Friday, February 14, 2014

How Are We Invested?

Egalitarianism: A belief in human equality especially with respect to social, political, and economic affairs. A social philosophy advocating the removal of inequalities among people. 

Recently I posted a status on my facebook page about one of Quanaah Publishing's success stories; a brother named Rasheed Carter, an urban novelist. Some time after that it was brought to my attention that some people misinterpreted this success story, the promotion of our company's services, and my brief elaboration on our Missions Statement -political and socioeconomic equality-, as an attack against others. Although I thought my intention for sharing that perspective was clear, I'm glad that I was made aware that it wasn't, and it would be good to further elaborate on what I meant. These are opportunities we rarely get to clarify something because unless someone is a member of the press, or is orientated in a way to ask questions to understand what someone means, people usually don't ask a person further questions to get clarity on what they meant. They usually just assume what this person meant, and may even go as far as share that perspective with others, without ever taking the initiative to ask the person who actually made the statement, "What did you mean when you said...?" When I ran for public office and put out my Official Press Release on July 4th, 2013, I had to deal with an issue like this. One local publication took the Press Release, made an interpretation about something I said, didn't reach out to me for clarity, put words in my mouth, and printed it. After reaching out to them to clarify my statement, the publication had to retract their statement [perspective] in the next issue -which said alot about the publication's credibility, and journalistic integrity.  

As a Writer, Musician, Cinematographer, or etc., making the transition from Creative Artist to doing it as an actual business is not always simple, especially in a Capitalistic Society. Before I began to publish my literature and put out my music, I made sure I did the research to find out what business models served my [our] best interest as a Creative Artist, and that simultaneously allowed me [us] to maintain my [our] cultural integrity and intellectual property. All of the companies I came in contact with and researched didn't offer this opportunity. It was always a contract agreement where for a certain upfront cost, paid royalty percentage of each unit you sell, acquisition of your creative [copy] rights, and accepted creative direction, a company would be willing to let you work for them by putting out your book, music, or film. If was never an egalitarian arrangement that advocated political and socioeconomic equality between the Creative Artist and the Company. From performing as a Poet/Emcee since the mid 90's, learning how the music industry worked and negotiating a contract with Razorsharp Records [circa 1997], to publishing articles for various publications [circa 1999] and blogging since 2005, this insight is what ultimately inspired me to found Quanaah Publishing/Quahadi Music. This medium allowed me to self publish my own literature, producing/manufacture my own music, and retaining all of my creative [copy] rights. Next I began to share my knowledge and use my resources to help empower other Creative Artists to do the same thing; control their own creative destiny by having direct access to publishing and manufacturing their own products.

Author Rasheed Carter and Paul Dyster, Niagara Falls Mayor
I met Rasheed at our local library one day in 2010. He was fresh out from doing a 5 year bid, jobless, and staying in a half-way house down block. He had one outfit and the only property to his name was a black garbage bag full of notebooks; about four novels he had written while he was locked up. We built for a bit, I told him that I knew how he could self-publish his literature, and I assured him that I'd walk him every step of the way. His first book I helped him publish through his own company Profound Publishing is called Young Savage. His second book, Wild for The Night, he only needed some consultation. 2014, and five self-published books later, Rasheed is self reliant, writing more than ever, and in a strategic position of putting others on who aspire to do the same thing. His success means my success, and I desired for him what I also wanted for myself. Over time I've used Quanaah Publishing to successfully assist other Creative Artists in the same way, and I'm very proud to say that as people become more aware of these opportunities to take control of their own creative destiny, we will continue to be at the forefront to assist them. To me this is not simply a noble idea, it's an important investment in a legacy that truly empowers people, teaches cooperative economics, and reinforces the kind of solidarity we need to build strong relationships and communities. In the most simplistic terms, it's the idea of wanting for others what we truly want for ourselves. Unfortunately, in a Capitalistic Society rooted in competiveness, it's in the best financial interest of some businesses to not provide people with equal access to some opportunities because they'll only breed competitors. In this regard, personal advancement, material acquisitions, and maintaining trade secrets come before the collective advancement of the people.

When I ran for County Legislature in 2013 and participated in a Meet The Candidates Forum, one of the things I mentioned in regards to our voting district is that over 90% of the people who owned businesses here, and secured a living for their families, did not actually live in our district, didn't spend money in our district, and couldn't vote in our district. This, to me, was a fundamental problem when it came to building and sustaining our local economy. It's a problem because the majority of the money these businesses made never circulated within our community; it left at the end of each day and was used to personally advance the business owners, and be reinvested in another district [community]. Because of my personal experience running for public office, and learning the politics of campaign donors and lobbyists, I gained first hand knowledge of where many of these business owners lived; in suburban neighborhoods, oftentimes in mansions, where their children attended schools and participated in activities far removed from the hood that fed them. So going forward, I continued to speak publically and use social media to elaborate on the importance of "Localism", encourage people to research and invest in Co-ops [Cooperatives] -one the fastest growing and successful egalitarian business models to build local living economies-, and warn people against patronizing businesses that are not supporting our communities. Obviously everyone didn't like me sharing this, and some quietly ostracized me for encouraging people to critically examine how we, and others, are truly invested.

Oftentimes we hear people speak about how others "keep our people apart from their own social equality", yet the way some of us choose to interact with, and do business with one another, may functionally promote the same idea. Some of us only promote social equality in theory, and are willing to socialize with eachother about equality and fairness. Yet at the end of the conversation, we all go back to the personal household income we came from. When it comes to advocating real socioeconomic equality, and providing fair access to eachother's finances and resources to advance collectively, we don't do it. To truly advance as a group, there are three ways we must be willing and able to consistently interact with eachother:
1.) Give eachother the shirt off of our back who clearly don't have one.
2.) Teach eachother step by step how to create shirts for themselves.
3.) Show eachother exactly where they can get/own the same quality shirt we have.
Of course relating with eachother like this, in a way that is fair, transparent, and mutually beneficial, is easier said than done because it requires trust. Yet in order to learn to trust one another, we have to be trustworthy, and demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that we have someone's best interest at heart. Right now, there are still too many of our people just being opportunistic. Instead of building true family alliances, we're making commercial arrangements, and the majority of the time the person making that arrangement lives on a one-way street. If put in the same circumstances of meeting Rasheed, they would simply employ him in order to use his talent to further advance their personal interests, not empower him to be a self-published entreprenuer in order to take control of his own creative destiny. Am I against capitalizing, making a profit, or taking advantage of an opportunity? No. I'm against the notion of capitalizing off of the public, in the interest of privately advancing ourselves. Therefore, the various programs/initiatives I've done and do through my organization A.S.I.A., our Quanaah Publishing/Quahadi Music projects, and my run for Public Office to represent my district all reflect of the same common cause: to inspire, empower, and educate people.

In closing, I would like to say to all of you who're are reading this, who're connected on my social networks, who've read my books, and/or watch my videos, if you would like to know what I meant by anything I've said, please feel free to reach out to me. I'd be more than happy to clarify it for you: