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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Reaching the African American Reader and cracking the African-American Book Market- My Dilemma

Over the past three years I’ve sold  books. And I’ve sold  eBooks.
But I haven’t sold many to African-Americans.

Strangely, breaking down the demographics on more recent titles most of my readers in the U.S. have been White.

Even stranger my books and eBooks are starting to sell better in the UK, Canada Australia and Germany than in the Black community. To my surprise I’ve gained more foreign readers than African-American readers with the YA ebook campaign.

When I first got into self-publishing I never thought it was possible to crack the foreign markets. But strangely, I’ve made more progress there in a year than with the African-American community in a decade.

I’m wondering: What am I doing wrong in the African-American community?

I've done everything I possibly can to reach out to Black customers. I’ve sent out postcards, visited African-American bookstores like Hue-Man, networked with vendors in Harlem and The Bronx and attended events like the Harlem Book Fair to make my books visible to African-Americans. I've spent thousands trying to target brothers and sisters. But for all my work I’ve run into a brick wall of resistance I can’t seem to break through.

I've had more White people get excited about books like All About Marilyn than African-Americans. And that saddens me because it speaks volumes about the state of the Black community. It feels like things are stifling creatively here, and everyone is comfortable in a box full of stereotypes.

One of the main reasons I became a writer and a publisher was to reach African-American readers. But almost ten years in this publishing game, it seems like I’m failing on that part of my mission.

I have to wonder if Black readers want positive stories about the African-American experience. Do they want to read about African-Americans who have good jobs, college educations, and their own businesses? Do they want stories that promote the traditional conservative values of the African-American community? Do they want books where they come out of the experience where they learn something in addition to being entertained?

I also have to wonder if African-American readers want a diversified book market where they can buy books like screenplays, teleplays, and African-American fantasy?

Or do Black readers just want more of the same old stories they’ve been getting for the past twenty  years such as:

The Single Successful educated Black woman who is looking for a man,

The story of the three or four Black women and their problems,

Black Man Bashing Blackwoman drama,

Baby Mama drama,

The street hustler who is looking for the big score,

The street hustler (male or female) looking to get paid in the drug game,

The Ride or die chick on the run with her man while they try to escape the cops,

The story of the Madam and her hoes,

Or the Christian stories which pretty much follow the same predictable premises.
That’s what I’m seeing in the African-American fiction section at the bookstore. That’s what’s selling with Black folks. Not what I’m currently publishing.

I’d like to think there is more than one African-American experience. And I’d like to think there are African-American readers interested in learning about Black life outside of the ghetto. These are the stories I thought African American readers desperately needed to see on a bookshelf.

But it seems like African-American audiences aren’t interested when I present them to them.
 Or am I just going over Black folks’ heads. Sometimes I have to wonder: Do Black readers want fiction like mine?

Sometimes I ponder if I should move on to those White and foreign audiences who are actually paying to buy my books. But I fear if I start writing stories to target those White and foreign readers in the U.S. and the international markets I’ll be branded a sell-out and an Uncle Tom by the Black community.

The same Black community that hasn’t been buying my books for close to a decade. And these same Black people who would deride me for not “keeping it real” were the same ones who passed me by when I was reaching out for them. I’m supposed to starve to prove my Blackness to the Black community while they buy street lit and erotica.

What’s even more frustrating is that I’ve made every effort to reach Black readers. I’ve spent close to ten years and thousands of dollars trying to reach Black readers. Low prices, high prices, free books, autographed copies, none of it is connecting with brothers  and sisters and getting them to buy my work or even try it in significant numbers.

In an age of the plotless idiocy of Tyler Perry, the coonery known as Hip-hop, the brain rot known as BET and the thuggery of Street Lit, it seems like Black people don’t want positive stories about the African-American experience. Sometimes I feel like I’m wasting my time and my money marketing towards the Black community.

It saddens me that almost a decade after I got into this publishing game I’m still having a harder time reaching the African-American readers I set out to sell books to than every other audience in the world. In an age where there’s a 70 percent dropout rate, high unemployment, low literacy, and a political climate that looks like it’s regressing to Jim Crow I know there’s a desperate need for stories like I write in the Black community.
Unfortunately, I’m learning the easiest way to hide the information like I produce from Black people is in between the pages of a book.

I love my brothers and sisters. And in spite of all my losses I’m still making efforts to reach the Black readers. I just wish I could figure out a way to make a breakthrough in the African-American book market. 

Talking All About Nikki in this Vlog

A Vlog where I talk all about the reasons why I wrote All About Nikki- The Fabulous First Season.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Greed- Why I want to move on from Action figure collecting.

I’ve been collecting action figures for close to twenty years now. Superheroes, movie characters, sci-fi, fantasy. It grew out of the love I had for comic books I had since I was four years old.

Now I’m starting to fall out of love with the hobby.

Why? Because I’m seeing the same type of dishonest business practices being applied by toy manufacturers, retailers, and toy licensors that made me stop collecting comic books almost twenty years ago.

Greed has now become the standard of business in the collector’s action figure market. While there were always elements of it from douchey Toy scalpers, and unethical comic shop owners, now these chicanerous business practices are creeping into the toy market on the manufacturing side. Instead of being about the characters, and making the best product possible, it’s becoming more and more about the money. Action figure waves padded with miscellaneous and insignificant characters to complete a build-a figure, spotty retail distribution, high prices ($20 for a single action figure is outrageous at retail) have me feeling that I’m just being jerked around by companies like Mattel and Hasbro.

This greed is what turned me off from collecting comics. The price spikes, the spotty distribution, and poor quality product all made me walk away from the comic book industry in 1995.

And now these same greedy elements are making me head for the door with action figures.

As much as I love these characters and their stories, I want nothing to do with greed. Greed sucks the fun out of a hobby. It makes collecting all about making money, not enjoying the characters. Moreover, when speculators enter a hobby it starts being about driving the price higher and not about sharing a pastime with friends and family and getting them to see what you enjoy from these characters and their stories.
The way I see it the collector action figure market is headed down the same bad road as the comic book industry in the 1990’s. That hobby was a lot of fun for me until publishers and retailers all started getting greedy and acting like a bunch of dicks.

