Friday, March 31, 2006

We Finally Got Our Piece Of The Pie?


Today's supreme mathematics is Understanding Knowledge all being born to Culture. Put simply, what is the fruit of your knowledge? How has knowledge improved your way of life and the life of your family? Your community? If it hasn't, then you need to evaluate your foundation and what it consists of.

Last week, the New York Times and other media outlets reported that Bob Johnson (of BET infamy) plans to start a new retail and financial services company. The bank, which will be named Urban Trust, will be opening locations in Washington D.C. and Florida initially, with branches in other urban centers to follow. Now, I'm aware that any original person with a ounce of common sense or consciousness will cringe at Bob J doing anything to "help" black people, however we have to look at this in light of other factors. Consider the following

  • A Operation HOPE study reported that in a survey of 4,000 students, 86% of Black High School seniors failed a basic literacy exam, compared with 57% of White students
  • Black families have a larger rate of being targeted by sub-prime predatory lenders
  • The poverty rate among Black children is 37%
  • In some cities, over 50% of African American men are unemployed

When you look at our economic condition and see it's connection with health, education, culture, etc.., then the need to do something about our financial standing becomes clear. Will Bob Johnson be able to solve all this? Of course not! Fundamentally, financial literacy is a inside-out kind of thing, meaning that people learn it from others in their social circles. If the people around you aren't financially literate, chances are you won't be either. Also, it isn't like this is a non-profit altruistic venture here: The primary purpose here is to grow the business. There's also the issue of the term "Black-Owned Business". It's not entirely clear if he's doing this with his own money or even black money, due to his relationship with the Carlyle group and other financial giants. (Let's not forget, the largest investor in BET for many of the early years was white). More likely, it's an investment into a segment of the population who hasn't been targeted by others due to their spending and saving habits by a multi-racial group of investors with a black face.

Do we need Black-owned banks? I think there's a place for them if they are really looking to act in the best interests of the black community when it comes to loans, policies and outreach. We're way past the point where being black is enough. As Imam Jamil Al-Amin put "Being Black is necessary, but it's not sufficient". If true financial independence is the goal, then we have to start one family at a time. Things that we can do:

  1. Save 10% of your pre-tax income. You'll be surprised at how fast it grows
  2. Look to own vs. Rent. Home ownership is one of the primary ways to get out of financial bondage. In fact, home ownership (along with the GI Bill) was one of the chief ways that lower and middle class white families were able to escape poverty after WWII (redlining the suburbs so that only white families could move there and own homes)
  3. Invest. Look at the financial stability of all the companies that you support by buying their products. If they look to be healthy, why not invest? Someone else damn sure is!

Until the next time, P.E.A.C.E.!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Do You Remember....


Today's mathematics is Wisdom Understanding all being born to Power. Through speaking and communicating with clarity, you affect environments to the highest degree. Wisdom should always be manifested for the sake and cause of understanding. When your Wisdom is understood, the power of your idea is recognized.

Earlier today, I had a conversation with my Earth ( regarding black talk radio. On many of the shows (Al Sharpton and Bev Smith in particular), no matter what the topic, many of the callers complain about the state of the youth and wax poetic about the "Good ol' days" (As if original people in america have ever had them). At times, some of them sound like someone rounded all of the black people aged 15-35 and turned them into zombies in some large laboratory. To them, and anyone who thinks like them, I ask...

Where the hell were you doing in the 1980's?
What were you doing?
Were you somewhere trying to be "upwardly mobile"
Did you have a dry curl (The predecessor of the jeri curl)?
Were you reading about the prospective job market in 20-25 years?
Did you vote? Who did you vote for?
Were you aware of the black man's disappearing act from the home?
Were you watching Prince and not thinking that it was a bit strange that a man was looking and dressing like a woman?
Were you advocating for equity in the schools?
Were you preparing for the post-industrial age when you couldn't get a job with only a High School Diploma?
Did you predict the breakdown of inner cities in advance?

