Saturday, February 17, 2024

Global Representation and the United Nations

United Nations Headquarters

      In 2020, following the release of our award-winning Samuel L. Jackson Enslaved: The Lost History of the Transatlantic Slave Trade docuseries that I had the honor to be a part of, I became connected to the United Nations. From March through August 2021, the Outreach Programme on the Transatlantic Slave Trade and Slavery, together with the International Decade for People of African Descent, and with the support of Fremantle/and Associated Producers Ltd./Cornelia Street Productions, hosted screenings and in-person/virtual discussions of the docuseries. Participating in these programs became an opportunity for me to add on globally and learn more about the inner workings of the United Nations. 

United Nations Panel Discussion

     What began as participation in programs centered around our Enslaved docuseries, led to more in-person visits to the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. It was through my in-person engagement that I eventually received a personal invitation from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to participate in the United Nations Second session of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent. It was here at the United Nations Headquarters that I became a member of the International Civil Society Working Group (ICSWG) for the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent (PFPAD). Two months later on August 31st, the United Nations featured me for International Day for People of African Descent and to honor the contributions of the African diaspora. You can view it HERE. This involvement with the United Nations, especially as a Five Percent pioneer, further expanded the global visibility of my work and its digital footprint. 

What is a digital footprint? 

  A digital footprint is the trail of data that we leave on the internet such as the information/content that we publish online and our online activities. While my YouTube Channel activity is one part of my digital footprint, my footprint primarily consists of hundreds of articles published in print/online, two dozen books, albums/singles, animation programs, online classes, and numerous podcasts, radio shows, interviews, presentations, news stories, national and international youth/community projects, programs, and initiatives. Keep in mind that this is without considering the countless reshares or repurposing of that content which adds to that digital footprint. As I mentioned before, I don’t take this lightly, or for granted, and I strive to make sure that I represent the best of what we are, as a people and as a Five Percenter.

What is the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent (PFPAD)?

     The Permanent Forum on People of African Descent (PFPAD) is a consultant mechanism established by the United Nations General Assembly for people of African descent and other relevant stakeholders as a platform for improving the safety and quality of life and livelihoods of people of African descent and as an advisory body to the United Nations Human Rights Council. You can read its mandate here: PFPAD Mandate. In short, the PFPAD is a ten-member board that advises the main intergovernmental body within the United Nations [Human Rights Council] on issues specifically related to people of African Descent around the globe. One of the groups that advise this ten-member board is our International Civil Society Working Group (ICSWG). 

What is the International Civil Society Working Group (ICSWG)?

     Our ICSWG is a formation of civil society individuals and organizations from around the world working toward the establishment of a strong and effective Permanent Forum of People of African Descent (PFPAD). Since the United Nations General Assembly resolution to establish the Permanent Forum was established in 2021, our working group has mobilized civil society, hosted events to spread knowledge and awareness of the Permanent Forum, and worked closely with partners, groups, and communities to advocate for the Permanent Forum to be well-resourced, supported, well-attended, and impactful. We utilize several mechanisms to carry out that mission including monthly general meetings, seven subcommittees that carry out our working group’s objectives, and developing mechanisms to promote transparent and democratic processes for the PFPAD to engage civil society and set the agenda for the Permanent Forum sessions and providing feedback both on substance, content, and logistics of the Permanent Forum. In short, we are a global network working in every imaginable space related to people of African Descent. From the food insecurity of our people in Haiti to Reparations here in the United States. From anti-Blackness in Columbia to institutional discrimination against Afro-Brazilians and Afro-Mexicans. 

Speaking at the United Nations 

     It has been an honor to be a part of such an important global body to build upon strategies and direct resources that improve the safety, quality of life, and livelihoods of our people across the diaspora. This has allowed me to connect with an expansive global network of our people and see the different challenges that we are facing in various countries. As a Five Percenter pioneer in this space, this is especially important for our younger generation to see, learn from, and be empowered to take further than me. I literally show up in the name of Saladin Allah and I am proud to be an instrumental part of creating a path for others to think deeper about being universal, teaching civilizations to others, and the possibilities of global citizenry. 




