Conversation on ChickenBones
Miriam: I've just now had a chance to read your articles
and to look at parts of the longer manuscript--all of which are
excellent. I cannot understand why they were not accepted
for publication except that the publishing industry is very
political. Editors might have been afraid to touch this
study in which you take on some of the major scholars and their
hypotheses with a new—and very cogent—perspective.
Rudy: Miriam, thanks for taking the
time to check out my work. I think I am a fairly good thinker. I
can produce and have produced fairly good work as a writer
and a thinker. But for those of us outside of the academy,
outside of the mainstream, those regular paper publishing
venues cannot satisfy all our needs.
Writers and artists like Kalamu, Marvin X, and
others have had to create other options. One, they have created
their own presses. Two, they have become public intellectual and
performers. Three, they make use of some organizational
structure in which they have involved others. Four, they have
made use of various kinds of foundation money.
Those options are open to me and many have
encouraged me to do likewise.
Of course, there are things that work against
my being able to follow in their steps or approaches. The major
difficulty is ChickenBones itself: it is exceedingly time
consuming and I have no staff or volunteers or technical
Most of the work connected with the site I
have had to do myself. I type with two fingers. I read
everything that is posted and I am a slow reader and that
which is posted requires lay out and oftentimes editing. Kalamu
says he only spends two hours a day on E-Drum.
ChickenBones requires double or
quadruple the time expended for E-Drum. And with the
forums I've created that time has become even more.
I made an attempt at organization. Most of
those persons had full-time jobs and did not have the hands-on
commitment required. And some want to see profit, immediately.
Kalamu also has a business degree and he has more experience in
working with groups than I. The same is true of Marvin.
I myself need an editor. But it is difficult
to find people to work on such projects when money is not
foreseen and I have not been able to set up that kind of
arrangement. So I am in somewhat of a quandary. I am overwhelmed
and I am not sure how to extricate myself, or do what is
required. There are no models. I am winging it. In any event
that is the basic layout of the situation I find myself. Maybe I
will have some revelation or maybe someone will help me to find
the solution that will do the trick.
I have thought about some kind of print
representation of ChickenBones. Of course, a paper
version will require a considerable staff. Before Katrina I was
working on a "Best of ChickenBones," which
would be an anthology of some of the better pieces on the site.
But that is still a work in progress. A couple people were going
to help. But they have had their problems to attend. That would
require, as I see it now, my own funding. And then there are the
problems of distribution, promotion, and so forth. All this
requires time and energy that are not altogether available.
Again, this is the uphill struggle, scenario.
Jeannette: I would be overwhelmed too. ChickenBones
has become very popular and of course everyone wants to be
published. Just remember that you are on God's
mission with this, so it will turn out alright even when you
feel like taking a day off or whatever.
(I have to remember this with my ribbons. Otherwise, I would do
nothing except sew. I've barely gotten started and already I
can't keep up...)
The funding for the contract in 2007 and the ChickenBones anthology
will come through.
Anyway, I'll send you any typos or whatever I notice for
articles I read
Rudy: These kinds of individual
projects can get out of hand, unmanageable. Though ChickenBones
began as a personal project, it evolved into much more than
that. Of course, I had other writers in mind. But, no, I did not
expect such rapid and extensive use of the site. I check the
statistics program last evening. Here is what was found on
visitors to the site in the last five months:
June: 155, 084 visitors / July:
141,801 / August: 133,548 / September: 163,575 /
From January 2005 to the present (6
November): 1,566,549 visitors. 1,974,822 pageviews.
There is a lot of use of the site by
students, high school and college and university
students; so as you can note the traffic declines during
Last year (2004) we had almost 1
million visitors. We have about two months to go in
2005. So there is a good possibility that there
will be about 300,000 visitors between now and December
So the total for the year 2005 can be
projected to be about 1.8 million visitors, a bit short
of the 2 million visitors that I estimated. But still
about double the visitors of 2004.
I do not know whether this kind of doubling
will occur in 2006. But as you know more and more people are
discovering the wonders of ChickenBones and more and more
people are submitting their materials. Presently, we have over
210 mg of material; the site is limited to 300mg under the
present plan. The size of the site and its continuity (more than
four years) contribute to it being well-indexed by search
engines and thus inviting more visitors to the site.
So we are bulging at the seams. We will have
to find a solution to this problem. Kalamu suggested I create an
additional site and move some of the less used files to the new
site. That is probably the best solution, though I am not sure
what impact it will have on the presenting indexing by search
engines. In any event, it is an additional expense of time,
energy, and finances.
None of this was planned or foreseen. ChickenBones
has taken on a life of its own. Though I manage it, it is indeed
much more than a personal site. It serves more than just my
personal interest. There is nothing comparable and I am not sure
that there is any site that can replace it, if it suffers a
demise. So it is a real dilemma caused by its success, its
value, its popularity.
Sandra: I currently teach four classes
at Rutgers; African American Literature and 19th Century African
American Authors. These students are assigned to specific ChickenBones
articles, whatever fits into what we are reading/discussing from
our textbooks. For example, next semester I teach The History
of the Black Arts Movement in my African American Literature
Part II class. Thus, we are reading Kalamu's Interview with
Baraka, and other articles.
My current composition classes, both at the
freshman level, are mandated to read ChickenBones: A Journal
in addition to Arts & Letters Daily every single Sunday
evening. The students come to class on Monday and tell me and
their peers about the article they have read. The articles they
find sure beat the essays in those tiresome anthologies
department chairs think are best for them. So, a small portion
of the increasing numbers are my "fault."
Miriam: That kind of traffic is truly overwhelming, and
I don't see how you manage it all. Do you ever remove any
of the files to make space for new ones? I'm not sure how all of
that works, but it's fascinating.
Rudy: No, I do not remove files, which
presents however a few minor problems. The site is huge and size
affects the costs of the site. I want the site to be also an
archive. But these are the kinds of things that institutions
(like universities) do, not individuals.
Recently, I got into an argument with the
national association of black storytellers. I had a file on a
conference they held a couple of years ago and their present
president badgered me to remove the file because in google our
file ranked higher than their site. It got real nasty. Herbert
knows all about the incident; he can tell you about how ugly it
That I have not removed files in some sense
makes the site more dependable for research and use by students.
I suspect that not removing files is also the reason
the site is so well indexed by search engines. Yes, it is near
unmanageable, and fascinating, especially for someone who has no
idea what the hell he is doing.
Of course, most of the problems I have
enumerated are problems of money and organization. But maybe
they are exaggerated by my mood and/or by my own fears.
Anita: Hi Rudy! Lots of readers! That's so WONDERFUL! See what you done done!
All those aspiring writers and inquisitive readers love your
site! It's intellectual and mind stimulating! The articles and
stories are so varied and all the links make it SO EASY to read
What about a ChickenBones Archives link?
Years ago when I was a newbie online, I spent hours on a site
called alt. lyrics. It was a 'Usenet' type of a website
that had a message board for people to request and identify
songs lyrics and titles, etc. 24hrs a day, people were asking
things. Loads of fun!
Anyway, it got so big they added an Archival link with a
different website address so a person could use a search engine
with a key word. If you set it up like that. Students sure would
love it! because as you know they want the answer and lickety-quick!
It would be a pity to not be able to access those stories and
articles. Their value increases as the years go by! You
probably know all of this!
Rudy! I'm sending my contribution on
Thursday because I'm supportive of ChickenBones!
Rudy: Yes, I think you're right. That is what Kalamu
suggested. Presently, I've used 74% of 300 mg. If I added 50mg
it would double the price. So the archival site suggestion (with
search engine) seems the best way to go. This year we used only
about 10% so that suggests that we have just about enough to get
to 2007. Of course, this situation forces us to be more
discriminating in material we add to the site.
have known about advantages of PayPal, Google, and Amazon
as possible resources for ChickenBones: A Journal for
four years and for more than four years I have avoided making
use of such resources. Amin Sharif has said that I want the site
to be "virginal."
Jonathan: the astonishing success of
chickenbones does not surprise me. as a literature professor, i
always recommend chickenbones to my students because you offer
something very rare: writers and thinkers who have weathered all
the political storms and all the here today gone tomorrow
literary trends, who write because they care about ideas and
understanding them, not fashion or popularity. chickenbones is
the real answer to so much cynicism and defeatism.
i vote for keeping chickenbones on one site, although i
understand the "bulging at the seams" reality.
everything on chickenbones right now is valuable—such
an archive of beautiful work! i don't have any solutions. i
guess that enlarging the capacity would be expensive. how
expensive? fund-raisers are very demanding... i wonder if there
is some other way, a grant, for example.
let me know if i can be of assistance. in solidarity always.
Lasana: do it well, it may take time,
and we will come to the avenues of liberation.
Miriam: I admire what you're doing and
I can understand that your on-line journal has grown
exponentially, far beyond what you'd imagined. There seem
to be no quick solutions and "winging it" seems to be
the only way to go, for the time being. We, as a community, have
got to find creative ways to assist independent, activist
artists of all kinds (writers, filmmakers, photographers,
painters, musicians, sculptors, etc.) who cannot access
traditional sources of support. It's the same problem that
Dennis faces and Kalamu (now) and others, at a terrible time,
economically and culturally, in our history. We need to come up
with some kind of think tank of committed, concerned people who
can work out solutions for some of these problems. –
Rudy: yeah you right. As one friend,
Sharif, who is working on an internet radio project said to
me today, we are in a better situation than Blassigame's slaves.
We have more education, more skills, more possibilities. That is
all true indeed. For, of course, the crudity of oppression and
repression of the 19th century, no longer exists; nor even that
of National Socialism of Hitler's Germany. The former was
rescued by Lincoln's Army; the latter, by a combination of
troops sent by Roosevelt and Stalin. I suspect there will
be no one to ride in on a white horse; or a US or Russian tank
to make all well with us. None of the old models will provide
relief; certainly, we will not be able to depend on Farrakhan's
Ministry of Information.
Miriam: Absolutely: "none
of the old models will provide relief." I've been
thinking of some of the personal sacrifices and institutional
efforts made in the 1960s and '70s:
Robert Hooks, who supported the D. C. Black
Rep. Theatre with money from his movies, but even fund-raisers
at the Kennedy Center couldn't keep him afloat; Dudley
Randall and Broadside Press, which finally closed; Haki
Madhubuti, who still runs Third World Press, but I'm not sure
about his magazine & school; Hoyt Fuller, whose
valuable Black World was finally eliminated by John
Johnson, but then Hoyt couldn't keep First World afloat, which
practically killed him; Jeff Donaldson and other
Chicago-based visual artists' Cobra; and all those
great Black community theaters that depended on grants, but,
when the economy nose-dived and the money ran out, they were
forced to close.