At the height of the speculator boom back in the early to mid 1990’s comic book publishers saturated the market with more comic books retailers could sell and customers could possibly buy or care about. As they pandered to speculators looking to make money, readers like myself lost interest and moved on when we saw quality declining.

And just like I saw comics drowning the racks at the shops and the vendor tables, I’m starting to see collector action figure product drowning the pegs of K-Mart, Target, and Toys R’ Us on my trips to the toy store. Superheroes, Movie characters, Superhero movie characters, Sci-fi characters, and fantasy characters. None of this stuff is moving. Some of it has been on the shelf for a year. Some of it close to two years. And some of it has been there for three years.

Even on eBay collector toys like DC Universe Classics are starting to languish. I’m seeing collector figures go unsold after multiple repeat auctions or go for prices below retail carded and loose.

Long-term on this road I see retailers becoming alienated by collector toys the same way mom-and pop stores, supermarkets and drugstores were when they found themselves drowning in comic books they couldn’t return and couldn’t get rid of at the lowest of clearance prices.

And regular retail isn’t like the comic shop where product can languish for years on pegs while the shop owner speculates on whether their value goes up or down. Retailers like Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Target and drugstores like CVS and Rite Aid don’t want to sit on product for a year. They need product to move in a quarter. If product doesn’t move they clearance it.

And if it doesn’t move after that, then the next season they cut down on the shelf space for said types of product. Or they insist that manufacturers like Mattel offer different products in those slots they pay for that sell like Monster High, Barbie Ben 10, and WWE.

Or worse in the case of small mom and pop drugstores, they remove the toy aisles and replace them with stuff like Legg’s, pantyhose, coloring books, romance novels, craft items like paint, modeling clay, and glitter that appeal to women and smaller children.

Long-term this collector action figure flood could cripple the hobbled comic book industry even further. Licensing and merchandising was one of the bright spots of the comic book industry; it was the way conglomerates like Time Warner and Disney justified the losses they accrued on the printing of comic books. It was the way many characters gained any presence and exposure at retail outside of a comic shop or online retailer.

Now those revenue streams look like they’re starting to decline due to excessive product in the marketplace. And long-term with no licensing revenue to offset those printing costs, we could be seeing the end of an era when it comes to comic books and comic related products.

With the recent manufacturer product line padding, product saturation, and price spikes, it looks like things are coming to a close for me with action figures. And just like in 1995, I feel it’s time to move on from another hobby I once loved.

What’ll be my next hobby? This self-publishing thing is a lot of fun for me. Maybe I’ll do that for the next twenty years. At least I know no one will be speculating on the value of a book I publish. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

All About Black Friday eBook Sale

Until February 2012, the eBook versions of the internationally popular and critically acclaimed screenplay books All About Nikki-The Fabulous First Season and All About Marilyn will be 99 cents on Nook, and Kindle, itunes, and Smashwords. I’m cutting prices so younger readers can have a chance to pick up Nikki and Marilyn’s stories at a price they can afford for reading over the holidays.

I really want teens and tweens to learn more about the craft of screenwriting and I hope they’re inspired to take what they learn from these books towards writing their own scripts and making their own videos.

All About Nikki- The Fabulous First Season
ISBN: 978-0615507019
She thinks it’s her world.
Unfortunately, we have to live with her.

Sixteen-year-old Nikki Desmond is the product of too many, too much, and too little. Too many boarding schools, too much money, and too little discipline. After being expelled from a fourth prestigious New York boarding school, her mother sends her to Los Angeles to live with her father.
In the screenplays for the Fabulous First Season of this teen sitcom, Nikki adjusts to life on the west coast while her father works towards correcting her surly, racist, and rude behavior with a combination of tough love, humor, and life lessons.

A series with a concept that’s The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Meets Clueless, this version of All About Nikki is the complete first season with all thirteen episodes and bonus material.

All About Marilyn
ISBN: 978-0-615-34258-0
Fame Ends at 34.
Life Begins at 35.
Marilyn Marie is desperate to break away from Nikki Desmond, the rich spoiled rotten character she played on the hit 1990's teen sitcom All About Nikki. Scraping by for years on work in two-bit made-for-video productions and handouts from friends, the 34-year-old actress anxiously
waits for the big break that will jump start her stalled career. Tragically it comes on the set of the movie SELL OUT when she's attacked by Hollywood's current it girl Tabatha Strong.

While recovering in the hospital, Marilyn prepares for the greatest role of her life: Being herself. However, the ghost of Nikki Desmond continues to haunt her as she travels to New York City with a new face and a new lease on life. Eager to move on, Marilyn realizes she must reconcile with her troubled television past if she wants to have a future in the real world.

All About Marilyn is the critically acclaimed internationally popular screenplay that depicts the struggles African-American actresses face looking for work in the film industry. In addition to being an entertaining story which details what goes on behind the scenes in the entertainment industry, it’s a great way for younger readers to learn screenwriting terminology and how screenplays are written and structured.

Both All About Marilyn and All About Nikki- The Fabulous First Season are also available in paperback and make great gifts for the aspiring filmmaker or screenwriter in your family!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

What Occupy Wall Street Means to Me

Over the past two months, people have taken up residence in Zuccotti Park here in New York City. As part of the Occupy Wall Street Movement they say they’re protesting corporate greed, holding American corporations accountable, and the need to bring jobs back to the United States.

Many have dismissed these protests as a bunch of spoiled brats throwing a tantrum.

I see them as heroes.

These kids occupying Wall Street see the bigger picture of America’s future. And they don’t like where they fit into it.

The United States is going in the wrong direction. And I’d say it’s been going in the wrong direction since 1970. Since the Nixon Administration America’s leadership has been completely out of touch with the needs of We The People. Congress spends more time bickering than making laws, the U.S. Courts spend more time processing non-violent drug offenders than interpreting laws, and our current President is so emasculated he isn’t man enough to force any of these morons to work together towards getting this country back on the right track.

