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Friday, July 18, 2014

Jay Electronica
and
The Freshman Jinx


On Saturday July 12th at the annual Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival, all eyes were on Rapper Jay Electonica, adorned in a Fruit of Islam [FOI] uniform and flanked with an entourage of Nation of Islam [NOI] believers. After bringing out J. Cole, Talib Kweli, Mac Miller, Jay Electronica finally brought out Jay Z and they performed four songs together before exiting the stage. Since this Festival, many have taken to social media to articulate what they believe to be the significance of this event, and today I want to share my perspective on this subject matter.

Heralding Jay Electronica's performance as an iconic return to take his throne, some have declared him as the rightful King of Hip Hop. Others are defining this demonstration with his Muslim entourage as an Islamic Renaissance of rap music; being led by Jay Electronica as a Farrakhan-like figure, reminiscent of the days when the God MC Rakim defined Hip Hop's Golden [Conscious] Era. Jay Electronica himself appears to echo many of these sentiments with the tweets/photos he's posted after the Festival: LINK


Whatever those sentiments may or may not be, I think that many people overlook the fact that Jay Electronica is a Rapper who has never put out an album before in a music industry he does not control. That in itself is a tremendous amount of pressure and level of expectations that a Rapper putting out a sophomore album doesn't even experience. A sophomore jinx is when artists prepares to drop their sophomore album after putting out a classic freshman album. Because their first album was classic, it's often believed that they jinxed themselves from creating a classic sophomore album because the first one was so good. Aside from A Tribe Called Quest, the Wu Tang Clan, and arguably others, there are not many artists who've been able to escape the sophomore jinx. Since Jay Electronica has only successfully recorded some classic verses as a lyricist, he has set a high mainstream bar to put out nothing less than a classic album, classic music production and classic features on his first long awaited album. This is equivalent to a freshman jinx.


You know, the music industry is a very fickle thing, and just as easy as the media loves you, they can hate you the very next day. Ask Chris Brown. So as I'm sitting back watching all of these Jay Electronica fans sharing pictures of him and his entourage on facebook/twitter and philosophizing about how this is a demonstration of Rap's Time and What Must Be Done, I'm wondering if these people realize they need to actually support him, financially. I wondering if they know what soundscan is, what first week albums sales means, if they understand what "merch" is, a HHQ [Hip Hop Quotable] and what a paradigm shift in an industry they don't control will require. Because if not, then all of this social media posturing will be all for not and this critical mass, or 85% of the people I see acting like they support him, will be one of the main reasons for his freshman jinx if it happens. Let me explain why.
Because Jay Electronica has shown himself to be a Muslim affiliated with the NOI under the leadership of Minister Louis Farrakhan, there are many Muslim believers and those whom are affiliated with the NOI, that have expressed their admiration and support of him via sharing pictures, links and comments on social media. Because he is a Rap Artist, in a music industry, that support is great yet it must be demonstrated in concrete quantifiable terms. In other words, unless this critical mass of people are actually supporting him by buying tickets to his concerts, downloading his album, buying his album in record stores and purchasing his "merch" [merchandise], it would be difficult for Jay Electronica to grow into the cultural arts leader some are declaring him to be. Worst than that, his resources to do more will be limited and you will give the media the means to actually destroy his career. I can see the headlines now: "Iggy Azalea goes Double Platinum, Jay Electronica goes Wood", "Rap's so-called King is Crucified", "Jay Elec-flop-ica's long awaited album is a dud", "Jay Electronica Concert cancelled because of low ticket sales" and etc. Most of my favorite Artists are not mainstream, yet in my opinion, they're some of the most lyrical and creative. In many ways, Jay Z publically knighted Jay Electronica into mainstream Hip Hop on July 12th. So the whole idea that "Jay Electronica makes music for the listeners" is no longer the driving force or marketing strategy of his music going forward. It's business and the bottom line is he must now appeal to the masses.

In closing, I want to encourage those of you who are watching this moment in time, and think/feel that it's truly a paradigm shift in rap music, to get involved. Don't just get involved by sharing pictures, links or commenting on statuses. I'm talking about supporting what you think/feel in concrete quantifiable terms. Just because Jay Electronica is giving Minister Farrakhan a shout out and you're feeling good because you're a registered Muslim in the NOI is not enough. Buy a ticket to his concert even if you don't go to rap concerts; gift it to someone who does! For those of you who are 5 Percenters and kith with Jay Electronica, rep his brand by purchasing his merchandise! And those of you who simply like his music, make sure you buy his album when he drops it. If there is any worthwhile demonstration in all of this, then this is what it needs to be demonstration; financially supporting any creative/performing artists whom we truly believe have something of substance and significance they're offering to this world. Chuck D and other artists have been advocating this for longer than I remember and its importance is still relevant and timely. All of the other empty posturing and "I'm affiliated" politics/pictures mean nothing if we're not invested in artists, or striving to encourage others to invest in them. On a personal level, I am not a fan of Jay Electronica although I do think he is lyrical and I like some of his songs. As an artist myself, artists that have more clarity in terms of their determined idea, a sense of consistency with their body of work and their art itself is what resonates more with me, regardless of the art form or genre I'm critiquing. As I've stated, Jay Electronica is still waiting to release his first album and willfully with his release he evolves to manifest a positive determined idea and body of work that inspires, empowers and educates people.

