Own your influence

I watched the Joe Budden interview with Nicki Minaj… and besides his split seam skinny jeans and her having her purse on her chair on set … I was super impressed with Nicki and Joe. Joe is an interesting character, I’ll stop there. Nicki… I haven’t rocked with her since the “Monster” era…

“Okay, first things first I’ll eat your brains
Then I’ma start rockin’ gold teeth and fangs
‘Cause that’s what a motherfuckin’ monster do”

But she schooled a generation in this interview…

OWN your INFLUENCE

She talked about starting the trend in “pink hair, thick ass” for female rappers and middle part dark hair that has come to be known in this time as “Kardashian” hair. Not that she invented those trends, but that she was the muse behind their resurrection in style. Her points were solid & salient!

But it did bother me a bit, she failed to give Kimberly Jones her due… like all of it… I mean …

But more importantly, it got me to thinking about a really solid statement she made… that when we, especially Black women fail to acknowledge and broadcast our influence we make it easy for people to attribute our style and beauty to White influence that is really just a mimic of us. It happens all the time. “Boxer braids”, the idea that wearing one side of your overalls undone didn’t come from Black folks in the 80s, the sneaker trend, stiletto nails, logo prints on clothes-helloooooo Dapper Dan… I could go on.

But unfortunately, very often when we do speak up and voice our influence even other Black people see us as cocky, narcissistic, and conceited. The number of times Soulja Boy has SHOWED us that he invented many of the popular trends in hip hop, yet he’s taken as a joke until he proves it… wild. For women it’s that much worse. Lil Kim is singlehandedly responsible for making very high end designer houses popular in hip hop and then in pop culture. But she never gets her props. I mean… again…

So it’s time we start… and not just in fashion… because most of us don’t reign there… but… in our everyday lives to own and not license out our influence for pennies. We can only get what we are due if we don’t allow our value to be stepped on so much it’s rendered invaluable… gotta sell the product while the buzz is still powerful.

So if you are championing breastfeeding in the Black community unlike anyone else before you; you are the youngest Black female engineer in a city, state, county; you were the first of your kind in a setting that used your knowledge and example to grow and change; you are a certified FIRST, breaking glass, plaster, and drywall ceilings and walls; or maybe your influence and presence forever changed a thing… anything… speak on it. Let anyone trying to take credit for it today know you started it yesterday. Then when they circle back, tryna get some more of that thing you do effortlessly, charge double. What did Fat Joe say… “Yesterday’s price is not today’s price!” You want this excellence, FYPE!

And when the White girl at Nordstroms admires your manicure and says… you have those nails like the Kardashians… let her know… Nope, I got nails like Queen Nenzima!

Then… “put your number twos in the air if you did it on ‘em!” –Did It On ‘Em, Nicki Minaj

Industry Rule #4080

Stereotypes be like…

Black people are lazy, stupid, overly sexual, uncivilized, aggressive, domestic, loud, lewd, brutish, ape-like, eat fried chicken and watermelon, have wild unruly hair, large facial features, and are made to serve White people while seeking approval from White people.

Jewish people are greedy, crooked, overly powerful, frugal, loud, overbearing mothers, pushy, unattractive, neurotic, manipulative, with wild curly hair, big aquiline noses, and too big suits, eating bagels.

Might some of those things be true of one or two Black or Jewish people? Of course. I’m Black and I keep a watermelon in the fridge. Might many of these things be unfair and discriminatory depictions of all Black or Jewish people. You bet. What is the difference between an unfair and discriminatory stereotype about ALL people in a group and a fair cultural observation of group behavior? I would say the difference is hard to tell!

Nick Cannon, media mogul, was fired by ViacomCBS for making what were deemed anti-Semitic comments in his podcast, Cannon’s Class while interviewing former Public Enemy member Professor Griff last year. Griff left the group after making comments about Jewish people being wicked. During the podcast, the two spoke about the origin of Hebrew people, Griff’s comments, common stereotypes of Jewish people, and the history of Jewish people in American business. The follow comments by Cannon were found to be be be anti-Semitic in nature:

1. Cannon stated Black people are Hebrews and therefore cannot be anti-Semitic.

2. He compared the dominance of Jewish people in the media and entertainment as comparable to the Rothschild’s in banking. The Rothschilds have been accused of creating natural disasters, assassinating Lincoln and Kennedy, and controlling the global economy.