Right now the U.S. economy spends more than it takes in. Most American households spend more than they take in. And the revenue streams are starting to dry up for everyone.
We have over 100 Million Baby Boomers who are going to retire in the next twenty years. 100 million people who will be insisting on getting the Social Security and Medicare that they paid into the system. 100 million people who are going to be requesting to cash in the IRAs they paid to invest in. 100 million municipal and union employees who will be cashing in their pensions and retiring on payments equal to 70%-80% of their former paychecks. 100 million people who are going to be paying less tax revenue into the U.S. economy and demanding more from a system that doesn’t have enough money to pay back what they put in.

We have 100 million Gen-X (my generation) Gen-Y and Millenials who have been prevented from competing in the job market. Most of us have been unemployed or underemployed for the past twenty years due to corporations shipping our good-paying jobs overseas and eliminating more good paying jobs for the sake of increasing corporate profits.

Thanks to these greed-centered corporate policies, the members of my generation (Generation X) and the next two generations (Generation Y, Millenials) haven’t been able to get those stable long-term jobs that allow us to pay taxes into the U.S economy.
 On top of being underemployed underpaying jobs many members of these three generations are bogged down in debt from student loans of over $100,000 or more. This is crushing debt that will have a long-term impact on the U.S. Economy the same way the deficit has on Federal policy.

On the course the U.S economy is on where we spend more than we take in there will not be enough money to pay for social programs at several hundred billion dollars per state and billions more for Federal programs like SSI and Medicaid. There will not be enough money to pay for Social Security when 100 million people retire. There will not be enough money to pay to continue to process and house non-violent drug offenders through the courts at $100,000 a person and $70,000 a year prison stays. Heck, there won’t even be enough money to pay for the lights in the White House!

Why? Because these young people don’t have good-paying jobs. Jobs that pay taxes. Tax revenue that pays for those social programs, Social Security, Courts, The Post Office, and lights in the White House and every other federal and state government function.

Most of those underemployed youngsters don’t make enough money to pay taxes to go in Federal and State government coffers. Right now 50% of this country’s workers make so little money they don’t pay any taxes in April. Most of the Young people working in the Starbucks and other part-time low wage today get a tax refund and extra money the government doesn’t have from Federal Earned Income tax credits.

While they get a nice tax refund in April, they don’t make enough money at those low-wage jobs to join the middle class. And each year they are kept out of the middle class has a devastating trickle-down impact on the U.S. Economy. These are the people who are being attritioned out of participating in the U.S. Economy due to bad corporate policy that sends American jobs to China, India, Vietnam and other third world countries for the sake of profits that only benefit an oligarchy of the top 1% percent of wealthy people and not everyone else.

In the larger scheme of things, Gen-X, Gen-Y and the Millenials were supposed to the people who were supposed to take the place of the 100 million strong baby boomers in the U.S economic system. The people who were supposed to bring revenue into the U.S economic system and sustain it as the Baby Boomers left the U.S economy.

But we can’t join that middle class if we can’t find jobs that pay enough to allow us to pay our fair share of taxes or deal with crushing student loan debt loads of $100,000- $500,000 and minimum payments of $400-$1000 a month.

Long-term if we can’t get out of this debt that’s going to have a domino effect on the U.S. Economy over the next twenty years. Right now many people in their twenties and even their thirties still live with their parents because they don’t make enough money at those low-paying part-time jobs to establish their own households. Worse, most of us don’t keep a job long enough (most part-time-low-wage jobs are only 3 months to two years) to establish secure full-time employment.

And because of the short-term low-paying jobs and long-term student loan debt we have a hard time establishing the good credit that’s necessary for us to continue participating in the U.S economy.

As we get older, we’re not going to be able to establish credit that’s strong enough buy homes or cars. That’s going to have a tremendous impact on the U.S. economy and the cost of living. On the current course of low-wage jobs, high debt, and limited job security, our standard of living will be worse than their parents.

Why? Because no one is paying enough taxes into the system to sustain the government programs that have been subsidizing the economy for the past 80 years. As today’s young workers grow into older workers who don’t pay enough taxes and depend on government programs for their sustenance, the question that has to be asked is: Where is the money going to come from to sustain the overall U.S economy?

 Corporations who do business on Wall Street pay next to no taxes. They make billions in profits on the backs of the American citizen. They send American jobs overseas, and pay full-time workers next to nothing while making them work 12-16 hour days. They underemploy young, able-bodied American adults in low-wage jobs that don’t allow them to make enough money to join the middle class. Their backwards approach to business is stalling the overall U.S. economy and keeping it from being competitive globally.

Thanks to their incompetence, India’s economy is booming. China’s economy is booming. Vietnam’s economy is booming. And nothing can change to maintain the American quality of life due to U.S. corporate greed and bad government policy poisoned by corporate lobbying by a treasonous few.

All of this mismanagement has gone unchecked for close to 40 years and the bill is coming due. Worse, no one at the corporate offices on Wall Street or Washington has an idea on how to pay for it when the baby boomers start retiring en masse on Main Street USA.
American CEO’s are worse than infidels. They don’t take care of their own people. They don’t take care of their own country. They take care of themselves at the expense of everyone else.

As I see it, the patriots Occupying Wall Street just want their fair shake at the American Dream. They see the direction this country is going in and want to change course before that dream slips out of their hands. Moreover, they understand that the U.S. Economy is a system where everyone is interdependent on everyone else and that everyone has to pay their fair share for the system to work. They realize that these U.S. corporations who have been taking American jobs overseas are biting the hand that feeds them. A CEO shouldn’t be making $300 million a year. That’s excessive and I’ll even say an abuse of corporate policy. Nor should they be allowed to spend money like it’s going out of style on bonuses, raises, corporate jets, and expense accounts. These employees need to be held accountable for their mismanagement, incompetence and failed leadership that has partially sent this country into the downward spiral it’s currently in.

These Americans Occupying Wall Street understand what We The People in the Constitution means and understand that we have the power to change our country and our government. Thomas Jefferson once said that if government isn’t working we should throw it off and put on a new government. Personally, I think it’s time for us to put off this corrupt government and establish a new government. One that serves the people, not corporations and special interests. And maybe this Occupy Wall Street movement is the start of the revolution that will lead to the change America desperately needs.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Myth of the Strong Black Woman

In the media when we see Black women it’s they’re often depicted hard tough and assertive. The strong independent female who can handle things on her own. She’s a superwoman who has her own career, her own life and doesn’t need a Black man.