Can we learn anything from those losses?
Is it that artists and businesswo/men must partner in the
formation of cultural institutions that will last?
You note that Kalamu is a good businessman as
well as a fine artist—an unusual combination, plus both skills
take a great deal of time and energy. Ironically, those
presses, periodicals, and theaters developed at a time when
there was a lot of grassroots, community support (it was, after
all, the heyday of the Black Arts Movement), as well as
significant financial support through grants from the government
& foundations. But, ultimately, even that was not
We're now in the middle of a hard, cold
winter, when "our" community is spending its megabucks
on urban fiction, gangsta rap, and mind-numbing films;
furthermore, the grants have dried up. Therefore, we have
to do some reality-based thinking about how to support and
preserve our artistic and intellectual projects.
With regard, specifically, to ChickenBones,
there must be some way that it can become a self-sustaining
enterprise without losing its independence and vision. So,
you had over one million readers last year. If each one of
those contributed one dollar . . . think of the possibilities.
Floyd: Rudy, this is exactly why I
asked Friday evening how you developed and now maintain ChickenBones.
Not being computer-efficient, I just thought it was/is a major
accomplishment; beyond that, I thought about how much time and
effort it takes to keep this project going. I don't know
how Kalamu does it, either.
Hi Rudy, Caroline Maun from Morgan, now at Wayne State in
Detroit. I had a thought about Chickenbones. Consider
setting up a Paypal account and a link to it on your site for
donations. College Language Association has been using it
successfully for about two years to do online registrations and
membership. Paypal shaves a bit off the top of the amount,
but you may have enough of an increase in donations that it will
Second thought: possibly some
unobtrusive Google ads at the very bottom of the splash page or
on the right side. The ads are geared toward content on
your pages and I have not had a problem with the appropriateness
of the ads to date on my blog. When people click out of
your site on the ad, you get paid when they buy stuff.
Another thought. Amazon Associates
account. This is when you review or mention a book, you
can set up a link to amazon for purchase of the book. If a
person buys the book, new or used, as a result of being directed
from your site, you get a kickback. All of these links
help increase your visibility on search engines as well.
With the traffic you have you should be
getting some money back just from the site's visibility.
I am sorry that we didn't get together to
share more information when I was in Baltimore. I got an
offer I couldn't refuse and am now teaching adult students from
the city in Detroit. It's a good next chapter for me.
Below, my attempt to say something about Katrina.
Rudy: Caroline, thanks for the advice.
Do you think these suggestions would create copyright problems?
What is the address of your blog? Do you have a photo I can use
with your poem.
have known about advantages of PayPal, Google, and Amazon
as possible resources for ChickenBones: A Journal for four years
and for more than four years I have avoided making use of such
resources. Amin Sharif has said that I want the site to be
Jonathan: rudy, i favor the
non-commercial (even anti-commercial) flavor of chickenbones. in
my opinion, this is one of the things that distinguishes your
e-journal from so many others. the idea of a google thing on the
side of the site makes me ill.
at the same time, even staunchly independent e-journals such as counterpunch
have gone the google route, so it is a consideration. this move
has not made counterpunch less interesting to look at,
and the google thing is fairly innocuous on the site.
i favor a fundraiser. why not ask devoted readers of
chickenbones to put their money where their mouth is? i feel
that such a request to readers actually compliments them and
makes them feel part of a good thing. plus, you need money. with
all the work you put into chickenbones, you need folk to help
pay some of your bills. your labor power is extremely valuable
to us all and should be compensated as such. tell me what you
Rudy: Jonathan, your sentiments are mine. I prefer the
"anti-commercial flavor of chickenbones," if nothing
but as an example of what might be done, if one has
the means. I have been very fortunate in the last four years or
so in achieving what we now have. I am uncertain about my
immediate future and my resources in that I am unemployed and it
is uncertain whether I will be able to obtain another library
position any time soon.
My hardware and software need to be
replaced; the capacity of the site is bulging at the seams; I'm
in need of technical assistance and unable to afford it. The
site, I realize, has grown to be more than a personal matter and
provides a needed example and service beyond my personal needs.
I'd like to be assured that that example and service will
continue because they are important.
Yes, the fundraiser is the best option, if we
wish to keep the site "virginal." An ad hoc group of
people here in Baltimore did one about two years ago and raised
over a $1,000, after expenses; most of which has been used to
renew a two-year provider contract. I am not very good at that
sort of thing myself, though a number of friends bought tickets,
bought review books as gifts for ticket holders, and so on. I
welcome such efforts from those who are good at such
Joyce: Hi, Rudy, I'm in a rush today.
Traveling. My inclination is to look for a "third
either this or that. I'm not sure what that would be, but maybe
the thought will spur your creativity. Maybe a second site, as
Kalamu suggested (archival), could use some commercial
structure and bring you some revenue. It might be most useful
for researchers, it could be set up as a sliding scale (students
free) or some combination. This might mean that you would hire
somebody to manage that business aspect and keep yourself
"virginal" (ha ha!)
Dear Rudy, I never conduct any financial transactions
on-line. Have nothing to do with Pay Pal, for example.
Jeannette: Rudy, just a quick, initial
response. I'm with Jonathan. Why not a "Friends of ChickenBones"
where folks make monthly or quarterly pledges? Maybe you could
calculate the number (and amount of money) to determine how many
pledges you need and let us know. Folks who
really care should be willing to support ChickenBones
with some degree of regularity the way we support our other
Brian: Rudy, I must say, I’ve been equally
curious about how might this site become much broader in scope
without sacrificing its authenticity. In fact, several
colleagues have commented on the site since your review of my
work and others noted that they were familiar with your work as
well. My sense is that in a very real sense your site reflects
what Cornel West suggests when he writes, “black intellectuals
have little choice: either continued intellectual lethargy on
the edges of the academy and literate subcultures unnoticed by
the black community or insurgent creative activity on the
margins of the mainstream ensconced within bludgeoning new
I think that your site is both
“insurgent” and “creative” and since it masterfully uses
web technology, I find that it quite nicely fits within “the
mainstream ensconced within [this] bludgeoning new
infrastructure. This is an important dialogue and I would
support whatever action comes of it. (I hope also to contribute
to some of the very thoughtful dialogue when time permits.)
Rudy: Brian, thanks for you fine
comments. I appreciate them greatly. I've tried to be entirely
upfront and transparent about what I have tried to do. And I am
glad we are able to have this community discussion online. A
number of persons have made excellent suggestions. I think they
all appreciate that we have something quite valuable in ChickenBones.
I will do my best to pass around all the comments and see
whether we can come to some consensus on what path we should
follow. It seems clear that the "virginal" aspects of ChickenBones
is one of its better aspects and should be retained.
Brian: Indeed…We’re out here and we’re listening.
Wilson: From the subject line on the
message . . . I half-suspected to read a personal communication
from Brother West, along with a promise to donate his next
speaking fee to ChickenBones.
Rudy: yes, that's a hoot. I suspect Cornell is
better at words, and onstage dancing, than such actions he
suggests. You know Cornell does not accept email. That's a
little too democratic for his taste. He prefers the podium.
Latorial: Rudy, Check out The Pedestal Magazine. I
believe they have set up a fundraiser type option on their site
that would really work for ChickenBones.
I think folks can make donations online as
opposed to sending them. I know that I'm more prone to
doing an online donation rather than one via us mail these days.
It's not that I don't want to, I just get too busy or forget to
put things in mail.
The Pedestal Magazine is just one of the
sites that I thought of when I think of ChickenBones and
Jerhretta: Greetings Brother, I love
the idea of keeping the site virginal. It shows what we can
do without bowing to or ascribing to the mainstream paradigm. However,
I know we all have to eat. Your contribution of ChickenBones:
A Journal to this millennium's Blacks Arts Movement is priceless,
as is the exposure given to the artists offering their
work. So, let’s raise some money. What can I do to help? -
aka Red Bandana Lady
Rudy: Nice hearing from you. I'm glad
you're well. Yeah, I think ChickenBones does have that
kind of Black Arts Movement feel. There's a lot of celebration
and conferences now about the 60s version, while the same
organizers and presenters have ignored what is under their
chins. I like your kind of understanding and vision. . . . We
are trying to settle upon which route to take. We need people
who are willing to take the initiative. I'm collecting feedback,
turning it over. Let's see what people can pull together, at
least in their thinking. Will get back with you.
Patricia: Hey Everyone, I am in for
that: "Friends of ChickenBones" or any other
name. I will fully support such a cause and be available to do
whatever it takes to support this worthy cause that Rudy has
undertaken for so long. I am one of those blessed by this great
effort, and have followed the conversation for a while now,
especially, since the New Orleans tragedy.
Rudy, by the way, I have a New
Orleans poem that was pulled out of my third manuscript, but
when I read it during the few weeks following the tragedy,
everyone was moved. It was written in 2001, but the message it
proclaims was confirmed in the devastation of the city.
If you want it, I will send it by attachment
for you to include on your site. I hope all is well. Sorry, it's
been so busy lately.
Thanks for your response and support. yes, please send the poem.
Patricia: Dear Rudy, here is the poem. Actually, it was written in 2002 on the
train from New Orleans. I recall that I would not fly soon after
Sept. 11, and instead, took a train to the Associated Writers
and Writing Program's annual convention where I was doing a
talk. My impression of New Orleans was mixed, and is thus
captured in the poem.
I was very saddened by the false impression
tourists gave of New Orleans as a city of party and fun and
everything wonderful because I saw a city that was profoundly
different and more complex than that. I saw the beauty, but I
also saw the other city that many would not see.
I'll keep in touch to know where the proposals for the formation
of Friends is going.
Have a wonderful day. Let me know if you need anything else.
Frances: Greetings Rudy, my Positive
and Intriguing Brother, Stay as True to your Self, your Soul
your Spirit, as you have Always been… It is that Essence of
Peace that you place with each word, each thought, each
placement of that Powerful Love you have in sharing and giving
us choices, knowledge, and information that isn't totally
Over a Million hits, have found you and over
a million plus more each year will follow… those like myself,
you cannot help but to keep going and going and going to your
sites, they are intriguing and thought provoking… full of
choices, challenges, creativity, wonderment and passions… the
Beauty of the richness of words and the Joy of historical and
The work alone I know to be
overwhelming, the continual work that becomes the labor of a
birthing and nurturing process that cannot be given up, even
temporarily, for to be so focused and vision driven, with your
abilities, intellect and experience, I know it will all
I had the treasure of being mentored by Rob
Penny, who like you felt that he would not compromise his
ideals, and held close and under his ownership his literary
works for what he wanted and needed to be successful in his
heart… Everyone has their river and every river has a base….
The diligence, passion, strength, pride and
dedication you have given ChickenBones is remarkable and the
beauty will always be yours to hold true …follow your heart,
everything is not for sale… If we all give freely we all can
stay free…(I don't mean your giving to us, but us giving to
In pride, joy and honor, I thank you, Brother
Rudy and your Family for the heart, spirit and soul of
ChickenBones: A Journal.
May you always have poetry in your passion.
Peace, Passion, Poetry!
Yvonne: Hi Rudy, I agree with Jeanette
that the things that need to happen will happen. I have always
had faith in the success of ChickenBones. I think a
fundraiser is also a good idea. Let me know if you all get that
off the ground. Finally, I have always said that the people who
have work published on ChickenBones should be considered
members and should pay a membership fee.
I think people are willing to do that, you
just have to follow through with pushing the idea. You know that
is something the original core group has talked about for three
years. I am so happy that so many others have come on board to
support the efforts of ChickenBones. I think now is the
time to act. At least think about it. I hope everyone is doing
well. You too, Sharif, be blessed.
Rudy: Thanks, Yvonne. I'm just not
clear how things will work. Some say one thing, another say,
another. What one is willing to do, another is not. Note the
difference of views below. In any event, we have an online
community that feels that it has a stake in ChickenBones. That
Anita: Hi Rudy, Dr. Caroline Maun is
RIGHT! (now you got 2 women that approve!) So, one more and it's
Putting a paypal logo on at the bottom of the site isn't
obtrusive at all, it's just a small rectangle that doesn't flash
or bop around! And the amazon.com link is easy as pie. Michael
Hayward has used this at the Van Morrison site of his for years
and we can pre-order Van albums and he let's everyone know about
books and magazine with Van trivia, interviews & comments.
Excuse me for laughing about the comment about the loss of
'virginity' of your site, if you put a link or two. That's
absurd! Unless of course, the person who said it is financing
your whole website and paying you a nice salary. The facts of
life are that nothing is free!
We're Grateful to click there and buy it! Why
would I care that ChickenBones made some kind of profit
from it? It's well deserved for doing all the work of hunting it
for me & saving time.
And again, believe me, I would have never
known about Monk Boudreaux and The Golden Eagles, Bo Dollis,
Kevin Goodman & 15 other Big Chiefs! I got a whole bunch,
now! So, I say this
from my own experience! I've bought 24 items from New Orleans
linked stores in October (some have stock shipped from
warehouses in LA.)
And one other thing. There is nowhere else I can hear the truth
about what's REALLY going on in the Black Communities of America
and The World except ChickenBones. Though I cringe when I
read many of the articles because I'm white and feel disgraced
over the Gross Negligence of the FEMA/AMERICA rescue
effort to New Orleans and 500 other issues of Black America, I'd
still rather read the truth than slanted lies from newspapers,
magazines and t.v. reports politically motivated to keep white
Americans thinking we're doing 'Wonderful Things' for Black
communities. We don't believe it . . . more like ain't
much, too little, too late!
Enough of me! sorry to expound so much. Thanks for everything,
Rudy! . . . Hugs to Bobo!
Keep its infrastructure and daily attentiveness exactly as they
are now. We can donate at will, whenever and however we
individually wish to. There is no need to start up a
clubby name for us. When
ChickenBones evolves, this will come intuitively from you,
when and if you believe something more needs to be done.
Leave it at the margins, if that's where it is in some people's
consciousness. When we visit, we can take it into our own
spiritual center. I have never seen this enterprise fail,
neither in its paper form or its electronic form. So let's not
have a committee to discuss how your creation can be better.
Such talk is off the point. Let's not turn this into an
academic commodity. This is yours. We come to visit there.
Miriam: Dear Rudy, I've been reading
with interest the suggestions about a financial underpinning for
ChickenBones, which is very important given the problems
that you have outlined and your concern that the project be
continued should you become unavailable. I don't have any
expertise on the subject of marketing and fund raising,
particularly as these relate to online sites.
It seems to me very important to maintain the
integrity of your vision of ChickenBones as an
independent, non-commercial, intellectual and cultural endeavor.
I appreciate your openness and honesty in presenting the
problems: the size, need for more space, increased cost of
operation, and need for better equipment.
I really like Jeannette's suggestion about
organizing a Friends of ChickenBones, but it would be
important to bring on board concerned individuals who know how
those things operate. The idea of pledges is good, because
you would know what kind of operating funds you'd have over a
certain period, say a year.
A fundraiser is another very good idea, but
that would be a one-time thing, good for meeting emergencies but
not helpful for the long run.
As a last resort, you might consider the
other suggestions: Paypal, Amazon Associates, or
unobtrusive Goggle ads.
Finally, let me say this: All of the
work that you are putting in, the sacrifices of time and energy
that you are making, are truly commendable, but this project is
now a FULL-TIME JOB! We can appreciate your
integrity and "virginity," but—like
live in the real world, where you have to pay rent and buy food,
and you should get some kind of remuneration for all that work.