3. He commented it was a shame Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, a powerful and positive leader, had been silenced in Facebook. Farrakhan has been labeled by both the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center as anti-Semitic and anti-gay.

4. Cannon stated people without melanin were lesser people, motivated by fear and insecurity, and used power and manipulation to overcome their deficiencies to those people with melanin, particularly Black people.

I won’t bother with the last two statements. Having something positive to say about a person who has made negative comments against Jewish and gay people does not equate with being against Jews or gay people. I’m not a big Farrakhan fan but I have watched a diatribe or two of his and liked THAT particular message. I am neither anti-Jewish nor anti-gay. I also disagree with censorship. If the President can call Mexicans rapists and the white supremacists can call Black people everything from monkeys to niggers without so much as a slap on the wrist, Farrakhan has the right to free speech as well. Also, while I wholeheartedly disagree any group of people is inferior to another, I do agree that fear and insecurity, along with lack of knowledge and a desire to maintain “have” status over the “have nots” motivates racist behavior and systems of policy against Black people. That’s not a Jewish people thing, that’s a White supremacist and privilege thing.

We are in an interesting time. People get fired from their jobs because of tweets and retweets. Black Twitter calls for the firing of racist White supremacists who are caught on social media or on video making discriminatory comments and exhibiting racist behavior. Yet White people who make fake police reports on Black people walking their dog or grocery shopping are left alone until we take to social media to demand action. Similarly, murders of Black people on videotape go free for months unarrested. Yet Black people who make discriminatory statements are fined or fired real quick, and the words whitening is being taken off toothpaste.

Last week, Philadelphia Eagle DeSean Jackson was fined by the team for posting a fake Hitler quote referencing the greed of Jews and labeling Black people at the true Israelites. He further praised Farrakhan as well. When Nick Cannon’s almost year old podcast was made known to ViacomCBS they immediately fired him. At a time when police officers who murder unarmed Black people often go weeks or months before they are suspended or arrested, this swift action by ViacomCBS, a Jewish owned company, points to a level of hypocrisy in the entertainment industry that insulates Jewish people from backlash it only recently had afforded to Black people.

Here’s the truth. Semites are a group of people who came from regions where Semite languages were spoken, including the Middle East, Western Asia, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa. Arabic, Amharic (an afroasiactic language in Ethiopia), Hebrew, and Tigrinya (Ethiopian and Eritrean) are the most widely spoken of those languages. The term became synonymous with Israelis over time, who were monotheist, white Semite and non-Semite speakers. However, it was a “term of art” so to speak for anti-Jewish. Using the term Semite to historically reference Jewish people exclusively is both incorrect and like many things in history, steeped in White privilege and absent non-White influence. Semites were Arabic, African, and Israeli. Much of what is labeled anti-Semitism ignores anything that is not against White Jews. However a Black person can make anti-Semitic statements. It’s actually and unfortunately very common.

“You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America? This how they did it.”

Jay-Z “Still Nigga”

The Black/Jewish dichotomy is brewed in real and presumed exploitation and manipulation of Black people by Jewish business men, music and entertainment moguls, and lawyers. It’s a tale as old as time. While we actually share oppression and a history of slavery, the success of Jewish people post WWII in America caused a new set of realities in our community. Jewish people were our landlords, store owners, grocers, and bankers. Then they left our neighborhoods as places to live and they simply became places to make money off of our backs, in the eyes of the Black people. That held true in the entertainment and music industries as well. In 1950, the Chess brothers, Leonard and Philip started Chess Records featuring black blues acts such as Muddy Waters, Etta James, Howlin Wolf, and Little Walter. Most of these artists didn’t receive any royalty payments until MCA acquired these labels and paid out back owed royalties to them and their estates. Very similarly, rap group NWA was famously taken advantage of by its manager Jerry Heller.