We’re told she can do it on her own. That she’s strong and independent. That she’s doing it for herself by herself.

That’s the biggest lie ever told.

I’d have to say it’s the second biggest lie ever told to women since Satan told Eve to eat the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden and she’d know like God.

Sorry, but there is no Strong Independent Black woman. That is a lie from the pit of Hell dressed up with ribbons and bows. The Strong Independent Black Woman isn’t doing anything on her own. She never has done anything on her own.

The Strong Independent Black Woman has always had the help of a man.

A White Man named Uncle Sam.

Since the late 1960’s these strong Independent Black women achieved all their success with the help of Government social programs like Welfare, Food Stamps, Public housing, Section 8 Housing, College Grants, Child Support, Student Loans, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages.

If these “strong” Black women were truly independent, that would mean she’d pull herself up by their bootstraps like our slave ancestors with NO support from a government institution, government program, or the help of a family member.

True examples of Strong independent Black women are Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, or Madame C.J. Walker. And even they had the support of other people to achieve their goals.

How many of these “Strong Independent Black Woman” over the last 40 years can say they’ve actually done something without the help of the government like these women?


The modern Strong Independent Black Woman is a concept made up by White Feminists, Madison Avenue, Hollywood and Uncle Sam to establish an enmity between the Black man and the Black woman. Modernizing the insidious divide and conquer tactics of Willie Lynch these individuals and institutions sought to establish a rift the Black man and the Black woman and shatter their unity. In their two-part plan they sought to destroy the institution of the Black family by brainwashing the Black woman and turning her against her Black man.

Soon after the Civil Rights act of 1964 was passed and the Voting rights act of 1965 was passed this plan was put into action. The first phase of this plan to destroy the Black family was to remove the Black Man from his home. This was done insidiously through welfare and other social programs which established policies that the Black Man couldn’t be in his home if a woman wanted to receive benefits from the government. With the Black Man’s income constantly being unstable due to the discrimination he suffered in the workplace, Black women eagerly sent their men out of the home for a more reliable stream of income not seeing the generational damage done to their families by Uncle Sam and his government programs.

Along with social programs, the removal of the Black Man from the home was also facilitated through the draft for the Vietnam War. By disproportionately drafting away most of the educated, functioning and capable Black men and sending them to war, many of America’s best and brightest Black men were killed off in record numbers.

With the responsible Black Man removed from the Black household there was no one to lead the Black family or protect the Black community. The men who were allowed to remain in the Black community such as dope dealers, pimps, junkies, ex-cons, gang members, illiterates, and pimp preachers were part of a bigger plan. With these undesirable and unethical males being the only ones available in the community to rise to leadership positions by default, the powers that be felt it would effectively sabotage future generations of young Black Males and keep them from achieving success. The boys who grew up to follow in the footsteps of these unethical men would grow up to imbibe their values as the norms for Black males, producing more undesirable, irresponsible, and incompetent Black males.

The second phase of the plan to divide the Black man and the Black woman and destroy the Black family was implemented when White Feminists began preaching their propaganda to Black women telling them they didn’t need a man and that they could do things for themselves. Not understanding that White women had White Privilege and that White Feminists were actually being taken care of by White Men who patronized them behind the scenes in their jobs, Black women bought into these lies and began distancing themselves from their Black men in favor of support from government programs.

The White feminists colluding Uncle Sam, Madison Avenue and Hollywood reinforced their propaganda in the media on television and movies by promoting negative images of Black men such as Black male criminals in the news and on television. With only the undesirable Black males left in the Black community due to the drafts and social programs, this media soon became a self-fulfilling prophecy that reinforced the concept in Black women’s minds that Black men were no good and they’d be better off on their own.

Feeling alone and abandoned by Black men who had either been killed off by the Vietnam War, forced out of the home by social programs or Vietnam veterans who had returned home from war drug addicted or mentally ill, the Black woman sought to achieve her own financial independence to take care of herself and her children. Ironically, this independence made her more co-dependent on the U.S. government and her new White man Uncle Sam.

As he offered her welfare, government grants for college, public housing, student loans, civil service jobs, and even mortgages, the Black woman began to delude herself that she was doing things on her own. That she was strong and independent. That she could take care of herself by herself. The lie became a mantra. And soon the mantra became the legend of The Strong Black Woman.

And for all their material success, Black women who buy into the myth of the Strong Independent Black Woman today are alone, lost and confused.

Why? Because she can’t find a mate. And she can’t figure out why.

There’s a reason why many of these Strong Independent Black Women can’t find a Black man to be their partner.

They’ve already got a White Man named Uncle Sam taking care of them.

And compared to his endless pockets and unrealistic standards for “success”, no Black man in this institutionally racist country will ever measure up.

And he can’t possibly measure up when a group of international racists refuse to give him an equal opportunity to compete against them.

What most Sistas don’t understand is that The Strong Independent Black Woman is propaganda from The Devil himself meant to disrupt the natural order established by God between Black men and Black women.

God didn’t make any woman to be independent or to do anything on her own. He made woman to be the help meet and companion to man. He meant for Brothers and Sisters to come together as husbands and wives. When man and woman marry, the two become one under the authority of God. And under his authority they manage their household together.

The Bible states “It is good for man not to be alone” and that’s why he made woman to be his help meet.

And just as God says it’s not good for a man to be alone, I believe it’s not good for a woman to be alone either. Because when man and woman are separated they are at their weakest and most vulnerable.

The Strong Independent Black woman is a concept that was created to exploit the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of a Black woman and present them as strengths. Did anyone ever notice the behavior of the Strong Independent Black woman? How she’s always so hostile and defensive?

I’ve studied these Strong Independent Black Woman types for a couple of years now and her whole game is defense. She always wants to keep everyone at a distance. Her clothes are like armor, her permed or natural hair is like a helmet, and her body language is always on guard; the rolling eyes and snapping of the neck meant to make people back away. She doesn’t trust anyone, because she doesn’t want anyone to get close enough to her to see the truth about her.

I know the Strong Independent Black woman acts this way so she won’t let anyone see how insecure she is. That she’s really scared if people find out the truth about her house of lies they’ll realize how weak and co-dependent she is on White men.

