Konch Magazine - Our Donors Keep Us Going by Ishmael Reed

Our Donors Keep Us Going

Paul Devlin, a critic with ties to TheRoot, a zine that Henry Louis Gates,Jr. runs on behalf of The Washington Post, says that with my new novel,”Juice!”I have gone” too far,”which makes the fact that TheRoot has ignored my book puzzling , because a big part of their marketing strategy is devoted to showcasing black men whose behavior they find excessive.

One of their critics called me “blackmanocentric” as a result of my criticizing the Neo Nazi movie, “Precious.” Blackmanocentric? Not  a single black man, black woman or white woman or Latina  is listed as an executive at Lionsgate, the company behind “Precious.” What does this make Lionsgate?

Unlike TheRoot or any of the other corporate sponsored ethnic sites, corporate sponsors don’t dictate the content of our zine,Konch. We get by with out- of- the pocket money and our donors who send us small contributions. The largest amount that we’ve received is a whopping $400 for which we are grateful. 

We are not beholden to  corporate sponsors which is why we can publish those who go too far and those, who, in the eyes of some ,don’t go far enough.

We don’t have the large staffs that produce The Post’s TheRoot and AOL’s Black Voices( both seem to have a high turnover rate). My youngest daughter, Tennessee, a writer, and I run Konch. Juveria Aleem is our webmaster,

Carla Blank is business manager. 

Konch publishes writers like Jill Nelson, whose review of Carole Simpson’s “News Lady” appears in this issue; Ms.Simpson had to self publish her book because big publishers probably belong to the same business amalgamation to which the networks she criticizes belong. She writes about racist goings on behind the scenes at the networks and sexual aggression aimed at women, especially black women, by men who are always producing shows that blame black men for all of the crimes against women.The latest big seller theme for white theater and movie producers and publishers is incest, following the “The Color Purple’, ”business model which the investors in “Precious” employed. Certainly, some of the writers who broach this theme are sincere; others have turned it into a racket.

Jill Nelson whose latest book is “Let’s Get It On,” is famous. But as well as publishing the famous, we publish emerging authors who deserve a larger audience like Alison Park. While Jim Crow CNN (which is eager to give Bush credit for Osama’s capture; they have to appease their Angry White Male base, according to Rick Sanchez) might ask somebody from the New American Foundation about Japan and the recent Nuclear plant meltdown,and earth-quake, we have poet Yuri Kageyama writing about it. She was there. Not looking at Japan  from a think tank in Washington. 

Who else would publish the great Nigerian intellectual Chinweizu, or poet Sam Hamod or the
legendary Frank Chin, all of whose copy would give the average mainstream editor a fit.

While someone in the government embarrasses us by naming the operation against Osama, operation “Geronimo,” after the name of a native American resistance fighter, we hail the efforts of
Euro-Anishinaabe, Meg Noori , and Afro-Blackfoot Chezia Thompson Cager, who appear on the cover, for beginning a historic Red Black dialogue in Washington D.C. on the 3rd of February during the convention of Associated Writers Project. In the past ,blacks who claimed Native American heritage were considered embarrassed about being black. Now that everybody wants to be black maybe a dialogue can begin.

The possibilities are rich. At the end of the meeting, I ran into Sonia Sanchez, the oracle, and told her what was happening. She said that her Native American ancestors came down from Canada. 
Given the racist attitudes toward blacks by  members of some tribes like the Cherokee and the Choctaw, a  dialogue might open old wounds. Gerald Vizenor says that the Cherokee have always been racist.Check out this incident that appears in a book called, “Black Flag Over Dixie.” 

The people who are celebrating the confederacy this year might not know that black soldiers who fought for the union were subjected to a series of massacres as a result of the proto Nazi confederate government’s policy that no black prisoners be taken alive. Or maybe they do know
and revel in it. Choctaws joined the confederates in a killing season upon blacks. One of these massacres was called the “Poison Spring Massacre.”  An account of this incident which took place
in Arkansas  is given in “Black Flag Over Dixie. Racial Atrocities and Reprisals in the Civil War,” edted by Gregory J.W.Urwin.Of all those who succumbed to the homicidal frenzy at Poison Spring, none surpassed Col. Tandy Walker’s Choctaws for sheer ferocity. As Lieutenant Stafford scribbled in his journal, “The havoc among negroes had been tremendous—over a small portion of the field we saw at least 40 dead bodies lying in all conceivable attitudes, some scalped & nearly all stripped by the bloodthirsty Choctaws.” “You ought to see Indians fight Negroes—kill and scalp them,” marveled Pvt. Charles T. Anderson of the 2d Arkansas Calvary. “Let me tell you, I never expected to see as many dead Negroes again. They were so thick you could walk on them.” The Choctaws’ behavior was still a topic of conversation when Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Churchill’s Arkansas infantry division arrived in the Camden area a few days after Poison Spring. “The Choctaw was at Camden when we came up,” James McCall Dawson of the 34th Arkansas wrote his family. “They caught out one Regt of Steels negros and killed all of them [.] They take no prisoners [.] They would shoot a negro as long as he could breathe.” Elizabeth Godbold Watts, whose home was close enough to Poison Spring to be pressed into service as a field hospital, complained that her slave, Henry, did nothing to protect her hogs from Choctaw foragers “for fear that someone will kill him since the negroes were killed so in that fight.”

The Choctaws harbored so much animosity for their black victims that killing them was not enough. In addition, to scalping and stripping, the Indians devised other ways to desecrate the 1st Kansas Colored’s dead. The Washington (Ark.) Telegraph treated its readers to this example of “Choctaw Humor”: “After the battle of Poison Springs, the Choctaws buried a Yankee in an ordinary grave. For a headstone they put up a stiff negro buried to the waist to the heels.” Three days after battle, a Union burial detail discovered that three dead white officers from the 1st Kansas had been scalped, stripped, and turned on their faces as a sign of dishonor, while the corpses of their black soldiers were laid in a circle around them.”

We have a following that is very patient with us. Who tolerate our getting out an issue whenever we can.Like May is still Spring for us.

Ishmael Reed Publishing Company

Ishmael Reed Publishing, Co. Box 3288

Berkeley, CA 94703


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