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Everything posted by Jeffrey

  1. Thank you for sharing your detailed thought process! I'll clarify that last question with a personal statement: It seems to me that creators of Black cultural product (music, art, education, literature, etc.) must first get the approval and qualifications from a white person (a "gatekeeper") to do so. And we seem to dismiss the issue by saying one's not allowed beyond the gate was just not good enough. This is only my suspicion. Should I simply accept my feelings may be wrong?
  2. I've noticed a recent pattern in colleges: increasing numbers of non-Black professors as experts in Black studies (African, Diaspora, American). And I personally question my feelings about it. In some ways, I find myself suspect of institutions that may feel more progressive for what could be described as "color-blind" selections. I've voiced similar concerns over book and media publishing. Awards, opportunities, and acknowledgement have often, in my observation, gone to white makers of Black culture (your favorite white rapper and such) or Black makers established with a white publisher. So, my question: How important is the idea of "own voice" representation? I oscillate on the issue myself. Should I be happy someone is teaching Black studies? Or is it reasonable that I suspect a non-Black candidate may have some advantages over a qualified Black instructor? Should I be happy to see diverse representation even if presented by less-diverse makers? Or should I voice my suspicion that a Black maker seems to have to pass white gatekeepers for the opportunity? None of the above is a firm assertion of opinion. I am curious about your thoughts here on this forum.
  3. I can attest Third World Press is alive and active. I had a brief chance to work with them before the lock down. I believe they have an ongoing fund raiser right now (explained on their web page).
  4. Apologies for the bump. This book is FREE today for review considerations. (No links, but you can figure out where) Thank you for all of your support and engaging discussions this year! I've been able to give away a lot of books in my community and will move on to other things next year.
  5. "The biggest goal in the lives of MOST AfroAmericans is to be accepted and loved by Caucasians. That's all that counts for most of them. ... All they want is for White people to pet them on the head, give them a hug, and tell them how much they love and respect them! That's a "good" White person as far as they're concerned." (I cannot figure out how to use the quote system on this site) Ok, the little picture of the squirrel got me! hahahaha I wasn't even going to chime in. I was enjoying just reading from the sidelines. But it reminds me of a truth in animal behavior. The prey animal's behavior/being is shaped by the predator . . . A bird loses the ability to fly when flight is no longer needed to escape a ground predator. Similarly, many Black people may hold cultural scars. Not individual choices, but learned strategies for survival in these conditions that seem counter-intuitive to an observer . . . Does this squirrel have some innate knowledge about its own fragility we don't understand? Observe: Lil Wayne rejects BLM and promotes gangs instead (1m 20s) What I see in not an individual making a choice, but rather, his logic having been shaped by generational experiences telling him not to screw up his current fortunes.
  6. I think I'm feeling like one of those slightly misprinted BINGO chips you could find in a cheap dollar store set. Like I'm totally in the wrong game...
  7. It feels nice that someone even considered to ask! Thank you! I personally feel sustained stress directly connected to racial injustice is the foundation of most of our problems. Most mental un-wellness is passed down from generation to generation and amplified by world experiences.
  8. Hey, I'm with you. I'm impatient too. There are many areas we need to work on. I see these discussions as a tiny part of that work. I also think the worst thing we could do is mimic what has been successful in people we do not admire. As a kid, I decided I don't want to get financial security using methods proven successful time and time again by people in my community I did not respect. I also don't want my people to seek social domination using tactics I consider wicked. Of course, I don't think anything you wrote suggests we mimic them. I would like to think as we progress, we are looking for a new or different way. Not just a role reversal.
  9. Good points. I've always looked at it as a "join the winning team" strategy. When the Bulls are winning, everyone is a basketball fan, a Bulls basketball fan. When a few European fractions join forces and start profiting, others jump aboard. It becomes something like a pyramid scheme. And we all know pyramid schemes look great until the very last moment of collapse. They're too big to last. And, similarly, the term "white" attempts to unite too many diverse people. I'm positive the term will collapse on itself. Also, 500 years is actually a very short time in human history, in my opinion.
