Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Money on the Net: A Revisit

"Wealth is a persons ability to survive so many number of days forward - or, if I stopped working today, how long could I survive?"
- R. Buckminster Fuller

One night I was glued to the computer with a few drinks and cigarettes, a calculator, and 10 or more internet tabs open with everything from online gigs for pocket change, investopedia and marketwatch for investment knowledge, my bank account for moving cash, and my girlfriend screaming for me to go to bed... No matter how much sleep I may lose on those binges, preparing for the day I leave my job(whether fired, laid off, quitting, retirement, or death) is what makes each start of the work week, and work day more bearable....

 This independent study has turned into a weekly, if not almost daily habit. This month I decided to give up smoking and drinking to see how much money I could save and invest in other areas. I was recently studying the book Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki and although I have already been implementing a few of the asset-building activities the author mentions, I welcomed the new perspective on financial literacy concepts. One of the most important is the distinction between an asset and a liability.

Asset = money made whether I work or not
Liability = money spent whether I work or not

So with this new knowledge, we will add on a previous post discussing the opportunities for making money online. Except for number 1, the methods in this list will deal with the idea of generating "passive income" through assets.

1. MTurk is a website powered by Amazon where workers can search for Human Intelligence Tasks("hits") which are posted by other users. The tasks can be as easy as copying text from a business card and taking surveys, to more advanced hits such as transcribing video and audio recordings. The payment for hits can range depending on how complex or time consuming the HIT is. The hard part is reviewing the gigs that make the most sense to perform, and match your working style and interests. You won't get rich, or even replace your current paycheck, but you can make some extra pocket change.

2. Stocks
When you buy stocks, you own a piece of that company. To raise money, companies will often sell partial ownership of the company as a stock in exchange for money. The company uses this money to grow its current business, or fund new ideas and opportunities.

When dealing with the stock market there are a number of ways to make money. The 2 main methods are sales profits and dividends. How you invest depends on your style and financial goals.

Dividends = Money the company pays you for owning the stock.

Dividends are for long term income and saving money for retirement, children's college funds, and other long term events. Dividends are paid out over time - usually every quarter(3 months). Regardless of what the stock's price is, as long as the company is in business, you get paid.

Gains = Money you make after selling the stock for a profit.

  Trading stocks for gains you get the money as soon as the deal is made. You can either reinvest the money on a different stock, or you can keep the cash. There is also more risk here because the value of the stock can cause you to lose money just as easy as it can make money.

3. CD's and Bonds
Certificates of Deposit(CD's) and Bonds are both like a friend giving you an "IOU", but you invest in them for different reason. A CD is bought through your bank, it's another way of saving your money. The bank holds your CD for anywhere from 3 mo to 5 years, depending on how long you agreed they could hold it. When the time is up, the bank pays you interest on the money you let them borrow. This is giving the bank a short term loan.
 Bonds are similar to CDs and work pretty much the same way. The difference is bonds can be bought through a company or a bank. It is a long term loan, usually for 10 years or more. But bonds also normally have a higher interest rate, so more money is made when the bank or company pays you back. 

4. Mutual Funds
Mutual Funds combine stocks, bonds, and CDs with other form of investment into one package. The money for these investments comes from groups of investors pooling their money together. Mutual funds are managed by a broker, who handles what to invest the money in, how long, and when. As an investor you buy a share(or part) of the mutual fund. Whenever the fund makes money, through dividends, gains, or interest, that money is paid out to the owners of the fund in dividends. As the value of the funds investments grow, the price of shares for that fund grows too. You can also sell your shares in that fund for cash.

If you don't feel comfortable researching individual companies, or watching the market for the best deals on stocks, bonds, and CDs, a mutual fund is a convenient investment opportunity. But they are also riskier. Just because you have a broker handling the funds for you, doesn't mean they can't make mistakes.