Peace,
Saladin
 

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Monday, June 23, 2014


Artist Ramel Jasir
-an ever evolving voice in color-


Anytime we have an opportunity to follow a career path that reaffirms our life's purpose, makes a positive contribution to society, and produces a legacy for our future generations, it is an important story to share with others. I recently sat down with Ramel Jasir, a successful self taught visual artist, to talk about his life's work, family, and how he balances it all during a time when a visual art renaissance is happening throughout the world. This interview is part of Ramel's journey that I've been more than excited to share with all of you. And I will that it inspires, empowers and educates others to pursue their passion, or continue pursuing their passion, in life. Enjoy!



Saladin:  Peace Ramel! First I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity to interview you. Although we've recently began to build directly, we've known each other indirectly for many years now, via those who we've taught. I've been checking out some of things you've been doing for some time now and I wanted to expose my readership to works too. To get right into it, let my readers know who you are, where you're from, and a little about what you do?

Ramel:  Peace Brother and yes indeed we have been in tune with each other indirectly over the years and I must say have been a great admirer of the many things you have been doing over the years in regards to the growth and development of our mighty Nation.

My righteous name is Ramel Allah Mathematics and as a visual artist I am known as Ramel Jasir.  Jasir is actually a combination of two of my son's name.  My oldest son's middle name is Jamal and my next to the youngest son's name is Nasir.  So I combined the "Ja" and "sir" as tribute to two of my greatest inspirations; my children.  I have been an "active" member of the Nation of Gods and Earths since 1988 in which I have spoken at universities, radio stations, churches; organized conferences, founded our annual Family Day in which we will be having our 17th Annual Family Day this August in Victory Allah [Virginia].

In 2007 I was going through a lot of financial issues and the loss of a seed caused me to deal with a lot of anxiety for the first time of in my life.  There was an Earth on the west coast who was going through cancer for the 3rd time that recommended painting as a form of therapy and deal with the stress.  Needless to say, stress or depression untreated does not get better so decided to follow her suggestions.  All I can say is from the beginning I never looked back.  Art and creativity became my passion.


Saladin:  At what point in your life did you realize that being a creative artist was your path and purpose in life?

Ramel:  I think in 2009 is when I decided to focus on taking my art to the next level and actually make a living as an artist after losing a job that I was on for about 10 years.  The problems with anxiety was directly related to me losing the job but it was also a pinnacle point in regards to my healing, mentally.  I had a lot of money saved up so I was able to go about six months and focus on my craft before going back to work.  Within about one year I had developed enough to be offered a gallery exhibition from a very reputable gallery.

Saladin:  Some people look at the creative arts as a hobby and something people do on the side, not something as a career. As a creative artist yourself, what has been your biggest challenge when it comes to this being your actual career that produces income? For example, how long does it take to complete one of you art pieces?

Ramel:  I think one of the biggest challenges is balancing family life because being a creative artist or what I like to say "creative entrepreneur" is a 24/7 deal in order to really be successful.  If you're not represented by a good gallery, you not only have to spend time creating, but you have to spend a lot of time marketing and building your brand as well.  You are your brand.  You have to spend a lot of time not necessarily finding new collectors, but more importantly, retaining and following up with collectors you already have.  As we use to say back in the day "wisdom travels" so if you keep them happy they will show and tell others.  Yet this is very time consuming in which you also have to prioritize in regards to family time.  Of course the Earth and our seeds want as much time as possible.  Luckily, 99% of my work is done at home with my seeds in the same room I create so it is not very hard at times.  Yet you can only image what I go through to create with a 2 year old and a 4 year old in the same room.

In regards to how long it takes to make a painting, that varies.  Some paintings that may seem some what elaborate and time consuming may have only taken an hour or two.  On average though even one of my small paintings can take anywhere from two weeks to three months.  It really depends on how detailed it is.  I have a solo show coming up in the autumn of this year in Miami in which I have about four large pieces that will take me about two to three months to create. So I will be likely working on them right up to show time possibly.


Saladin:  As a writer and musician, one of the things I often consider is family, and how finding a companion who is compatible with our career is important. What advice would you give a creative artist who is considering a companionship, and what are some of things they should look for when it comes to compatibility?

