Steve Harrison On Sylvester Stallone’s Big Lesson For You

Of course, this video is a sales pitch (incidentally, I’ve gotten several useful ideas from listening to some of Mr. Harrison’s free teleseminars). Nevertheless, the video also explores several valuable lessons for lifestyle optimization.

  • Take action.
  • Be prepared to take advantage of your breakthrough moment when it arrives.
  • Cultivate a success team that supports your goals.
  • Ignore haters and bad-faith doubters. Haters are a by-product of any and every level of success.
  • Ignore good-faith doubters who try to separate you from your dream; and insert somebody else into the starring role in your dream.

The haters and bad-faith doubters are fairly easy to identify. The good-faith doubters are a more subtle problem. They’re not directly or even deliberately trying to destroy your dream. Instead, they want to “help” you by convincing you that you’re not good enough to be the star in your dream. That the starring role in your dream is only appropriate for somebody else. And that you need to be satisfied with some lesser role in your dream. This is what was going on when the otherwise helpful producers wanted to insert other, well-known actors into the starring role in Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky script. It was good for Mr. Stallone that he had the self-confidence to resist that. The decision to insist upon starring in his own dream changed the course of his life.

African-American women are literally surrounded by friends and family haters and doubters who are busy telling them what they “can’t” have, do, or be. And what lesser things and circumstances they “must” settle for. In fact, there’s currently an entire mini-industry of secular Black men who give relationship advice to Black women, and African-American Christian preachers of both genders, who are making a lot of money by telling Black women that they must settle for inferior men and inferior life circumstances. A number of Sunni (“orthodox”) Muslim Black men are recommending even more deranged ideas to African-American women, such as acceptance of polygamy and wife-beating.

More African-American women need to learn to ignore all of these people.

Potential breakthrough moments happen more often than we realize. Most people miss these opportunities because they haven’t prepared themselves to take advantage of them whenever they arrive. Will you be ready when your breakthrough moment arrives?

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40 Responses to “Steve Harrison On Sylvester Stallone’s Big Lesson For You”

  1. Aisha says:

    Great post! I’ve always said that family and friends can be your biggest detractors because they actually have your best interests at heart and you care what they think. However, they are often trying to impose their own limitations on YOU, without realizing it. I think it’s better to keep your dreams to yourself if you don’t have supportive people around.

    The story about “Rocky” reminds me of something I read in Donna Summer’s autobiography. She did a demo of the song “Bad Girls” and brought it to her record label. The head of the record label, Neil Bogart, actually tried to maker her give the song to Cher! Donna said no way, and kept it for herself. She states that the song went on to become the biggest hit of her career.

  2. Aisha,

    Thank you for your kind words about the post; I truly appreciate it. You said, “I’ve always said that family and friends can be your biggest detractors because they actually have your best interests at heart and you care what they think. However, they are often trying to impose their own limitations on YOU, without realizing it. I think it’s better to keep your dreams to yourself if you don’t have supportive people around.”

    Exactly! Good-faith doubters are more dangerous than the other types of detractors because: (1) you’re more likely to trust them; and (2) they sincerely believe they’re helping you by discouraging you away from your dream.

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.

  3. Anilia says:

    Great post Khadija! I don’t understand why we don’t just ignore the naysayers. Most of the people who try to give advice about what you can and can’t achieve haven’t tried to achieve the goal that you’re discussing anyway! So we allow others to rain on our parades when its our lives at stake, not theirs. Others value comfort more than happiness and don’t care that their doubt poisons your dreams.

    • Amanda says:

      With some it’s a easier to ignore, but with people who do have your best interest at heart etc. are going to be harder, because you value their opinion more than probably the girl you work with that’s just being nasty and assumes because you both share the same skin color you are going to listen to hear.

      With sincere family it can be as innocent seeming as are you sure about that etc. without meaning to be mean while the girl at work smacks her lips, rolls her eyes or makes fun of you for wanting to do so and so.

      • Amanda says:

        Oh and my grandmother told me that what I wanted to do was just dreams (when I wanted to start a business as a child) I was making my own money. I cried and my mother told me not to not listen to that and keep on doing what I was doing.

        She also made it hard for me to go to film school by saying she couldn’t get the money when she could have. She even said that she didn’t want me to go and do this. She said I should get in computer programming because that’s where the moneys at.

        Needless to say I really don’t visit much. My mom had to get me to go Christmas, call birthdays (I try to keep little contact)Then again considering the source she’s a negative person. I love her really do, but I can love her from afar. My uncle I think questioned it only because he was worried about what would happen to me by myself in Florida, but basically was happy that I wanted to do it.

  4. Jules says:

    What an inspirational story, never knew this at all. I don’t think I will look at Sylvester Stallone the same ever again.

    I remember once when I was unemployed, and I was offered a job immediately, but something kept telling me to wait for the other job which would take a month to come true. Trust me I needed a job real bad, down to my last penny, but I just felt that I should wait for the other job. In the end my decision to wait just a while longer proved to be the best choice. Trust yourself folks, the answer is always within you!!

  5. Tee says:

    I think when we express our goals/dreams, naysayers feel that a light will shine on their lack of mobility. Nothing good thrives in the dark- mold,cockroaches,etc.

    My 15 year old son is studying piano with dreams of majoring in music. He would like to one day score motion pictures, direct a chorus,and teach.

    I often tell him to seek out those who are better musicians than he, and be in their company so he will become a better pianist.

    I remind him to be very careful of the company he keeps, and to be very selfish with his dreams.

  6. Anilia,

    Thank you for your kind words about the post; I truly appreciate it. You said, “I don’t understand why we don’t just ignore the naysayers. Most of the people who try to give advice about what you can and can’t achieve haven’t tried to achieve the goal that you’re discussing anyway!”

    I think there are multiple things going on with this type of situation.

    There’s the normal human instinct to want to stay with the herd. In many contexts, relative safety is found within the herd, and stragglers and nonconformists get taken out. However, I believe that AAs take that normal human instinct to extreme and insane levels. The mass AA cultural message is, “Stick with the herd; even if the herd is in a cage. And even if the herd is running full steam off a cliff.”

    Also, the reality is that it’s scary to do something that nobody around you has ever done. It’s anxiety-inducing to be a trailblazer. So, we often listen to the good-faith doubters because doing so gives us a “justifiable” reason to retreat from the scary business of being a trailblazer, and back into our cramped, little comfort zone. There’s a certain false sense of security in our ruts and our routines.

    I’ve noticed since college that most AAs are only willing to do things that have a well-worn path of other AAs having done it. That’s why so many AAs restrict their international travel to the Caribbean—there’s a well-worn path of other AAs flocking to visit those islands.
    ___________________________________________

    Jules,

    You said, “What an inspirational story, never knew this at all. I don’t think I will look at Sylvester Stallone the same ever again.”

    It’s always been easy for people to dismiss Sylvester Stallone (speech impediment, body builder, blue-collar accent, and so on). But he wrote several of the Rocky movies’ scripts. And he managed to have a film career that lasted over several decades.

    Yes, as you noted, trusting your own first gut reaction and your own instincts is often the key to a good outcome.
    ___________________________________________

    Tee,

    You said, “I think when we express our goals/dreams, naysayers feel that a light will shine on their lack of mobility. Nothing good thrives in the dark- mold,cockroaches,etc.”

    Guurl, you ain’t never lied! LOL! Talk is cheap. And in many contexts, people have developed an insincere “rap” and patter about various topics. Very few functional people will come out and say, “I’m comfortable in my rut. I don’t want to reach any higher.” Talking like that makes you sound dysfunctional. So, they talk the talk of self-actualization.

    But when one of the herd members actually takes action and therefore starts to pull away from the “talk-only” herd, then some other herd members start to feel threatened.

    A sincere, thoughtful friend or relative will realize that this is mostly their problem, and a reflection of their insecurities and frustrations. Unfortunately, that sort of thoughtful response to the discomfort of watching somebody else take off is fairly unusual. The “mainstream” response is to get on a mission to discourage that person while semi-secretly hoping that they will flop.

