Marcus Bedford is the author-illustrator of “Niggerable Offense: Are You A Violator?” a book navigating to the center of cultural responsibility by way of self-reflection. All areas of life are a touchstone when deep diving into to how such offenses are committed and by whom. The book’s subtitle; “Are You A Violator?” directly prompts its readers to access their own life actions. An absolute must read for the anyone looking to improve themself, their relationship with others and community.
By LaMar Anderson | April 22, 2021 | 6:00am
Please tell me your first and last name and the name of your business, and then spell each one.
My name is Marcus Bedford, the name of my business is called Cali*carceration7,
Can you tell us about your business and what you’re offering today in Leimert? I see that there’s both a book and apparel.
Okay. Today in Leimert, what I’m offering is, like you mentioned, a book, and I also make t-shirts. The book is called “Niggerable Offense: Are You a Violator?” The book is about how we, as Black people in America, how we disrespect our own culture, and it really makes us look bad in front of other people. However, it’s really not about the other people. It’s about us. Us having self-awareness and understanding that we are greater than we give ourselves credit to be.
Also, my apparel line is all shirts. Everything that I create on my line is created by me, is thought up by me, which from my standpoint has more meaning than me out here just selling random stuff. I don’t knock any entrepreneur that’s out here in the Black community, just trying to be an entrepreneur out here, but for myself, I like the creativity, and at the same time, bring awareness to the culture.
Is this your first self-published work as an author with the book “Niggerable Offense” or a continuation in a series? What’s the book about, and how did the idea for this work start?
When did you start the business? Was it this year 2021 or last year 2020?
The business itself, I’ve been writing, drawing, copywriting my own cartoons, like 2008. But it really wasn’t a business then. It really didn’t become a business until 2019. Other than that, I was drawing freelance for different newsletters, different social media, different websites, advocacy groups. I self-published the book. I really didn’t look at it as a business. It was just me bringing awareness.
The plus side was that people were buying the book. That was a plus. Yeah, that’s how I started.
Okay. Actually, “Niggerable Offense” is not my first published work. My actual first published work were cartoons. I actually draw comic cartoons. That’s where Calicarceration7 came from. Calicarceration7 was my way of bringing awareness and also enlightenment on the prison system in the State of California through the way of cartoons. Because I saw a cartoon once written by a person that’s never been to prison.
I thought that that was odd, so what I did was I taught myself how to draw comics and decided to just put it together. You know what I mean? That was my very first published work. I’ve been published in the San Francisco Bay View newspaper, The Movement in Philadelphia, and a newspaper overseas in Berlin actually saw one of my cartoons. They decided to publish it in one of their magazines over there.
“Niggerable Offense” was a stepping stone from going from art to actual literature writing. That book was actually created in prison. It was written in prison and inspired by my own niggerable offenses. It was also a way for me to give back to the community and change the narrative of my life as well. Showing that other people have come through the fire, and when I say the fire, I mean that hard struggle of walking through prison or going to prison, that you can come out and still shine.
You can come out and be a better person. You can come out and be a pillar in the community. You can come out and support other people. It’s just a way to give back for all the taking that we do when we’re in our youth. We don’t think about giving back. We’re only thinking about taking when we’re young. That’s my way of giving back by bringing awareness and changing the narrative.
Was your life transition due to having been incarcerated? Did you make the switch from comics via a mental or direction of life shift that prompted you to write “Niggerable Offense”?
No. It was all-inclusive. It was just a natural transformation because once you become aware, now everything in your existence is awareness.
You know what I mean? That’s the way I saw my transition. It was just once I became aware while in prison, and realizing what I need to do when I come home, was the way for me to just continue to evolve. Because that’s what change is. Change is going to happen. Regardless of whether it’s going to happen for the positive or the negative, it’s going to happen. So when you’re in prison, and you want to come out and be somebody, then that change has to be positive.
It was just a natural progression for me to just go from one to the next. From that to being out here in Leimert, within my community, celebrating our culture, and at the same time celebrating being entrepreneurs out here. I love the vibe out here; everybody’s out here trying to just start their life, or jumpstart their life, or get a new start. It’s all out here. The vibe and the energy is just live.
What about the support you’ve had and have; since coming home, deciding, “Okay, I want to write and publish, as well as create my own opportunity by starting a business.” was there support for you? Also, was entrepreneurship a part of your family growing up? How has that been for you?
The support has been tremendous. From day one, my family supported me. I got the support of my community; I got the support of my church. Having those things is a blessing. I don’t take those things for granted because not everybody has them; not everybody has that opportunity to have that kind of support system. So it’ll be less of me not to take advantage of the support system I have to do it, use it for good and not for something bad. Yes, that’s the one thing we can never underestimate, the power of support.
Whether it’s somebody giving me encouraging words to go out there and do it, or somebody actually buying the t-shirt or buying the book—all that matters, all that matters.
Have you grown up in the Los Angeles area? Are you from this area?
