkhan.

*When Minister Farrakhan charged Warith Deen Mohammed of deviating from The Teachings and destroying his father's legacy by taking the Nation in an Orthodox Islamic direction, his Followers echoed those sentiments. Years later when Min. Farrakhan started taking his Followers in a similar direction of Warith Deen Mohammed by changing Ramadan from December, appointing a National Imam, restricting publishing of the Supreme Wisdom book, participating in Salaat and other Orthodox Islamic customs, Followers went along with it.
*When Minister Farrakhan silenced and distanced himself and his Nation from Khalid Abdul Muhammad for remarks about Zionists during his November 29th, 1993 Kean College Lecture, his Followers agreed. When Minister Farrakhan has been and is recently being criticized for similar remarks about Zionists, his Followers defend him without ever exonerating Khalid.

In reading this article, some Followers would argue that this is not hypocritical, they are only doing what a Believer should do. The problem with that is the fact that many of these Followers don't extend the same consideration and understanding to non-Muslims that they extend to each other and their leader. That is one thing about El Hajj Malik Shabazz [Malcolm X.] that was never up for debate or an issue. His love for our people, regardless of their religion or station in life, was pure and you always got a sense that he was for black people. He was a black man first and represented himself that way. When Khalid Abdul Muhammad was here, you got the same sense from him; he was a black man first and represented himself that way. With many other leaders, past and present, their allegiance to their people first, not their religious community, organization or political party, is often debatable. While some would say that this doesn't apply to Minister Farrakhan, his Nation's public partnership with the Church of Scientology and investment in Dianetics technology has raised many eyebrows among black folks. While I have studied Dianetics and see some value in it, I like many others, would have liked to see a public partnership and investment with our own groups such as the New Nation of Islam, the United Nation of Islam, the UNIA, the Moorish Science Temple, The Potter's House, African Hebrew Israelites, the Ausar Auset Society, the Five Percent Nation or others. For Minister Farrakhan to not publicly align his Nation with any of these groups, that in my assessment have much more value than Dianetics, is the reasoning behind the critique and criticism he has received about his Church of Scientology initiative. To many of us, it felt and feels like a slap in the face to emphasize the importance and champion the work of L Ron Hubbard without ever creating an initiative that emphasizes the importance and champions the work of  Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Ben-Ami, Father Allah, Queen Afua, Ra Un Nefer Amen, Marimba Ani and countless others.

In closing, the series of Young Pharaoh and Sara Suten Seti videos critiquing and criticizing Minister Farrakhan, his Nation of Islam, The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Master Fard Muhammad and other elements associated with that religion culminated with the above dialogue between Young Pharaoh and NOI Followers Ben X., Rizza Islam and Student Minister Willie Muhammad. Although there is more work to be done it terms of communication and responsibility, it was excellent to see the steps taken to strive to work some things out. I don't think that this will be the last spat, especially seeing that this sense of combativeness has become the hallmark of the Conscious Community and the Young Pharaoh and Sara Suten Seti brand, but at least we will have this video as reference material to better address potential conflicts among ourselves in the future.


Sunday, March 11, 2018

Shootin Ya Shot.., As A Five Percenter

Customarily, when a brother within the Five Percent was interested in knowing the status of a sister he would simply ask, "Do you have a God?" This is appropriately done in a shared environment of Five Percenters such as a Rally, Parliament, Family Day, Show & Prove or other environments where we get together. This is done face to face. Nowadays with the growth of the Digital Age, particularly with SNSs [Social Network Sites], customs such as these become more difficult to express. Because of the nature of SNSs as a platform, appropriation of the English vocabulary and introduction of social media slang, a "Do you have a God?" Facebook inbox or Instagram DM can easily be filed under the folder of thirsty or jumping/sliding in somebody's DMs. Regardless who this brother or sister may be in real life, that brother or sister may not know how to appropriately engage one another using this platform, and social media vocabulary, from a Five Percenter perspective. Much can get lost in that translation. I've seen brothers naively poking brothers without knowing what the Facebook "poke" function implies or the digital reputation they're creating. I've also experienced one of my sisters "" a photo of me and another woman assume she was my Queen. It's a dilemma, like with some of our other customs of engaging one another, that have become challenging to express under these virtual conditions of technology often veiled as progress. I say "veiled" because many of us, especially Millennial social media natives who don't know of a world without the internet, are becoming more and more detached from certain customs that maintained our relationships.

Many Moons ago I had one of my first online experiences of a woman being interested in me who was once connected to a brother I didn't know but heard of. He was also a Five Percenter so I took the liberty of reaching out to him to find out the status of him and this sister. This is something we customarily do, yet the medium of the internet complicated it. He told me they were working on it, she said it was done and I found myself in the midst of an unresolved issue that I actually strived to investigate before getting involved in. The brother tried to accuse me of trying to get at God's Earths and if it wasn't for the printed screen copies of our online correspondences showing people the truth, people may have believed him. In this regard the internet saved my reputation but at the same time I could see how some of our customs began to be lost. A new technological language and social media etiquette was evolving and many of us were simply unprepared for what was on the horizon. Many of us are still unprepared and we find ourselves falling a victim to this every day.