“Industry rule number four-thousand-and-eighty;Record company people are shady”

-A Tribe Called Quest, Check the Rhime

Jewish ownership in media is omnipresent. The Ochs Sulzberger family, which controlled the New York Times for more than a century, is of Jewish origin. Jewish-American businessman Eugene Meyer bought the Washington Post in 1933. Sam Zell who owns the Los Angeles Times is also Jewish. Robert Igor runs Disney and Sumner Redstone runs the company that fired Cannon, ViacomCBS. Top executives at Lorimar, Marvel, Warner Brothers, MGM, Spyglass, Columbia, Fox, CBS Sports, Lionsgate, CBS News, 20th Century Fox, ABC, Goldwyn, Imagine, CNN, USA Network, and Bloomberg among others are all Jewish. Similarly in music, popular names like Lyor Cohen, Clive Davis, Hans Zimmer, Barry Weiss, Phil Specter, Rick Rubin, Lou Perlman, David Geffen, and Ron Fair are just a handful of Jewish music execs. So statements that Jewish people run the media, while not totally true, certainly appear that way when a disproportionate percentage of the creative industries executives are Jewish compared with only 2% of the population. If not control, surely influence.

From news stories that highlight the negative pasts of victims of police brutality and police murder as an attempt to justify the act, to the bad contracts and exploitation of Black artists, specifically rappers, to the lack of roles forgoing to Black actors and actresses on TV and in the movies, these executives play a part. From the neighborhood slumlords taking our hundreds to the executives determining our millions, for many creative Black people, there is an unfortunate truth experienced as a result of working with record and media companies, and many of these companies are run by Jewish people. That doesn’t mean all Jewish people are exploitative but certainly these are real experiences of exploitation. Not necessarily a Jewish thing but a money and power thing.

“The grocer was a Jew, and being in debt to him was very much like being in debt to the company store. The butcher was a Jew and, yes, we certainly paid more for bad cuts of meat than other New York citizens, and we very often carried insults home, along with the meat. We bought our clothes from a Jew and, sometimes, our secondhand shoes, and the pawnbroker was a Jew–perhaps we hated him most of all… In the American context, the most ironical thing about Negro anti-Semitism is that the Negro is really condemning the Jew for having become an American white man…”

-James Baldwin, “Negroes Are Anti-Semitic Because They’re Anti-White”, The New York Times, 1967

While I’m in no way agreeing with everything Nick Cannon said, we don’t gain knowledge without understanding facts. Most of what he said, minus his negative commentary and opinions, is based on fact. We know what a Semite is and we can list Jewish executives who own or run media and entertainment conglomerates and give instances of when the dynamics between Jewish executives and Blacks were less than fair. Black people make up a large percentage of the musicians who are taken advantage of by bad contracts created by manipulative record companies and lawyers. Black actors and actresses often bring the box office numbers and awards, when nominated, but can’t demand the same salaries as their White counterparts. These very real realities are decided at many of the companies I listed above. While we have to be careful not to let our cultural observations and experiences become condemnation of an entire group of people, we must also speak truth to power. It truly is no fun when the rabbit got the gun!

As for Nick Cannon, he’s demanded ownership of Wild N’ Out which he created and has been offered programming time on Diddy’s Revolt channel. He’s got a net worth of around $30 million and took in $10 million last year. He is still cashing Drumline checks and owns a management company. Ladies and gentleman, I give you the rabbit!

“Brrrr-rap-pap-pap-pap-pap, it’s a choppa”

My Privacy

Grand opening…” -Jay-Z “Encore”

People tell me I’m super private… it’s true.

I am usually doing a lot that I don’t broadcast on social media or to anyone other than those involved… because people have too many opinions about things that don’t pertain to them. Too many. So to keep from having to bust heads, I just keep things to myself.

But there’s another reason as well.

“… in your mind you have complete privacy… there is no difference between what is and what could be.” -Chuck Palahniuk “Asphixia”

Let’s say you are a painter… when you paint a picture in your studio, no matter how abstract, it is exactly what you say it is. It is precisely your definition of it, because you are making it and how you see it, is the only view of it. You have a gallery showing and suddenly it’s a cactus, a wilted flower, a young Israeli girl contemplating life, or the meaning of life depicted in color and movement. nope. nope. Nope. NOPE! It’s a bowl of cereal, I just like cereal, dammit.