    A wise (AA) secretary who acted as my mentor early in my career explained this behavior to me. She was speaking in reference to the workplace haters that I had acquired by being willing and eager to do a lot of trials (as opposed to looking for some kind of settlement and/or plea agreement). But the same behavior patterns apply to a lot of situations. In reference to some of my coworkers, she scolded me for my naivete and said:

    “Khadija, don’t you understand?!! They don’t want to go to trial. And they don’t want YOU to do it either. And if you go ahead to do it anyway, they want you to flop!”

    I was flabbergasted when she said this. (Outdone at the idea that some coworkers were petty enough to want me to fail—even if that wished-for failure would have messed over the firm’s clients.) At first, I thought she was being harsh. But I saw that she was absolutely right. About many things about life.

    [Incidentally, that phrase, “Khadija, don’t you understand . . . “ became an inside joke as she truthfully lectured me about various life lessons. {chuckling}] I’m VERY thankful that I had her as a secretary when I was a relatively new attorney. She taught me a lot about life.

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.

    • Karen says:

      Oh yes indeed, those closest to you can often be your strongest impediments to reaching your dreams.

      Let’s see if I can run my list of what the naysayers would say:

      Who needs college anyway?
      Why do you need to take that job and move away?
      Why a technical field?
      Only men make good managers…
      Aren’t you too old for this or that?
      Why travel to Europe?
      Black girls/women don’t do that!
      If you don’t mind my saying X,Y, or Z…

      Looking back, I must laugh as had I listen to any of that B.S., I would not be living the life I do today, which is drama-free and very much a fulfilling life.

      However, not to minimize how hard it is to turn away from all if it, I literally have with my life taken the road less traveled which meant becoming the “black sheep” of the family and living a life that often left me alone, but I was never lonely.

      At the end of the day, we all only have one life to live, so it is prudent to make the best of it with whatever talents/skills we were given and build upon them. There is no dress rehearsal for life.

      • Miss V says:

        “However, not to minimize how hard it is to turn away from all if it, I literally have with my life taken the road less traveled which meant becoming the “black sheep” of the family and living a life that often left me alone, but I was never lonely.

        At the end of the day, we all only have one life to live, so it is prudent to make the best of it with whatever talents/skills we were given and build upon them. There is no dress rehearsal for life.”

        You are SO on target Karen. I’m now remembering to do the things that make me happy, and forget ‘dem haters. ‘Dey ‘gon be aaight!! LOL

  7. Professher says:

    To this very day, I thank the secretary who pulled me aside and gave me the solution to my “noisy pantyhose” (ya’ll without a gap ‘tween your upper thighs know what I mean!): turn ’em inside out (see: I’m paying it forward)! She didn’t make fun of me behind my back. Even if she did? She had the decency to give me a SOLUTION. Mind you, I learned later that a white woman and Black male attorney — my PEERS and supposed “natural” allies — had a good bit of fun at my expense and behind my back (e.g. “you can hear her coming”). The fact was re: these haters is not only that I was on the rise in the office (Khadija, I tried “too many,” too!), but that he was and remains closeted (married to a tortured BW “beard”) and she was furious that I helped transform her friend from a Miss Anne “purse-holder” to a beautiful, sexy, strong BW!

  8. DeStouet says:

    Yes, I’ll be ready.

    Unfortunately I’ve found that it doesn’t help to read anything by African American authors, including those that are already published.

    The New York Times just recently wrote an article http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/23/books/23writers.html?hpw
    about how black writers would like to seek a wider audience, which is great. It is actually something I think about as a writer.

    However, the article’s tone was still depressing and sad. On the way to the store last night I caught myself thinking, “Well, what if I can’t….?”

    The thing about reading essays, articles and other material by most AA is that it has the ability to make you feel like there is a box that you MUST remain in despite your training, discipline and craft.

    However, I am certain that is a lie!

  9. rainebeaux says:

    Talk is cheap. And in many contexts, people have developed an insincere “rap” and patter about various topics. Very few functional people will come out and say, “I’m comfortable in my rut. I don’t want to reach any higher.” Talking like that makes you sound dysfunctional. So, they talk the talk of self-actualization.

    Khadija, this post couldn’t have come at a better time: I’ve looked around–I mean, really looked–and realized how much I needed more people. Not only that, but there’s some sort of seething, blood-boiling rage I have towards mediocrity right now (hence, no new essays or even recent comments on my part…I’d rather stay silent and rebuild behind the scenes than excessively rant online or offline).

    If I don’t reappear after this, I hope a BW or three reading this will remember the following: MEDIOCRITY KILLS.

  10. Karen,

    Good for you! {deep martial arts bow}
    ____________________________________________

    Professher,

    Thanks for paying it forward by repeating that tip! LOL! {chuckling at your reference to the former “Miss Anne purse-holder}
    ________________________________________

    Rainebeaux,

    You are absolutely correct—yes, mediocrity literally KILLS people. The AA collective’s mass acceptance and now lifting up of mediocrity will be the final death of the AA collective. This acceptance and celebration of mediocrity in all spheres of life is the underlying reason why AAs will be entrenched as a permanent underclass in this country. All of which is the underlying reason for the excess deaths by homicide, HIV/AIDS, obesity-related ailments (high blood pressure, stroke, and certain cancers), and so on among us.

    “Old-school” AAs had standards and sayings that reflected those standards. Such as instructing AA children that they “had to be at least twice as good to get half the credit as Whites.” And it was assumed and expected that the children would meet and surpass whatever criteria were thrown at them by a hostile, often racist outer society.

    But then, at some point, AAs decided that having and enforcing standards (such as shotgun weddings, and so on) was “too harsh.” So we started making excuses for all sorts of inferior behaviors and attitudes.

    Well, we can see where it got us—into the abyss.

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.

  11. **Warning: EXTREMELY Long Reply Comment {chuckling}**

    DeStouet,

    I’m responding to your comment separately and at length because the points you’ve raised, and the news story you linked to, touch on something that all AAs need to be clear about:

    There’s really NO getting around having to assume the responsibility for ourselves. Most of AAs’ whining about various topics has the same root cause. The things we complain about are the logical, predictable, end result of our consistent refusal to build our own infrastructures—in other words, build our own businesses.

    Instead, we whine about how others haven’t saved a spot for us in their endeavors. (Traditionally we’ve been complaining about Whites’ failure to include AAs in their stuff. But as others like Latinos and Asians increasingly join the elite—which they already have in the science, medical and computer-related fields—then AAs will be whining about the other folks’ refusal to let us in their stuff).

    This is the 21st century. How many more centuries are AAs going to sing this “They won’t save a spot for us” song/lament? How many centuries does it take for us to catch the hint that others DON’T feel any obligation to us?

    You said, “Unfortunately I’ve found that it doesn’t help to read anything by African American authors, including those that are already published. . . . The thing about reading essays, articles and other material by most AA is that it has the ability to make you feel like there is a box that you MUST remain in despite your training, discipline and craft.”

    This is why I only take in materials produced by people who are powerfully moving forward on their goals and dreams. This criterion tends to exclude 99.99% of things said by AAs. Because most of us are still locked into the traditional conditioned responses of: (1) looking for others to create a way for us and include us in their agenda; and (2) whining when these other people don’t do this.

    First, let me mention my reactions to various statements in the news story:

    “The conference, expected to attract 2,000 people, is a chance for writers to study and celebrate one another and for readers to hear writers presenting their work and dissecting social and literary themes. Over four days of workshops and discussions, the participants can also grapple with issues like the value of black sections in bookstores, the paucity of black editors in publishing and how to expand the list of black writers taught in schools.”

    This sounds like an near-total waste of time. They need to talk about strategies for increasing sales and creating new distribution outlets for their work. Also note the traditional AA emphasis on congratulatory back-slapping. BEFORE any real “battle” has been WON.

    “But some in the book world worry that conference attendees end up talking mostly to themselves. “I respect the ability of the Medgar Evers conference to build community,” said Martha Southgate, a novelist whose most recent book, “Third Girl From the Left,” was published in 2005. “But what I struggle with is that it should be beyond our community.””

    It’s okay to talk with like-minded people. The problem here is what they have their minds set on—looking for others to make it happen for them.

    “In 2007 Ms. Southgate was part of a racially mixed group of writers, editors and booksellers who dreamed up theringshout.com, a Web site devoted to literary black writers and the idea that they belong at the center of the American literary tradition, with readers of all kinds.”

    This sounds like it might be somewhat of an improvement. However, how does this serve to create new distribution channels for AA writers? I’ll have to take a look at this site.

    ““We need cross-pollination,”” said Lawrence Schiller, a film producer, director and writer who was a founder of the Norman Mailer Writers Colony in Provincetown, Mass. Mr. Schiller, who is white, asked Brenda M. Greene, the director of the conference and executive director of the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers, in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, for help in finding a black writer to teach at the Mailer colony.”

    Ahhh, a White person going out of his way to include AA writers. This is NOT mainstream behavior, and AA writers shouldn’t be in the position of depending on somebody else to wake up one day and decide to do some outreach. What nobody in the article mentioned is that if a novelist’s book sales are big enough, then that writer automatically becomes known to others throughout the industry—starting with the money people—“the suits.” Success creates visibility and gives non-AAs in the industry a self-interested REASON to seek one out. Which is why these folks need to be talking about creative strategies for increasing their sales.

    “The conference is a step in raising the visibility of black writers, Mr. Schiller said, but those writers also need to be ““part of the bigger picture””: better represented at other conferences, on the curriculums of graduate writing programs and community colleges and more widely read by young nonblacks. Ms. Greene said the conference, which she believed was the largest event of its kind in the country, helped achieve those goals.”

    The conference ISN’T raising the visibility of these AA writers to the people who matter most in this equation—the consumers. Whatever awareness this sort of moaning, groaning and whining conference is creating among consumers is probably NOT favorable. Really now, who mentally associates this type of “they won’t cut us in” grumbling with an enjoyable fiction-reading experience? NOBODY.

    “The wide-ranging conference includes tributes to Amiri Baraka and to Toni Cade Bambara, who died in 1995; panels on topics including “the black writer as literary activist” and “politics and satire in the literature of black writers”; and sessions exploring the influence of phenomena like hip-hop, war and the Internet on black writers. The conference also features writing workshops for students in elementary, middle school and high school.”

    The traditional AA preoccupation with “tributes” BEFORE and often INSTEAD of handling the business.

    “In addition to Ms. Morrison, who is to be honored at a reception on Saturday night, writers expected to take part include the novelists Colson Whitehead, Bernice McFadden, Victor LaValle and Breena Clarke; the poets Sonia Sanchez and Staceyann Chin; and authors whose work crosses genres, like James McBride, Thulani Davis, Kevin Powell and Touré.”

    More self-congratulatory back-slapping. Instead of focusing on creating answers to the business problems of how to increase sales and create new ways of reaching potential consumers (new distribution channels).

    “With all the changes and challenges in publishing, said the writer Linda Villarosa, a former executive editor of Essence Magazine who teaches writing and journalism at City College, this conference is needed now more than ever. “We need to get the heads of all the mainstream publishers there to explain —— and it doesn’t have to be angry —— how the business model works and how to get more of our books published,” she said. Among her concerns: the rise of racy “street lit” books, the small number of black editors at publishing houses and the way books by black authors are pigeonholed in stores.”

    For those who don’t know, magazines are dying and soon to be mostly dead as a media form. It appears to be similar to what’s happening with newspapers. From what I’ve read, freelance writers who are depending on sales of articles to magazines are not doing well as they watch magazines fold and that kind of work dry up. Note that Ms. Villarosa left Messence . . . to teach . . . at City College.

    “One reason getting attention can be hard is that “there are next to no African-Americans at influential publications reviewing theater and books on a regular basis,” Ms. Nottage said. “We are evaluated and critiqued by people outside the experience. Perhaps there is some resistance to penetrate the issues we’’re dealing with.””

    Again, this boils down to AAs’ failure to create or buy “influential publications” that review theater and books on a regular basis.

    What I found most striking—and not in a good way—is what I DIDN’T see in this news story:

    I didn’t see any mention made of any of these AA writers taking the innovative steps that others have taken to create consumer awareness and demand for their fiction. Such as the strategy of doing (free or paid) podcasting of their novels to develop a base of readers and more importantly, book-buyers. At the earlier blog, I did a post about a (WM) science fiction/thriller author who did this (Scott Sigler):
    http://muslimbushido.blogspot.com/2009/04/wildest-dreams-checklist-are-you.html

    There’s also an interview at Editor Unleashed with another (WM) author (crime novelist Seth Harwood) who used this strategy to generate exposure for his work:
    http://editorunleashed.com/2009/06/18/qa-author-seth-harwood/

    Another fiction writer who podcasted his work is the (WM) thriller writer, J.C. Hutchins, who wrote the 7th Son trilogy.
    http://tinyurl.com/yc7um6d

    Note: These men didn’t just whip up a novel and toss it out there without some sort of plan for growing an audience for their work. In 2 of these cases, they used (iTunes) podcasting to create a VERIFIABLE audience for their fiction, and later leveraged these verifiable numbers into book contracts.

    Now, I’m not saying that the podcasting one’s novel (freebie or paid) method always works—after all, we’re probably only hearing about the success stories with this technique. My point is that when I read news stories about (and essays by) AA authors I DON’T hear any of them brainstorming creative ideas like podcasting for generating exposure and consumer awareness of their work. Instead, I hear whining and waiting for White publishers and other White entities to make it happen for them.

    The other thing that I believe AA novelists should factor in their plans is the sort of fiction they’re writing.

    It seems to me that it’s probably easier to use the above sort of consumer awareness building/reader-building techniques when you’re writing in genres that have a subculture of voracious, book-hungry readers—such as science fiction and romance. The so-called “street lit” peddlers have created a genre that has a subculture of readers who are hungry for that trash.

    Unfortunately, I haven’t read or heard many serious, legitimate AA writers do any sort of strategizing about any of the above. The one “strategy” seems to consist of whining about and to Whites in the industry.

    As I said at the beginning of this very long comment, this boils down to our refusal to become more business-minded and create our own infrastructure.

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.

  12. Nathifa says:

    Hi Khadija. Great post au usual. You stated,”There’s really NO getting around having to assume the responsibility for ourselves. Most of AAs’ whining about various topics the same root cause. The things we complain about are the logical, predictable, end result of our consistent refusal to build our own infrastructures—in other words, build our own businesses.

    Instead, we whine about how others haven’t saved a spot for us in their endeavors. (Traditionally we’ve been complaining about Whites’ failure to include AAs in their stuff. But as others like Latinos and Asians increasingly join the elite—which they already have in the science, medical and computer-related fields—then AAs will be whining about the other folks’ refusal to let us in their stuff)”.

    You just described the problem 100%. Too many of us especially BM think that they can beg or make others feel quilty into giving them what they desire instead going out there and making it happen. They do not realize how pathetic and weak it looks to have a group of people always whining, begging and demanding that people somehow let them have a piece of pie instead of trying to create the pie. But I guess that’s part of the game. Look weak and they get taken advantage of so you can then whine and beg some more. Nobody owes them anything for free and that’s why no one takes us seriously. Other ethnicities are moving on they do not feel pity on us. It’s do or die at this point. We have to get it together. You have to do for self or parish.

  13. pioneervalleywoman says:

    This post really brings things home to me. I’m teaching critical race theory this week, and it brings out critiques of the whininess, as we read what the crt folks were saying and my students respond.

    One of my students, a young bw, is very much in that mode of the whiny “when are they gonna save us” type of thing, and being surprised/shocked when her peers in the class, mostly whites, have conservative views that oppose her perspective. This view has pervaded over the past 30+ years and so many don’t seem to get it–white folks don’t care anymore! They are out for theirs, and we will talk about this more tomorrow when we discuss the Ricci case.

    Here is something interesting, though, I ran into her after class; she didn’t show up and took an excused absence (students are permitted three as per the school’s regulations), because she didn’t want to be in the classroom in the midst of hearing her white peers air their conservative views. Huh??? She is in graduate school and she can’t handle the heat of having very liberal views in an environment where there are conservatives who might challenge her? She is unable to take a more neutral and unemotional stance in discussing the classroom materials.

    What is striking is that some of the students who tend to sound more conservative sounded more liberal, totally contrary to what she imagined.

  14. JaliliMaster says:

    When it comes to alternative strategies for creating a fan base AND building on that fan base, I suspect that part of the reason so few Black writers are willing to go the route of new technology (e.g. podcasts) is because in most cases, the best way to get people to pay attention to your stuff if they never did before is to offer it to them for free. If your work is any good, most people, after having sampled it would be willing to pay to get more. For Black writers, they seem to have gotten it into their head that they must make money o every single one of their products. This while ignoring the fact that to make that living, one has to have customers who are willing to part with their money. If these publishing houses are not willing to ‘take a chance on you’, why would you expect the average reader on the street to do so?

    This then leads me to my second point. All this continual moaning is not a good look. All it does is tell the general ‘mainstream’ reading population that a lot of these publishing houses don’t think that these Black writers are worth the bother. The fact is that if they felt that they could make money of a particular Black writer, that writer will get a deal. It is because they believe that most Black writers only sell to certain markets, in which the financial return may not be as great as they like, that there is this reluctance to back them. It is all about the bottom line. If a Black writer approaches a traditional publishing house with a strong, already existing fan base, which is a ready source of sales, that publisher will be much more likely to back them. Black writers need to get of this moaning bandwagon and actually take charge of things for once. How stupid have Black folks become that there are so many of us who are under the impression that OTHERS will use THEIR OEN MONEY, to form THEIR OWN COMPANIES (in this case, publishing houses), and then hand them over to Blacks. Or appoint Black folks to positions of editors. Or make a concerted effort to promote the works of Black writers over their own. Black folks need to grow up. This is childish, and frankly, lazy behaviour. I don’t even see Latino or Asian writers complaining this way. That is because they were smart enough to have some of their own stuff. That way, if the ‘mainstream’ publishers rejected them (for good works, not the equivalent of ‘street lit’ trash), they had somewhere else to go. I reiterate that Black writers need to shut up and figure out new ways to do things.

    Traditional publishing and distribution is already falling by the way side, and already previously successful writers are having to come up with new way to make money. Bookstores are closing down everywhere one turns. They are going to start giving the ‘street trash’ lit types less leeway (which is a good thing), but it may also negatively affect the more serious Black writers. Therefore, another aim should be to permanently disassociate themselves from the trash peddlers. There are SO MANY things that Black writers will have to do to properly establish themselves. Having these near pointless conventions is just another way for them to waste their time, while ignoring the real issues.

  15. Nathifa,

    Thank you for your kind words about the post; I truly appreciate it. You said, ” Other ethnicities are moving on they do not feel pity on us. It’s do or die at this point. We have to get it together. You have to do for self or parish.”

    Well, that’s it in a nutshell. We can keep whining if we want to. Meanwhile, everybody else is moving on without us!
    ______________________________________

    PioneerValleyWoman,

    You said, “One of my students, a young bw, is very much in that mode of the whiny “when are they gonna save us” type of thing, and being surprised/shocked when her peers in the class, mostly whites, have conservative views that oppose her perspective. This view has pervaded over the past 30+ years and so many don’t seem to get it–white folks don’t care anymore! They are out for theirs…”

    Indeed. The days of successful extortion of Whites through whining and guilt-tripping are OVER. As I’ve said before, this is another side-effect of the Obama era that AAs didn’t think through and plan for. As far as most Whites are concerned, now that there’s a Black(-ish, but not “too” Black) man in the White House, racism is “officially” over in the US. Whites aren’t trying to hear that noise anymore.

    And the emerging Latino & Asian elites NEVER wanted to hear that whining because they have their own sob stories as (voluntary) immigrants. Asians and Latinos will NEVER acknowledge that they’ve been riding on AAs’ civil rights coattails. And they’re not part of the slavery narrative in this country. They WON’T listen to our whining.
    _________________________________________

    JaliliMaster,

    You said, “When it comes to alternative strategies for creating a fan base AND building on that fan base, I suspect that part of the reason so few Black writers are willing to go the route of new technology (e.g. podcasts) is because in most cases, the best way to get people to pay attention to your stuff if they never did before is to offer it to them for free. If your work is any good, most people, after having sampled it would be willing to pay to get more. For Black writers, they seem to have gotten it into their head that they must make money o every single one of their products. This while ignoring the fact that to make that living, one has to have customers who are willing to part with their money.”

    I don’t know if this deeply mistaken mindset you described above is a problem among other types of Black business owners (Africans and West Indians), but it is definitely a problem with most AA business owners and other AAs who need to be more business-minded.

    As you’re pointing out: Often, the longer-term ramifications of a transaction are MORE important than the immediate amount of upfront money in the transaction. Most AAs don’t understand this. The same way most AA business folks don’t understand that forming a positive, LONG-TERM relationship with the customer is more important than getting the immediate sale.

    There are several AA businesses that I stopped patronizing because the owner did something for their immediate gain that disrupted my good feelings as a customer. For one example, after she found out that I was an attorney, a BF Muslim bakery owner made a habit of pestering me about legal questions whenever I would come into her bakery (her son is a jailbird).

    She didn’t catch the hint that I just wanted to be a customer (and make idle chit-chat), NOT a lawyer answering legal-related questions when I ordered my slice of 7-Up cake. I tried to hang in with her because she’s Muslim in addition to being AA, and I had been to her mosque. But she finally worked my nerves to the point where I couldn’t be bothered anymore.

    Now, if she had kept me comfortable as a customer (I’m not even saying “happy” as a customer),then I would have stuck with her. But no…she was so focused on wringing the most benefit for herself out of every single transaction with me that she didn’t consider the big picture of creating good feelings about patronizing her business.

    You said, “This then leads me to my second point. All this continual moaning is not a good look.”

    No, it’s not. Not at all.

    You said, “If a Black writer approaches a traditional publishing house with a strong, already existing fan base, which is a ready source of sales, that publisher will be much more likely to back them. Black writers need to get of this moaning bandwagon and actually take charge of things for once.”

    Exactly. Like those 3 WM novelists took charge of their own situations. When you have VERIFIABLE sales that demonstrate a strong, existing fan base, people react differently.

    You said, “How stupid have Black folks become that there are so many of us who are under the impression that OTHERS will use THEIR OEN MONEY, to form THEIR OWN COMPANIES (in this case, publishing houses), and then hand them over to Blacks. Or appoint Black folks to positions of editors. Or make a concerted effort to promote the works of Black writers over their own. Black folks need to grow up. This is childish, and frankly, lazy behaviour.”

    ITA! And this behavior sounds as crazy as it is when you describe it the plain way, as you did above. We really expect other people to pour out their blood, sweat and tears to create an infrastructure—and then give it to us and/or use it to advance us! Now, AAs are dumb enough to do this (see the examples of Wayan brothers idiots who used their platform to create the careers of several non-Black stars, and so on). But others are NOT dumb enough to do that. It’s crazy to expect that from others.

    We never stop to ask, “What’s in it for them to do this?” NOTHING, in the vast majority of these scenarios. And from the whining, we’re not even working to create a situation where it’s in other people’s SELF-INTEREST to enter into MUTUALLY supportive business interactions because we’re bringing something of value to the table! Instead, we want charity from others. {shaking my head in disgust}

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.

  16. JaliliMaster says:

    First, I’d like to apologise for the typographical errors I made in my previous post. I was in a rush when I typed it and didn’t read over. Also, I’ve just figured out what ‘ITA’ means, lol.

