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Black Life Texas

The Historical Lack of Black Publishers

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During the 2002 Harlem Book Festival in the Schomburg Center for Black Culture, the novelist Walter Mosely told how he and Paul Coates were attending the Los Angeles Times Book Festival. Coates was impressed with the number of Black authors selling their books.

Mosely went on to say that he pointed to the publishing companies associated with the authors and commented that he would be much more impressed if those companies were Black-owned. His point is that Black authors are now and have been dependent on the larger white publishing companies to get their works out to the public. This has been a recurring problem since African Americans began writing as far back as Frederick Douglass penning his autobiography. It was a problem during the famous Harlem Renaissance, as expressed by Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois in his 1926 expose, “Criteria of Negro Art,” when he wrote that Black writers were dependent on white publishing houses and, therefore, were susceptible to stereotyped images of the race. Du Bois elaborates, “If a colored man wants to publish a book, he has got to get a white publisher…to say it is great…We must come to the place where the work of art when it appears is reviewed and acclaimed by our own free and unfettered judgement.”

Years later, Zora Neale Hurston, in her essay, “What White Publishers Won’t Print,” commented on the dependency of Black writers on white publishers and the fact that what they choose to publish may not be complementary to the race.

Several Black publishing houses were established during what was known as the Black Arts Movement of the 1970s. One was the Black Classic Press, founded in 1978 by Paul Coates and based in Baltimore, Maryland. His primary concentration was on preserving obscure works by Black writers. He received support from scholars like John Henrik Clarke and Yosef ben-Jochannan. He also published contemporary writers, including Walter Mosley’s “Gone Fishing.” Third World Press was also created by Haki R. Madhubuti in 1967. It is the oldest publisher of Black literature in the country, having published works by Gwendolyn Brooks, Amiri Baraka, and Ossie Davis.

A husband-and-wife team, Wade and Cheryl Hudson in 1987, established Just Us Books, concentrating on children’s books. They received the Ben Franklin Award for publishing “Bright Eyes, Brown Skin.” Probably the most successful Black publishing company is Zane’s Strebor Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster. Strebor Books publishes primarily erotica fiction novels.

In San Antonio, there are a number of boutique Black-owned publishing houses. One of the most prominent is Prosperity Publications. It has a nice collection of author’s books from various parts of the country and a variety of genres. One of the most successful children’s publishers is Olympiad Publishing, owned by Chris and Karen Pittard. They have published six books in the series “The Continuing Adventures of the Carrot Top Kids” by Chris Pittard. One of the Carrot Top Kids books has been translated into Spanish. Olympiad Publishing has also published Christian author Michele Eley’sMayim and Shisi in the Land of Goshen.” There is also Pairee Publications, owned by Frederick and Venetta Williams. The company is committed to a number of historical novels and one political non-fiction work by a former Texas State Legislator. One of the most talented Black writers and a New York Times Best Selling author, Caleb Alexander, has Golden Ink Publishing Company.

The major push in the Black literary world is self-publishing. Over the past 25 years, there has been a flood of Black writers, especially women, many encouraged by Terry McMillan’s novel and movie “Waiting to Exhale.” A number of Black men have been inspired by the success of Walter Mosely, Eric Jerome Dickey, and Carl Weber. These writers are not discouraged because publishing companies have not accepted their works. They have turned to self-publishing and established small publishing companies to obtain a distributor for their works. Many of these writers have turned to Amazon’s publishing and distributor affiliate, KDP.

Today, there are more Black writers than ever in this country’s history. They are writing all genres, but one of the more popular is romance fiction. For a number of years, the leading sellers were urban fiction, and the leading publisher was Teri Woods. These books concentrated on the dark side of urban living, featuring drugs, sex, murder, and any other demeaning characteristic of “ghetto survival.” In recent years, they have lost some of their appeal.

Many Black writers are turning away from books to screenplays. With the growth of streaming channels always looking for good Black stories and the money to be made in that world of creativity, it has been tempting to the Black writer. It is much too early to assess just how this diversion away from published books to films will affect the publishing industry. It is, however, going to happen. One might call that progress.