Yes. I was born in Fox Hill Hospital. I used to actually live off of Crenshaw. Crenshaw, a little past Slauson. I actually grew up over there, and then moved to Long Beach, and then Cerritos, and went off to college, all of that stuff. So yeah, I grew up in this area. I used to get my hair cut right here on Crenshaw at this barbershop. It’s no longer there anymore, but when I was a kid, I used to get my hair cut over there, at the barbershop. I don’t even know if it’s still there anymore, but that’s where I got my first messed-up haircut. Nicked me right here in the front of my head, nicked my afro when I was a kid; sure did. I still remember that vividly.
What is Leimert Park or the Crenshaw-Baldwin Hills area mean to you, previously growing up here?
As they say, this is our Black Beverly Hills, where you can come out here and feel comfortable to be around your own people. Every now and then, you’ll get those downsides, but for the most part, it’s all positive. Since I’ve been coming out here, since October , it’s always been nice. The vibe and the energy, it’s always been good. Just talking to people when they see my t-shirts or my book, and they ask questions. Even if I don’t sell a book, I still appreciate the time.
As people don’t realize, time is the most valuable thing you have. That is THE most valuable. Once it’s lost, you can never get it back. Once it’s lost, it’s gone. That’s it. So just when people come and take the time to just stop and look and ask, “Hey, what’s the book about?” I can share with them a few lines from the book. That might plant the seed of awareness for that person. For that, I can say I did my due diligence, and I did my duty in my community to bring some kind of awareness about the culture.
Who is the intended audience for which “Niggerable Offense” speaks to or engages through awareness and self-reflection?
Niggerable Offense is speaking to our culture and yourself and indirectly speaking to people that’s not Black or that’s not African-American. That’s what the book is about. It speaks to the culture itself, and it’s a way for you to self-reflect. So it’s speaking to yourself, but like I said, it also speaks indirectly to other cultures and other people of non-Black descent of non-African descent.
“Niggerable Offense” has some poetry in it. It has a few quotes in it. However, its main focal point is about the things that we do today. Even if you go and look at the book, I wrote the book ten years ago, and those things that I wrote about it in the book ten years ago it’s still relevant today. So in a sense, that book is timeless because it doesn’t matter what decade you’re in that book; as long as niggerable offenses are being committed, it’s still viable. It’s still relevant.
For those who might not know, can you describe or define what ‘niggerable’ means for anybody who isn’t aware?
“Niggerable”; We all know that in America, Black people were called “niggers”.
Well, my definition of a “nigger” is just someone who’s ignorant. So if you’re ignorant, that means you’re going to do ignorant things. So, ‘niggerable’, ‘nigger-able’, doing ignorant things that’s offensive. Offensive to who? Offensive to the culture, offensive to our ancestors that came over here. So, Niggerable Offense: Are You a Violator? Speaking directly to you, are you a violator? I guarantee, as they say, no man is without sin; no man shall cast a stone. Right? With that being said, I know I was a niggerable offender. You know what I mean?
With that, now that I have the awareness, I go out of my way and stay conscious of not to, because at the same time, if you’re not offending your culture, nine times out of ten, you’re not offending society. See what I’m saying? Even though they’re separate, they’re all in one. That’s what niggerable offenses are. If you go in the book, you’ll see I talk about regular street guys to corporate guys, to people that got good jobs, to people who are in prison. The range is wide; the spectrum is wide. So anybody can read the book and ask that question, “Are you a violator?” Then that’s a moment where you can come to truth with yourself.
How truthful are you being with yourself? Because if you say, “No, I’ve never done nothing. I’ve never committed…” then you’re probably lying. That’s how many topics I’ve touched in this book.
Spring of 2021is in full swing. What are some of the things you’re excited about yourself, professionally, creatively, or just as an African man in this community? What are some of the things that you’re excited about this year?
The present and the future, that’s it. Live day to day, live life the best way you can every day. Make a difference every day, learn something new every day. That’s what I’m looking forward to. If you can do that every day, I guarantee you, you will be a better person. You know what I mean? That’s how I just try to live my life. Like I said, time is the most precious thing we have, so don’t waste it. Don’t waste it.
Those seeking to create opportunities for themself such as yourself, bring forth their creativity or business, and be a part of the community. Any advice?
My advice is to do it. Write it down, add a vision, see it and do it. That’s it. Don’t talk about it. Visualize it, then do it. Say it one time, write it down, see it and do it. That’s it. That’s the advice I could give anybody that’s on the fence. Disregard the negative; accept the positive. When it’s coming from somebody else, you have to recognize the source. If the person is bringing negative energy, look at the source. If the person is bringing positive energy, look at the source.
You got to go to the source, and then you make your determinant if you need to accept that or reject that. That’s the positive I could give. That’s the advice I can give any young brothers or anybody. Anybody, you don’t have to be an African-American. It could be anybody. Just do it. Not to take from Nike, but in reality, that’s what it is, man. You can’t sit and just talk about it because I’ve heard one slogan says, “Only thing that comes to a dreamer is sleep.”
Right? If you’re always dreaming about doing it, then you’re sleeping. Eventually, you got to wake up and actually do it. That would be the advice I would give to any Black man that’s out there that don’t think he can start his own business, or do some good in the community, or just be helpful in the community.
How can we connect with Marcus? How can we support your works?
You can reach me at [email protected] My Instagram is @antonecalijoneson. My online store is teespring.com/stores/calicarceration7. That’s my online store where you can see all my products that I’ve created and my own line.
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