The abovementioned questions may seem a bit harsh, b.u.t. my point is that the development of the institutional forms of racism that we see today took place not so long ago. The older generation can rightfully object to the perversion present in much of today's music, b.u.t. we sure didn't make it up (See the question regarding Prince). The situation that youth find themselves in today is based on a subtle and consistent process that can be dated back some years. For example, when the industries that provided jobs and livelihoods for much of Black america in the urban and industrial centers shipped the jobs overseas and crippled our community, why didn't we see the long term effects and work to combat it?

On a political level, you can see that perception of Carter as a spineless and ineffective leader opened the way for Reagan to come and re-establish "Traditional American Valeus". With that tacit support, Reagan took tax money, reduced social programs, and filtered money to wars in distant lands to insure american empire (This has gotta sound familiar). At the end of his term, Inner - City America is flush with cocaine and guns, all the while hobbling from a destroyed infrastructure. While people may have spoken out against Ronnie Ray-Gun (Remember star wars and all the money funneled into defense against our "super-enemy", the USSR for a war that never happened), we were not prepared for Bush, AKA Reagan II! If we aren't on our toes, our children will be facing a situation 10x worse. As many of you know, planning and funding for prisons is based on the third grade test scores in many of our communities,b.u.t. we've even surpassed their predictions for their new cash cow.

I'm not shifting all of the blame on our elders, only showing that we have to be vigilant so that the same thing doesn't happen to us in this day and time. As you know, I'm solution oriented so here they go:

1) Let's predict our history well in advance by developing a comprehensive plan that cover all aspects of life in our community

2) It is imperative that we be honest with ourselves about the possible effects of what's taking place today from politics to the economy to education.

Below is a repost of a NY Times article regarding the plight of Black Mne and how it's worsened over the last 20 years. Please take heed and share it with whomever you can.

Plight Deepens for Black Men, Studies Warn
BALTIMORE — Black men in the United States face a far more dire situation than is portrayed by common employment and education statistics, a flurry of new scholarly studies warn, and it has worsened in recent years even as an economic boom and a welfare overhaul have brought gains to black women and other groups.
Focusing more closely than ever on the life patterns of young black men, the new studies, by experts at Columbia, Princeton, Harvard and other institutions, show that the huge pool of poorly educated black men are becoming ever more disconnected from the mainstream society, and to a far greater degree than comparable white or Hispanic men.
Especially in the country's inner cities, the studies show, finishing high school is the exception, legal work is scarcer than ever and prison is almost routine, with incarceration rates climbing for blacks even as urban crime rates have declined.
Although the problems afflicting poor black men have been known for decades, the new data paint a more extensive and sobering picture of the challenges they face.
"There's something very different happening with young black men, and it's something we can no longer ignore," said Ronald B. Mincy, professor of social work at Columbia University and editor of "Black Males Left Behind" (Urban Institute Press, 2006).
"Over the last two decades, the economy did great," Mr. Mincy said, "and low-skilled women, helped by public policy, latched onto it. But young black men were falling farther back."
Many of the new studies go beyond the traditional approaches to looking at the plight of black men, especially when it comes to determining the scope of joblessness. For example, official unemployment rates can be misleading because they do not include those not seeking work or incarcerated.
"If you look at the numbers, the 1990's was a bad decade for young black men, even though it had the best labor market in 30 years," said Harry J. Holzer, an economist at Georgetown University and co-author, with Peter Edelman and Paul Offner, of "Reconnecting Disadvantaged Young Men" (Urban Institute Press, 2006).
In response to the worsening situation for young black men, a growing number of programs are placing as much importance on teaching life skills — like parenting, conflict resolution and character building — as they are on teaching job skills.

These were among the recent findings:

¶The share of young black men without jobs has climbed relentlessly, with only a slight pause during the economic peak of the late 1990's. In 2000, 65 percent of black male high school dropouts in their 20's were jobless — that is, unable to find work, not seeking it or incarcerated. By 2004, the share had grown to 72 percent, compared with 34 percent of white and 19 percent of Hispanic dropouts. Even when high school graduates were included, half of black men in their 20's were jobless in 2004, up from 46 percent in 2000.