Ramel:  Honestly I have to say that it has to be someone who is just as passionate as you about that particular craft or at least supportive.  Meaning if you are a sculptor, you may get a lot more understanding and patience from a companion who happens to be a sculptor as well because you share the same passion.  You can grow together, collaborate, learn from each other etc.  If your companion does not happen to be an artist, it helps if he/she is just as passionate and supportive of your craft as you.  Either way you have to find ways to support each other and be involved in the process, whether it is giving you the space and time to create or making calls, marketing, talking up your work and building rapport with potential collectors at exhibition.  I think it is like just being a member of the Nation of Gods and Earths [Five Percenters] and having a relationship with a devote Christian or Muslim etc.  Some find ways to make it work maybe but it will likely not work in the long run.  You don't share the same passion in regards to your said way of life and it will likely clash unless you just find ways to ignore the differences altogether, and focus on the things you have in common, but who wants to do that?  For me that is just settling; which does not work.  I learned a long time ago that the first time you settle for less, is when you get less than what you settled for in the first place.


Saladin:  Checking out some of your pieces, accessories, and etc. you create, I don't get the impression that you're doing "art for art's sake." Everything I've seen appears to have a cultural significance to it, whether it's a certain theme, the people you use, the patterns, or the vibrant colors. How important is culture to your work?

Ramel:  This is true, I do not create for "art's sake."  I don't create what I think people will like, I create what I have to say about Life.  Culture is very important.  When I started painting in 2008 I was also learning more about my multi-ethnic background that I was previously unaware of until after my mother passed away and then my older siblings/aunts started to reveal a lot of information about my mother and my real father that no one seemed to feel that I needed to know earlier in life... lol.  Everything comes in time and on time I guess so I took a lot of the information in and started to research a lot of things for my self.  As I researched more, the story started to spill out onto the canvas like hieroglyphics.  My background is very diverse that span several continents and the one thing I found in common regardless of the said race or continent is art.  There are cultures/people long gone and languages going extinct everyday, but the artwork and the stories they tell still survive.

I was heavily influenced by aboriginal art when I first started creating which also lead me to Northwest Indian art.  My Earth is of Dominican decent so you see a lot of African and Taino symbolism in my work as well.  You see Hip Hop, Asian, European, Native American influences and etc.  My goal is to introduces people and educate them to the different forms of art and cultures that they may have never learned about had they not came to one of my exhibitions.  You see, even though many seem to see the world through the lens of just Black and White, the world is so much more diverse if they would only take the time to see the world community for what it is, not just what they want it to be, or what someone told them it is or should be.  One of the must unfortunate things that seems to happen when some get "knowledge of self" is that early on they are given questions and answers yet never question the questions or the answers and recite them with no understanding.  That is why Allah gave us Supreme Mathematics and the Supreme Alphabet.  He gave us the Knowledge and the Wisdom so that when we become a "student enrolled" we can approach the lessons from the degree of Understanding and not take things on face value; always questioning, always be critical.  What understanding is there in knowing the price of everything yet the value of nothing.


Saladin:  Indeed Lord. As an active member of the Five Percenters [Nation of Gods and Earths] for over 25 years, I see that you also create various pieces and accessories that bear our symbol, the Universal Flag. Because its been customary not to just give/sell our flag to any or every one, what method do you use to insure you're not giving/selling your pieces that bear our symbol, to someone who doesn't represent it?

Ramel:  I think one thing I do that's different from others that may sell items that bear our Universal Flag is that I do very little to no marketing and it is normally spread word of mouth or photos via social networks.  This is usually from Earth to Earth.  The closest I may get to marketing is maybe telling an Earth to feel free to share with other Earths.  I do it that way because for one they are very time consuming to create and it is for those that are in the know.  There are sites out there now that do not ask any questions at all and you can just make a payment and your shirt or earrings are in the mail.  Another thing I do is when I see a purchase come through, I send the individual a message advising them that I create the item they purchased only for members of the Nation of Gods and Earths.  I let them know respectfully that I only sent them the message because I did not recognize their name or they did not have a righteous name.  It would be impossible to keep up with calling every God or Earth that purchases an item to make sure they are on point.  There is no way to be 100% sure that a person who may purchase one of my items truly represents our Nation.  One thing that is for sure, is that the Universal Flag is large and clearly seen and everyone that wears our flag is subject to examination.  Our peers are our greatest defense of those wearing something they do not truly represent.  Unfortunately, and as we have learned over the years, just because a person can quote 120 lessons or dress a certain way, that does mean for certain that they truly represent our culture.  It is up to us to examine all of those that we come across in our travels wearing our flag, even if we have known them for years.

Saladin:  In closing, do you have an art shows coming up and where can people go to check out and purchase some of your work?

Ramel:  Yes, I current have some of my work on display at the KROMA Gallery in Miami as part of a group show.  I am in the process of planning and creating pieces for a solo exhibition that I will be having in the fall at the same gallery so I may do a few small events over the summer but that will be my main focus.  You view some of my earring designs at Atabey Hand Creations on Etsy and you can check out some of my Paintings.  I just started updating that site and should have everything up over the next couple of days.  You will be able to see available works and links to my site for available prints.  If anyone is interested in commission request for paintings or earring designs feel free to contact me at: rameljasir@gmail.com.