The Strong Black Woman doesn’t want to admit that she’s the help meet of Uncle Sam and White men. She doesn’t want anyone to know she actually gets her power and her rewards by helping him oppress the Black community. As the de facto Overseer of the Black community, the Strong Independent Black Woman’s job is to humiliate and belittle Black men and emasculate Black boys and keep them from rising to a position of power to challenge the White male establishment she depends on for her survival.

Seriously, does anyone ever notice where there’s a White man there’s always Strong Black Woman at his side? How at all these jobs there’s always a Strong Independent Black Woman in her armor suit assisting him in whatever job he does? Does anyone ever notice how she’s always there like his enforcer ready to attack and protect his interests with her snapping neck, loud mouth and bad attitude?

I’m thinking it’s because she doesn’t want to bite the hand that feeds her. She has more to lose from not standing at that White man’s side than she would from backing up a Black Man.

There is no strength in a Strong Black Woman. She is more weak and pathetic than an Uncle Tom Black Man. At least the Uncle Tom knows he’s a sell-out who has betrayed his people to get ahead, so there’s no pretense with him. But The Strong Independent Black Woman is so deluded that she can’t see the compromises she’s made to get ahead in the world and still thinks she’s doing what is in the best interests of her brothers and sisters. Ironically, everything she does on her own to empower herself leads to the further oppression and emasculation of Black men and boys and the degradation of young Black girls.

Unless Black women today walk away from this false ideology of a Strong Independent Black Woman and and reconciles with her Black Man she will never realize the blessings God has for her and the Black Family. Only when the Black man and the Black woman come together under the authority of God can they actualize their full potential by bringing out the best in each other.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Celebrating Five Years of Blogginig

Today marks the fifth anniversary of this blog. Hard to believe I’ve been doing this for five years now. I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to read my articles, rants and ramblings over that time.

I also want to thank all those people who I’ve met online who have helped me work 
towards getting the word out about my work and given me advice and support.

Looking back, I’ve come a long way since 2006.

Back when I started this blog I only wrote six articles for the entire year.

Currently for 2011 I’ve written over 137 articles and there’s still one more month of this year to go.

Back in 2006, this blog only updated…whenever.

Now in 2011, it’ updates Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Back in 2006 I was only promoting one book Isis.

Now in 2011 I’m promoting six paperbacks and over a dozen eBooks on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Back in 2006 I was dreaming of a way to self-publish my four other manuscripts.

Now in 2011 every manuscript that was in my queue is a title in my catalog of books.

Back in 2006 this blog had no pictures at all.

Now in 2011 I’ve posted quite a few photos and pictures of art.

Back in 2006 I was wondering how to put together a .pdf to make my own self-published books.

Now in 2011 I can put together a .pdf and have gotten a good handle on Photoshop to design my own covers.

Back in 2006 I was using POD companies to publish my books.

Now in 2011 I self-publish books and eBooks under my SJS DIRECT imprint.

Back in 2006 I pondered how I’d ever self publish books without a POD publisher.

Now in 2011, I’m helping other people publish their books and eBooks.

Back in 2006 I wondered how I’d get the word out about my books.

Now in 2011 I have readers all over the world reading my work.

Everything I said I wanted to do as a writer in five years I actually did in four. Since 2008, 

I’ve managed to take myself to a new level creatively. I’ve published four critically acclaimed books and screenplays, and right now I’m starting to make YouTube videos.

Ever since I was a child I’ve always wanted to do TV or movies. Who knows? Maybe I’ll make that movie in a couple of years.

I haven’t made a lot of money in the last five years, but I’ve made a lot of progress. Maybe in the next five years I’ll finally figure out how to make a profit at this writing thing.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Commencement By Lawrence Cherry

This Summer I was doing commission work for a couple of authors. I did a couple of eBook conversions for a National Best-selling author and a page layout and cover design job for another author’s paperback.
Out of respect for that author I haven’t posted anything about that paperback project on the blog. Now that I have permission, I can promote it on this site.

After College It's Time For an Education...In Faith
ISBN 978-0-615-48546-1
Suggested retail price $19.99 (Discounts will bring it down to $15 and change!)
561 pages
Commencement is available at amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online retailers.

Allen Sharpe thought he had it all. As a graduate of one of the nation’s most prestigious Ivy League Universities, Allen believed he was poised for a six-figure position as a financial consultant and “the good life”. In Allen’s world, nothing else could be more important. However, after experiencing a major detour on his road to success, Allen learns there is more to life than what the University has prepared him for.

As Allen tries to pick up the pieces of his broken dreams, he is forced to re-evaluate his aspirations and priorities. As a result, he embarks on a spiritual journey to develop a deeper relationship with God. On this journey, Allen and his friends learn many invaluable lessons they could never get from a textbook.

About Lawrence Cherry

Lawrence Cherry is a pen name that is used by the author who is a born again believer whose purpose in writing this work is to give glory and praise to God and his son Jesus Christ. It is the author’s fervent desire that God will use this work to inspire others to come to the knowledge of Christ and be saved, and to encourage the faith of those who already believe.

Commencement is a Christian story about the struggles of an African-American male in the job market. it's a great story about perseverance, determination and faith in God. I think you'll enjoy this one when you start reading it!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fingerprints Don’t Stop Food Stamp Fraud

Here in New York City, people are still being fingerprinted if they want to apply for Food Stamps. In fact, New York City is only one of two places in the country where people are still being fingerprinted as part of the application process for Food Stamps.

While critics say that fingerprinting keeps government assistance out of the hands of needy New Yorkers, Mayor Mike Bloomberg defends the policy saying that it cuts down on Food Stamp fraud.

To that Shawn says: OH REALLY?

So all those fingerprints are stopping those men and women who loiter around the Path Mark of Harlem asking me if I’m paying cash for all my groceries. Or the people who roll up on me when I’m shopping at Bravo on 170th Street and Grand Concourse. Or the Target at the Gateway Center. Or the Fairway on 86th Street and Second Avenue. I even ran into one of these individuals while I was shopping in the Whole Foods in the Time Warner Center on 59th Street and Columbus Circle in Midtown Manhattan.