¶Incarceration rates climbed in the 1990's and reached historic highs in the past few years. In 1995, 16 percent of black men in their 20's who did not attend college were in jail or prison; by 2004, 21 percent were incarcerated. By their mid-30's, 6 in 10 black men who had dropped out of school had spent time in prison.

¶In the inner cities, more than half of all black men do not finish high school.
None of the litany of problems that young black men face was news to a group of men from the airless neighborhoods of Baltimore who recently described their experiences.
One of them, Curtis E. Brannon, told a story so commonplace it hardly bears notice here. He quit school in 10th grade to sell drugs, fathered four children with three mothers, and spent several stretches in jail for drug possession, parole violations and other crimes.
"I was with the street life, but now I feel like I've got to get myself together," Mr. Brannon said recently in the row-house flat he shares with his girlfriend and four children. "You get tired of incarceration."
Mr. Brannon, 28, said he planned to look for work, perhaps as a mover, and he noted optimistically that he had not been locked up in six months.
A group of men, including Mr. Brannon, gathered at the Center for Fathers, Families and Workforce Development, one of several private agencies trying to help men build character along with workplace skills.
The clients readily admit to their own bad choices but say they also fight a pervasive sense of hopelessness.
"It hurts to get that boot in the face all the time," said Steve Diggs, 34. "I've had a lot of charges but only a few convictions," he said of his criminal record.
Mr. Diggs is now trying to strike out on his own, developing a party space for rentals, but he needs help with business skills.
"I don't understand," said William Baker, 47. "If a man wants to change, why won't society give him a chance to prove he's a changed person?" Mr. Baker has a lot of record to overcome, he admits, not least his recent 15-year stay in the state penitentiary for armed robbery.
Mr. Baker led a visitor down the Pennsylvania Avenue strip he wants to escape — past idlers, addicts and hustlers, storefront churches and fortresslike liquor stores — and described a life that seemed inevitable.
He sold marijuana for his parents, he said, left school in the sixth grade and later dealt heroin and cocaine. He was for decades addicted to heroin, he said, easily keeping the habit during three terms in prison. But during his last long stay, he also studied hard to get a G.E.D. and an associate's degree.
Now out for 18 months, Mr. Baker is living in a home for recovering drug addicts. He is working a $10-an-hour warehouse job while he ponders how to make a living from his real passion, drawing and graphic arts.
"I don't want to be a criminal at 50," Mr. Baker said.

According to census data, there are about five million black men ages 20 to 39 in the United States.
Terrible schools, absent parents, racism, the decline in blue collar jobs and a subculture that glorifies swagger over work have all been cited as causes of the deepening ruin of black youths. Scholars — and the young men themselves — agree that all of these issues must be addressed.
Joseph T. Jones, director of the fatherhood and work skills center here, puts the breakdown of families at the core.
"Many of these men grew up fatherless, and they never had good role models," said Mr. Jones, who overcame addiction and prison time. "No one around them knows how to navigate the mainstream society."
All the negative trends are associated with poor schooling, studies have shown, and progress has been slight in recent years. Federal data tend to understate dropout rates among the poor, in part because imprisoned youths are not counted.
Closer studies reveal that in inner cities across the country, more than half of all black men still do not finish high school, said Gary Orfield, an education expert at Harvard and editor of "Dropouts in America" (Harvard Education Press, 2004).
"We're pumping out boys with no honest alternative," Mr. Orfield said in an interview, "and of course their neighborhoods offer many other alternatives."
Dropout rates for Hispanic youths are as bad or worse but are not associated with nearly as much unemployment or crime, the data show.