Saladin:  Thanks again for taking this time to add-on, I appreciate what you've done and continue to do to make your contribution to this world, and look forward to all of the great things you have planned for our future. Peace Lord!

Ramel:  Peace and Thank You as well.  I am truly honored and grateful for the opportunity you have given me to share some of my story and creations.  Your contributions to this world and this mighty Nation is very inspiring and I look forward to following more of your work in the future.  Peace!


Check out an interview with Ramel Jasir on Virginia Currents powered by PBS Video
Interview with Ramel Jasir at Superselected.com
Interview with Ramel Jasir at Futuristically Ancient 
Ramel Jasir sharing his Recycle Art Series

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Monday, May 19, 2014

STYA Program; Successfully Transitioning Youth to Adolescence


What We Teach
Before I get into today's article I want to first welcome all of you who are new readers to A.S.I.A. I also want to welcome back all of you who've been consistently reading my articles, and my guest columns from Life Justice, for years now. I really appreciate your time, and utilizing this medium as a source of inspiration, empowerment and education.


Following-up my Open Letter to the NY Post I published in response to the recent media frenzy that cited/quoted me about Jay Z [and Carmelo Anthony] wearing our Universal Flag, more people than usual have been reaching out to me for various reasons ranging from seeking to know more about our culture, to sharing advice with me about dealing with people and the global press. In general, its been excellent and much appreciated. For those of you in Canada, or who will be in Canada, I'll be speaking on the 5% Nation of Gods and Earths and the Jay Z controversy on Saturday May 31st at 1pm at the MANIFESTO in Toronto, Ontario Canada.



Today I wanted to take some time to share with you some of the core values of our culture. The reasoning for this is two-fold:
1.) To elaborate on the idea behind some of the positive works we do in our communities.
2.) To provide an example of a teaching model and general civilization tools for other Gods and Earths to use who are striving to reach people.
The first reason speaks for itself. I think in order for people to come together, regardless of their cultural, religious or secular worldview, it's important to identify a common cause. And one way of identifying a common cause is successfully communicating the idea(s)  we share. The second reason addresses something I often see amongst us, Gods and Earths, when we're dealing with the public. I'll add-on about that later.

What are some of the core values of the Five Percenters [Nation of Gods and Earths]?

We are pro-righteous and anti-devilishment, regardless of a person's skin color, ethnicity, religion or nationality. If any member of our human family has the willingness to learn to be righteous, we help provide them with the education and tools to do it. This does not mean that they need to become a Five Percenter. This means that if this person needs to be referred to a drug clinic or alcohol detox program, that's where we will refer them. If they need resources for parenting support or academic assistance, that's what we will connect them with. If they're striving to find employment to become more self sufficient, we assist them with that too. The bottom line is this: we utilize what we learn to be better and a positive resource to others. In turn, others can be empowered to assist others. This is all distilled into our simple phrase "Each one, Teach one." Some of us even carry this phrase further by saying "Each one, Teach nine."

The idea that [Father] God and the [Mother] Earth, is the apex of the original [first] man and woman, is a very ancient and indigenous concept corroborated by various anthropologists, archeologists, paleontologists, historians, biologists, and linguists the world over. This means that our cultural worldview, sense of diaspora, and chronology isn't predicated upon, or a visceral reaction to, the short period of two hundred and thirty seven years some of our ancestors were enslaved and segregated here in America. We have recognized our innate divinity, and practiced this as a natural way of life in various societies, around the planet earth, prior to any contact with people who classify themselves as white or Caucasian. Our culture is a unique, contemporary expression, of these classical concepts of divinity. This means that we live our lives according to the adage, "What would God [or the Earth] do in this situation?" Since there is no thing in life, that has withstood the test of time longer than God or the Earth [the creator and creation], they're effective references when it comes to preserving, protecting, and perpetuating life.

We teach and emphasize empowerment through education and freedom, justice and equality for all the human families of the planet earth to live in a world of peace. We view healthy, united families as the vital building block of strong communities, and any nation of people. We also view children as the ambassadors of our future who must be loved, protected, educated and encouraged. Therefore, we do not advocate ignorance, crime, addiction, sexism, racism, poverty, homelessness, hunger, or any thing that undermines our human family's ability to attain and live in peace with each other. As we know throughout history, there are some people whom there is no peace to live amongst, we also acknowledge that their lack of peace must never be because of our iniquity.