Was fingerprinting supposed to stop THAT Food Stamp Fraud? Because it’s still going on. And it continues to go on in Supermarkets ranging from the small stores that sell groceries in the inner-city like C-Towns and Bravos to fancy gourmet markets like Fairway, Whole Foods, Westside Market, Dagastino’s and Food Emporium.

Fingerprinting hasn’t stopped Food Stamp fraud. And no policy ever will.

Food Stamp Fraud has been going on since the social program came out in the late 60’s-early 1970’s. Hustlers have been selling Food stamps for cash since they were paper food coupons for cash back in the 1980’s. And when State governments changed from paper coupon books to benefit cards, with a person’s picture on them in the 1990’s the hustlers just adapted their game on the street. So instead of selling food stamp books in the neighborhood, they prowl supermarkets looking for working class marks to go along with their schemes to save a few bucks on their groceries.

And Mayor Mike Bloomberg says that the law enacted during the Guiliani administration back in the 1990’s will stop Food Stamp Fraud.

Man please. It didn’t stop it then. And it’s not stopping it now.

Laws don’t stop the lawless. Why? Because they never followed the rules anyway.

Just like MetroCards don’t stop farebeaters here in New York City (we actually have MORE people hopping the train instead of paying the fare these days due to the lack of Token Booth Clerks at the local stations), Fingerprints don’t stop food stamp fraud. Technology will never stop a person who is looking to willfully and intentionally break the law from willfully and intentionally breaking the law. Hustlers are always going to find a way around the rules to do their business. What most politicians like Mike Bloomberg don’t understand is that America is a capitalist country and even in impoverished areas savvy hustlers are going to capitalize on an opportunity to make money for themselves.

But backwards policies like this do keep law-abiding citizens like myself who are struggling to stay afloat from buying the food that they need to feed themselves and their families. And here in New York City, hundreds of thousands of people are quietly starving when they could be buying food to take care of their families.

As a brotha who is unemployed and living off my savings, I avoid government assistance like disease. Sure I qualify for Food Stamps, but I want nothing to do with the program due to the interrogating application process and the fingerprint policy here in New York City. Moreover, I don’t want to deal with the degrading and humiliating recertification process New York City’s Human Resource Administration puts people through every 90 days just to keep receiving Food Stamps. While I’m entitled to government assistance, I’d rather sell books and eBooks to make the money I need to stay afloat. And if I need food, I’ll get help from food banks rather than deal with government bureaucracy that wants to scrutinize every portion of my life for a lousy ten bucks on the first or fifteenth of every month.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

When it comes to Screwing Over Customers, Bankers Ain’t got Nothing on Comic Book Publishers

Recently Bank of America proposed a $5 monthly fee for the use of its debit cards. Customers revolted nationwide. They threatened to take their money to credit unions In the face of so much bad publicity competing banks like Wells Fargo, Citibank and JPMorganChase announced they wouldn’t even think of proposing a debit card fee.
Just this week Bank of America backed away from its new proposed fee and announced it wasn’t going to charge its customers to use its debit card.

But if this were the comic book industry, Bank of America would have gotten away with getting customers to pay that monthly fee to read comics on top of the purchase price- and more. In fact comic fans are so na├»ve they’ll explain away any price increase a toy company or comic book publisher presents to them and justify that company’s reasons for overcharging them.

Sadly the only customers to get least entertainment value for their money are comic book fans. Unfortunately they’re eager to accept being screwed on a regular basis.

Storylines in today’s comic books crawl at a snail’s pace. When I was a kid back in the 1980’s a reader got an entire story with a beginning, middle and end for the low price of 75 cents to a dollar.

Nowadays a whole 32-page comic book will cost Three to four dollars. And for that price all that will happen is Spider-man going to see Aunt May or two members of the Justice League to just meet up to talk about Lex Luthor’s plans to take over the world. Part of a beginning, but no middle or end.

On average, it takes six to eight months for a story to reach the first plot point, and 24 issues to finish a storyline.

I’ve seen Dragon Ball Z episodes with faster pacing over 20 minutes.

At $3-$4 for each comic the comic book customer has shelled out $72-$96 for a story that goes nowhere.

Twenty-five years ago a customer paid $6 and finished an entire storyline or two in that time.

In the time a comic fan spends waiting for a storyline to just setup and reach the first plot point, a person could have:

Watched several dozen DVDs,
Watched several dozen movies at the theater,
Completed a video game like Call of Duty,
Watched two-thirds of the entire TV season of several shows,
Watched several soap opera storylines pay off,
Watched an entire season of a summer cable series,
Watched several wrestling storylines pay off,
Watched several wrestling Pay-Per-Views,
Listened to over 1000 mp3s,
Finished reading several paperback novels,
Read over 180 newspapers, or 36 magazines,
Or surfed the internet for seven months.

With such a slow pace for storytelling these days, the comic book is the lowest value for the entertainment dollar when compared to other forms of competing media. Taking roughly 24 issues to finish a single storyline at $3-$4 an issue a comic fan has spent $72-$96 to get the same entertainment value of a $15 DVD, a $10 movie ticket a $14.99 paperback or a $2.99 eBook!

Wall Street ain’t got nothing on the Comic book industry. Goldman Sachs should send their brokers to DC or Marvel so they can learn how a professional fleeces customers out of their hard-earned money. Subprime mortgages have nothing on the screwjob performed the few remaining comic fans every month.

Stories that take a Twenty-four to a hundred issues to finish? Comic fans will go along. Books that are constantly late? Comic fans will go along? Reboots every two or three years or so that have customers starting their collections over from number one for the third or fourth time? The comic fan goes along. A crazy numbering system that would make a librarian insane? The comic fan goes along. Price increases? Yeah, they’ll go along. A nominal fee per issue for “handling” comics in order to ensure they get to the comic shops? I actually believe that comic book publishers could get away with this.

The Banking industry would love to have comic fans as customers right now. They’re the perfect consumer for their laundry list of fees and surcharges. Comic fans justify every wrong done to them and still open their wallet to hand over their money and wait to be abused again the next month. Wall Street salivates over customers like this who go along to get along and provide absolutely no resistance to their polices outside of bitching on a message board.