For those who have experience in the investment field, it works like a game to them - no different than going to the casino. The same way you can hit it big and make a lot of money, you can lose it just as fast. It doesn't take a lot of money to get started, all you need is a bank account. I had only $50 in my account when I bought my first stock. By doing your research and taking educated risks, you can make investments work for you, and make money, while managing it all from your computer.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Post Racial America and Indirect Racism

  Since the end of the Civil Rights and Black Power movement, many white people have tried to distance themselves from being labeled a "racist". Although there are many other methods, the internet has long served as a safe medium for many people to voice their true feelings of other races in this current era called "Post-Racial America". With the beginning of George Zimmerman's murder trial, the judicial diarrhea of the US Supreme Court on the Voting Rights Act of 1964, and Paula Deen's (past) diarrhea of the mouth, the events of this week have removed multiple layers from the "Race Relations" onion of American society.

  There are 2 types of racism, both of which are common in the US, as defined by Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) in his book Black Power : The Politics of Liberation(1967): Individual Racism and Institutional Racism.

  Individual racism is a small scale event between individuals or a small group of people in which one group acts against another based on an ideal that is intentionally or neglectfully racist. Paula Deen's "n-word" jokes are little more than examples of individual racism. Which, for those who didn't know, the law suit against Paula Deen was filed by a white employee, and it is about more than simple "n-word" jokes as described in this article from Black Legal Issues. Another example would be a group of Black guys beating up a white guy, just because he's white. As offensive as it may be, incidents involving individual racism do not have a lasting impact on the target group as a whole. But since it is on a person to person basis, the impact may last for the individuals involved. This factor is what allows racist ideals to be passed from generation to generation.

  Institutional racism is far reaching in the number of people it affects and is usually carried out by a group of people, although individuals can carry out this form of racism as well. This usually occurs when groups of people with racist ideals and states of mind get together - a majority of the time having positions of power. Where, as the picture above states, company policies, law enforcement practices, and legislative practices are created with the intention of harming, or infringing on the rights or progression of a designated group of people. These policies are designed and promoted as resolving a problem, but either intentionally or inherently create disparities through disenfranchisement, harassment, and other abuses of the negatively affected race. Some other race or group of races naturally benefits from it. The support for these forms of institutional racism comes from individual racists who would not want to openly express those views, or would otherwise be powerless to act on those views. Therefore they invest in or vote for, companies and politicians who will be able to deliver policies and business practices that have a similar ring to their racist ideals(although not explicitly stating so). The students of Prairie View A & M University's struggle for voting rights is a prime example of institutional racism, inspired by individual racists. Sporadic incidents of individual racism then begin to occur as a result of the policies and attitudes behind institutional racism.

  The Civil Rights and Black Power movements marked the end of the then commonplace overt racism. The passing of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, overt racism was outlawed. At that point, racial slurs took a back seat in the public eye, and made way for neutral terms like "criminals" and "illegals"(immigrants) to refer to a broad spectrum of people who will be affected by these policies. So we can ultimately define "Post-Racial America" as the period where it's OK to be racist(individually or institutionally) as long as you don't actually say that that is what you are doing. A period of time where race shouldn't matter, but it does, and unless there is a large enough group of people affected by it, there is no sure fire way to identify it.

  With a better understanding of what racism is and the different forms it can take, we can better prepare ourselves to develop and act on solutions to these problems. The problems of racism cannot be eliminated, but, similar to computer security, the threats or affect of those threats of institutional and individual racism can be transferred, delayed, or prevented from reaching fruition. By having a healthy and practical understanding of how racism works and the forms that it can take will help us to educate ourselves and others outside of the race in our continuing struggle is to secure economic, political, and social freedom and self-determination.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Black Silicon Valley

Ironically, I was listening to this song earlier in the day. Then heard Black In America was on.

I thought it was pretty good. As a people, we consume more technology than we produce. And with those working to create their own start-ups being in the NewMe Accelerator program, they already know what trying to break into the industry will be like. The telltale part of the show was when the Indian guy was telling them he had to use a white guy just to get his idea accepted into Silicon Valley. It shows us what the obstacles are and what level we'll have to be on to get known, for those of us in looking to get into the tech industry. But of course, the only way to recieve the best treatment and do business on our own terms is if we have our own cultur/economic centers, a Black Silicon Valley, similar to the Black Wallstreet we've had in the past.
I was in school for computer science... haven't finished the degree yet as I started working full time in anticipation of becoming a father. But I also saw that most of the people they featured on the show never graduated, and actually stopped at the same level that I did. Shows me, and hopefully others in my position that there's still more to struggle for than just getting a job. Takes self-education and motivation though. I've actually got quite a few ideas for software, games, and possible phone apps. Haven't been in school since the Spring semester of 2011, but I've still been trying to pick up where I left off and teach myself what I need to know about these programming languages to make them a reality.