While I've only highlighted some of the core values that Five Percenters generally agree on, it's important to understand that all of us grow and develop at our own rate. We are all works in progress and embracing this way of life has given us access to a growth and development process. I am better and more resourceful to others now than I was five years ago, and I'm invested in being even more resourceful to others in the next five years. This doesn't mean that others aren't growing and developing simply because they haven't officially embraced our way of life. Regardless what cultural, religious or secular worldview a person embraces, it's incumbent upon them to find in it what core values will help them become better and more resourceful to others. There were many things I could have gone into, and have gone into in my videos, other articles and books I've published about who and what we teach. Today I wanted to share those things that people can generally understand, and often advocate on some levels, in their own lives. The goal is to learn to better appreciate the positive works we all do in our communities, and recognize the opportunities to work together and address the problems we face, especially our children, regardless to whom or what.

As I mentioned earlier, I also wanted to give other Five Percenters an example of a teaching model, and general civilization tools, that maximizes our ability to reach people, who want to be reached of course. Why? Because I think many of us are well intended and truly desire to see people become better, and make this world a better place. I also think that those of us who are well intended are always looking for opportunities to elevate what they do for others.

One of the things I've found to be most important for us, regardless of our religious, cultural or secular worldview, is to be better listeners. As a young Five Percenter I would talk [build] for hours. I still can, yet I find it more effective to listen for hours, especially to the people I'm striving to reach. Simply put, how can we do an effective needs assessment of someone if we don't know the ends and outs of who they are, or what they actually need? It reminds me of something my Ole Earth told me as a teenager about not taking girls to the movies to get to know them. She said, "That's two and half hours both of you are sitting there staring at a screen, and learning nothing about each other." As a Five Percenter, with all of this wealth of information we're just waiting to share with people, it's easy to become the talking screen someone is sitting there staring at for hours, and we're learning little to nothing about them or what they need. Some of the information I've once volunteered, and see and hear Five Percenters today volunteer about who and what we are, often creates more confusion than it does an understanding. Take for example someone asking the questions "What is a Five Percenter?" or "Are you in the Nation of Gods and Earths?" Some of us think that it's more important to just answer these questions than it is to find out the reasoning behind these questions being asked before, or if, we chose to even answer them. Imagine the potential or even further confusion we can create in the mind of someone, and whoever they go talk to afterwards, who asks us "Are you a member of The Five Percent?" and we just jump right into talking about Supreme Mathematics, The First 9 Born, Triple Stage Darkness, or etc. This person may have never heard this in their life, let alone how it works, where it comes from, or how it's even spelled! Imagine doing all of that, and when the person has a chance to speak they ask you when is your next concert; believing that you're a member of the music band The Five Percent. Yes, this situation and various other confusing scenarios are possible, and likely, whenever we don't ask questions and we assume where a person is coming from. So it's very important to first find out what a person knows, doesn't know, listen to them, and then share things with them they can actually relate to. In April when the global press about Jay Z wearing the Universal Flag started to trend, I saw different responses to the controversy by various Five Percenters that would have been a public relations nightmare, had it gone viral. I definitely appreciate the guidance from my benefactors Life Justice and I-Freedom Born for preparing me to address the press when I was approached. I also appreciate others for their positive advice when I was dealing with being bombarded by the global press for further comment, and some of my own people who were not as supportive during this time.

In closing, I want to thank those of you again for stopping by A.S.I.A. For further information you can also check out my videos on A.S.I.A. TV, and my literature at Quanaah Publishing. If you would like to reach out to me personally for advice, to schedule a speaking engagement, or etc., my direct email is atlantisbuild@gmail.com.
Peace,
Saladin

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Monday, April 07, 2014

Jay Z and Wife Beyoncé at the Barclays Center
 
Open Letter to the NY Post
 
 
Good Morning Mr. Buiso,

First I would like to thank you for writing your article "Jay Z is blinging it black", and reaching out to me to lend my "expertise" about my culture -as you stated in your email. It's not often that Reporters demonstrate that degree of journalistic integrity by going directly to the source and I (we) appreciate you for taking that initiative. Because we only spoke briefly and didn't have an opportunity to discuss other areas of my culture in-depth, I wanted to take a moment to clarify some things in your article.

One of the commonly held misconceptions is that Mr. Knight, and the group that he comes from, can speak for and define the meaning of our symbols. We are psychologically different in outlook, and cannot speak for each other; Mr. Knight and us, The Nation of Gods and Earths [Five Percenters]. The fact that Jay Z and Carmelo Anthony have chosen to wear our symbol indicates that they want to be affiliated with the positive works they see us do in our communities.

Our movement is more concerned with issues addressing our esteem and self determination than we are at labeling others for their inequities done in American society. Our symbol -the Universal Flag- represents the sun, moon and star: our universal family, man, woman and child, period. And a unified family is the vital building block of any nation of people.

Thank you for your consideration and giving me the opportunity to clarify this. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me again.
 