We want to keep you alive and healthy--if not quite wealthy. Now
I'm going to shut up. Miriam
Patricia: Hello Everyone, I like the
exchange of ideas, and I think this is a good beginning. All of
the suggestions from everyone are wonderful, and I think either
of them should work depending on the direction that Rudy wants
Here are my little thoughts based on all I am hearing—
A "Friends of ChickenBones" idea will definitely
require a board or a committee, and I am willing to be on that
committee, but as everyone knows that such a committee will only
be effective if there is a chief administrator on the ground.
This sort of organization will also involve the loss of some
independence, Rudy since any board will operate according to
policy and accountability issues. The committee will like to be
able to have a voice on the general running of the organization,
if not more.
With a board, then, issues of how to raise funds, whether to
become a not for profit organization, etc could be discussed.
Another very simple option would be for Rudy to continue to be
independent, but to have the "Friends of ChickenBones"
be a loosely connected body that has a committee of concerned
friends of Rudy who want to continue to see what he's doing.
That way, they can be a voice in the fund
raising by forming a support group through e-mail. We can then
form an organization with the names of friends, appoint or elect
two to three people to help give voice to the issue of funding,
contribute regularly, and at certain times, form a letter to
send out by e-mail to artists that Rudy supports by his efforts
This will mean that we do have an annual
budget to help meet. In this case, all contributors will receive
receipts for their contributions, though not tax-deductible as a
charitable contribution, contributors can however find a place
on the tax forms to deduct their contributions.
Another option is for ChickenBones to be registered as a not-for
profit organization with a board of directors and incorporated.
This again, will cause a loss of independence, but will allow
the board to compete for arts grants, pay a salary to Rudy, and
pay for the running of the site. We can then ask for donors to
contribute their tax deductible gifts. This will be hard work,
but in the long run it could develop into something larger.
The last option I see is that we all support Rudy to develop
ChickenBones into a private small business that supports the
arts venture he has always supported. The suggestion from one of
the friends to allow part of the site to be linked to one of the
web companies to sell products and advertise without the
pop-ups. That way he maintains the independence of ChickenBones
while still meeting his expenses. This does mean that we can
also contribute willingly even while the journal generates extra
I am not a business minded person, but I hope this is helpful.
We are all very busy, and therefore we can only do as much as
Rudy is able to allow. If what we need is financial support, the
best option is to develop a list of those who are enjoying the
benefits of Rudy's efforts and begin to form an e-mail to them,
get the brother who wants to help him set up credit card
service, and have a page on the site for how to contribute by
check and whatever means. Thanks for your patience.
Eugene: Thanks for sending all info Rudy . . . enjoying
these exchanges & sharing them with
students, members of the local writing community & family .
. . if we can do anything specific to help stabilize
ChickenBones let us know . . .
Sharif: Rahim, Peace! I may try to stop by your place
after meeting with Kinya today. I have some articles
on disc you might be able to use. I am glad you got folk getting
behind CBJ. You might want to think about a fundraiser in the
Rudy: That sounds good. Your name and your concept of
are being tossed around in my emails to friends. As far as
fundraising, the sisters, especially Jeannette Drake (Richmond,
VA), seem to be more clear on these matters than I. When it
comes to financial matters I am a bumbling idiot and often don't
know what is best for me or ChickenBones
Dear Miriam and Rudy, I agree. Rudy's work is a full-time
JOB. I don't have any expertise with organizing a Friends of ChickenBones,
however I do have more thoughts, suggestions and questions about
Miriam, I am also forwarding your last email to Jonathan Scott,
Jerhretta Dafina, and Patricia Jabbah Wesley. We seem to have
similar notions of maybe how to work on this.
Rudy, in one of your emails, you mentioned an ad hoc group in
Baltimore that sponsored a fund-raiser a while back.
Would any of these same persons be likely to come
(a.) do whatever paperwork is necessary to form the basis for
"Friends of ChickenBones" (or whatever name)
and decide on (mission?) and specific tasks ?
(b.) work with you to determine a minimal budget amount
necessary per year or two years? I believe you mentioned that
the present contract runs out in 2007. Excluding these two
holiday months, this gives us 12 months to make the situation
better before your contract expires. You also indicated other
needs, software, computer, technical assistance, etc. and they
should be figured into the yearly budget as well. And I don't
see why you shouldn't include some kind of compensation for your
c. indicate, based on the budget, the specific number and
amounts of pledges needed? The ad hoc committee might even
suggest different pledge levels.
For example, we need 50 persons to pledge
$25.00 a month. Or we need 100 persons to pledge $10.00 a
month, or we need 10 persons to pledge $100.00 a month,
etc., etc., etc.
Now, if you decide that you want to go with the
"Friends" idea and the ad hoc group does not form the
core working group, you would as Miriam suggests still need to
soon identify those folks with whom you might work out some
specific ideas around budget as the most immediate need.
Anyway, these are just some of the thoughts I've had for the
last three days. (It doesn't take much for me to go into my
task-oriented casework mode. I hope these ideas are helpful.
Jeannette, Yvonne Terry was the primary person who organized the
fundraiser a couple years ago. Here's her email address, if you've
I like very much the specificity of your suggestions, and I
would be willing to work with a group on the details as you've
outlined them. I particularly like the idea of pledge
levels, so that everyone, even students, might be included.
I've been thinking, too, that Rudy is really
dealing with two issues: (1) the financial stability &
integrity of ChickenBones, and (2) the long-term survival
of the journal, in terms of the editorship. So many Black
institutions have perished because there is no one to take up
the enterprise when the founder is no longer able to carry on.