I wish comic fans would get some resolve. I wish they’d flex their muscles as consumers and revolt the way Bank of America customers did when they felt they were being abused. It would make comic book publishers wake up and stop taking their readers for granted. If comic book customers demanded better of publishers maybe they’d actually get something of value in exchange for all the money they shell out every month.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I got a beef with some of these “Mixed” or "Biracial" actors and actresses, athletes, politicians and other celebrities. And I’ve had it for some time.

They audition for Black roles.

They star in Black films.

They star in Black TV shows.

They are featured prominently in Black Magazines like Ebony, Essence, and Jet.

To me, The Halle Berrys, Paula Pattons, Karyn Parsons Lisa Bonets, Tracee Ellis Ross’ Evan Ross’ Shemar Moores, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnsons, Nicki Minajes and Persia Whites are BLACK. Even the Tiger Woods Kimora Simmons and Barack Obama are BLACK to me.

They were Black actors when they went to audition for these roles. They were Black actors when they want to be in these Black TV Shows.

They were Black when they won the Oscars, Emmys, and NAACP Image awards. And they were Black when they won the golf tournaments and promoted their clothing lines. And they were Black when they won the Presidency.

They take my money saying they are playing Black characters in these movies. They ask me to support their Black TV shows, their Black clothing lines. And they want their achievements defined as Black history. They ask me to vote for them when they run to be the first Black President.

But talk to them privately and they are “mixed” or “biracial”.

No, I’m sorry, that is some BULLSHIT.

Sorry but In America you don’t get to be BLACK when it benefits you. Blackness isn’t something you just turn off and on like a light switch. You don’t get to be Black when you want to be a celebrity, or when you want to be featured prominently in white society then go back to being “biracial” or “Mixed” in your real life.

Color isn’t a fantasy. Nor is it a concept. It is part of your culture, heritage and identity.

What really irks me is when these people whine and moan about all the racism they endured in white society when they actually benefited from playing both sides.

I’m sorry, too many FULL BLACK people died and sacrificed during the Civil Rights struggle over the past hundred years or so your MIXED UP CONFUSED ass can reap the benefits today.

Personally, I feel if Black celebrities want to play the mixed card in defense mode, then step aside when those BLACK job opportunity comes by. When a casting director says they want a BLACK actor for a role, step aside. When they are making BLACK TV show, go away because you don’t qualify for any of the roles. When a company is looking to hire a BLACK employee, then step aside. Don’t try to claim that you are Black in this great White society.

Compete as a full “Mixed” or a “biracial” person. See how far that takes you against those Euraisans, Half-white half-Hispanics, and Irish/Italians, German/French, British/Italian, British/German Native American/Irish Chicanos and other people who can take those ambiguous terms for diversity and apply it to themselves.

I’d like to see how many roles these Mixed-up “Biracial” Black actors get competing in that expanded interpretation of the category. Because the racist producers and casting directors who run Hollywood would twist that shit on their Black asses to screw them out of jobs and keep them from working.

Personally I’d like to see how many mainstream roles they get when they competed with A-list White actresses and actors by playing up their white side instead of their Black one.

*Oh wait, that doesn’t happen*

And that’s why these confused brothers and sisters have to go star in all those direct-to-video BLACK movies I see on Amazon these days. And if it wasn’t for the BLACK filmmakers HIRING them and the BLACK community supporting them, and paying BLACK money to see them in those movies they wouldn’t be doing anything but waitressing, art modeling, or whatever low-level job they could get before they became actors.

Y’know what? Shawn can pull that mixed bullshit too. On My mother’s side, my grandfather is Native American, My grandmother is West Indian. And technically according to that, I’m mixed, biracial or whatever the hell you want to call it.

But I don’t play that card because I know in racist America claiming those heritages still makes me a Black Man.

Just like it makes these mixed-up “biracial” actors and celebrities are BLACK. Let their asses go out on a highway in their luxury cars at night and they will find out how BLACK they are when the police stop them. Let em’ go shopping on Madison Avenue here in New York or even the grocery store in their neighborhood and they will find out how BLACK they are. Or let them run afoul of the court system in America and they will find out how BLACK they are in this great White society.

Don't come to me with that "biracial nonsense. Because you are still BLACK in my eyes.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Bashing the Black Man Is A Lucrative Business

Toni Morrison.

Alice Walker.

Terry McMillian

Lee Daniels.

Tyler Perry.

Oprah Winfrey.

Michael Baisden.

Karrine Steffans.

Iyana Vanzant.

Steve Harvey.
All these people and many more have made money off one thing: Bashing the Black man.
Since the 1980s bashing the Black man has become a very lucrative business for some in the Black community. Over the past three decades I’d have to say it’s become its own industry.
A Black author can write a book about a trifling Black man and have a best-seller with over a million copies.

A Black film-maker can make a film featuring Black men as trifiling, lazy, and incompetent and it’s a box-office hit grossing $50 to $60 million dollars.

Write a stage play about a Black woman who has been done wrong by a trifling no good Black man and It’ll play to a full house throughout the Chitlin’ circuit and even off-Broadway in New York and in Los Angeles and abroad.

And these types of Black Man stomping products win most of the international acclaim and all the big awards. Alice Walker writes The Color Purple dogging Black men and wins a National Book Award.

Terry McMillian gained a nationwide audience for Waiting to Exhale, the story about four single, successful Black women who just couldn’t find a good man, because all the Black men out there were no good.

McMillian’s success with Waiting to Exhale spawned a dozen clones throughout the 90’s and the early 2000s. Sheneska Jackson, Trisha R. Thomas, Omar Tyree, and dozens of others all had best-sellers following McMillian’s successful formula. All these stories featured a single successful, well-educated Black heroine who just couldn’t find a good man and had to deal with so many triflin’ no good Black Men before they found their prince if they ever did by the last page of the story.

Later in her career, McMillan had success with another Black man-stomping novel, the follow up to Waiting to Exhale, Getting to Happy. Even though the book was critically panned, it still managed to be a best-seller and pull an NAACP Image award for literature.

Lee Daniels dogs out brothers First in Monster’s Ball where Lawrence Musgrove is shown as a prisoner on death row, an irresponsible brotha who leaves behind a family, and then again with Precious based on the Black man-hating novel PUSH by Sapphire and wins an NAACP Image award for best picture and gets nominated for an Oscar for Best Director.
Geoffrey Fletcher won an Oscar for his screenplay for Precious Based on the Black Man-hating novel PUSH by Sapphire.

