July 01, 2020 - By Dean Horowitz

So, why the $100 bill staring you in the face, the eyes of an engraved Benjamin Franklin locked into your own. The Basquiat Crown spray painted and dripping, reminding one of our ambitions. The “JU$T” song title from RTJ4, questioning how education, net worth, and the number of social media followers' distorts our perception of freedom, and instead makes you a slave to each master.

Franklin started life with odds against him. Poor family, one of seventeen children, and without access to an important, aspirational network. In his lifetime he became a “slave master” that JU$T pushes us to escape from under. His powerful presence on currency questions our ability to move from servant to self-realization. His views and actions changed over time. He became President of the Abolition Society which also focused on transitioning slaves to self-mastery through education and employment. He, in a way became a slave to his regret as he came to understand what was “common practice” was wrong.

There is a cognitive dissonance theory called “The Ben Franklin Effect.” It is the “tool” Franklin came up with to turn “haters” into allies. Recognizing his position, he would request from a “hater” a favor that related to shared interests. When the favor was completed, he presented a thoughtful thank you note, and never awkward gestures of repayment. Many studies have been conducted to demonstrate there is a bond created by a direct request from one individual to another... when it involves a favor. It turns hearts. It did for Franklin, as his autobiography explains. It enabled him to overcome an oppressor, not through force, but through commonality.

This issue of commARCH contains many who exited their path to become what Springsteen would call “becoming you own hero.” They are seizing Basquiat's Crown for themselves. Becoming the Franklin worthy of being the face on currency. His eyes are locked into your own.

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