Peace,
Saladin Allah
 

Saladin Allah is a Therapeutic/Recreation major who attended Central State University in Wilberforce Ohio, a Region 6 Representative of The Nation of Gods and Earths [Five Percenters] in WNY/Southern Ontario, and founder of A.S.I.A. [Allah School In Atlantis]. Allah has written over two hundred social commentary articles for various national/international publications, self-published eleven books through his company Quanaah Publishing, and he presently works as a youth mentor and community organizer. You can also check out and subscribe to his popular Youtube Channel here: A.S.I.A. TV.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2014


Occupational Hazards
of the Five Percent

Every job has its own occupational hazards, including the job or the duty of a civilized person. Our 17th degree in the 1-40 asks us "What is the meaning of civilization?" The 18th degree teaches us about our job as a civilized person, which is teaching he [or her] who is savage civilization, righteousness, the knowledge of him [or her] self, the science of everything in life, love, peace and happiness. The 19th and 20th degrees elaborate on the consequences of not following through with our duty, and reiterates our responsibility as civilized people. In these lessons that emphasize our duty, occupational hazards or sources of danger that provoke illness, injury, or the possibility of incurring loss or misfortune are undefined. If we had a thorough Enlightener and a positive support system, they taught/teach us about these pitfalls and how to avoid them. Sometimes this isn't the case and we learn about these pitfalls on our own. These potential illnesses, injuries, losses, and misfortunes are what I consider the occupational hazards of the Five Percent, and today I want to shed light on some of these pitfalls; an effective strategy we can use to avoid them.  

Some years ago I met a young man through a woman who stayed in the same apartment building as me. He was in his early twenties, interested in learning knowledge of self, and told me although he didn't knowledge 120, he was holding civilization classes at his house for some of the youth in the neighborhood. He invited me over to add-on and he wasn't lying. When I got there it was about a dozen youth, ranging from ages 10 to 15, in his basement with paper, pencil and a listening ear for what I had to say. This went on for a while and we would hold classes every other Saturday until one day it was like this young man disappeared. Years after that he would resurface and I would see him from time to time in transit. It was always the short build on Today's Math, a commitment to connect, and I wouldn't hear anything from him again until I saw him on the front page of both our local and regional newspapers. According to the press, he was so-called affiliated with a Blood Sect out of NYC running drugs, and the youth he [and indirectly I] were teaching were a team of pre-adolescent/adolescent hustlers being assembled. He was indicted under the Federal Drug Kingpin Law and given 10 years; a charge that carries a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison, and a maximum penalty of life in prison and a fine of $2,000,000. He was given 10 years due to a plea agreement from cooperating with local and federal law enforcement agents involved in investigating the Bloods and other violent street gangs. Whether any of this was true or fabricated, this is some of what the regional papers printed about his arrest, prior to his incarceration:
"At the time of his arrest, investigators described him as a 'high-ranking member' of the Falls’ Bloods set. His home was characterized as a 'Bloods’ clubhouse ... used for organized meetings by the Bloods.' Investigators said a large collection of Blood-related photos and paraphernalia was also discovered at his home. 'He would meet regularly with a group of Bloods (at his home),' Falls Police Narcotics Division Capt. said, 'and he seemed to be pretty dominant (in the gang’s operation).' The local Bloods set was identified as 'control(ling) a large portion of the crack cocaine and (illegal) firearms distribution in the Falls.' In his plea deal, he admitted to being the leader of a narcotics trafficking street gang for more than three years. He also admitted that he controlled or supervised at least five other drug dealers, engaged in multiple narcotics transactions and earned substantial income from the sale of crack cocaine."

I share this as one example of what I would consider an occupational hazard. To this day I am not sure if the Feds have a dossier on me from simply being in what they defined as a Bloods' clubhouse. With the job I've been performing as a civilized person [a youth advocate within my community/region, online via this blog/videos, publically speaking, publishing books, and operating a A.S.I.A. Prison Correspondence Project where I communicate with and distribute literature to people incarcerated around the country], imagine the potential losses and misfortunes involved in me getting caught up in a situation like this. Consider the actual losses and misfortunes this young man, a father, suffered from getting caught up in this situation. And when I say losses and misfortunes I'm not just talking about personal losses and misfortunes, I'm talking about positive contributions and support our people, community and society loses from situations like this. That is misfortune. I definitely don't regret the fact that I taught civilization to this young man and the youth in his neighborhood, I have learned to better position myself where and when I teach. And this awareness has allowed me to minimize the risk factors that can result in the possibility of incurring loss or misfortune, for myself, and anyone that I associate with.