A lot of times people in the conscious community get carried away with the "Matrix" talk and forget, or purposefully ignore, the fact that there are a lot of people who claim to be conscious but are out of touch with the average person that has to work a 9-5 or has dire financial problems that need to be solved.

 I'm not saying that independence shouldn't be or is not the main goal. But it takes money to start and run a nation, and money and skills to start a business. And you have to start small before you can move up to a city-wide, nation-wide or global clientele - all depends on what you're trying to do but the possibilities are endless. Build up clientele through your reputation and so on. I understand all that full well.

On an economically competitive level, we have to have some kind of training or skill development self-taught or otherwise. Nobody's going to do business with a doctor (holistic or not), a computer technician, carpenter, a teacher, etc.. with no training or certification. And if he/she fucks up while performing their job, they can't say "well there's nothing you can do cuz im not a citizen of the country(or a Sovereign Citizen) so the law doesn't apply to me" and not expect an ass whoopin(LOL).

I don't just sit on my ass waiting on someone to give me a hand out. I (1) use long ass facebook comments/conversations like these to write blog posts(
), I recently started doing gigs on, and since i'm not in school right now I've been teaching myself C++ and Python so I can actually create some of the software ideas I've come up with over the years.  There's money on the internet, and technology is and will be one of the many ways that black people will become competitive in the global economy, but unless you have a large following then you're just paying dues and scratching up money where you can. And I'm (2) looking for decent paying jobs that will a) help me develop my skills so i can run my own business, b) have a financial cushion for when I'm not getting much clientele, and c) have some start-up money (primitive capital) to be able to afford more books to further develop my skills and buy better equipment. Until then I've learned how to make do with freeware. Before I buy something I see if there is an equivalent free version. If there isn't then I try to get it cheap, or just do without. It's called survival and anybody with common sense would say that I'm not going to sit on the computer all day and not figure out how to use it to make money - applying for jobs or otherwise. There's more than one way to get up, get out, and get something.

(Updated 6/22/13) I have also attained the COMPtia A+ Certification, and I am currently studying to get the Network+ and Security+ certifications. The ultimate goal is to turn my knowledge and skills in computer repair and maintenance from a side hustle to an independent business. So once things pick up and when I get out my situation I can go back to the youth on the street in the same situation I came out of and say "I was in the same situation and this is one way to get out of it." But to do that you have to be in tune with the masses of the people, specifically the youth, because they're the main ones who need to be reached. They're the ones who make up the statistics that conscious people rant and rave over but preach to the choir (other conscious people) about, or teach the congregation (the masses) shit that goes over their heads or does nothing to solve their immediate, every-day, real life problems. If you're out of touch with those people, then no matter how you dress up your presentation they're either not going to listen, or they're going to give you more credit and power than you deserve which is no good for them. And that's the shit that I'm saying needs to stop.

Starting a nation and all that is good, like I've said before doing business and living under traditional African principles is a great goal. BUT focusing on starting a nation and developing our own laws and currency and all that is jumping the gun when the people you're supposed to be reaching can't or don't know how to pay their bills and fight dictators and corrupt politicians in the country they're living in now. And unless there are safeguards in place that the masses of the people know how to utilize, then those same masses that exist today on the bottom rung of society will exist in that future nation. They will be the worker ants of that new nation without a pot to piss in while they put money in the pockets of a new dictator with a black face. Denouncing your citizenship to where you don't have to pay taxes to America or any other European nation is all good and well but you have to have another nation to go to and a means of getting there or creating it (and PROTECTING it).

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Petition for Mumia

Mumia Abu-Jamal

When I was 6 and 7 years old, my mom used to listen to NPR while she was dropping me off at school. There would always be a segment of a man speaking. I didn't really understand what he was talking about, but one thing that stuck with me was the ending "From death row, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal". I've always researched Black history and when I got in my teens, I remembered that name. I looked it up, and read about the Panthers, and further into Mumia himself. I started listening to and reading his commentary on a regular basis 4 years ago. I also had the chance to look at some of his court transcripts and found that he initially had not been given adequate resources to defend himself. Abu-Jamal has been fighting for his life and freedom for decades. He recently won a battle to be taken off of Death Row. Since then, as opposed to being placed in the general population, Mumia has been placed in the Hole.