Thursday, January 11, 2024

What are the legalities of our Universal Flag?

     Two years ago, on December 21st, 2021 I successfully registered the elements of our Universal Flag as a class 41 trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). By law, you cannot trademark a flag, so this trademark was not defined or described as a flag in the USPTO application. This trademark defined, described, and included all of the elemental arrangements of our Universal Flag. This ensured that it could be trademarked not as a flag, while simultaneously protecting our flag in the public domain from any similar elemental arrangements that would infringe upon our registered trademark. In other words, this gave us legal protection/recourse to address any individual/company who was using our federally registered trademark without our licensed permission or any individual/company that wanted to create something similar to our trademark, such as a rainbow-colored emblem like ours with a #6 in the center. Some of our Nation members were/are under the false impression that simply claiming that we have been using the Universal Flag since the 1960s is enough to prove ownership in a court of law against an individual/company that actually owns its elemental arrangements as a federally registered trademark. This is sadly untrue, especially in the face of an individual/company with a financial war chest to legally protect their IP [Intellectual Property]. There is a difference between a common law trademark and a federally registered trademark. Old Xerox copies, Power Papers, and other materials with Universal Flags on them from back in the day are only considered common law. These materials are not federally registered trademarks that secure nationwide legal protection, nor can you use them to file a claim in federal court to sue for damages if someone infringes upon your common use. It is important to understand that common use is almost equivalent to no use at all in a litigious society, especially in federal court. Some Nation members shared with me that I was wrong for not presenting this initiative to them personally, or to the Five Percent Nation collectively, for their input before acquiring this IP. Yes, I considered that yet decided against it in the interest of time and to prompt an immediate plan of action and National response from our members. So, I made the proactive decision to financially secure it for us, and bring it back to our Nation to say, "Here, this is an invaluable asset that I acquired for us to advance our Nation." Some members appreciated the socioeconomic foresight of securing this IP, while others did not. 

Email dated January, 2022 seeking to establish a Universal Flag Board

     Following the successful registration of this trademark I sent the above January 7th, 2022 Universal Flag Board email to various Five Percenters [men and women] in different regions. As stated in this email, My reasoning for initiating that IP initiative was to put in place ‘legal safeguards’ for us to control our national narrative and maintain our cultural identity. Prior to this, anyone could use our Universal Flag and there was nothing we could legally do about it. Now that our Universal Flag is our registered trademark, no entity [entertainers, businesses, institutions, organizations or media sources, etc.] has the legal right to use it and can/will face legal consequences for misuse and abuse of it.” I emphasize the words “us”, “our”, and “we” in this email because this trademark was never for me. Because I initiated the trademark process, my name originally appeared on the application. As shown in the email, I sought out a diverse group of Five Percenters [men and women] to form a committee that the trademark ownership would be transferred to, and the committee would manage for our Nation. This never happened, and some of those who were contacted publicly/privately shared this correspondence, including the registered trademark that I attached to that email, on social media. What followed was a great deal of misinformation disseminated about me and the process. It should also be noted here that I still have not shared this federally registered trademark document on social media, understanding the intrinsic value of this IP

     When I finally had an opportunity to publicly address this initiative via Zoom with all of those who were interested, some Nation members were for it, and some were against it. Ultimately, no one could agree on what to do with this IP or what Nation members were trustworthy enough to manage it. Understandably, this never happened before in the history of our Nation and many people simply did not know what to do about it. The only consensus that I recognized was that there was no consensus among us. Therefore, I shared that I would cancel the trademark, and if Nation members wanted to revisit this at another time, they now know that I could do it for us. That trademark was canceled on July 26th, 2022. 