With the shift from factory jobs, unskilled workers of all races have lost ground, but none more so than blacks. By 2004, 50 percent of black men in their 20's who lacked a college education were jobless, as were 72 percent of high school dropouts, according to data compiled by Bruce Western, a sociologist at Princeton and author of the forthcoming book "Punishment and Inequality in America" (Russell Sage Press). These are more than double the rates for white and Hispanic men.
Mr. Holzer of Georgetown and his co-authors cite two factors that have curbed black employment in particular.
First, the high rate of incarceration and attendant flood of former offenders into neighborhoods have become major impediments. Men with criminal records tend to be shunned by employers, and young blacks with clean records suffer by association, studies have found.
Arrests of black men climbed steeply during the crack epidemic of the 1980's, but since then the political shift toward harsher punishments, more than any trends in crime, has accounted for the continued growth in the prison population, Mr. Western said.
By their mid-30's, 30 percent of black men with no more than a high school education have served time in prison, and 60 percent of dropouts have, Mr. Western said.
Among black dropouts in their late 20's, more are in prison on a given day — 34 percent — than are working — 30 percent — according to an analysis of 2000 census data by Steven Raphael of the University of California, Berkeley.
The second special factor is related to an otherwise successful policy: the stricter enforcement of child support. Improved collection of money from absent fathers has been a pillar of welfare overhaul. But the system can leave young men feeling overwhelmed with debt and deter them from seeking legal work, since a large share of any earnings could be seized.

About half of all black men in their late 20's and early 30's who did not go to college are noncustodial fathers, according to Mr. Holzer. From the fathers' viewpoint, support obligations "amount to a tax on earnings," he said.
Some fathers give up, while others find casual work. "The work is sporadic, not the kind that leads to advancement or provides unemployment insurance," Mr. Holzer said. "It's nothing like having a real job."
The recent studies identified a range of government programs and experiments, especially education and training efforts like the Job Corps, that had shown success and could be scaled up.
Scholars call for intensive new efforts to give children a better start, including support for parents and extra schooling for children.
They call for teaching skills to prisoners and helping them re-enter society more productively, and for less automatic incarceration of minor offenders.
In a society where higher education is vital to economic success, Mr. Mincy of Columbia said, programs to help more men enter and succeed in college may hold promise. But he lamented the dearth of policies and resources to aid single men.
"We spent $50 billion in efforts that produced the turnaround for poor women," Mr. Mincy said. "We are not even beginning to think about the men's problem on similar orders of magnitude."

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Blast From The Past


On this day of Knowledge Equality all being born to God, I want to send a shout out to all the Gods and Earths in the blogsphere making knowledge born about who we are, what we teach, and what we will achieve. I want to send a special shout out to my brother and alike in Living Mathematics, Justice Rajee Allah, who's celebrating his Understanding Cipher (30th) degree day today. We call them degree days because when you get a year older, you move to another degree in development. Justice was the first brother I taught here in Power Born almost 11 years ago and has stayed just and true to our culture since his day 1. I can't forget my brother Knowledge Build who flipped to his 30th degree ("Tell us what and how everything is made?") on the build or destroy day of March.

While I'm at it, I want to take the time to welcome my sister Aymara Islasia Earth and her sun Justice to the cipher in Power Born. Finally, much respect to my brother Aru Self Allah who completed 120 degrees today. I tip my crown to you my brother!

For those who may not have done the knowledge to it, below is a piece written by Michael Muhammad Knight, a writer for MuslimWakeUp! last year regarding the cipher here in Power Born. Please know that the best is yet to come and that the babies truly are the greatest!

I don’t care much for conferences, since I’m not a scholar or an activist and writing for me is just a matter of spilling guts. Scholars can find value in your work only by relating it to things that have already happened (Oh, you live your Islam like a heretic? You must be heir to the Qalandars and Hassan bin Sabbah). Activists, meanwhile, would rather a piece remain ideologically correct than reveal its author’s ugly parts.
But still there was a panel: “Islamic Anarchism: Pipedream or Reality” at the National Conference on Organized Resistance in D.C., arranged and moderated by a white convert named David who regularly says “peace be upon him” after the Prophet’s name. His group consisted of a professor, a guy from Farid Esack’s clique, a South Asian girl and me. When it came my turn I spoke about the Five Percenters as a movement against the use of religion for power and exploitation, with W.D. Fard’s whole theory of how unseen mystery-gods were sold to the masses as a means of controlling and pacifying them. During the question-and-answer period, a white woman stood up and warned me about the dangers of a white man speaking about “Five Percenterism,” apparently because I had missed out on some important facet of it. She didn’t know where I was coming from.