Since I've had knowledge of self, there's always been debates about right or wrong amongst the Gods and Earths, and with good reason. It's important to constantly evaluate and re-evaluate the rightness or wrongness about what we say and do as civilized people. I also think it's important for this conversation be framed in such a way that broadens our perspective and our willingness to listen and learn from each other. One approach I've learned is to frame the subject of ethics [right or wrong] as a conversation about occupational hazards (i.e. What are the potential losses of putting yourself and family in that position as opposed to what you [they] stand to gain? What are the pros and cons of that action? How does that choice benefit or hinder your ability to effectively perform your duty?) So instead of just having a philosophical debate on right or wrong, it becomes a practical discussion about effective and ineffective ways to perform our duty as civilized people. In other words, we assess right or wrong within the context of results; "What's in it for you?" as Life Justice would say. If our true intent in being civilized is to mean it, then we've declared that knowledge, wisdom, understanding, culture, refinement and not being a savage in the pursuit of happiness is of special importance to us, and those who mean it too. Sometimes people may lose sight of the fact that we are here to help each other grow and develop. The purpose of framing our builds within the context of results is not only to be scientific, but to emphasize the love and respect we should have for one another, and to maintain peace within our ciphers. We are not URL Battle Rappers and I've been in ciphers where people greeted and departed the Gods/Earths with the word "peace", yet everything they said and did in-between their arrival and departure was everything but peace. Real peace is what links our love for one another and our happiness.

In closing, I want to encourage us to continue working to build and maintain our solidarity by supporting one another in the positive work that we do. Also, remain mindful of the occupational hazards that undermine our ability to stay solid and unified as civilized people. Aside from the external environment of living within this wilderness of North America, Jealousy, Envy, Lust and Hate are some of the most significant occupational hazards we're dealing with as a people; they fuel a pursuit of happiness a person hasn't found within themselves. This raises the risk of being a savage and the probability for illness, injury, loss, and misfortune to occur to us, and those who associate with us. Consider all of the risks we've taken, the risks we've seen others take, looking for happiness outside of self. More importantly, Jealousy, Envy, Lust and Hate doesn't bring people closer to together, they work to separate people and drive them apart... That's hazardous to any relationship, family or community. Jealousy, Envy, Lust and Hate are the same postures/attitudes 30% of our people had towards each other in Mecca during the time of Yacub. Discontented with themselves and what others were doing, they used their dissatisfaction to slowly draw a line in the sand and disassociate themselves from aligning with their own people. Yacub and his clique of followers then relocated to an island to do their own thing, and the devil was eventually born from this division, isolation, and antisocial behavior.

When it comes to civilization, none of us can do it alone or on an island. Whether we choose to admit it or not, we need each other. The cultural development of our people is multifaceted and requires all of our expertise and participation. The belief that we personally have to be the Leader with all of the answers parallels what's been said about Yacub having a big head, him finishing all of the colleges and universities of his time, and seeking to ultimately possess 366% of knowledge. See, if we are truly dedicated to "peace" and the common cause of performing our duty as civilized people, there should be no problem with building about effective and ineffective ways to perform that duty; we have each other's best interest at heart right? It's not about coming together anymore, it's about being together and doing what is positively needed to remain together for the greater good of the people and our planet. Anything less, would be uncivilized.

Peace,
Saladin

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Blaque Male Image
 
In celebration of Woman's History, Blaque Magazine published an article promoting the idea of understanding a wo(man) better which included the above image of black men wearing heels. Blaque Magazine online is an urban lifestyle web magazine geared toward professional women and men in South Africa. Although this cover appeared in the August 2013 it has resurfaced due to the growing effeminization of the black male climate growing within the Hip Hop and black/brown communities. In February of the same year I wrote an article for Socyberty.com entitled "Hiphop Culture 101; in Defense of Lord Jamar" that articulated the cultural stance of Hip Hop Preservationists. Because we now find ourselves addressing the same issue, often with much more fervor, I wanted to take a moment to add-on further to this topic and share some ideas of what we can do about it.
 
First and foremost it's important to understand the context of the situation. As black and brown people, we are not the major stock holders, institution establishers, media moguls, government authorities, or military force in America. We are disproportionately the minority when it comes to actual power dynamics. We have the potential to be much more with our solidarity, yet collectively we are still not self actualized as a group. There are various pockets of us being progressive in our own way, and some black millionaires sprinkled in here or there, yet as a whole, we are still a very poor, disenfranchised, underclass group of people in America. At the same time, black and brown people are also the most religious and conservative, especially Bible Belt black and brown people. Given this context, much of the outrage amongst black and brown people with the above image and effeminization agenda is two fold: 1.) Many of us know for a fact that we collectively lack the media might to push such an agenda, therefore it's the idea of the major stockholders in America not ours and 2.) As the descendants of Bible Belt black and brown people who held sacred religious and conservative ideas about the roles of males, females, family, community and sexuality, we still value these mores. It also must be mentioned that chronologically speaking, Europeans and their American descendants have not generally held the same sense of sacredness for religion or conservative ideas as a group. This does not mean that none have, it just means that when you study any of their societies whether its Greece, Rome, Germany, Britain, America or etc. this high degree of civilization was never the practiced status quo. In fact, these cultures were usually highly hedonistic and provided social mores for a societal underbelly to happily coexist. And culturally speaking, for every one black or brown person you find practicing these customs, you'll find eleven Caligula's that taught them.
 
