Watts,CA—Watts is a historically marginalized community within Los Angeles County and has endured its fair share of challenges over the years. Yet amidst the struggles, Watts native “Stix” refuses to let the prevailing stereotypes dictate the futures of his peers. He remains focused on reshaping the narratives particularly surrounding Black men in the inner city, proving they possess boundless potential and the capacity to rise above the limitations imposed by society.
“We’ve been misguided. Even my generation growing up with whatever type of content or information that was distributed to us on a mass scale.”Brandon “Stix” Salaam-Bailey
Born Brandon Salaam-Bailey, Stix is a seasoned figure in the Hip-Hop industry, viewing music not only as a means of artistic expression, but also as a tool for social impact. Most importantly, Salaam-Bailey understands that his actions off the stage, are as equally influential. With a deep sense of responsibility Salaam-Bailey actively engages in philanthropic endeavors, community outreach programs, and advocacy initiatives.
L.A’s inner cities have historically been breeding grounds for systemic neglect and disempowerment of poor Black and Latino folks. With a focus on equitable resource distribution, Salaam-Bailey has created a powerful network through his Think Watts Foundation that connects those in need, with the support and opportunities they deserve.
For over 16 years Salaam-Bailey has worked to uplift and empower those who have been historically overlooked within the confines of the Watts community he was raised in. His goal is to make sure resources reach those who have been impacted most, within the challenging landscape of L.A County.
Most recently, the Think Watts Foundation hosted their third annual Juneteenth block party, with a special emphasis on empowering local vendors and promoting group economics within the community. In addition to musical guests, food and vendors, the Watts Juneteenth celebration was an opportunity for both Black and Latino residents to reflect on the resilience of the African-American community.
“My goal has always been to bring history, education and community together and we succeeded. This was our third year and the biggest one so far. Every year the goal remains the same of bringing everyone together to enjoy supporting each other and spending money with those who live in your same neighborhood.”Brandon Salaam-Bailey
In addition to a food distribution network in Watts that extends to a partnership with Dyckman Park & Food Bank New York City, Salaam-Bailey offers the community access to tools and education around financial literacy. His forward-thinking approach to addressing the issue of financial education for Watts residents has captured the attention of major companies like Mastercard.
Recognizing the impact of his work, Mastercard has extended support by offering collaboration opportunities and valuable resources to Salaam-Bailey’s Think Watts Foundation.
“You can’t be financially free until you know finance.”Brandon Salaam-Bailey
Salaam-Bailey has also found support in another company, Primestor Developments, known for a commitment to social consciousness in urban real estate ventures. Primestor has extended a helping hand to Salaam-Bailey, offering him a seat at the table on significant developments in the Watts community. One notable project is the newly constructed Freedom Plaza, which includes popular retail stores like Starbucks.
Freedom Plaza is accompanied by a $1 Billion investment to demolish and revitalize the historic Jordan Downs housing projects, transforming them into modern and sustainable apartment units.
Discussing his future plans, Salaam-Bailey recognizes the potential impact of opportunity zones within inner city communities, and he is determined to seize this opportunity. Salaam-Bailey also has plans to establish data centers that boost the Watts community by generating job opportunities and sustainable income.
Salaam-Bailey is passionate about nurturing talent within the community, aiming to provide training and education for aspiring data scientists, equipping them with the skills needed for a promising future. With a blend of vision and practicality, his initiatives hold the potential to create a brighter and more prosperous future for those living in the inner city of Watts.
Amidst all his endeavors, Salaam-Bailey’s most significant commitment remains to his family. As a devoted husband to his wife Felicia, he takes great pride in raising their three children together. Supporting his wife’s vision and her brand, “Muuvement By Fee,” is another key priority for Salaam-Bailey.
Felicia’s captivating Instagram account has garnered immense popularity, boasting over 100,000 followers and an astonishing 10,000,000+ views. Her platform celebrates Black love, showcasing vibrant videos of her dancing in her colorful mumu’s all across Salaam-Bailey. This powerful duo exemplifies love, creativity, and unity, capturing the hearts of their community and beyond.
“There are a lot of things growing up that people said were not cool, which was actually the way you needed to go.”Brandon Salaam-Bailey
Follow: @Thinkwattsfoundation @Wattstix @fee_143 @muuvementbyfee