Congrats to Greg Tate and Latasha Diggs on the completion of their new, do fo’ self literary magazine. It looks dope, but what’s one to expect when you have something that’s been birthed by these two aforementioned creative minds? On one hand, the name is homage to jazz musician Julius Hemphill’s 1975 album Coon Bid’ness.
My man Michael Gonzales ran an interview with Tate and Diggs back in the fall. Check this excerpt:
There are a few people who find the title Coon Bidness offensive. What is the meaning behind it?
Greg Tate: Coon Bidness (CB) is in the fine colored tradition of reversing racialized polarities, negatives to positives. Many in our vicious circle actually find the name quite delightful. Funny thing is, only Black Americans feel like they can say it out loud without risking a beatdown or being exposed as a closet racist.
But, CB was a well considered if knee-jerk artistic and political choice: LaTasha and I got disgusted over some younguns we know bickerin online about literary journals that published scant few-a-you people of de Negro persuasion. I went ballistic. I told Tasha, ‘Man that’s some coon bidness there; especially 160 years since self determined folk like Frederick Douglass, Martin Delany and David Walker were self-publishing anti-slavery when Dixie was king and a nickel could get shot just for showing off they literacy.’ Plus, we couldn’t call it Emerge, Upscale, Black Enterprise or Black Tail; all the other good Black Progressive names were taken.
CB is also our quiet homage to the late great jazz musician and conceptual dramatist, Julius Hemphill. He released a quite crackling avant-garde album by that name in the 70s. Whatever respectability CB has we’ve completely borrowed from the very refined and adventurous Mr. Hemphill.
However, CB is also our oblique response to the Obama era. Thanx to Brother President, his gorgeous sensuous ebony Glamazon of a wife Michelle, and those precious kids, Blackfolk have never moved about this land feeling so proud and respectable.
LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs: We did have a conversation about the name of this baby and came to an agreement that one, this was going to show out some folks while others would take the chance and support us with their work. I had folks – good friends – scold me about the name. They felt we (I in particular) was marginalizing/sabotaging myself especially since I am the youngster in this endeavor; that I do not have much suction anywhere and perhaps less resources that entities–be they those in some academic/publishing/programming power–don’t know who I am or choose not to know who I am. I am, to a certain degree, taking the greater risk. They hated it. Some choose their petitions to be silent: politely so. Some just told me, ‘Hey I just don’t see myself being associated with some thing called this.’ They did not get it nor did they want to engage.
With that said, it highlighted an argument that is spoken in public when it comes down to our positions as writers of a browner hue. There is a presumed limitations of publications that exists and a an outer worldly desire desire to be accepted by the very publications that have denied us moderate access. That with this desire, we often rather complain and petition these very publications than create something new. The tradition of magazines, journals and chapbook series has always included one or several voices that decided they wanted to establish something ELSE and in doing so, they created yet another platform to feature WHAT they believe in.
Sounds like it’s not only a celebration but, figuratively speaking, an opportunity to rustle the grass to startle the snakes. Bravo!
Maybe I’ll see you at the launch tonight. In the meantime, read the rest of Mike’s interview at Blackadelic Pop.