2023 Publishing Statistics (Source: Statista and Zippia):
Over 70% of the publishing industry workforce is white;
Representation of all other ethnic groups is below 10%, and just 5% is Black
2020 saw a surge of interest in the Black Lives Matter movement and increased engagement in publications written by, for, and about Black audiences.
Number of employees at Penguin Random House worldwide – 12,300
4% – Share of Penguin Random House employees in the U.S. who are Black
As of 2023, the global book publishing industry has a market size of $114.9 billion.
The largest publishers worldwide are Pearson Education, Penguin/Random House, Hachette Book Group, Harper Collins, Simon and Schuster, and Macmillan.
At least 1.7 million books are published each year.
The global publishing industry is projected to grow at a 6.1% (compound annual growth rate) through 2027.

Black Life Texas

The Real History of Thanksgiving

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The history of Thanksgiving cannot be discussed without recognizing the reality of genocide committed against Native Indigenous people. Free land was the enticement for European settlers to come to the Americas. The Native populations on these lands would have to be removed or conquered to accomplish their goals.

Many foreigners were already slave owners who wanted to plant cash crops using Black slave labor. The history of the United States cannot be fully understood unless one examines “settler colonialism.” Settler colonialism was founded on the ideology of land theft, genocide, and slavery. Those who have written American history with an eraser of bias have found it easy to perpetuate the Thanksgiving myth of Europeans sitting down with Native Americans and enjoying a food feast together—nothing could be further from the truth.

What came before this so-called “Thanksgiving” was murder, genocide, and slavery of Native people before and after the mythical thank you dinner. Puritan settlers came up with the idea of the “Doctrine of Discovery,” a racist law enacted by the Pope of that time and brought to America by the less-than-honorable Christopher Columbus. This is the part of the American origin myth that professors and teachers still ignore to be accepted in the world of historical falsehoods. Settler colonialism is a genocidal policy of murder and land theft to satisfy a false religious belief in racial destiny (also called Manifest Destiny). Settlers required violence to realize their dreams of wealth. No community will willingly give up their land, children, resources, and dignity without a fight, and Indigenous people did not go down without a fight against these ideals that were rooted in a colonial agenda that had a religious spin on it. When European settlers were crossing the ocean and illegally crossing borders, it was something supposedly legal and sanctioned by God.

America was not a virgin land or wilderness filled with wild animals but a land tame to Native people. It was a network of native communities that linked people through roads and trails they carved themselves, which they built long before Europeans arrived. Native people cultivated farmland and crops to survive the harsh winters in the northern parts of America. The Native people knew where the oyster beds were, the water routes, and what plants had medicinal value. Settlers came to America with a culture of conquest and killing that they experienced in hundreds of years of religious savagery between Catholics and Protestants, especially the killing and exploitation of the Irish by the English and Scottish. White supremacy can be traced to the Christian Crusades against Muslims and not to capitalism, though capitalism exploited the idea to the fullest later.

These Europeans did not tame the wilderness. They invaded and murdered the original inhabitants. There are many fake origin stories from one country to the next, as apartheid South Africa once claimed and is now claimed by Israel using similar tactics for decades in a systematic way to force Palestinians from their homes, according to Amnesty International.

The fake Captain John Smith story never mentions his threat to kill all Native women and children if the Native people would not help feed and clothe the settlers from England and provide free labor for the English settlement. When Native people refused, the settlers burned their crops in an attempt to starve out the so-called “Indians.” This would result in the Pequot War, in which settlers would slaughter the Pequot tribe in the 1600s. Unknown to many, this was the first “Thanksgiving,” according to research by historians, in which settlers had a celebration thanking God for their murderous exploits. Scalp hunting was brought to America’s shores by the Scottish Protestants, who also invented the term “Redskin” to describe the bleeding head of one of their victims. Mutilated bloody corpses, which Puritans scalped, were the origin of the term “Redskin.” It was not developed as an indication of “race.” Later in history, the practice of scalping and gutting pregnant Native women would be carried out by the Scotsman Andrew Jackson, whom many now call the “Hitler of America.”