Now, given this context, many black and brown people are simply offended seeing and hearing others speak for us, especially on issues that outright conflict with the chronology of our people and our cultural status quo. Additionally, some of us a further offended when we see our own people knowingly or unknowingly parading an agenda or getting paid to promote hedonistic customs that betray our cultural legacy and genetic survival. In terms of homosexuality, this is understandable in a practical sense because another generation of human beings cannot exist without sexual reproduction, which requires a man and a woman. Among other things in considering black and brown people as a group, the concern with the effeminization of the black and brown man and this society's advocacy of homosexuality is this: Can it undermine the reproduction of our future generations? If young males [and females] are not taught about their gender role and sexual distinctions, is it possible they won't be prepared to produce and maintain a family? Regardless what our sexual orientation may be, these are important questions to ask ourselves as human beings seeking to exist.
 
 
I recently posted a video entitled "Them" vs "Us" about the growing climate of division within our community that is not the most beneficial posture to take as a group, especially given the context I explained above. History, yes His-Story has shown us that any time a group of people allowed a segment of its own population to be ridiculed, ostracized, persecuted, single out and demonized by outsiders, destruction soon followed. Why? Because their own people allowed it to happen. Some of our own people feel that what happened to Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, and countless other young black males at the hands of whites was understandable and justified; they were thugs, wore sagged pants, playing that rap music, and etc. In South Africa, many African Nations sat back and allowed the Colonialist whites to persecute and murder the Indigenous blacks because they looked at the ANC as rebel rousers. Even during the time of Segregation here in America, not all black people were down with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. During those protests when the National Guard turned dogs and fire hoses loose on our people, those black people sat at home talking amongst other blacks about that's what them n*ggas get. The same incidents happened amongst the Indigenous People or so-called Native Americans when they allowed the white man to take advantage of their tribal disputes, pit one against the other, and them have them both sitting on Reservations when it was all said and done with. Europeans themselves are not immune. Yes there were undercover Ashkenazi Jews who helped Hitler destroy their own people, and many Irish had to fight some of their own people from starving to death during the Potato Famine in the 1840's. One consistent theme you'll recognize in all of these incidents, and various others I didn't mention, is whenever internal differences exist it exposes a militaristic vulnerability that opportunistic outsiders will take advantage of. A great exercise that will confirm this fact is to research the history of the country where an American Embassy exists. These are the same vulnerabilities being exposed within our community today,  as this Homosexual vs Heterosexual, "Them" vs "Us" environment appears to expand. The reason I mention this is to encourage those of you reading this to take it a step further than just being mindful of the Eurocentric sexual propaganda being promoted through their [American] mainstream media. It's theirs, and they use it the way that they want including speaking for us even if we didn't say anything. Therefore, one of our goals must be to empower ourselves with our own media outlets to use our voice. One of my God Brother's Starmel Allah, author of the book The Righteous Way, and various other black and brown people are doing just that. As a sign of pride and solidarity for black manhood, Starmel has organized a photo shoot for 300 Men at NYC's Times Square on March 25th. The purpose of this initiative is to provide more images of black masculinity for our youth within our present day Hip Hop Community who are being constantly bombarded with confusing sexual messages. Messages such as the mainstream androgynous fashion trends of London's Men's Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2013-2014 collections that are being promoted by prominent black and brown celebrities.  
 
 
In closing, We also must be mindful of what appears to be, via their mainstream media, growing internal differences within our community where it's becoming an environment of "Them" vs "Us" amongst our own families and communities. These internal differences are not only based upon the mainstream media's propaganda, but it's from the perspective of a mainstream media that has historically kept us a part [segregated], while simultaneously using us to make itself rich from our labor [consumerism]. Many of the things we see and hear throughout the media are being used against us, whether its black Homosexuals  in a prominent position objectifying/dissing men like the show Fashion Queens, or black Heterosexuals making headline news for what was considered an anti-gay slur like when Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000. My view is that our survival as a people depends upon our solidarity, period. As I implied above, like it or not, we genetically need each other for our future generations to exist. All of us, regardless of our sexual orientation, play a significant role in various industries so we also need each other to maintain an existence. We are still family at the end of the day, and don't have to like everything we choose to do, yet we should still not allow our differences to be the reason we neglect one another and allow anything to happen to each other -even if one of us are doing something to put ourselves in jeopardy. We should still care enough and have enough humanity to do what we can to protect each other, even from ourselves. As civilized people, it's our duty to look out for one another, especially when our people aren't willing/able to look out for themselves. We don't have to agree on everything or accept everything we do. All Heterosexuals don't agree about or accept everything, nor do all Homosexuals. We can agree to disagree. It doesn't serve our best interest as a group, to be so divided, that if thousands of black and brown Heterosexuals begin dying off black and brown Homosexuals wouldn't care, or if black and brown Homosexuals were rounded up and marched into death camps Heterosexuals would allow it. We need each other, more than outsiders need our divisiveness.
 
Peace,
Saladin

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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: atlantisbuild@gmail.com

Peace,
Saladin

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