After the panel I drove from D.C. to West Virginia, running over her comments in my head and returning to the same question that I’d been asked enough times by Muslims, non-Muslims, Gods and Earths: Irish on your mom’s half, Austrian on your dad’s, how’d you get into this? Why do you wear that pin with a black man’s face and the word “ALLAH?”
I don’t have to go back four hundred years to find the devil in my blood.

My dad’s house sits atop a wooded hill, just beyond a gas station that sells pickled pig-knuckles. It was dark so I had to pass the hill a few times before finding his hidden driveway. I parked alongside the road because my car would never make it up; I can barely survive that hill on foot. At the top I stopped to catch my breath and stared down Dad’s kingdom. Outside he has stacks of firewood, a shed with the Lord’s Prayer carved into its door and buckets catching the rainwater, scattered salvaged junk and two pickup trucks, one black and one white.
He seemed glad enough to see me. Turned out he has a TV now and we were in the third quarter of the Super Bowl. “They have to stop McNabb,” he said. Later in the conversation he told me that people had black skin because they were cannibals. “And also,” he added, “if you have sex with a white girl on a freshly covered grave, her skin will turn black too.” Dad’s a racial separatist. I first met him in 1993, when I was fifteen years old. By then I had already devoured Malcolm’s autobiography and watched the movie three times. The director of Afropunk theorized to me that some Caucasians may come to Islam as a means of acquiring oppression and becoming the Other, which I can see, but sometimes we just need to murder our fathers.

My hurting Buick’s odometer passed 170,000 miles on the way to Boston, current center of the professional sports universe, where I met up with the Kominas. Basim’s calling himself Basim SWT now, and Shahjehan has become Shahjehan PBUH. Joyriding through the city with Basim SWT behind the wheel, he built for me on the history of Irish-Americans and Boston’s uniquely Irish punk scene.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I’ve got a fetish for your culture.”
“That’s okay, I’ve got one for yours.”
I spent a few days with him and ate all the spicy food in his house. Then it was back to the road and sleeping in parking lots. That Sunday I arrived in Pittsburgh, which the Gods and Earths called Power Born, for parliament.
My Power Born connection was a God named I Majestic, respected as one of the more prolific teachers in the region and maybe the Nation as a whole. The parliament was held at the home of Zyhier, one of the earliest Gods to teach in Pittsburgh.

I immediately recognized Abu Shahid as he walked in—he’s an Elder going back all the way to the Father’s time at Temple #7. I couldn’t help but pester the God and ask him the same questions he’s been hearing for the last forty years. Abu Shahid introduced me to his seven-year old daughter Jhonaziya, who already knew her lessons. When Jhonaziya recited the earth’s distance from the sun, she watched me write it down to make sure I had it right.
According to I Majestic, “colored men” (Caucasians) that study with the Gods often fall into one of two categories: either they’re suffering from racial guilt and want to repent for their ancestors, or they want to be Gods themselves. The exact place that a colored man can find with Gods and Earths has not yet been defined. The Nation hasn’t seen enough white converts to make it an urgent issue, but there have been a few. I Majestic told me about one named Gadreel whose father had actually tried to join the NOI before him, even writing a letter to Elijah Muhammad; and he knew of one God that had encountered a young John Walker Lindh. As a teen the American Taliban would lurk in online chat rooms, pretending to be black.

Upstairs I stood at the periphery of a circle and watched Gods building in turn. A Puerto Rican “yellow seed” named Sha-King built on the day’s math while watched by his two-year old son, Shaborn. The children in the room were repeatedly showered with praise; the NGE’s self-deification seems its most pure and true when applied to kids. At a Harlem parliament, one Five Percenter pointed at a toddler and told me, “he’s God.” Why contest that?
After the parliament broke up I thanked Zyhier for having me in his home, and I Majestic for opening this particular gate, and Abu Shahid for building on his forty years in the desert. The Elder wished me a safe trip. It’s a long ride, insha’Allah, from a jagged sun to a quarter-moon. We just so happened to be in the first ten days of Muharram, so I drove to a Shi’a function in Monroeville with plans to slap a dent in my chest.