    PioneerValleyWoman,

    I am not at all surprised by the story you just told. Black folks are so used to folks tiptoeing round our feelings that sometimes, when someone has an opinion, they will just air it. Irrespective of what some nearby Black person thinks. It is not that that young BW is not used to hearing opinions that differ from hers. She is. It is just that she is used to being able to silence them. I suspect that with it being a critical race theory class, all she saw was the word “race”. She thought this made her an expert, so everyone should just come, sit down, shut up, listen to her speak and agree with everything she says. And it also says a lot about her that she would rather stay away than attend the class and critique their own arguments. If she felt she wasn’t capable of offering a good, solid counter argument, it makes me wonder how credible her opinions were to begin with. Sorry to be harping on, but this is the sort of behaviour from students that really messes things up for lecturers so it just tends to irritate me. I have been in a similar situation before where a few of the students were annoyed that everyone else was given the same chance to air their views so skipped the class till we moved on to something else. It ended up reflecting negatively on the lecturer, who, in my opinion, was actually very good.

    ____________________________________

    Khadija Nassif said:

    “And the emerging Latino & Asian elites NEVER wanted to hear that whining because they have their own sob stories as (voluntary) immigrants. Asians and Latinos will NEVER acknowledge that they’ve been riding on AAs’ civil rights coattails. And they’re not part of the slavery narrative in this country. They WON’T listen to our whining.”

    This is something that worries me somewhat. With the way negro ‘leaders’ want to push Black folks to support any minority (in a bid to ‘stick it’ to you know who), these folks will then attain a position, and keep Blacks out as much as they can. I am not going to hold Black folks stupidity against them (non-Black minorities). They do not suffer from white guilt. They will not listen to Black peoples moaning. I would love to hear what these so called Negro leaders will say then!
    ___________________________________________

    “I don’t know if this deeply mistaken mindset you described above is a problem among other types of Black business owners (Africans and West Indians), but it is definitely a problem with most AA business owners and other AAs who need to be more business-minded.”

    It is there as well, but to a smaller extent, and exhibiting itself in somewhat different ways. E.g. the publishing house thinking that your average White writer will be in a better position to write a true fiction story (i.e. the story is entirely fictional in terms of actual dialogue, but takes place during real historical events, in real time, sometimes written as if it is a biographic or historical narrative). The African equivalent to this street lit trash is that the only time they are willing to publish stories written by and about a Black African is if it is about war, real or made up, rape 9especially of young women or girls) or some other story of oppression. The same happens with West Indian writers. It HAS to be about their link o slavery, how the enslavement of their ancestors is supposed to somehow equal enslavement in the present day (yes, such things have been written, but I won’t go into their arguments), or of how much they (or their parents) suffered when they moved to, say Britain, in the mid 20th century. Note that this is an absolute must if there is going to be any part of the book that involves Black folks just living life and enjoying themselves. There first has to be a few chapters outlining Black suffering. It would, however, be preferable, if it ends with a chapter of redemption……delivered by White folks!

    I used to, but no longer hold it against Whites for this. Why shouldn’t they try to inject themselves in other peoples history? If one is stupid enough to let their story be hijacked, then so be it. It has been tried with other ethnicities. They clued up eventually. Unfortunately, as history shows, Black folks are always the last to realise their house is on fire.
    ___________________________________

    “Exactly. Like those 3 WM novelists took charge of their own situations. When you have VERIFIABLE sales that demonstrate a strong, existing fan base, people react differently.”

    I’ve noticed that whenever Black folks compare the fortunes of INDIVIDUAL WM to that of BM in the same professions, they always only look at his success, while ignoring the extra things he might have done that they didn’t. Looking at these 3 men, most Black folks would just dismiss it as them getting a ‘leg-up’ because they are White, ignoring the fact that these men didn’t do things the traditional way. The fact is, if you want to get something you’ve never had, you have to do something that you’ve never done. When Black folks get a clue, they’ll realise the benefits. Till then…oh well.

  17. a. says:

    As usual a good post.

    At the moment I feel almost totally consumed. I will get pass this moment; however, I do know that I must get out of the bc before I die. At the moment anxiety. Just living in the city is tiresome. This too shall past. I am simply not happy. I am in school, a good step forward. My present pay is lousy and taxes have increased therefore I take home less. I have a bw neighbor trying her best to bother me with her sillyness. It never ends.
    This too shall past, I hope.

  18. NijaG says:

    Khadija said:

    And from the whining, we’re not even working to create a situation where it’s in other people’s SELF-INTEREST to enter into MUTUALLY supportive business interactions because we’re bringing something of value to the table! Instead, we want charity from others. {shaking my head in disgust}

    This lack of creating, controlling, or maintaining our own infrastructures is basically what has precipitated the downfall of the Black community worldwide, not just even in the AA community. The AA community is just feeling the effects faster because whatever situations happen in America tends to play itself out in the global scale albeit at a slower pace.

    As for White America (in particular) and other groups not caring much about AA issues presently and into the future. That ship started sailing way before the Obama Era. I personally believe that White America have actually done way more in addressing their horrid past in their dealing with minorities (black and native americans) compared to other nations. Many of which still don’t even address these issues and some that presently still treat their minorities inhumanly.

    The world is becoming more and more competitive everyday. Every nation/group is negotiating and fighting to maintain their dominate positions if they’re already in one, while others are negotiating and fighting to get into the top positions if they’re not. No one has time to give out freebies and consolation prizes anymore.

  19. DeStouet says:

    One of the main things that stuck out to me, was that Walter Mosley, author of Devil in a Blue Dress (which was later made into a film starring, Denzel Washington) was amongst the crowd.

    My thinking is by now he should be in heaven (as far as wealth and connections)and able to advise other AA’s writers where they need to go in order to get their needs met.

    Is he concerned about the AA writers who are bound to come after him? If so, surely by now he has established some kind of program that will benefit future AA writers?!?!

    Another thing that really frustrated me about the article was the whining. (A lesson I learned from many of you ladies was to toughen up and stop whining. That was the ONLY way to get things done.) With that being said, I am appalled that established authors of their caliber would allow such an article to be written about them…in the New York Times. Come on! There are certain things that should be kept under wraps, and this article was one of them.

  20. JaliliMaster,

    You said, “I’ve noticed that whenever Black folks compare the fortunes of INDIVIDUAL WM to that of BM in the same professions, they always only look at his success, while ignoring the extra things he might have done that they didn’t. Looking at these 3 men, most Black folks would just dismiss it as them getting a ‘leg-up’ because they are White, ignoring the fact that these men didn’t do things the traditional way. The fact is, if you want to get something you’ve never had, you have to do something that you’ve never done. When Black folks get a clue, they’ll realise the benefits. Till then…oh well.”

    Exactly. The other angle is that these particular White men had to be innovative and hustle to grow an audience for their work. Now, if White men, who presumably have advantages in a White-male controlled industry had to hustle, why in the world would Black writers think that they don’t?!
    ______________________________________

    A.

    Thank you for your kind words about the post; I truly appreciate it. I’ll mention a quote from Calvin Coolidge that I take to heart:

    “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

    Calvin Coolidge
    30th president of US (1872 – 1933)
    ________________________________________

    NijaG,

    You said, “This lack of creating, controlling, or maintaining our own infrastructures is basically what has precipitated the downfall of the Black community worldwide, not just even in the AA community.”

    Yep, there you have it. I often think of the previous widespread poverty in South Korea that my former personal coach grew up with during the 1960s. South Korea and some of these other Asian countries were as poor as many African countries in previous decades. And look at them now: selling Hyundai cars and Samsung electronics to the world, including Americans!

    I firmly believe that the difference in outcome has been due to the caliber of South Korean leadership and elites. To put it simply, they had better dictators and elite members. To put it harshly, the entire Black world has INFERIOR leadership and INFERIOR elites compared to those of some other folks!