“… privacy is…the freedom to be left alone to experiment, make mistakes, to forget, to start anew, to act according to conscience, and to be free from the oppressive scrutiny and opinions of others.” -unknown

The same is true about your personal life. The decisions you make about your professional life, family life, love life … yikes…are only seen through your eyes until you release it. After that, whether you are personally swayed or not, other people’s opinions about the things you have chosen become real. It is still what it is, but what it could be, before it even reaches that level, is now a paint by numbers affair and anyone can color it with the hue of their choice. Nowhere is this as true as your love life. You and your partner define your relationship and it’s exactly that and has unlimited potential, limited only by your own hopes and dreams. Until… (“do you want more...”)

When you let people into your relationship, suddenly you are met with commentary, questions, and opinions that are often not totally pure at heart… instead people are nosey, envious, jealous, and not simply curious about the happenings in your life. You can tend to tell by those things that attempt to pierce the visible layers and go deeper into parts of your relationship only meant for you. It’s one thing if you invite it, for advice or otherwise. It’s another if you haven’t offered that information, or have made it clear that area is not accessible to guests. Beware of folks minding your business. It often comes from a place of no damn good.

“I want a relationship where they know of us, but nothing about us.” -unknown

Folks can be messy saboteurs in any parts of your life where you are starting to shine. The dark often wants to snuff out the light. It could be about your choices regarding your career and the moves you are making. It could also be about things going on with your family, friends, business dealings, anything going on in your life that involves your personal choices or relationships with others. You don’t have to explain yourself, your choices, and your relationships with other people, those things are yours until you either ask or inform. It’s a thin line between a public, private, and secret. If any other person is involved, it’s never secret no matter how tight lipped you think that other person to be. What is private lies somewhere just beyond secret but not yet public. It is there where you build your strongest bonds and make your best choices, because once you expose yourself to the outside world, what is and what could be become enmeshed in folks’ bullshit. The stronger your bond the stronger your ability handle the world around you!

I need you to remember one thing. I came, I saw, I conquered

The truth is this, success feeds you in private but failure starves you in public. We have to be accountable to ourselves to maintain those things that are most dear to us, most fragile, most combustible, most valuable close to our hearts until they have incubated into full grown experiences ready to take on the world. No one needs access into your inner sanctum… that space is for you and anyone else personally involved in your private matters. Don’t send out public invites to a private party. Decide if you want cake, music, to rent a hall or to have an outdoor picnic. It’s your party after all … do what TF you want to. But don’t post it on Facebook unless you want folks to crash and show up empty handed making song requests and shit.

“… grand closing!”

The Haves

“Professionals movin the decimals”

A little history…

Rockefeller, Pulitzer, Vanderbilt, JP Morgan, George Pullman, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, and Marshall Field… these men amassed a fortune together from the 1870s to the 1930s. They are among the aristocrats of American wealth.

Vanderbilt built a steamboat business, which led to ocean liners, and soon railroads to transport goods. He was friends with Rockefeller, who supplied him the oil to run his trains. Carnegie provided the steel to build the railroads, and Morgan ran the banks they stashed their fortunes in. George Pullman, a maker of railroad cars from Chicago, was friends with Marshall Field, who received some of his early funding from the railroad giants, so they could dress in the best textiles and finery. Morgan hired Thomas Edison to install electricity in his home, which is where he invented the light bulb. Henry Ford worked for Edison and became his top engineer while working on the Model T. The two of them tried to come up with a substitute for rubber to use as tires, and brought in friend Harvey Firestone into the endeavor. These are the wealthiest Americans in history… a group of friends or friends of friends who came together to account for over 2/3rds of America’s fortune.

Most of these men were born poor, but understood the concept of community wealth… and being the dominant class in America at the time didn’t hurt either! 🤷🏽‍♀️

“This is the shit you dream about with your homies steaming out”

Community wealth… the difference between the real haves and have nots. You see, in the spirit of the monarchy, Europeans have mastered the art. You do business with, marry, socialize, and fraternize with wealth, so you, in turn, become wealthy. And wealth begets wealth by keeping it ” all in the family” so to speak. Not necessarily blood related, but dollar bonded. It is the actual American Dream.