Thursday, March 09, 2006



First things First: How many newspapers do you read? If the answer is 0-1, step your game up for the good of yourself, your family, and your community. If that sounds extreme, look at it from this angle: business and political leaders read 5-6 papers a day (that includes international papers like the guardian, or Ideally, one should read papers from a liberal, moderate, and conservative slant in order to be aware of what's being discussed in a given day. I guarantee that you'll see things in some papers that you won't see in the others. If you don't know, how can you possibly teach? Access to information is one of the first ways that the haves are separated from the have-nots. Watching television is no substitute either, as that medium is suited for entertainment and not information. If you can, do the knowledge to (Peace, Brother Cedric!) or check out NPR (Stations vary according to the locale. If you don't do it for yourself, do it for your children who have to grow up in a world that you aren't really doing your best to stay abreast of.

Moving on to the subject of children, as a child, I attended a number of independent nursery and pre-schools. The schools were multicultural and very open. Later in life, I noticed that many of the people that I attended pre-school and elementary school with tended to be successful in their endeavors. I now recognize that a child's early education in an integral aspect of that child's development. The decisions that you make regarding their education can define their attitude towards education, their social networks, etc. Today they are select pre-schools in major cities that are actually rejecting kids, asking for admission essays, and charging up to $10,000 a year for 3 and 4 year olds! If someone is paying that much for finger paints, there's a bigger picture. In this case, where you go to pre-school influences where you go to elementary school, which affects where you go to middle school which affects ... you get the idea. You can't underestimate the impact of the socialization, networking, and access to resources that an environment like that can afford you.

On the other side, imagine the impact that underfunded head start programs have on children in Black, Brown, Yellow, Red, and poor White communities. Low quality early education programs tend to funnel our children into other low quality schools which seriously impact the earning potential and by extension, quality of life for many in our communities. If you don't dig where I'm coming from, go to the "hood school" in your city and see if the children there are being prepared to lead our community or country in the coming years. As globalization continues to entrench itself in all aspects of our life (more on that later), a two-tiered society is continuing to develop, where the haves and the never-hads are so far apart, you couldn't tell them that they were from the same country. Please take this seriously; it's one of the first aspects of social engineering (after unfair access to healthcare for expecting mothers,mind you), and creates an environment where the social equality of the poor and impoverished only reinforces the dysfunctional environment that they already see, whereas the social equality of the rich gives them perpetual access to more money, power, and respect internationally. Rich men usually marry rich women, and poor & uneducated men usually marry poor & uneducated women.

Here's a link to the article:

Just because I don't like venting and not adding on, I'm going to end by giving some practical solutions to this:

1) Get your children into the best schools possible to increase their access to people, places, and things
2) Advocate for educational equity for the school in low income communities. If possible, volunteer your time and expertise to the schools so that the youth can see school as an community
3) Act with the goal of making sure that our children are balanced and skilled in a number of areas.

Please add on!


Thursday, March 02, 2006


If you've never read my writings, welcome!! If you've done the knowledge to my writings @, welcome back!! I have returned from an extended hiatus in which I saw and did a number of things. When I looked at coming back, I decided to make a cyber-space move.

Q: What does Author of Change mean?

A: Simply put, an author of change is one of the descriptions of the Black Man with knowledge of himself. An author of change takes control of his destiny and writes his history to create the world that he wants to see for himself, his family, his community, and ultimately the word.

Q: What about Get Money, Teach Kids, Add on?

A: That is the most basic breakdown of the blueprint that I'm following at the date of this writing. It's not necessarily in order, b.u.t. it's the order that catches the eye and ear. It represents the following:

Get Money - Economic Development

Teach Kids - Youth Development

Add On - Building & Destroying/ Community Infrastructure Development

In order to bring about Allah World Manifest (The realization of what we teach and what we will achieve) in particular and Freedom, Justice, and Equality for all human families of the planet Earth in general, these are three integral components. Many champion one over the others, b.u.t. without all three, you don't have a self sufficient community. Most of what you read on this blog will relate to one or more of the above mentioned topics. I build that you find it informative, insightful and challenging. More to be revealed!