I think that Mumia's case and others like his should open up legislation as well as discussion about citizen's rights to defend themselves and others against police abuse (violent or not), under a clear cut set of circumstances. We know that some officers have in the past, and will in the future abuse their power and take advantage of any group they so decide to discriminate against. But their power to protect and serve does not mean that we should be placed as permanent victims of their brutality, railroading, abuse, as well as the condition of minority Political Prisoners, and the causes that lead one to become a political prisoner.

Support Mumia Abu-Jamal

Monday, January 9, 2012

Money On the Net: Tips for Surviving the Recession

    Since the internet became a common platform for communication, it has given many the opportunity to take control of their finances that may not have existed otherwise. Whether it is through online stores, blogs, advertising, or performing jobs remotely, if you are willing to put in the time and effort you can find a method to make money, and a website to do the job. There is opportunity to make any amount from small change, to a regular paycheck, to setting yourself on a road to riches. As long as you have access to a computer and the internet, you are capable of making money.

   The down side to doing business on the internet is that there are millions, if not billions of people providing the same services, writing, developing web sites, and applying for the same job/contract that it usually takes a large effort of scraping and scratching to make a decent paycheck online. But still, in order to make money, you have to get in where you fit in and draw the traffic/business with your own style of getting things done.

   Some of the sites that I would suggest to make money online (aside from blogging) include fiverr and craigslist. oDesk is another option, but for those working in the West, it is hard to compete with some of the rates that workers in the east are willing to perform a job for. Getting a job on either oDesk, or fiverr takes a lot of work, but once you build up a reputation in these online working communities, you will be well on your way to making money on your own. You will not get rich right away, but you can definitely earn some gas/lunch money while you work your way up to a decent pay check.

   Learning to make money online is one of the ways that the Black community and others in the working class will be able to bridge the "digital divide". It is important that we take advantage of opportunities and create opportunities for ourselves, especially in these times. It would do us a lot of justice if we focused more on becoming producers in the internet/technology arena more than consumers. We create the trends that the world over follows, yet we don't profit from any of it.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

If I Were Black On the Internet

The Jerk

Since I've started learning more about money and the Internet, I've come to see how certain habits we as humans have translated from the real world to cyberspace. One specific example is our tendency to herd towards things that could potentially harm us, or have no affect on us at all, all in search of the thrill of seeing and discussing shocking, sometimes distasteful, and almost always taboo subjects and events.

Recently, a Forbes Magazine author posted an article called "If I Were a Poor Black Kid". News feeds all over the net had something to say about the article. Black publications on, and possibly even off, the net are publishing their own articles, essays, and Facebook comments in response to the buzz that this man's article has created. Of course within the Black community this has created another fighting ground between the political and social camps of those who agree with the author’s statements and those who disagree. Of course, everyone is a critic, and entitled to their opinion. Regardless of what the author’s true intentions behind writing the article, or what anyone may think about him or the article itself, one thing everyone seems to have forgotten is that someone (Forbes) is making money from the attention we’re giving it. It doesn’t matter whether he had good intentions or bad intentions behind writing the article. We’ve made it too easy for people outside of the Black community to make money from putting their 2 cents in about our community, its condition, or the reasons for its condition. When someone says something insulting or degrading about the Black community, we flock to their doors just to see/hear them say it again. It speaks volumes about how little many of us understand about how money is made on the internet.

This situation with this article and others like it – even in other forms of media - is the same. Online, businesses get paid based off the number of viewers coming to their site, as well as any products or services they may sell. So all the people who went to that page to read it just so they could disagree and post comments on the page, or posted the link for others to go back and read it are STILL PUTTING MONEY IN THE AUTHOR AS WELL AS FORBES’ POCKET. Kind of like when Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre made The Chronic dissing Eazy E. Eazy still got paid royalties for every song Dr. Dre made on that album.