    I briefly talked about this at the previous blog. South Korean dictators and elites have been so much more productive than the various ethnic Black elites around the world. One of my heroes is (the dictator) Gen. Park Chung-hee of South Korea. People like Gen. Park and the South Korean elites (the top businessmen) changed the fate of their nation!

    I don’t “hate on” or resent the Black and/or AA elites; but I also don’t particularly admire them. I am indifferent toward them. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about them. I don’t feel particularly emotionally charged up when they are mentioned.

    They are irrelevant to me. They don’t control anything that I care about. They are not needed for any of my goals. I believe that, due to their manner of self-absorption, they are generally irrelevant to the fate of Black folks around the world.

    Now, individual super-wealthy AAs like Oprah might create institutions like the school she founded in South Africa. But that’s not the norm. And whatever individual super-wealthy AAs and the AA elites are doing, there’s no indication that any of this is coordinated or mutually reinforcing. Contrast this “hit or miss” behavior with what happened under Gen. Park in South Korea. http://tinyurl.com/yeo3hdj

    Just like African and other dysfunctional third world elites, the AA elites haven’t quite figured out that it’s better to be an elite class on top of a healthy, thriving collective. Instead of being at the top of a heap of pathetic, starving peasants. And then they wonder why White elites are still in control of everything.

    White elites are in control because their collective as a whole is healthier. The people at the bottom of their collectives are generally healthier. This gives the ones on top a stronger foundation. Having figurative “peasants” underneath you who are prosperous makes YOUR foundation stronger as an elite class. For example, consider the base level of the masses of Jewish people around the world. Their “base” level of people are thriving. This pushes their elite even higher.

    I contrast our elite with people like (dictator) Gen. Park Chung-hee, who industrialized South Korea and dramatically improved their standard of living (and that nation’s fate) in just ONE generation! He completely changed the fate of his people in just ONE generation.
    _____________________________________________

    DeStouet,

    You said, “One of the main things that stuck out to me, was that Walter Mosley, author of Devil in a Blue Dress (which was later made into a film starring, Denzel Washington) was amongst the crowd. My thinking is by now he should be in heaven (as far as wealth and connections)and able to advise other AA’s writers where they need to go in order to get their needs met.

    Is he concerned about the AA writers who are bound to come after him? If so, surely by now he has established some kind of program that will benefit future AA writers?!?!

    Most highly-paid AAs and AAs with “good jobs” don’t set up “programs to benefit” the AAs who come behind them in their fields. They live their lives, go about their business, and enjoy the fruit of their labors. With perhaps a bit of charity for AAs tossed in.

    Just like THE REST of AAs, monied and “good-jobbed” AAs don’t concern themselves with building infrastructures and “programs” for other AAs. Why would anybody expect Walter Mosley, or any other bestselling AA author to be doing any of that? Infrastructure-building behavior is NOT our standard operating procedure. . .

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.

  21. Amanda says:

    “You just described the problem 100%. Too many of us especially BM think that they can beg or make others feel quilty into giving them what they desire instead going out there and making it happen.”

    Like black filmmakers in Hollywood saying that Hollywood needs to make an African American division! I kid you not! Like that will ever happen! These fools don’t realize is that they would just end up still working for white Hollywood execs, because there might be an AA division, but who controls the money has the power. If you haven’t secured yourself in exec position and know how to handle money etc. It’s not going to happen. These people should have learned from the Blaxploitation era. There’s a reason it stopped. White execs pulled the plug cause they could.

    “This view has pervaded over the past 30+ years and so many don’t seem to get it–white folks don’t care anymore!”
    I’m also noticing this with white liberals. After a while people get tired of helping those who never seem to progress or want to help themselves.

    “way, if the ‘mainstream’ publishers rejected them (for good works, not the equivalent of ‘street lit’ trash), they had somewhere else to go. I reiterate that Black writers need to shut up and figure out new ways to do things.”

    That’s like when WB and UPN went defunct black independent television station owners complained that it would be hard for them etc. I was like why don’t you guys come up with a way to create your own d*mn affiliate. You own these d*mn stations? Duh! We could have had good black sit-coms not die and maybe even have created some good dramas for the AA Audience.

  22. JaliliMaster says:

    As regards Walter Mosley, I too wonder why such an established author cannot see the potential negative effect of being associated with this sort of constant complaining. For the average Black person, when they achieve, they tend to see other Black folks as their competition, thinking that they have to be the only Black, or one of the few Blacks doing well in a certain area. That said, I don’t see it as his responsibility to create programs for other Black writers. So many of the people who attended this event were only thinking of what others could do for them, and from the article, there seemed to be little to no discussion of what these writers could actually do themselves, in other words, they pretty much looking for handouts.

    If you bring two writers, one took a chance, went the extra mile, etc, the other “hung around”, waiting for something to happen, the first writer got a break, the second didn’t, which one of these two writers will the average reader be more drawn to? Even if only for their perseverance. This penchant amongst Blacks for resorting to what is in essence, laziness, waiting for charity, etc, is not an “about the author” story that makes them sound interesting. Whose book are you more likely to read? The one you think is more interesting. Without knowing too much about a book, if you were told to pick between two authors, one had the background story of the risk taker, seeking out/creating their own opportunities, the other had the background story of constant complaints of a lack of help from others, which writer all of a sudden becomes the more interesting, attractive or exciting choice?

  23. Amanda,

    You said, “Like black filmmakers in Hollywood saying that Hollywood needs to make an African American division! I kid you not!”

    Well, that’s just incredibly PATHETIC. Anything and everything except doing for self.

    You said, “I’m also noticing this with white liberals. After a while people get tired of helping those who never seem to progress or want to help themselves.”

    People get tired of beggars past a certain point.
    _____________________________________________

    JaliliMaster,

    You said, “As regards Walter Mosley, I too wonder why such an established author cannot see the potential negative effect of being associated with this sort of constant complaining.”

    He and the other prominent authors who attended don’t see anything wrong with public whining because this type of behavior has become normalized among AAs. People don’t like it when I say this, but this is yet another rotten fruit and unintended consequence of the civil rights movement. During that movement, the behavior of crying out for “Massa” to fix our life circumstances became enshrined and lifted up as THE ANSWER to all of our problems.

    You said, “That said, I don’t see it as his responsibility to create programs for other Black writers.”

    NO, it’s not. I only speak of creating a publishing infrastructure because it’s in MY enlightened SELF-interest to do so. Because doing so would further MY goals. I DON’T owe anybody a “helping hand.” And I DON’T have any obligation whatsoever to “give back” to anybody. And neither does Walter Mosley. He’s pefectly free to quietly enjoy the fruit of his labors. Even if he’s missing additional opportunities (of having power and control) for himself by doing so.

    You said, “So many of the people who attended this event were only thinking of what others could do for them, and from the article, there seemed to be little to no discussion of what these writers could actually do themselves, in other words, they pretty much looking for handouts.”

    You caught that vibe too. This is why I don’t understand most uses of the term “networking.” I don’t understand how an interaction can be called “networking” when one party to the interaction is bringing nothing to the table. And is offering nothing to the other person in the interaction. It’s more accurately described as looking for coattails to ride.

    You said, “If you bring two writers, one took a chance, went the extra mile, etc, the other “hung around”, waiting for something to happen, the first writer got a break, the second didn’t, which one of these two writers will the average reader be more drawn to? Even if only for their perseverance. This penchant amongst Blacks for resorting to what is in essence, laziness, waiting for charity, etc, is not an “about the author” story that makes them sound interesting.”

    You’re pointing out something extremely important that cannot be emphasized enough. And I hope folks are getting this through their heads: This whining, complaining behavior is a VERY bad look. On many, many levels. It does NOT create an attractive “about the author” news story for consumers. In fact, it’s repellent to consumers.

    Even though we’ve normalized these dysfunctional “looks,” it does not alter the fact that the Sister Soldier Look and the Crybaby Look are very bad looks!”

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.

  24. pioneervalleywoman says:

    Jalilimaster:

    It is not that that young BW is not used to hearing opinions that differ from hers. She is. It is just that she is used to being able to silence them.