  10. I've always admired the passion and sincerity of your posts, but I strongly disagree with the premise implied. Domination does not equate intelligence nor superiority. In astronomy, it's well accepted that the largest and brightest stars are ALWAYS the shortest-lived. If longevity or resilience are at all a metric, remember, the tortoise and the tyrannosaurus walked the earth at the same time. Only one remains now . . . stationary plants have been around long before either of those creatures . . . the average book worm tends to have a more profitable life than the average athlete. etc. We seem to be discussing a very small fraction of human history. Shortsightedness may make aggression and conquest only seem a winning strategy. Maybe violence / aggression / domination are part of a long-term losing life strategy.
  11. Jabari Jumps is beautifully illustrated and has earned many awards. To be clear, I'm thankful for representation and admire her work. I'm just thinking about the implied problem aloud. Simply put, Black creators are Sisyphus and may never have the opportunity to make up ground. I wonder if race/color SHOULD be immaterial in these cases. I recall a Black History professor at a college I attended was white. He went to a prestigious school. I assumed he was qualified and capable of teaching the subject. Years later, I would reevaluate my assumptions when I met a credentialed but unemployed Black woman in the field. I feel we are conditioned to think, "Maybe she didn't try hard enough. Maybe she's just not as good at teaching Back history as he is." In an ideal world, I would want both to be employed and contributing to the conversation. I mean, is there NOT inherent value in her identity that deserves a space? I believe in my work, but acknowledge it may not be in league with Cornwall's work. That's just capitalism; the best sells. I don't argue with that. I argue the playing field may not even give room for a chance to compete. Here, race/color may be material. I believe you, as a diver, could achieve the same level of success as a diver of any other origin. Jesse Owens already addressed those concerns. Yet, I am from an era where a Black NFL quarterback was still noteworthy. I am interested in addressing another concern: I do not believe you could afford the same level of marketing as a similar company founded yesterday by the son of a rich family. Unless similar entrepreneurs pooled their money to level the field.
  12. TLDR: In a count of 2017 Children's Books, 49 books appearing to feature Black leads had no Black creator involved. These books non-Black authored books by far outpace Black authored works in sales, professional reviews, and awards. Thoughts?
  13. In the recent social awareness of Black conditions, I want to voice some observations as a Black children's book author. It's just off the top of my head, so forgive me if it turns into a rant. A Black authored, Black published, Black distributed project is unlikely to have the capital (money, network, recognition) to market itself against non-Black authored, non-Black published projects. A simple google search for Black children's books today produced ads from B&N and Urban Outfitters(!). I suppose we should be happy for Black content, but I could never hope to "outbid" those companies for ad space. Beyond that, representation is not enough. I am shocked at how often Black books are white authored, white published, white distributed. I don't want to name names, but for example, children's books like "The Story of Rap", "We Love You, Rosie", and "Jabari Jumps" (as well as dozens of others) are entirely white produced and could be misleading to readers hoping to support Black production. This is no critique of the quality of those titles in particular. I have not read them. And I am not saying a white woman cannot write about Black characters. Still, one could also argue her use of the name Jabari may be strategically designed to "take the spot" of a Black author. White voices, arguably, compound the problem by masking the lack of representation with inauthentic voices. And we are all just thankful for representation. Other issues include the tone of Black content offered. Based solely on my own research, celebrated Black children's books often seem limited to oppression narratives or (possibly condescending) self-esteem/validation guides. In this problem, Black is equated with struggle alone and forces Black voices into formulaic tropes. A politically controversial point, is the identities put to the front of Black listings. Although most of us are thankful for progress when we see Barack or Kamala ascend to well-deserved heights in government, I've witnessed debates about when one could expect a full descendant of slaves (or someone born to two Black parents) to find similar levels of success. Does America need to "ease itself in" to diversity with bi-racial Black persons or near-Black persons? This post is no referendum on any of the aforementioned books or authors. Yet, the effort to amplify Black voices in Children's literature should consider these points. The illusion of progress is frustrating because the love for (or indifference to) reading in the next generation may be formed by this generations good but short-sighted intentions. I anticipate some criticism here, but my comments are just an honest, off-the-cuff response to pricing marketing options for my own creative efforts. I simply think the obstacles are too unfair for Black creators to even try.
  14. Sorry, I should have been specific. That offer was @daniellegfny. I don't think I'm anywhere near the experience level of contributing to an established site. Also, the note I sent shows your name and avatar in my messages. It's marked unread. I sent it through your profile.
