From: Debra J. Dickerson debra (at) debradickerson.com
Please forgive yet another mass email on this subject but I think this one qualifies as worthy. I simply can’t afford to miss anyone.
Prof. Gerald Early has asked me to edit the first anthology of a Best Essays for Black Writing. You’ll note the absence of “American” because we’re looking for submissions from throughout the African diaspora though it would be disingenuous to pretend African American writing won’t likely predominate.
If you wrote, read or think you might know someone somewhere who is of African descent, or who writes on the topic, please forward submissions to me or beg the writers/institutions to do so. I ask you to forward this to the editors/pr departments at publications you know feature good black writing, however non-mainstream the organization.
We’re looking for pieces published in 2007 but, having worked on this for a few months, I despair of finding enough from that one year. So, please send along anything written in the last few years. Since this will be the first issue, there’s an argument to be made for doing a survey first, then confining ourselves to those pieces published by calendar year afterwards.
What are we looking for? Anything and everything. Our only requirement is that they be essays by or about blacks that will stand the test of time, essays that will resonate forever, let alone in twenty years, essays that will become a part of college curricula. We’re looking for the kind of writing found in Best American Essays and other such publications. What subjects? Anything and everything as long as it’s by or about blacks. Various lengths are to be expected but remember – essays. Not horse race offerings about the current election, etc. Not one-note rants about racism or Uncle Toms. This is not to say that those topics can’t be transcendant but it would be very wrong to assume this will be a protest publication. It will be a publication about superior writing and insight with zero regard for political impact. It can be blacks writing about the nature of being or whites (or Martians) who’ve ’embedded’ themselves in black communities. The sky’s the limit.
This is an idea so good, I’m still kicking myself for not having thought of it. It’s an opportunity that we (read: those who yearn for a steady torrent of good writing by/about blacks) can’t let slip by. I yearn in particular for submissions by immigrant blacks in America and those written by blacks abroad on transcendant subjects. I’m looking to have my own mind blown.
So, I ask you to forward this email far and wide and direct submissions to me at this address with the subject Best Black Essay submissions. I get so much spam, I’m likely to delete emails with subjects like “Hi” or “For Debra”. There’s no polite way to say this: please don’t hit ‘reply’ (for the love of god, don’t hit ‘reply all’) and ask me questions. This is a brand new venture; I’ve told you everything I can think of. Send me submissions and please, forward this email far and wide. Don’t be shy to send me your own work; this has been a needle-in-a-haystack venture so far and it kills me knowing what I’m missing. Encourage those whose work you admire not to censor themselves and think they’re writing would never be taken seriously; that’s exactly what we hope to do with this series.
Please cut and paste the submissions and instruct those you contact to do the same. I can’t open attachments from strangers and you know why. Please don’t put this distro list to any other purpose.
Thanks for your help. I can’t wait to swim in an ocean of black talent and soaring writing.
Debra J. Dickerson