     With the life experience that I gained, I began to write/speak extensively on this litigious society being in an IP Era and the importance of preserving Allah School, protecting our cultural identity, and controlling our historical narrative in the public domain. Post-COVID, I have also written/spoken about the proliferation of USPTO trademark registrations and the exponential growth of streaming platforms harvesting content [IP] like organ harvesting. In fact, I have a couple of unsigned PBS contracts that were presented to me that I use to educate folks on how to protect their IP. So in addition to having knowledge of self and teaching for twenty-eight years, my professional experience has also given me a unique perspective on the topic of legally protecting our cultural identity in the public domain. I have been a formal educator with a focus on early childhood for twenty years. This led me to found my own early childhood learning center, the Atlantis School For Gifted Youngsters, which recently celebrated its 1-year-anniversary. I have authored twenty-three books, five of which are part of a curatorial activism archive in the British Library, and I assisted in the establishment of the first black institution in my city in thirty years where I presently serve as its Director of Community Engagement. I have co-produced and starred in several historical documentaries as a subject matter expert, including three award-winning international documentaries [Enslaved, Secret Agents of the Underground Railroad, and Two Wars: The Road to Integration], and I work in historic preservation; successfully assisting in the renovation of historic sites such as the Prophet Isaiah Second Coming House, and the establishment of historic markers both in my city and in Ontario, Canada. Lastly, I am a member of the United Nations International Civil Society Working Group for the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent, and I was featured in the United Nations International Day for People of African Descent on August 31st, 2o23. As a Five Percenter working in these diverse spaces of education, literacy, historic preservation, placemaking, and film & television, I am always intentional about representing who we are, literally in the name of Saladin “Allah.”

     I am not sharing some of my experiences to seek acknowledgment or validation. My work as a public figure continues to be globally acknowledged and validated as the single largest digital footprint of any active Five Percenter in our Nation. This is not arrogance, EGO, or self-importance. This is a fact that I don’t take lightly, or for granted. I am sharing some of my experiences to provide some context for those to better understand the lens through which I view the world. This perspective has also come with its challenges. One of those challenges is confronting the narrow-mindedness, apathy, or unwillingness of some Nation members to actually do more than talk or robo-post thoughts on social media.

Email dated January, 2024

     Following the cancellation of our registered trademark, it has been disheartening to see Nation members still struggling to solicit donations over the last two years to support Allah School initiatives while Showtime released the award-winning Supreme Team docuseries with our Universal Flag in it, and months later a San Francisco pop-culture design house produced a custom Rakim figure wearing a Universal Flag jacket. We were in the perfect position to secure licensing agreements for the use of our registered trademark which would have secured revenue for our Nation in perpetuity. These are just two examples, in addition to numerous examples that I shared of other corporations, who were and are still profiting from the IP we owned. 

     This also does not include the examples of media outlets, like the image above, that published images of our Universal Flag alongside disinformation that linked us to crimes. I strived to communicate to our Nation members that in the same way Nike, Burger King, Allstate, etc., could sue media outlets for defamation because those damaging statements harm one's reputation and financial well-being, we had the power to take the same legal course of action to sue media outlets for defamation; instead of reposting articles like this on social media with a complaining caption and comments that only monetizes that media content. 

     At one point during a Zoom presentation, I shared the above image of our Universal Flag being sold for $399.99 at Walmart. While one Nation member said that it didn’t matter because that company was not making much money from selling it, another Nation member suggested that the company owner be located and educated about who we are. The more I began to hear ideas like this, the more I began to realize, and accept, that what I strived to do for us was out of touch with where many of us were/are. It was clear that we had very different ideas about cultural continuity, historic preservation, the legal vulnerabilities of a litigious society in an IP Era, and our capacity to control our narrative in the public domain. 

Building while hiking Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

     Despite some speculation shared about me and how I feel about that experience two years ago, I am doing excellent. I continue to digitally document the global work that I do via the internet so that anyone with a smart device can see it, and I keep my social media profiles public for that purpose. I still build with my brothers and sisters in our Nation whom I have a relationship with, and I continue to teach those who are seeking knowledge of self. What has changed of course is my time, based on the demands of my busy schedule as a public figure and the various things that I am doing. Looking towards 2024, there are already numerous global projects, programs, and initiatives that I am involved in, and I am excited to continue positively representing our Nation in those capacities. As always, for those who would like to contact me, I can be reached via email at: #AtlantisBuild



Sunday, December 31, 2023

How To Master 2024!


