James Felton Keith II (born September 25, 1981, in Detroit, Michigan), commonly referred to by his initials JFK or JFKii, is an American engineer, author, and serial entrepreneur. In 2018 Keith was the first Black American representative of the LGBT community to run for the United States House of Representatives in New York's 13th congressional district. He was one of the earliest advocates for individual ownership of personal data, and the economic value of it as a catalyst for a capitalistic implementation of Universal Basic Income.
James founded the Basic Income March in 2019 via the Income Movement to structure marches across three continents. As an entrepreneur Keith founded many companies including the conference Personal Data Week, FinTech analytics firm Accrue.com, the Detroit Regional LGBT Chamber of Commerce, and the Queer TV network Slay TV.
Keith has been a lobbyist for the codification of personalized data as a natural resource owned by persons, in an effort to achieve his goal of basic income. In Denmark at the end of a European tour of his books, while addressing the Prime Minister and the national insurance pensions, he commented on the international success of the General Data Protection. Keith defined '"personal data" as a micro-personalized form of big data while searching for a mechanism to measure the value of people's contribution to the productivity of their surrounding society.
On the notion that personal data is a natural resource, Keith founded the International Personal Data Trade Association and produced the conference series Personal Data Week. When interviewed by the British data industry paper Internet of Me, Keith elaborated on thoughts about human value measured by data:
I'm not necessarily as concerned about control over my data as much as I am of having the right to have some agency over its cumulative value and the right to retaliate when I think my data is being used in inequitable or unethical ways.
As a candidate for Congress, Keith has been compared to Andrew Yang, another advocate for a universal basic income (UBI). Where Yang frames UBI as protection against automation, Keith connects his version directly to widespread concerns about personal data. Keith argues that every American deserves a payout because data about them is a direct input to the profits of today's big corporations.
Universal basic income
Having announced a candidacy for US Congress in 2020, Keith met with Pressenza before the North American Basic Income Guarantee Congress which was held in East Harlem, a neighbourhood in his congressional district. He stated that a universal basic income is an opportunity to pay the people based on the value of the community. If the money were to come from the government, then the government could only give what it takes from the people, but Keith says his vision for UBI is not a tax and the money does not come from the government, but rather from the 5.3 million companies in the United States. In 2019 JFK founded the Basic Income March via the organization Income Movement in order to as he says 'finish the work of Martin Luther King Jr.' and make Universal Basic Income actionable instead of academic.
In his 2017 book Personal Data Keith explained how he was previously against the idea of universal basic income because of its 20th century welfare connotations. He then endorsed the strategy based on a royalty for personal data. Confirming that sentiment he told The Sociable that universal basic income is the best way to distribute an equity stake in productivity. He suggested that the guaranteed income would be necessary even without technological automation.
Human rights work
In 2013 he established the Keith Institute with the objective of establishing economic and educational inclusion alongside his sister Kharena Keith Coleman, an educator and researcher. The institute is used to divide his economic and education work.
A lifelong human rights protester across multiple movements, JFK has lead marches with Black Lives Matter at the US Department of Justice building in support of an indictment for the death of Eric Garner in Washington, DC.
After an alleged racist and homophobic attack on actor Jussie Smollett, Keith lead a solidarity rally in New York to say "This is bigger than Jussie." Keith spoke about his reluctance to hold his husband's hand in public out of fear of having bottles thrown at them.
An economic activist, he is responsible for the first LGBT Pride games in all four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. During the first pride night at an NFL franchise, he was noted to have engaged the "great equalizer" for LGBT rights in the same way civil rights era activists engaged the business of professional sports.
Keith served as CEO of the Detroit Regional LGBT Chamber of Commerce, an affiliate of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. Keith alleged that he was fired from the Mayor of Detroit Mike Duggan's cabinet for building the chamber of commerce.
In 2015 he cofounded Slay TV with Sean Torrington and Terry Torrington, which provides television content for Queer people of color. In 2016 he founded the Personal Data Week conference via the International Personal Data Trade Association to explore data as a natural resource among all corporate productivity.
Documentaries, videos and podcasts