The Thanksgiving Myth is that of smiling “Indians” welcoming the European explorers to America, showing them how to reside in this ‘wilderness,” and sitting down to dinner with them. They supposedly hand their lands off to “frontiersmen,” so these invaders can create an incredible country committed to freedom, opportunity, and Christianity until the end of the world. That is the story — it’s about Native People yielding to settler colonialism. The myth is bloodless and, in numerous ways, an argument for the racist idea of Manifest Racial Destiny. Thus, the Thanksgiving myth was created to present a false history to deny the horrors of American origins and later to invent a fake ideology coined “American Exceptionalism.” American Exceptionalism was derived from these false ideas, created by criminal or ignorant historians, which claim that America is an “Innocent Nation” while other nations may have blood on their hands. Nothing could be further from the real history of America and the truth about Thanksgiving. Today, many of us celebrate family and friends and want nothing to do with the invented narrative. We can always choose to provide our own meanings and, at the same time, educate our community about the lies.

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Downtown SA Lights Up for the Holidays

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Downtown San Antonio will sparkle this holiday season with an array of lights and holiday events. 

Set against the backdrop of one of the city’s most historic and charming walkways, five blocks of Houston Street will buzz with twinkling lights, decorations, entertainers, and vendors from Nov. 24 and runs through January 2. 

 Additionally, on Nov. 24, kick off the holiday festivities with the Annual H-E-B Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Travis Park. Festivities begin at 4 p.m. and include live entertainment, food trucks, letters to Santa, giveaways, holiday crafts, a special visit from Santa, and a movie screening of “The Grinch.” The tree-lighting ceremony begins at 6 p.m., followed by the movie at 7 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. 

Get front-row seats to the 42nd Annual Ford Holiday River Parade, which offers a spectacular one-hour parade along the San Antonio River Walk starting at 6 pm at the Tobin Center. This year’s theme, “Holiday Stories,” will kick off the San Antonio tradition. Always held the day after Thanksgiving, the parade and river lighting ceremony will feature 28 illuminated floats and over 100,000 lights (2,250 strands) illuminating the River Walk. The lights turn on from sundown to sunrise every day until the weekend following New Year’s Day. Seating ranges from $15 to $40. It is broadcast live at 7 p.m. at the Arneson River Theatre.

The Rotary Ice Rink, presented by Valero, will also return this fall at Travis Park in downtown San Antonio. Since 2019, nearly 200,000 people have enjoyed the rink and surrounding festivities. For more information, including hours of operation, pricing, and specials, visit (rotaryicerink.com).

For more events, go to (VisitSanAntonio.com).

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Black Life Texas

Black Soldiers’ Convictions Overturned – A Century Later!

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More than 100 years later, the U.S. Army recently overturned the convictions of the 110 Black soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment (also known as the Buffalo Soldiers), who were falsely found guilty following the World War I-era Houston Riots. 

The records of these soldiers will be corrected, to the extent possible, to characterize their military service as honorable. Seventeen of these men are buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio. In 2022, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs unveiled a sign telling the story of these men to educate visitors about what happened. 

Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth said, “After a thorough review, the Board has found that these soldiers were wrongly treated because of their race and were not given fair trials. By setting aside their convictions and granting honorable discharges, the Army is acknowledging past mistakes and setting the record straight.”

The Houston Riots took place on Aug. 23, 1917, following months of racial provocations against members of the 24th — including the violent arrest and assault of two Black soldiers. Following the assaults and amid rumors of additional threats to soldiers, a group of more than 100 Black soldiers seized weapons and marched into the city, where clashes erupted. The violence left 19 people dead.

In the months that followed, the Army convicted 110 soldiers in a process that was, according to historians, characterized by numerous irregularities. Ultimately, 19 men were executed in the largest mass execution of American soldiers by the U.S. Army. The first set of executions occurred in secrecy and within a day of sentencing, leading the Army to implement an immediate regulatory change that prohibited future executions without review by the War Department and the President.

In 2020 and 2021, the South Texas College of Law petitioned the Army to review the convictions. Shortly after, the Army received petitions from retired general officers requesting clemency for all 110 soldiers.

“As a Texas native, I was grateful to participate in this process early in my tenure at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, and I am proud that the Army has now formally restored honor to soldiers of the 3-24 and their families,” said Under Secretary of the Army Gabe Camarillo. “We cannot change the past; however, this decision provides the Army and the American people an opportunity to learn from this difficult moment in our history.”

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been deeply involved as this case has unfolded and is prepared to assist any family members upon receipt of the corrected records. Relatives of the soldiers may be entitled to benefits. Family members or other interested parties may request a copy of the corrected records from the National Archives and Records Administration, in accordance with NARA Archival Records Request procedures found at (archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records).

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