     First and foremost, I want to acknowledge those whom we lost this year. It is my will that we honor them by walking with the best part that they shared with us. Reflecting upon 2023, I just wanted to take a moment to share some of my thoughts with all of you regarding being successful in our undertakings. Whether we make New Year Resolutions or not, striving to be resolute in all that we say and do is important, regardless of when we choose to make that decision. In part, this is what “word is bond, bond is life and I will give my life before my word shall fail” means to those of us who are Five Percenters. This phrase is not simply something to recite. It is a declaration of being committed and it highlights the integrity, fortitude, and consistency to follow through with our word. In fact, when our word is truly a bond, we will not be broke, or broken.

Dinner, in the Serengeti

  There were several things that I accomplished; from helping coordinate some amazing Niagara Falls National Heritage Area and Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center projects to being the featured representative for the United Nations International Day for People of African Descent, and filming two documentaries that were released during Black History Month. I also celebrated the one-year anniversary of opening our Atlantis School For Gifted Youngsters! One of the most impactful was my travel to Tanzania, Africa in January and bringing my people back in August. As one of our cultural ambassadors, I take great pride in knowing that positive contributions such as these continue to expand the global footprint of our Five Percent Nation. This means nothing if I am unwilling and unable to show others how to also be successful in their undertakings. There are certain things that I have done and continue to do that have enabled me to take my ideals from knowledge to born, from inception to conception. In this article here are 9 insights on How To Master 2024:

1. When you are setting a goal, make sure that your idea is something that improves your quality of life with the intent/consideration of making you a greater resource to others and the world that we share. Life is interdependent and there is a constant process of giving and receiving. This intent/consideration ensures that your idea is in tune with the universal order and is something sustainable -because we are actively providing a service (and/or products) that others, and the world, actually need. If all we are thinking about is what we can get (keep), and not what we can consistently give, what we get (keep) will eventually run out. Why? We are just taking and putting nothing back. 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... It is all about reciprocity.

2. Make sure that your idea is real and obtainable. It is less likely that we are going to change EVERYTHING at once so it is 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 is going to take time to change them. The smaller goals we accomplish serve as steppingstones; helping us build confidence and gain the tools and experience that are necessary to reach our larger goals. And with any goal, one of the most important steps we need to take, and habits we need to create, is to “get our day underway with a positive, productive attitude.” Use positive affirmations if it helps, read positive writings, and post positive messages where you can visually see them when you get up in the morning. All of these things help orientate you with higher-order thinking and enable you to get your day underway with a positive, productive attitude. Whatever your cultural worldview or religion is, start your day considering the positive principles that your worldview and religion share. Our attitude sets the foundation of our altitude.

3. Make your goals specific. Instead of saying something ambiguous like, “I’m going to read more” say something more specific like, “I am going to read one book every month.” This is called Specificity. Specificity helps you better focus on your goals and encourages you to be more responsible and committed to those goals. If you were to say, “I want to be healthier in 2024” there is no sense of ambition or plan of action to take that idea from knowledge to born. 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 after work” that has a sense of ambition and provides part of a plan of action to achieve your goal of being healthier in 2024. If it is not clear, your path will not be cleared. When we learn about being ‘right and exact’, Specificity is what ‘exact’ means.

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, what we are saying is that our goals are not really a priority (important). Why? Because under these circumstances they can happen any time and any day; that is not resolute. If you don't have a time/date, you are creating the possibility that there will never be a time/date. Keep in mind that “one day” or “someday” are not days on a calendar. Set a reasonable time/date when you want to reach a goal and don’t procrastinate. 

5. Write down your ideas. I have 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. Not necessarily for everyone to see, it is for you to see; they're your goals! This helped reinforce and remind them of their goals so they would not allow themselves to get lost in the hustle & bustle of each day. Committing your ideas to paper is the understanding of knowledge and wisdom. How? Because it is outside evidence that allows you to physically see what you thought [knowledge] and spoke [wisdom] about. Understanding is often referred to as a child or the best part. This is one reason that Creatives often refer to their projects, such as their paintings, literature, or music as ‘their baby.’ And just like any baby, that must be nurtured and requires attention, our goals require the same in order to grow healthy and strong. 