That is a very distant, future problem, but
it appears to be something that Rudy is thinking about. At
some point, he might consider bringing on board someone like
train to follow in his footsteps.
We are really getting into his business,
aren't we? But I know that we all want to help in whatever
way we can . . .
Rudy: Miriam, you have outlined my
concerns well. The discussion is open. I do not see it as
getting into my business, because it's really not a business,
though I think the site is very valuable. I have collected a lot
of information that probably should not be lost.
I find myself walking in Marcus Bruce Christian's
shoes, who collected tons of information while a part
of the Dillard Project of the WPA. He finally left his
colelction to University of New Orleans which has done little
with it beyond preservation. Jerhretta's estimation of
ChickenBones as "priceless" is on the
Sharif and I have had discussions about ChickenBones'
long-term viability. But we never settled on anything. Sharif,
however, might be able to see farther than I. I might be better
at the more immediate. I'm having problems figuring it all out
on my own. And thus I felt the need to be very transparent
about it all. So I'm pleased we have reached this stage.
I did not plan for it to be where it is
presently. I have been winging it on my best instincts. I wanted
the site to be dynamic, a service to the community, outside the
commercialism of much of what we have. Obviously, the site
has become much more than its original intent, much more than I
imagined and has acquired a broader value than the
personal. To this point I have made no provisions for it if
something happens to me.
In some sense I'm overwhelmed, especially
since I've heard some of the feedback and how the site is being
used in an organized way.
Eugene Redmond says he's been following the
discussion and he's been using the site at his university for
his classes. Sandra West, Jonathan Scott, and Brian Johnson made
similar remarks. As soon as I can I will pull together all the
comments and post them. So everyone can see this most unique
Louis: my suggestion for
fundraising: Create an ikon link for all to see at the top
of every page that highlights listings of articles: SUPPORT
CHICKENBONES: A Journal (click here to find out why)
A short (2
paragraphs) explanation of ChickenBones needs to be
followed by a reminder that the site is free to all AND that you
welcome donations: State all the why-fors you need the bread . .
. (you can easily get a charity's registration number in your
state for not-for-profit status) . . . Set up a bank account and
address for donations to be sent...
This would be an
ongoing piece that is not commercial but that encourages and
Support the site
that supports you in your research and edification. . . .
Have a collection
of people write or submit short blurbs as to why this site is so
important, just like the blurbs that appear in the backs of
I like this suggestion (Louis) for short-term purposes
while pursuing long-term ideas along the lines of Miriam’s
suggestion. I like the shared sense of community that is coming
forth, and I think that the end results will be a testament to
much of what I’ve read here about similar problems within the
African/African American community. I’d be happy to write a
blur among other things.
Yes, Miriam. I think we have two separate issues.
1. financial stability and integrity of ChickenBones
2. long-term survival of Journal in terms of editorship
It seems that our problem solving (for the moment) should focus
I like Rudy's suggestion that we come to a consensus. Is there
an immediate next step?
1. From Patricia's email I like "loosely connected
body/support group through email." This seems to me
the most "doable" at the moment. Rudy will need to let
us know which suggestions will work best.
2. Jonathan's suggestion for raising at least $25,000 on-line
contributions in a month sounds good. I don't know how to work
with credit card information on line. If Rudy is set up banking
wise for this, Jonathan's suggestion might be an adjunct to
anything else that "Friends of ChickenBones"
decides to try and foster. $25,000 might make a nice cushion and
since this is holiday gift-season, this should be a terrific
time to try Jonathan's idea. Many organizations send out request
for donation letters this time of year.
3. New visibility for donation request with Louis's suggestion
for creating an ikon link at the top of pages should help
generate more income for the journal.
4. Based on the information from the website and recent emails
about this, it seems to me that a PARTIAL LIST of Friends of ChickenBones
might consist of the original group of ChickenBones supporters
who sponsored the fundraiser several years ago and those from
the cyberspace community engaged in recent dialogues.
This seems to be:
Original ChickenBones Society Supporters in Baltimore addition
to Rudy included:
2. Amin Sharif
3. Kinya Kiongozi
5. Ernestine Holley
More recent cyberspace community dialoguers include:
1. Miriam DeCosta-Willis
4. Louis Reyes Rivera
9. Jeannette Drake
5. Patricia is right. We are all busy with many different tasks.
Miriam has indicated a willingness to serve on a committee.
Question: Patricia, Miriam, Yvonne, do you want to
spearhead a friends/fundraising committee? My role has been to
simply try to help move the process along by coordinating thus
far. I don't know anything about fundraising.
6. I think it might help time wise if we made a friends group
emailing list. If anyone listed above objects to being
included in my group list, please let me know.