If you hear gunshots or see smoke, you don’t run in that direction to see who/what/when/where/why. We run the OTHER way. It’s a survival tactic, right? Well the same way we apply that tactic to preserve our physical wellbeing, we should start applying it to our financial and mental well being as well. If someone says that an article, or other form of media is disrespectful to us and it goes viral, then as a people instead of leading others to go see/read it, we should ignore it. It can be viral in every other community all it wants to be, it should stop when it gets to us. Which would have some type of impact, given that studies show we have the highest online presence - especially in social media. Now of course, people will still read the article. The thing is, we shouldn't continue to include ourselves in those publicizing and discussing it. Now once the smoke clears, of course let's go in picking it apart to see (being honest with ourselves) what we can take from it to preserve or improve our condition – and leave the rest where it is.

The attention and money that companies get for publishing this kind of content takes away from the web hosts, writers, artists, and businesspersons who have something worthwhile to offer their communities, their respective social group, and the world. That’s not to say that we should only take in moral, uptight, or politically correct media and content ALL the time. But let’s make sure that we’re not helping the trapper by flocking to it.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Power and Discussion

Where do Black people fit into the Occupy Wall Street Movement? Although most would like to approach the OWS movement with a colorblind view, it's not realistic. There are problems that the Black community has that other ethnic groups don't have. Given that fact, the black community has to find some medium to discuss those problems and brainstorm viable solutions to them. This can't be done within the arena of OWS, or can it? Where there are similar problems we work to solve them with groups affected the same way. Where there are exclusive problems, we deal with them as an exclusive group.

Generally, when black politics are brought up in a racially heterogeneous setting most of those concerns and claims, no matter how legitimate, will be vehemently attacked. If we identify problems and their causes, people say we're complaining. If we identify solutions to our specific problems, people say we are being racist, divisive, exclusionary, and the like. Both types of responses are generally used to beat around the bush of the race issues in economics, politics, and society in general as opposed to dealing with the issue as it is. At least that is the experience that many blacks currently, or at one point, within the OWS movement have observed. The same goes for many who have attempted to present a black social or political platform to a mainstream audience in any setting throughout history. There's no doubt that there are plenty of blacks present at the Occupy protests in various cities. But are any problems native to the Black community being addressed? The short answer would be "No". The long answer is more complex.

The issues being addressed by the Occupy movement have a large impact on the economic and political well-being of the United States as a whole. The solutions that will eventually arise from the movement will undoubtedly have an impact on the Black community, as it will on all communities. But the question is what type of impact will it have? Given the possibilities, we should maintain a strong presence at the protests, general assemblies, and political actions when they are carried out. But to be effective, we must also work to address problems that are specific to our own community. For too long, we have allowed laws in the US to be made ABOUT us and not for us. There is a difference. A law made about black people can have a positive or negative affect. Regardless, it has some degree an intended affect on the black community.

The best way to do that would be outside of the OWS arena, in exchange for one that is more hospitable to the subjects of Black self-actualization and self-determination. But that discussion shouldn’t stay outside of the OWS arena. To ensure the success and widespread acceptance of the solutions to the problems that Black people face, I think it would be most effective to hold 3 different discussions: (1) a discussion on the solutions to our own economic and political problems, (2) A discussion on the solutions to problems of mainstream America that affect our community, (3) A discussion for how we can take advantage of the OWS movement whether our own resolutions pass or fail , and finally (4) A discussion that would involve tailoring our arguments and agenda in such a way that we don’t have to mention “black”, “African”, “African American”, or “minority” that can be presented and discussed in the arena of OWS. The results of the OWS general assemblies and the success of the new resolutions should be recorded and brought back to the independent table of the black community, and the process repeated until the movement ends.

In the end, we should have developed an understanding that these resolutions would benefit us without exclusively mentioning so. These would give our communities leverage by which we could secure enough power to become independent and self-determined as a people. This is how the ruling class has done it for centuries. They only made laws and rules specifically mentioning whites after they had secured enough power to limit intervention. If we expect to survive in the current political and economic climate, we’ll have to learn to adapt and take advantage of the same method. All in all, it would be foolish for us to completely neglect the OWS movement, but also equally ignorant to ignore using the momentum to fuel our own. The Occupy The Hood  movement seems to be heading in that direction.