6. Only share your ideas with those who have shown themselves to be supportive of you fulfilling them. If they are not there to help you, they are only going to hinder you. If they are not an asset, they are a liability. If they are not in your life to build, they will destroy. This also includes the nice folks with pleasant attitudes. Just because they have a happy disposition, it does not mean that they can automatically help. Again, our idea is likened to a baby, and a baby must be nurtured, respected, loved, protected, and educated. That baby must build its immunity to repel the bacteria and viruses that could compromise its health, growth, and development. It is unwise to let any and everybody touch your baby. It is equally unwise to expose your idea to any and everybody. Now, some people may not intentionally strive to hinder you or be a liability. They simply don't have the means to support you. Whether that support is positive conversation or encouragement, experienced expertise, a listening ear, or sharing actual resources. This includes your own family. Just because someone is in proximity to you, or may even share a bed with you, it does not mean that they can automatically see your vision. It also possible that someone you talk to online who lives in a different hemisphere, or you recently met, can see your vision and support you. Lastly, and most importantly, be the support you seek!   

7. Look into networking with people/organizations that will help you fulfill your physical and mental health goals. That is why our social equality is important and the reason some keep us apart from their own social equality. Our network is a prime indicator of our net worth. Take care of yourself and connect with those who are invested in doing the same. There are no ideas when we don't have your health. There is no health if you don't have the energy. Get an appropriate amount of rest. Eat healthy foods and don't eat often. Fast. Make sure that you have daily physical activity whether that is exercise, going to the gym, choosing to walk, etc. Figure out what works best for you and stick to it!

8. Speaking of health; strive to maintain a positive outlook! Some days it will be easy to maintain a level of positivity and other days you need fellowship with others who share the same goals and are just as resolute about achieving their goals. This means investing the time to build with others and being present to learn as much as you can about the positive principles/values they are sharing with you. This is a key to sustainability and not burning yourself out.

9. Your idea is not the end all be all. Some people live to have a wedding while others strive to be married, have a family, etc.  While the wedding is a place, being married is a state. So, although your ideas 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 you achieve even higher and greater goals! It is all about constant growth and elevation, not stagnation. Life is constantly changing and evolving and so should the living.


"Be a shark, not a peacock." When a peacock walks into a room with its feathers fanned out everyone can see it. It is not necessary to be a show-off or strive to get attention. You also attract predators that way. Sharks move in silence and by the time you see their dorsal fin, it is too late. In many cases staying below the radar and not revealing what you're doing until it's actually done is a sure way to be successful in your undertaking. Be a fine mist that the naked eye can hardly detect. When we talk a lot we are also subject to the expectations of others, which are usually unrealistic. If you tell people you are writing a book and you know that you don't even have a manuscript yet, people may assume you are going to be publishing a four-hundred-page book next week and expect it. Now when you obviously don't deliver, people will begin to look at you like the boy/girl who cried wolf. Always remember that light travels 186,000 miles per second and sound only travels 1,200 feet per second. People will see what you are doing before they can hear what you are saying so your reputation always precedes you. So talk less in 2024 and let your work speak for you.

*Just say “NO.” Sometimes we put too much on our plate because we don't know how to tell people “NO” and we feel guilty about it when we do. Here's the thing: if you don't have the time, or the finances, don't have to agree to do it. Let time and finances be the reason that you cannot commit to something. It is unreasonable for someone to expect you to create more than twenty-four hours in a day or magically increase your bank account, for them. Just. Say. NO.

   In closing, I will that every one of you and your families have a positive and productive 2024 and that it adds more beauty to our families, community, and environment.



Thursday, March 30, 2023

When the DEI ain’t DEIing

Introduced in 1973, Nubia [Nu'Bia], was fashioned from Black clay and her twin sister Diana was fashioned from White clay. While Diana was the first to wear the Wonder Woman mantle in publishing history, Nubia preceded her as a Wonder Woman in Amazon history in both canon and the Amazons' newest Black Label universe from DC Comics.