    My reply:

    Either being used to silence them or getting overly emotional and involved…She did come today. Thus, after class, she said, “I have a headache” from the discussion. She is the one carrying the class on these topics, although I get the others to participate, she wants to talk more and more. She is explaining a black liberal position as a “sister soldier,” and the young black man in the class is saying nothing until class is over! The other young black woman is not as vocal but makes some good points on occasion.

  25. Amanda says:

    “As regards Walter Mosley, I too wonder why such an established author cannot see the potential negative effect of being associated with this sort of constant complaining. For the average Black person, when they achieve, they tend to see other Black folks as their competition, thinking that they have to be the only Black, or one of the few Blacks doing well in a certain area.”

    It’s also a sly way to kill the competition. Though he could probably have more power than he does. Frankly he needs to be at other events that are about creating something viable.

  26. Monique says:

    Hello Khadija,

    Congrats!!

    The above reasons are why I do not attend Black Filmmaker Networking seminars. Why go to a Networking event with people who really can’t green-light anything and are in the same position I am in. So that we can all come together, mingle and complain? Who has time for that. Instead why not pull money and resources together and create our own black owned and run studios?

    People in the industry will complain to no end, while the bigger problem is ignored. The same in the fashion industry where people will beg for more representation instead of creating our own outlets. Again ignoring the root of the problem.

    Much Love, My copy of your book is in the mail!

  27. PioneerValleyWoman,

    You said, “She is the one carrying the class on these topics, although I get the others to participate, she wants to talk more and more. She is explaining a black liberal position as a “sister soldier,” and the young black man in the class is saying nothing until class is over! The other young black woman is not as vocal but makes some good points on occasion.”(emphasis added)

    Ridiculous. That’s why this particular Sister Soldier “has a headache from the discussion.”
    ___________________________________________

    Monique,

    THANK YOU so much for your ongoing support; I truly appreciate it!

    Guurl, what you’ve described in your comment is the reason why I have no interest in attending Black-anything conferences or workshops at this point. Mingling with whiners who aren’t trying to help themselves is a waste of my precious time.

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.

  28. Amanda says:

    If you are going to go to a black filmmaking conference (it would probably be hard for black American filmmakers go get into this industry) go to one on Nollywood. Where you see black people who have the power to greenlight their films. Now it isn’t a perfect industry or have perfect films, but the point is they have a film industry to improve upon where as black Americans don’t.

  29. JaliliMaster says:

    Amanda, when you say “Nollywood”, I’m assuming that you are referring to the Nigerian film industry. I don’t think it will help to a great extent. These filmmakers are working in an industry where they are the dominant players. In Nollywood, it is Nigerian filmmakers who are dominant, naturally. The same applies for the Ghanaian film industry, Kenyan etc. These situations are very different from what Black American filmmakers face. They are trying to get ahead in an industry in which they are not dominant. They barely even have a presence. If all these filmmakers from other countries’ film industries such as Nollywood, Bollywood (India) etc tried to make it in Hollywood, they would face serious setbacks as well because they are not dominant in that industry. It is the same way that if a Hollywood filmmaker attempts to make a Bollywood film, they would struggle if they do not have significant support from prominent members of the Bollywood industry. If you can cast your mind back to a few years ago, the only “Bollywood” films one could watch in the west (because it got proper publicity/marketing/appeal etc) were those that were made by Western directors. The real Bollywood filmmakers had to settle for their films only being seen in India and the surrounding parts of the Asian sub-continent. That was, of course, until they took matters into their own hands. They increased the quality of their filmmaking, told good entertaining stories all while putting the real tastes of Indian culture in their movies, they way the Hollywood filmmakers just couldn’t. Eventually, Hollywood had to admit defeat. Now, when a Western filmmaker tries to make a “Bollywood” film, they have to bring on a lot of Indian talent, whether it’s in the form of costume experts, make-up, scriptwriters, and actors. They have to make it authentic so that they can retain their credibility. Nowadays, they intentionally hire actual Indian actors, as opposed to anyone who might resemble a darker skinned Asian.

    It is the same thing with Hollywood. When they made that film with Bruce Willis (I think t was called ‘Tears of the Sun’ or something along that line), they actually tried to film it on location in some parts of Nigeria, which they rarely ever do. I knew this because as opposed to the extras just making up some gibberish and passing it up as some African language, they were actually speaking Igbo. This is despite the fact that, if I remember correctly, the country in the film was actually a made up place. But they still wanted it to feel as real as possible.

    The AA filmmakers do not have that luxury for a variety of reasons. The most prominent AA filmmakers insist on showing a particular narrative of AA life, most of which plays into the stereotypes that others have of AAs. This, in turn, makes the Hollywood filmmakers think that their own view of AA life and culture is suitably authentic enough. Hence, they don’t have a need to worry about creative credibility, after all, they are portraying AAs the way other AA filmmakers portray AAs. For example, what are the main themes one sees with Black female characters in Hollywood films? She is more often than not, middle aged, overweight, and suffering. Now what is the main portrayal of BW in, say, Tyler Perry’s films? What is the main portrayal of BW in any film surrounding a Black character/storyline that Oprah endorses on her show? Get where I’m going? These are always one dimensional characters. Usually living the same type of life, similar existence, similar experiences, which are almost always negative. These studio heads have no reason to back an up and coming Black filmmaker focusing on predominantly Black storylines/characters, if the stories they tell are no different that the stories that White Hollywood tell of AAs. With this latest film directed by Lee Daniels that got a lot of attention (‘Precious’), some are saying that it is ‘new’ and a different depiction of AA life. I am still wondering how they came to that conclusion. It is just showing the same story…………………….young BG, emotionally, physically and sexually abused, a mother with emotional issues, young BG with psychological issues, etc, cycle of abuse, low self-esteem, etc. These are the same stories being told over and over and over again. It is nothing new.

    I don’t think that Black American filmmakers should be looking for Black filmmaking conferences to get advice. What they should do is get together with other LIKEMINDED AA filmmakers, who are interested in telling a whole range of stories, as opposed to recycled scripts, and find ways to finance them. The problem is that most of them would look at a Tyler Perry and only be satisfied if they had the same level of success that he has. All he has is financial success. However, when it comes to professional success in terms of filmmaking/scriptwriting credibility, he has a very long way to go. The can start from things like making small independent films. These always require a much smaller budget, hence studios are not too apprehensive when it comes to backing them. Additionally, if they actually put real effort into their work, viewers would be able to tell. Word of mouth can be very powerful these days. What could start as an underground hit could lead to mainstream success. Hence, the studio head would be much more willing to back their next project. The problem is that too many of them are looking for instant success and access to big bucks, without actually paying their dues first!

    • Amanda says:

      “Amanda, when you say “Nollywood”, I’m assuming that you are referring to the Nigerian film industry. I don’t think it will help to a great extent. These filmmakers are working in an industry where they are the dominant players.”

      My point is that black Americans need to see black people who are running their own industry. (I don’t mean that we should try to get into it. What I mean is why not emulate (the positive aspects) Yes they have their issues. Unreliable electricity, Mafia, dealing with actors doing several movies etc, crew who may or may not have knowledge of film jobs etc. All this done on little budgets and on digital (some have been done on film). My main point is really we don’t have an excuse.

      These people are making movies on limited well no budgets by our standards. Like I said they aren’t perfect, but they have something to improve on. BA’s on the other hand keep waiting for wp to come and give us the power to greenlight our films.

  30. I agree that the experience of foreign filmmakers that are operating within their OWN countries in which THEY are dominant does not apply to AA filmmakers.

    JaliliMaster, you said, “The AA filmmakers do not have that luxury for a variety of reasons. The most prominent AA filmmakers insist on showing a particular narrative of AA life, most of which plays into the stereotypes that others have of AAs. This, in turn, makes the Hollywood filmmakers think that their own view of AA life and culture is suitably authentic enough. Hence, they don’t have a need to worry about creative credibility, after all, they are portraying AAs the way other AA filmmakers portray AAs.”