Tyler Perry has won numerous NAACP image awards for his films like For Colored Girls. And I Can do Bad All By Myself. Most of his films feature Black men abusing, brutalizing, raping and humiliating Black women before they are saved by a light-skinned Black or Latino male.

Oprah Winfrey received multiple Daytime Emmys and has built a billion-dollar empire over the past 25 years bashing brothers like a demolition derby.

Daytime Talk shows built their entire business on bashing brothers. Throughout the 90’s Ricki Lake, Jenny Jones, Rolonda Watts, Sally Jesse Raphael and a dozen other talk shows had huge ratings featuring no good trifiln’ cheatin’ Black men doing their Black woman wrong as the topics for their shows.

Recently Maury Povich and Jerry Springer have turned talk shows into ratings gold with shows about lying cheating, no good Black men, and DNA Drama where sistas try to find out who the baby daddy is.

Most of the court shows on TV like Judge Joe Brown, Judge Mathis, The People’s Court, Divorce Court, and Judge Judy feature Black men being depicted as trifling, stupid, lazy and no good. Audiences love watching these judges give these no job scrub brothas an emasculating reaming while they pass cash judgments to the poor, victimized Black woman to avenge the wrong done to them.

Steve Harvey has sold over a million copies of Act like a Lady, Think like a Man to audiences of Black women. It’s going to soon be a major motion picture.

One subject has turned into a multimillion dollar industry and made several dozen people very wealthy: Bashing the Black Man and focusing on the negative stereotypes revolving around him.

Yes, the Black man. America’s perpetual villain on the 6 o’clock news. The Black community’s scapegoat. The reason for all the Black Woman’s problems. America’s BUCK. America’s COON. The laughingstock of the world.

He’s trifling, no good, a cheater, a dog, a liar, a criminal. When he’s not in jail, on the corner or smoking weed He leaves litters of kids around he doesn’t care for. He never has a job, and when he has one he never goes to work it. He beats the kids. Eats all the food and uses up all the toilet paper and the hot water in the house. And his butt still stinks because Niggas ain't shit.

And the educated ones with the good jobs are just as trifling. They’re stuck up and conceited and think they’re better than everyone else. They just want White women. Or Asian Women. Or Latinas. Or their own daughters. And some of them want their sons.
Well, that’s what all those books, movies TV, stage plays and talk shows will have you believe. Anything to make a buck off the millions of gullible Black woman who identify with and relate to this one-sided nonsense.

And the sad part is almost all of this crap is made with no testament to quality. Most of the poorly written books, stage plays, TV shows, and movies made by these Black Man-bashing hustlers are often put together on the cheap and rushed out to take advantage of the ravenous audience of gullible Black women so starved for a positive image of themselves in the media they’ll take anything thrown at them. As these hucksters make off with their hard earned cash, sistas are medicated by cathartic snake-oil in the form of entertainment. While this media makes them feel better and validates their issues, none of it provides a definitive solution that corrects their longstanding problems like it promises to.

What I find strange is that none of these people writing these books or making these movies or media will give a Black man a job, but this group of brothas and sistas love exploiting his status as a scapegoat to enrich themselves.

What’s even stranger is that for all the bashing of the Black man in the media, he’s never given an opportunity to discuss HIS point of view. He’s never given a chance to defend his reputation in this woman-centered media. The only Black males are allowed to speak in this media, are usually the emasculated brothers who take sides with the poor victimized Black woman. And they’re usually the ones who use that forum to push a book, stage play, or movie on the Black female audience.

Y’know I’d like to hear from the other side for once. Those “no good trifling brothers.” I want their side of the story. I think it’d make for a more balanced picture of Black life. I’d love to hear the stories about how Black women picked guys, for superficial reasons like their looks, how much money they had in their pockets and what kind of car they drove. How they tried to KEEP brothas who were on their way out of the relationship by getting pregnant. How they got involved with violent men even though family and friends WARNED them about these dudes, and how they saw this toxic anger up close and personal. How they got involved with men with criminal histories. How they were so desperate and lonely they got involved with a married man even though he TOLD her he was married. How they were so desperate they put a known pedophile around their children so they could have a man. How they willfully and intentionally dated and married homosexuals because they thought it was trendy and hip. How their insecurities, emotional baggage and trust issues caused their relationships to fail. And ultimately, how Black women were partially responsible for the situations they got themselves into.

But that wouldn’t bring ratings on TV. Or a huge payday for some playwright, filmmaker or writer. No, that stuff doesn’t sell. I know from experience with The Cassandra Cookbook. Black audiences love material that allows them to blame the other side, not take responsibility for their actions.

As a writer I could join in on this lucrative market, and cash in on sistas pain, but I choose not to. I feel writing this kind of material only adds to the problems in the Black community and doesn’t focus on developing a lasting solution. I don’t want to continue deepening the rift between Black men and Black women, I want to close it. I feel that working towards healing this four decade long enmity between the sexes would be much more valuable to the long-term health of the Black community than the little money I’d make from selling books or the box-office I’d reap from some movie or a stage play.

As a Black man, I know that brothas aren’t the evil monsters depicted in Black media. Personally, I feel it’s unethical for Black people to profit off racist stereotypes that were established by White racists in Jim Crow. And I feel it’s reprehensible to take advantage of our sistas by exploiting their insecurities for a few dollars.

I myself have been misjudged throughout my life as these stereotypes have been projected on me in school, on the job and on the street. And I’m a clean cut, intelligent college educated brotha, supposed to be one of the “good ones”. But those poisoned by racism or with emotional baggage from past experiences superimpose the image of whatever Black man they had a bad experience with or whatever alleged Black Male criminal they saw on the 6 o’clock news. They bash every Black man based on the color of their experiences, not the content of his character.

I feel all this Black Man-bashing barely skims the surface of more complex issues in the Black community. The root causes of this enmity between the Black man and the Black woman over the past 40 years hasn’t even been examined or explored. And they never will be as long as a handful of Negroes continue to exploit their brothers and sisters pain for a fast dollar.