     For those who are hearing DEI for the first time or who may not know exactly what it is, DEI stands for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. DEI stands for diversity, equity and inclusion. It started as any policy or practice designed to make people of various backgrounds feel welcome and ensure they have support to perform to the fullest of their abilities in the workplace. Diversity refers to the presence of differences within a given setting; in the workplace, that may mean differences in race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age and socioeconomic background. Equity is the act of ensuring that processes and programs are impartial, fair and provide equal possible outcomes for every individual. Inclusion is the practice of making people feel a sense of belonging at work. Even though this concept is rooted in the 1960's Civil Rights Movement, we have seen a growing interest in DEI initiatives following the recent civil unrest in America. While some of this interest is a well-intended investment in addressing change, some of that interest is a short investment to stave off costly lawsuits. Either way, I do think that it's important and healthy to even include the words diversity, equity, and inclusion in the public discourse. It has a way of drawing out oppositional viewpoints to put perspectives on a table for dissection and discussion.

Along with DEI there is an entire nomenclature that goes along with its policies and practice. Words like "ally", "anti-racist", "disability", "implicit bias", "neurodiversity", etc. are a part of DEI glossary that folks use to speak the language to others within this field. This is also the buzzword language that grant funders look for, and grant writers use, in order to articulate DEI-centric projects, programs, and initiatives that need to be funded. Since the BLM Protests surrounding police violence against citizens, there has been a lot of money thrown at DEI-centric projects, programs, and initiatives. While some of this has been instrumental in helping transform the culture of workplaces, organizations, and institutions, for others it has only been a money grab.

   We cannot effectively do DEI work if it is not genuinely Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive at its core. The majority of what we see in workplaces, organizations, and institutions is DEI window displays with folks installed as mannequins to simulate this work. In other words, it ain't real. Many of the folks installed in these positions have never had real diverse relationships, they never fought for equitable rights/resources for others, and they never put their actual privilege, career, or life on the line to go against the status quo to make sure that others were included in something they have been systematically denied. It takes courage and a deep commitment to what is right and just to successfully do DEI work. It’s a courage and commitment that must transcend the fear of being ostracized, ridiculed, undermined, attacked, or disowned by others, including your family, who really don’t care about anything being diverse, equitable, or inclusive. In fact, many of them have been taught their entire lives, and genuinely believe, that “those people” deserve what little access, opportunities, and resources “they were given.” That's not a walk in the park.

The irony is, this concept of DEI that many folks are just being introduced to is a reality that some of us have learned to navigate since we were born... An "ally" to us is the person invited to the cookout. We don't use the word "anti-racist" we just say they're not with the sh*ts. As for "neurodiversity", we never needed that fancy word to explain the importance of accepting people for who they uniquely are, we just do. Anyway, none of what I am saying means anything if I don't share with you some ideas and strategies of DEI, whether you are formally working in the field or informally in workplaces, organizations, and institutions that have a DEI policy and practices. Here are some ideas and strategies:

  • The highest value lies in our relationships with each other. Going to your favorite Mexican restaurant on Taco Tuesdays and knowing the staff by their first name is not the same as having a relationship with Mexican People or respecting their rich culture. How do you get there? Talk! Develop a serious relationship with them. Invest time together other than on... Taco... Tuesdays. It takes time also, just like it took time to establish all of the homogenous relationships you already have. 
  • If you're striving to create a land acknowledgment for Indigenous People that's not your job if you are not Indigenous. You can only help facilitate the time, space, and resources for Indigenous People to create it, if they see fit to do it, and you support them. And if they need to get to know and trust you first, which will take time, but you are on a timeline, then respect that now is not the time to even do it. That relationship is more important than your self-importance.
  • People who have been historically denied DEI-centric projects, programs, and initiatives were born into a society DEI conscious. Since childhood we have strived to make sense of a society where people treat us differently, unfairly, and don’t include us because of our skin color, gender, or physical ability. Adults today were those children, and there are children growing up right now dealing with those psychological and socioeconomic impediments. Imagine how that negatively affects someone’s self-esteem and their relationship to the folks denying them. On one end of the psychological and socioeconomic spectrum you have folks who simply say, “F*CK YA'LL!” and on the other end you have folks who do everything in their poor little power to be just like and accepted by others who have denied them, even to the point of being abused [sadomasochism]. Most people are somewhere in the middle and strive to live a balanced life between f*ck it and assimilation. If people trust you enough they will tell you all about, if you are also willing to genuinely listen.
  • It is not about you, or your social media pages. It is about helping make sure that your workplace, organization, and institution is diverse, equitable, and inclusive for the people in those spaces and the people that you serve. That is all. And it is usually a thankless job that doesn’t win awards.
  • "Firsts" in any capacity is equal to the work necessary to change the system or environment. For example, if you are celebrating "The First" disabled person or woman to serve in a certain capacity in your organization, the years that this organization has existed is evidence of the work that is necessary to truly make systemic and environmental change. In other words, sure we can acknowledge that Barack Obama was "The First" Black President, yet we must equally acknowledge and address that all forty-three Presidents before him, since 1776, were white men, and we still have never had a woman, disabled, Indigenous, Latinx, or Asian President. Firsts are like a billboard sign for systemic lack of DEI. 
  • DEI-centric projects, programs, and initiatives should not be designed to last. If you are in a DEI position, it is your job to help create a workplace, organizational, and institutional culture that is sustainable. That is the reason grants are limited. If we are in a workplace, organization, or institution doing DEI work for more than five years, guess what? The DEI ain't DEIing. The goal is to be able to eventually walk away knowing that the culture of that workplace, organization, and institution will be good without you. 
  • You need to be alright with upsetting the apple cart. In fact, you are a professional apple cart upsetter when you work in DEI. And that is a nice way of putting it. Change is difficult for us even when we are taking the initiative to change. People are usually more resistant to change when it's not on their terms and they were not prepared for or expecting it. Even if that change is healthier for them, safer for their families, or puts more money in their pockets. Folks are usually more resistant to change they did not initiate. Do you know how many people, of all colors, gender, and abilities told MLK this country wasn't ready for change yet? I wonder what things would look like if he waited or listened. With this being said, DEI work requires a delicate balance of patience and ambition. The ability to know when to sit back and when to push back. My mother used to say, "pick your battles."
  • No child is too young to be exposed to DEI. It starts in early childhood based upon what they are exposed to and how you engage them socially and emotionally. Invest in toys that are diverse. Get an equitable amount of reading materials that show our human family. Include diverse music in your playlists that they can hear. Also, have actual relationships with different kinds of families that your children can grow up with and experience their cultural worldview. It may be challenging if you live in the Village of Whitefolks NY, Cisgentown, PA, or Mansworld TX, but if you are truly committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion you will find a way to expand you and your family's worldview through genuine connectivity with people outside of your box, I mean, community.
  • Whether we are formally or informally aware of DEI, we are all impacted by and responsible for its outcomes. The more that we know, the better equipped we are to help ensure that spaces are diverse, equitable, and inclusive. If that is not important to us, that mentality will eventually become obsolete in America with a growing population that is becoming less white, male, and culturally homogeneous.
     In closing, I cannot stress enough the importance of genuine DEI work. Genuine work! Not the pop-up projects people waste money on to look diverse for LinkedIn and IG photos. Not the one-and-done speaking engagements where Black History Month, Women's History Month, and Pride Month 'Tokens' can make your organization feel equitable. And not the curated initiatives that include "a person" with disabilities yet exclude people with disabilities. Genuine work begins with relationship building, which requires active engagement and continuity of care for other people. People that many of us have been taught are "of lesser importance and significance" [minority], people we may have been taught to fear, avoid, laugh at, dehumanize, and allow others to hurt or kill. People we never learned how to even talk to.


Thursday, March 16, 2023

Descendant of Famed Freedom Seeker Pens Script

Saladin Allah and Host Anthony Morgan in of the Cataract House Gallery at the Niagara Falls 
Underground Railroad Heritage Center, CBC The Nature of Things

     Ken Cosentino -Niagara Falls resident Saladin Quanaah Allah, who goes by the mononym “Saladin,” is the third-great grandson of famed underground railroad freedom seeker Josiah Henson; whose life served as the inspiration for Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Last month, CBC’s “The Nature of Things With David Suzuki” featured Saladin as a historical expert and guest host alongside new co-host Anthony Morgan. The episode, titled “Secret Agents of the Underground Railroad,” was produced by Quebec-based company Attraction and filmed in Saladin’s hometown Niagara Falls, NY. The episode focused on the historic hotel called “The Cataract House,” which, due to its close proximity to the Canadian border, was a popular stop for freedom seekers along the Underground Railroad.