The real bamboozle was this idea that the American Dream was available to anyone. Nope. It was never that anyone could assimilate into success through hard work and determination… it was a birthright. Other cultures, who have migrated to the US voluntarily, were able to maintain their culture, cultivate business models that flourishes despite exclusionary immigration practices… not a new phenomenon. Take Chinese restaurants… and by the way, Chinese people don’t eat egg rolls. But more on that later…

After the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, Chinese laborers were unable to immigrate for work, but in 1915, despite being excluded, Chinese business investors could put up money and bring over relatives to work. By 1920, just FIVE years later, Chinese owned restaurants brought in over $77 million dollars in New York alone. Because the cost was so high, several Chinese immigrants would pool their money, and as those restaurants made money, they would duplicate the business model until 1930 when the industry brought in over $150 million. The Chinese live and work in culturally homogenous groups, and therefore have been able to realize the American Dream. (1)

Similarly, Indian immigrants are the most successful immigrant group in the US. Why? Well Indian immigrants come from a poor country that values education, and the more education the better. Indian immigrants often come to the US only after they have been educated in their home country or they come to the US as students. Therefore, they are able to quickly enter the workforce in highly skilled and high paying jobs. They have maintained the cultural importance and requirement of a quality and robust education. For this reason “they are the wealthiest and most highly educated immigrants in this country.” (2)

“Seems our plans to get a grant, then go off to college didn’t pan off even out…”

So what happened with Black people?!??

Let’s start off with this fact… everyone in America, except Native Americans, are descendants of immigrants. Everyone! Now I know my folks get up in arms being called immigrants, but be clear, a person who is trafficked into this country by force for the purpose of peonage, involuntary servitude, debt bondage, or slavery has still immigrated, by force, but immigrated nonetheless. They physically left their country and settled here, the voluntary nature or intent does not change the facts.

Okay so now that that is clear… the involuntary nature of our migration and then the systematic degradation of our culture (education, language, values, religions, customs, family dynamics) meant that much of our history was beaten from our reality. There was simply not the opportunity to create these opportunities. Even after slavery, and as Black people started to see success, we were treated much worse in the early twentieth century than immigrants… despite our citizenship in this country. African immigrants were able to make strides that those of us with the same DNA sequences, born Black and American, could not benefit from. Today, like Chinese and Indian immigrants, even African immigrants fare better financially than Black Americans.

So here we are, 2018, just two years after watching the first Black President leave the White House, when Black Women are thriving, and Black men are seeing financial successes that hasn’t been realized since we were stolen from our native land… and still, while 13% of Americans are living in poverty, 22% of Black people live in poverty, more than any other race. (3)

“Nothing wrong with my aim, just gotta change the target”

It’s time y’all… we need to band together and stop financing everyone else’s dream.

We shop at stores owned by everyone but us.

Our bodies are clothed with textiles that aren’t designed into fashion by us or even sold by us.

We eat food that we don’t grow.

When we do spend with each other, we want a hook up we’d never ask for at Walmart.

We excel in sports, entertainment, the creative arts. The world copies our style, our culture, and benefits from our innovation in technology, education, social services, and agriculture. We need to band together and have our own movie studios, art galleries, engineering firms, community programs, schools, and farms. If there are many of us, we can take a page outta the book of Jay-Z and Tidal, community ownership. We should be purposefully buying clothes designed by Black designers, all of our Gucci should be Dapper Dan. Instead of giving our skills to companies owned by “them” we should be independently contracting and partnering with each other. We can create partnerships with companies that can assist us in our ventures like Vanderbilt and Rockefeller.

They already gave us the model. It’s time to grow the tree that bears the fruit, and EAT yo! And like Dame Dash said, we need to put up our own money (Note: If you haven’t listened to his audio book “Culture Vulture” then you are missing out!). No loans so the bank owns us, we can do this shit together. Scholarships to go to college are cool and necessary, but putting money into community based businesses and services is necessary as well. Then we need to duplicate it and keep it in the culture! My seeds, grow with his seeds…

Financial success swings the pendulum. You cannot lock someone out of a system they built themselves, that doesn’t rely on your credit, your programs, your money, your politics, or your name. Let’s be Rockefellers out here in these urban streets, build and put everybody else with a hustle, a strong work ethic, and melanin on!

“Now see that’s life right there, and it seems right there…”

(Lyrics by Jay-z “American Dreamin)

(1) https://scholars.org/brief/untold-story-chinese-restaurants-america

(2)https://news.ucsc.edu/2017/06/singh-book.html

(3)https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/poverty-rate-by-raceethnicity/?currentTimeframe=0&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D