7. Also, Rudy I do not have an email address for Amin
Sharif and Caroline Maun. So, if you think they would like the
information in this email, would you forward to them or
8. Finally, it seems to me that as "Friends of ChickenBones"
we have, through our dialogues, been functioning somewhat in the
manner that Patricia describes ("loosely connected
body/support group through email.") As such, I think
we might recognize our options to write checks to either ChickenBones:
the Journal and/or to Rudolph Lewis (as compensation) for
his work short of there being a formal "board of
directors" or whatever.
yes, I will work on the layout that Louis Reyes Rivera
suggested. It seems that at this time the "loosely
connected body/support group through email" might
work well. Presently, I'm not concerned about any personal
compensation for I am receiving an unemployment check, which
probably will continue through this year
Jonathan: thank you jeannette for your very
helpful itemized list of tasks. i think the group e-mail
discussions are essential, and you got the ball rolling here.
for my part, if we agree to the emergency fund-raiser, then i'll
be sending out e-mails getting folk to write checks or get out
their credit cards. i think this is the best thing we can do in
the short term: set up the fund-raiser on the chickenbones site,
and then for each of us to send checks and get as many people as
we can to do the same.
in my opinion, we should not mince words in our appeal. the
excellent counterpunch web site just raised $60,000 in 12
days. i don't think we need to mention this fact in our appeal;
but the point is that chickenbones is the best cultural
and political journal we have going—that
without it, we would have a huge hole to fill, and that,
moreover, that this is exactly the kind of problem that harold
cruse was always writing about, that black liberation struggle
has often faltered mainly because we have not supported our own
best people and our own best work.
also, in my view this appeal should be signed by "the
committee to keep chickenbones alive" or something like
that. in other words, rudy's tireless and fiercely kept autonomy
and commitment to absolute independence should be honored to the
fullest, by making this emergency appeal the work not of rudy
but of those who depend on rudy's work for their intellectual
sustenance and spiritual wholeness.
Jeannette: Jonathan, I like your idea for a fund-raising letter, especially the
way it should be signed, "the committee to keep ChickenBones
alive." I also like the idea of emphasizing how we who use ChickenBones
depend on it. Are you willing to draft an initial letter that
Rudy and several others would approve?
Rudy and Miriam sent me some additional names
and I am trying to organize a larger list of
"Friends." I suppose these would be the first
persons to receive the email fund-raiser letter. The email
appeal could be phase one and then individual Friends might
decide what or how else they want to proceed. For example,
Patricia is thinking of providing hard copies of a letter to
friends perhaps after the email.
You seem very savvy about what has been done
with the group that raised $60,000 in 12 days. I think that if
we continue to work as we are doing, we should be able to get
the email letter ready within the next two weeks at the latest.
Timing is important. So, will you draft an initial letter?
Thanks! P.S. Miriam, it looks like I am the
official coordinator. I don't know how I get myself in these
Rome: Rudy, I have been getting emails
about ChickenBones and I would like to know what I can do it
support financially. Also, please put me on your mailing list if
would be so kind.
Rudy: Presently, Jeannette Drake (email@example.com)
and others are coordinating a fundraiser for ChickenBones: A
Journal. I will cc her. You might drop her a note to express
Rome: Rudy, that sounds very positive
about the fundraiser. I will definitely email Jeannette and I
will continue to contact Miriam about the film programs she
seems interested in pursuing. Thanks.
Eugene: count me in as a
"committee" member . . .
Wilson: Dear Rudy, there is nothing essentially wrong
with the idea of converting ChickenBones into a
money-making enterprise. I support the idea, as you must
know from our previous correspondence. But how to go about
this is beyond my area of expertise.
Here are business thoughts: One, there would be a
separate site that would do business in ChickenBones' name. A
number of regular items will be sold with the ChickenBones
name, e.g. t-shirts, caps, cups, mouse pads, etc. Other items
could be developed. This business site would be rather
independent from the ChickenBones website.
There would be a contract in which a certain
percentage of sales would be given to sustain ChickenBones
and persons who manage it. There might be a commercial print
publication that would operate between the two enterprises. Some
refinement of these ideas may be necessary. I've only spoken of
this kind of situation with a couple of people. I know of no one
who is willing to undertake such a task and thus I do not know
whether such an operation is feasible.
* * * *
ChickenBones: A Journal
need your help. Any level of support would be greatly appreciated
$15, $25, or more. Donations of any amount should be made out to
A Journal. Please send your check or money order to:
2005 Arabian Drive
Finksburg, MD 21048
posted 12 November 2005
* * *
Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in
By Melissa V.
According to the
author, this society has historically exerted
considerable pressure on black females to fit into one
of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the
Matriarch or the Jezebel. The selfless
Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to
white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of
those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the
relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable
temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as
an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the
characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television
shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.
points out how the propagation of these harmful myths
have served the mainstream culture well. For instance,
the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for
black females to feel a maternal instinct towards
As for the source
of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their
own bodies during slavery given that they were being
auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless,
it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate
the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate
* * *
Sister Grief: Defined and Conquered in Jesus
By Yvonne Terry-Lewis
"Sister Grief: Defined and Conquered in Jesus" is an engaging book that confronts the universal experience of living with death and dying. The author personifies the personal loss of loved ones as "Sister Grief." The book, partly autobiographical, provides a holistic plan for conquering grief through faith, through a special relationship with Jesus. This plan is designed to help navigate one through the grieving process.
The book includes personal stories, poetry, testimonials, letters, practical suggestions, and strategies based on a love for the divinity in one's life. Although the circumstances that cause grief may be sad, this book is filled with love, encouragement, and hope that lead one towards spiritual health and wholeness.
What Consolation Is Christ to Suffering
The Michael D Terry Scholarship Board
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
Ancient African Nations
* * * * *
If you like this page consider making a donation
* * * * *
Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
* * * * *
The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
George Jackson /
* * *
The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
* * * * *
* * *
update 29 September 2011