  15. daniellegfny I haven't used WordPress, but I hear it is very accessible if you are patient. I made my page in notepad with lots of trial and error. This approach requires much more patience, but I have more control. I can talk you through basic HTML and CSS if you'd like assistance. I also want to echo Tony's suggestion to use external companies for some of the trickier parts like shopping carts. Your visitors will have more confidence seeing a familiar company associated with their purchases. Also, why reinvent the wheel? Tony could have made this message board, but someone already did that. It seems better to me for him to use that code and spend time elsewhere. Tony, I sent you a message a while back. Just checking to make sure you noticed it.
  16. This is a really good idea! I started exploring the technical requirements of adding audio clips to an ebook. But in my research the pronunciations differ greatly from dialect to dialect. It's something like a Boston accent to a Mississippi accent. So, I may try to include several variations. Your review was great. You missed the window where it was free (they only allow a few days in a row). Can a reimburse you for the purchase? Also, does anyone know if GoodRead reviews appear on Amazon? I thought Amazon owns GoodReads. It seems they would benefit by having reviews appear in both places.
  17. Thank you so much for the positive review, daniellegfny!
  18. She has the straightest hair I have ever seen.
  19. By both sides, I was referring to the Black/white people dichotomy I felt was implied. But that was just a personal observation, nothing in particular presented to be addressed. I appreciate your perspective. But just to challenge you (I'm not completely sure of my position yet): Could your effort to not waste time also be perceived as a form of indifference? Do we have some level of obligation to the "85ers" (both the ignorant and the indifferent among us)? Like many other, I think my motivation to teach or make books is tempered by feelings of inefficacy. Students don't try. No one cares about a book. Then it's tempting to direct our frustrations at each other ("... my people are so... !") In my opinion, this could be another form of indifference -- the kind where we focus on saving ourselves and not contributing to even the tiny steps those who follow us could build upon.
  20. I know Five Percenters use a similar sleep analogy. The doctrine claims both sides are sleeping. What is the significance of distinguishing ignorance and indifference?
  21. I'm reluctant to add to this conversation, so I'll be brief. I think much of what feels (at least to me) as extreme statements about Black people is really born from frustration and a sincere (and maybe desperate) desire for change. I suspect Black separatists and critics of Black peoples share a common motivation: forcing change. We don't want simple answers, but we don't have time for pondering the complex ones. A hand around my throat triggers a reflex to strike, not contemplate legislation strategies. I write this to say: I'm not sure I believe everything written in this thread. I think some of the statements are designed to trigger an important dialogue in a time where we seem to not recognize the urgency some of us may feel. Marcus Garvey used similar pageantry and emphasis to rally people beyond his intended goal.
  22. Countries have split into two with less cause. Does anyone else see actual division on the horizon?
  23. Interesting responses. I admit I have to stop myself sometimes from making superficial judgments. It doesn't take long for me to remember skin color is not a reliable indication of one's allegiance to a culture. A Black woman in a MAGA hat (I've seen it!) may not likely have more in common with me than, say, a Latinx or Asian woman raised outside of the USA. I don't mind taking pleasure in seeing an impressive Black couple like Barrack and Michelle. But I also recognize my reaction is based on appreciating the odds they must overcome to find on another. Being a Black male in some environments sometimes feels like being an endangered panda or something. The odds of finding a similar mate in the wild is daunting! The search starts with compromises. You may both be in complimentary professions and share hobbies, but you live in different cities and have a socially questionable age gap. That sort of thing. I've trained myself to not make assumptions. I know how hard it is out there. Some have to work with what they have, even making concessions on what they thought their partner's skin color would be. I've never found a wife, so I'm not the best to give advice. This is just my point-of-view at this moment.
  24. Great interview! I appreciated learning about the history of this place in the creator's own words. A fortunate intersection of skills benefits us all.
  25. I appreciate your respective points, @daniellegfny and @Troy. Dick and Jane (or any projection of American values within a nuclear family) would feel at arm's length from my youth and the experiences of most of the Black children I've encountered. I am happy race and color may not affect some of us as immediately as others, but we should all be mindful of those most affected by cultural marginalization. Just recognizing the plurality in your use of the word parents, Danielle, could be a starting point for understanding. I believe it's much more than a marketing issue.
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