by Angela D. Odom
It takes a village to raise a child. That child could be born of the flesh from the
womb of a woman, or the child could be an idea, conceived and nurtured for months or years within the soul of a woman.
Like the child, the woman soon gives birth to the idea and everyone smiles, applauds, and shares her enthusiasm – finally,
it is here – it’s real. It takes a village to assist and help the woman raise the idea as well.
AfroXcentric Magazine was such an idea; born in the womb of a lesbian of color, Star Smith, who wanted something more for her community – a magazine we could call our own. I do not know what happened
to AfroXcentric or exactly why it no longer exists, but I can speculate.
I first heard about AfroXcentric from a friend who sent the URL address for the future site
and an excited comment “finally.” I had plans myself of creating a magazine for lesbians of color and had
done quite a bit of research on the subject. I talked with many people, including Alan Bell of BLK, who gave me a wealth of information on the subject. Through my visits and talks with printers and Alan, I realized
the approximate cost for such an endeavor – to print a single issue –would be $1.00 per copy depending on ink,
paper stock, and number of copies printed. I priced a single print run of 50,000 copies, on coated paper, to cost anywhere
from $45,000 to $60,000.
The strongest advice I received pertained to content. I was informed I should have
at least one to two issues (that is articles written) in the bag before the first issue hits the press. One person actually
said I should consider a bi-monthly or quarterly publication before committing myself to a monthly publication. Her
thoughts were, “you’re not going to get a lot of advertising in your first few issues if you get any at all.”
Any of the above would contribute to the failure of a publication. But! From
the last email I received from the staff of AfroXcentric, I got a good glimpse of what might have happened to the Magazine
– one I had not figured into my own research – the lack of support from the village:
- We want to let you know that you can now preview some of the editorials in the June/July issue of AfroXcentric
Magazine. Thanks to all the women who have subscribed and supported us. But we need more support ladies,
with out your subscription AfroXcentric will have to shut down. We finally get a magazine that is just for us and only
us, don't let it get shut down.
- Subscribe today and win 2 tickets to the concert of your choice in your city. Just look on the inside
front cover for the words win and you will have scored 2 tickets to any concert in your area. You know who is on tour right?
Sade, R Kelly, Etc. Get your subscription today to show support and help keep AfroXcentric going plus win tickets.
- To all the women who have shown support to Illuzions and AfroXcentric it is greatly appreciated.
We are doing this for you so that you may have a place to come out and enjoy other women who are in the same lifestyle as
yourself. We offer these events as a place to meet one another and we offer AfroXcentric as a way to highlight our successes
and failures and hopes and dreams. From famous to infamous women of color, this is for you.
The word "support" appears four times in this post as do variations of the word "subscribe."
I erroneously thought or assumed such a magazine would be a niche market. I felt it would fill a void – no, a
gaping hole which needed filling in our community. I assumed and expected this magazine to succeed. When I can
go into Borders and Barnes and Noble to find Girlfriends, She, Curve and other gay and lesbian magazines
on the racks, why not a glossy magazine for lesbians of color?
Now, allow me to fall upon my own sword of complacency. In my assumption that such
a magazine would no doubt succeed, I allowed myself to become complacent. First, I felt there was nothing I, a villager,
needed to do to assist in the success of such a publication. I felt I could just sit back and wait for it to happen.
Second, after filling out a questionnaire, which promised a FREE issue of the magazine, I again sat and waited for my FREE
issue. When the FREE issue did not appear, I assumed maybe the magazine was in trouble and maybe I should not subscribe
just yet, lest I lose my money. My fiction, made up of pompous assumptions contributed to the failure of this publication.
Why did I not say something? As a villager, I should have said something. Just
as easily as it was for me to make assumptions, I could easily have dropped a line, maybe I would have received my FREE issue;
considered it an oversight on their part; and subsequently subscribed. Better yet, I could have just subscribed.
Instead of assuming the success of the magazine, I should have been more proactive and taken steps to assist in its success.
Just as I have fallen upon my sword, I am sure I can multiply my actions by a thousand or more women who did likewise.
We failed to act; we failed to assist our sister who had given birth to her new child –
her idea. Our responsibility as midwives is to ensure a proper birth, not a proper burial. When she was tired
and needed a babysitter, we should have been there to watch the child. When postpartum blues hit her, we should have
been there to offer encouragement. Oh, I can easily say “well it was just a magazine, another will come along”
or “a lot of magazines fail, it just happened to be one of many,” but I cannot. I can no longer afford to
make those types of assumptions. I am suffering a loss. The excitement I experienced back in January and February
is gone. I have nothing to look forward to now. It is gone.
Our communities, African, African-American, Chicana, Haitian, Jamaican, Afro-Brazilian –
all need educating. We need our literature, our magazines, our music, our poetry, our films to be used as tools to educate
just as Pernessa Seele of the Balm In Gilead, and
others, gays and lesbians, straight or queer, have been educating the Black Church regarding AIDS. Education –
what more a powerful medium than a magazine. Do not forget, those of you who are out, what you needed to learn about
yourselves – Girlfriend, Lesbianation, Curve, On Our Backs, She. We could have
added AfroXCentric. It Takes A Village.
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