Stories abound of Harriet Tubman leading many enslaved people to freedom across the suspension bridge between Niagara Falls, NY, and Niagara Falls, Ontario. Lesser known are the stories of Cataract House staff who were secretly assisting enslaved people to board a rowboat at the foot of the American Falls across the Niagara River. This operation lasted for decades and was so well organized, it plays out like a spy novel. Only a small fraction of these stories were featured in the CBC documentary.

With the success of “Secret Agents of the Underground Railroad,” Saladin is currently finishing his treatment based on the Cataract House. Says Saladin, “It is important for me to honor our ancestors by keeping the story historically accurate. Several companies have already shown interest in producing this as a full-fledged series or feature, but as of right now there are no official commitments.” Saladin is a prolific writer and storyteller who has published twenty-three books, five of which are chronicled in the British Library. As an expert on the Cataract House and the Underground Railroad, Saladin has been featured in documentaries such as the award-winning docuseries “Enslaved,” narrated by Samuel L. Jackson; and the IMAX film “Into America’s Wild,” narrated by Morgan Freeman. Additionally, Saladin recently co-produced the documentary “Two Wars: The Road to Integration.” When he isn’t writing or being interviewed, Saladin can be found speaking to the United Nations and is the Director of Community Engagement at the Underground Railroad Museum in Niagara Falls, NY.

Abraham Lincoln utilized “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” as a key speaking point in his campaign for the oval office; Lincoln also drew directly from the literature while writing the Emancipation Proclamation. Says Saladin, “It is no secret who my third-great grandfather was, and how his life story came to impact the end of slavery.” Josiah Henson helped lay the tracks for the Underground Railroad, and for future underground railroad operatives such as Harriet Tubman.

CBC 2/2/23 – “Archaelogy is Rooted in Racism and Colonialism, Say Scientists. Here’s How We Rewrite ‘Everyone’s History'” – Featuring Saladin

Wednesday, February 01, 2023



     I am excited to announce that our Atlantis School For Gifted Youngsters is now ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS for 4 available slots in our new our early childhood program! 

Our Atlantis School For Gifted Youngsters is an early childhood learning center founded in Niagara Falls, NY to teach and train youth in the growth, development, and control of their powers. The mission of our institution is to globally inspire, empower, and educate youth to be ambassadors of our future. Some of the projects, programs, and initiatives created by our Atlantis School are:

  • NYS Licensed early childhood learning center in Niagara Falls, NY
  • Bi-monthly articles highlighting activities and Director insights
  • Seven online Youth Outreach Development courses
  • HBCU Tour Scholarship Program
  • Prison Correspondence and Book Donation Program
  • Boys As Allies Rights of Passage Program
  • Roku/Amazon Direct family-friendly animation series
  • StoryTime Youth Program to promote literacy & intergenerational conversations around family, social justice, culture, and history
  • HealthyMe Program that teaches optimum health with the use of educational literature, kinesthetic and audiovisual tools, products, workshops, hiking, and gardening to promote primary prevention and address sedentary lifestyles.
  • Residency Program for adults to provide workshops/classes in their specialized area of expertise for our students or parents/guardians

If you are in need of early childhood programming or know of any families in need, you can reach out to me directly to receive an application at: We are a non-traditional program and provide services between 3:30PM-11:30PM Tuesday-Saturday and potentially on weekends. Looking forward to hearing from you!


Sunday, January 01, 2023

Atlantis School For Gifted Youngsters Virtual Open House!!


JOIN US on Monday, January 9th at 6:00 PM EST for the Atlantis School For Gifted Youngsters Virtual Open House!! This is an informational session for Parents/Guardians to learn all about our Story, Mission, Curriculum, Parent/Guardian Contract, Policy Manual, and Residency Program!!

At the conclusion of our Virtual Open House, Parents/Guardians who are interested in registering their child(ren) in our school will have an opportunity to schedule a face-to-face meeting and a private tour of our facility.