    This is a very good point. When AA artists produce cookie-cutter, hack work and/or no-talent trash, they throw away whatever leverage they might have had. Because, after all, anybody can duplicate that sort of work. This applies across the various arts. For example, Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight have the sort of talent that has always given them more leverage than they would have had otherwise.

    Their work (along with that of other truly talented singers) can’t be easily replicated. So, it would be harder for record companies to put out copycat works from singers that they have more control over. Meanwhile, whenever the record companies grow weary of certain no-talent rappers, the companies enhance their leverage by promoting White copycat rappers like Vanilla Ice or Eminem. It’s not that difficult to duplicate people screaming and or cursing over some(body else’s) beats.

    It’s interesting. On the one hand, AA creatives generally shy away from making their work truly universal. On the other hand, when we do call ourselves dealing with our own slice of experience, we tend to peddle hackneyed, stereotypical work that anybody (else) can easily replicate. We throw away the chance to produce stories that actually represent our unique experiences—stories that nobody else can accurately tell.

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.

  31. DeStouet says:

    Khadijah said, “On the one hand, AA creatives generally shy away from making their work truly universal.”

    In my opinion, what this boils down to is money. Artists like Imani Uzuri and Saul Williams (both whom experiement with a variety of sounds, instruments and beats) are hardly known in the AA community. I’ve never been to see Imani perform in concert, but I have gone to see Saul in concert several times and can tell you that we are not supporting these artists. The same thing with musicians Ben Harper and Gnarls Barkley; their fan bases are not made up of a large pecentage of AA’s.

    The artists are there, we just do a terrible job supporting them.

    So can we fault them if, when they get their “big break” they decide to create art that perpetuates a stereotype, degrade women, and recycle the same old stories in order to make some money?

    We have a responsibilty to support those artists who are bringing something different, positive, encouraging while managing to stay true to their art. If not, what we are essentially asking them to do is, get by on scraps while we line the pockets of Beyonces, and whomever else fits the bill.

    I remember a while back at the other site many of you were furious at the largely intelligent audience of AA’s who were suppose to know better, but STILL tuned in to the BET Awards, when they were paying a “tribute” to MJ. How do you suppose our really talented and creative artist felt to know that?

    I don’t know whether we talk a good game, or what but I do know is this -once the talent is in our face, we don’t know what to do with it.

  32. DeStouet,

    You’ve raised some interesting points that, as you noted, came up before at the previous blog. One such conversation was at:
    http://muslimbushido.blogspot.com/2009/05/sojourner-artist-make-sure-theres.html

    You said, “The artists are there, we just do a terrible job supporting them.”

    This is true. As I said during that earlier conversation:

    Consumer behavior is fairly consistent no matter what type of product is involved. There are a handful of people who actively seek out healthy, nutritious food that is good for them. But such people are not the norm. Similarly, there are a handful of people who actively seek out entertainment products that are high-quality and life-enhancing. Again, this type of consumer is not the norm.

    Most people go with whatever is readily available. And what’s readily available (read: heavily promoted) tends to become popular. Whatever type of work that becomes popular then becomes even more readily available (through sequels and imitators, etc.). Most “positive” artists haven’t figured out how to break into this circular process. A negative manifestation of this circular process is why African-American arts have been spiraling down for the past two decades. Trash art begets more, and even worse, trash art.

    You said, “So can we fault them if, when they get their “big break” they decide to create art that perpetuates a stereotype, degrade women, and recycle the same old stories in order to make some money?”

    YES! I DO fault them. This “I had to get paid even if my manner of getting paid degrades and hurts you” argument is The Drug Dealer’s Excuse. I will never excuse that sort of behavior. And anybody who engages in that sort of destructive art is not worthy of my support.

    As I said earlier, One of the recurring problems that I’ve noticed with most so-called “positive” art is that the artists never gave much thought to how they were going to sell or promote their work. Their art usually does not have a built-in, compelling aspect to it. Many of them seem to think that the fact that their work is “positive” is enough to make it sell and become popular. Ummm . . . NO!

    These sorts of considerations apply to more than just screenplays. They apply to art across the board. The people who created the classical crossover group named Bond know this. That’s why they selected women musicians who can “pass” as fashion models. They know that sex sells. I strongly urge all aspiring Sojourner-Artists to keep these commercial considerations in mind when creating your work. Quality is not enough. There has to be some type of compelling “hook” to your work. You have to give thought to how and why your work will sell.

    You said, “We have a responsibilty to support those artists who are bringing something different, positive, encouraging while managing to stay true to their art. If not, what we are essentially asking them to do is, get by on scraps while we line the pockets of Beyonces, and whomever else fits the bill.”

    I’m asking talented AA artists to be smarter and more resourceful in finding ways to stay true to their art AND eat. I’m asking them to seek out materials such as (WM) blogger (The Art of Non-Conformity) Chris Guillebeau’s Unconventional Guide to Art and Money. http://artmoneyguide.com/

    I haven’t bought and read this particular guide that he’s put out, but I have read another one of his guides and I feel comfortable recommending him and his work. Mr. Guillebeau has been busy with creating unconventional strategies for life, work and travel. http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/about-the-project

    You said, “I remember a while back at the other site many of you were furious at the largely intelligent audience of AA’s who were suppose to know better, but STILL tuned in to the BET Awards, when they were paying a “tribute” to MJ. How do you suppose our really talented and creative artist felt to know that?”

    Probably deeply annoyed.

    You said, “I don’t know whether we talk a good game, or what but I do know is this-once the talent is in our face, we don’t know what to do with it.”

    Well, there are the idiot masses of AAs who are essentially lost, and then there’s the smaller group of AAs who purportedly know better. I’m talking to those of us who supposedly know better than to participate in certain things or to actively seek out vomit.

    I’ve been thinking about these sorts of issues recently, and I think much of this has to do with many AAs’ CORE, unspoken beliefs about the universe and the nature of reality. There are many of us who intellectually “know better” on the surface; but still hold certain unspoken CORE beliefs that tend to orient and guide us toward various types of vomit, be it:

    1-Trying to talk to, and reason with, crazy people (online and in real life) and/or people who have demonstrated that they hate us.

    2-Remaining within scarcity, “hunt and peck” scenarios.

    3-Desperately clinging to the belief that everybody else (non-Blacks and non-Black women in particular) are living within scarcity, “hunt and peck” scenarios.

    4-Actively seeking out and exposing ourselves to vomit-art.

    All sorts of peculiar behaviors become not just possible, but probable, when one has certain destructive core beliefs. I’ll talk about this in the next blog post.

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.

  33. DeStouet says:

    The artists I named have established themselves, just not with AA’s. For example, Saul Williams probably has about one millions fans nation wide, so he and other “positive” artists have done something to attract the attention of listeners. It’s just not us.

    If they go out of their way to attract AA’s, isn’t this going to conflict with their goal of creating art that has an universal appeal?

  34. DeStouet,

    You asked,“If they go out of their way to attract AA’s, isn’t this going to conflict with their goal of creating art that has an universal appeal?”

    I think it’s possible to do both at the same time. Similar to the way that Mayor Harold Washington of Chicago got plenty of “crossover” votes from other ethnic and racial communities without running away or distancing himself from AAs.
    __________________________________________

    ***Note to Readers***

    In making this new site the kind of project that’s sustainable for me over the long-run, I’ve had to streamline how I handle certain things. The comments section is one of them. What this means is that I’ll give substantive responses to those folks who enter the conversations early (as I did across the board at the previous blog).

    After each post is a couple of days old, I’ll generally continue to publish new comments from readers. (That meet the commenting guidelines as set forth at the previous blog—those who are unfamiliar can read the comment “box” at the previous blog.)

    But, after a each post is a couple of days old, I generally WON’T continue responding to new comments.

    [In other words, I’ll continue to publish comments to this post, but I’m not going to reply to anymore comments in this thread. FYI.]

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.