The Online Dating Sites of the mid 90's were the morning star of the SNSs movement. At one point people frowned upon folks using dating sites because of their -social- awkwardness of meeting people. Nowadays maaaaaany people connect using social media, which are like dating sites on steroids. Even if they meet people in real-time, they still may defer to deal with them in a social media context. What we began to lose in the 90's when folks chose to use dating sites instead of meeting real people, is the same thing we're losing with people who choose to exist in a virtual reality today; human contact, intimacy, social etiquette, reading body language and the overall ability to effectively communicate. In fact, studies have show that only 7% of all communication is written or verbal while 93% is based on nonverbal body language. As I've shared, even as a Five Percenter, many of us aren't exempt from this either. 

So the logical question is, "What can we do about?" The first step is recognizing that our method of communication, and the etiquette that goes along with it, has changed. Twitter now allows people to use 140 characters text + image or gif or video or quote. Some of those characters can substituted with emojis; such as the secret emoji language many youth use. The good thing I've learned about using 140 characters to convey a thought is that it challenges you to be more concise and truncate our ideas. As a writer and public speaker this can help in the area of creating effective soundbites that Spin Doctors have a hard time remixing. On the other hand it does truncate our ideas and can have a negative impact on a person's attention span [because of excessive stimuli], ability to communicate, write, read and ultimately relate to others. As Author Paul L. Guthrie remarked about this technological paradigm shift in our Table Talks Interview, "Since the rise of the internet, literacy has been in decline. And even literacy itself, is changing. Reading words printed on paper (in books) is a different process than reading online. When I first began to read online I had to almost re-learn the kind of thought processes used while reading from books. It took me several months to re-learn how to mentally process online information. Computers throw the information at you at a different speed and with a different flavor. It's not the same; it comes at you from a different angle. I promote that people use paper printed books (while they’re still available), and maybe supplement their reading with online sources.

Cultural Catfishing
Realizing that this poses some serious psychological and social issues, especially for our youth, the next step is making sure we reinvest in real-time connections with one another as opposed to using the internet, particularly social media, as mental and emotional retreats from everyday society. Keep in mind that there is nothing inherently bad about using SNSs. When people primarily rely on them to "virtually" socialize instead of actually socialize, that's a problem, for humanity and the environment. In regards to Five Percenters specifically, this article highlights a larger ongoing discussion on SNSs protocols and cultural rules of engagement we need to have within our respective ciphers. Five Percenters need to learn appropriate ways to DM a potential Queen or Earth outside of the context of thirsty or jumping/sliding in her DMs. Sisters and Brothers need to learn appropriate standards to engage each other publicly and privately on social media that upholds the level of integrity we see in actual ciphers. Our Parliaments are a legislative body of Five Percenters that come together by consensus to enact and modify rules that help regulate our collective cipher. For example, any issues or activities going on in my region of Western New York and Southern Ontario that impact us and our communities, positively or negatively, is addressed at our Parliament. Even though a virtual Parliament model has not been established, I have been a part of closed, secret and open Facebook Groups that have been able and unable to serve a very limited parliamentary purpose -based upon the integrity and protocols of those maintaining these internet ciphers [Administrators]. These and many other customs we express offline, such as verifying a person's identity, length of study, lineage and cultural understanding, have been challenging to ascertain using SNSs as a platform. "Building" in person allows us to gather much more information about each other as opposed to corresponding in Messenger or replying to questions on a Facebook thread. In these and other instances it's hard to verify or even validate if people are who they say they are, especially if we've never met them in real life. In real life if I asked a person to quote a lesson or share their understanding of something I can see their response in real-time. If I inboxed that to someone or asked them on a social media post it's easy for them to copy and paste an answer, or get someone to respond for them, to appear genuine. Cultural Catfishing is much harder to pull off in real life. What many of us are growing to understand is that some of our customs are nontransferable, meaning, there are limits to what we can actually express using SNSs as a platform. The limit is the platform itself, not us as the Five Percent. People reach out to me from around the world all of the time that are interested in learning the culture of the Five Percent. Many ask for books, documents or even a desire to speak on the phone. In most instances it doesn't occur to them that they're asking to learn an entire "way of life"; everyday living that doesn't have a page count, that isn't a bunch of documents and is not something you just email or talk about over the phone. This misconception of culture and assumption [and presumption] of access is the direct result of SNSs and the shift into a Digital Age. Like I've said on many occasions, all of the services I share using the internet [articles, books, radio shows, music, videos and etc.] are routing devices to everyday reality. What I share online is virtual evidence of what I do offline.

As Five Percenters we're in a state of transition where learning to repurpose some of our customs in a virtual reality can successfully or unsuccessfully alter our cultural life expectancy, change our real-time sex ratios and set a socioemotional and economic trajectory for our future generations. It is not beneficial to entirely denounce the Digital Age as many of our Baby Boomers have, or be totally immersed in it as many Generation X and Millennials are; both are too extreme. We must strike a healthy balance. A balance that empowers us to engage each other with technology to continue building brick and mortar institutions, concrete relationships and solid communities where our families thrive.


Sunday, February 25, 2018

#BlackPanther Review feat. Life Justice

In Episode 55 of Atlantis Build Talk Radio I feature an exclusive build with my Enlightener's Enlightener Life Justice on the new Black Panther film. In this episode he discusses the pros and cons of the film, the psychology of some of its characters, cultural context and its impact in shaping the narrative of black people in America and throughout the Diaspora.