^ WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE ^
What exactly is Blackness?
What does it mean to be Black?
Is Blackness a matter of biology or consciousness?
Who determines who is Black and who is not?
Who's Black, who's not, and who cares?
(1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race seeks to challenge narrow perceptions of Blackness as both an identity and a lived reality. Featuring the perspectives of 60 contributors representing 25 countries and combining candid narratives with simple yet striking portraiture, this "BOOKUMENTARY" provides living testimony to the diversity of Blackness.
The inspiration behind CNN’s Black in America 5: “Who is Black in America?” and featured on CNN Newsroom, (1)ne Drop continues to spark much-needed dialogue about the intricacies and nuances of racial identity and the influence of skin color politics on questions of who is Black and who is not.
(1)ne Drop takes the very literal position that in order for us to see Blackness differently, we have to see Blackness differently.
Pretty Bright Idea, Isn't It?
I think so! And apparently, so do many of other people! Two years ago, we (myself and the director of photography, Noelle Théard) launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise some of the funds needed to complete the project. By the end of the campaign, we had raised 113% of our fundraising goal, the project had been shared over 4,500 times, our website had received over 50,000 hits, CNN requested to do a three-part feature on the project, and Don Lemon interviewed me on CNN Newsroom. A few months later, I met Soledad O'Brien who agreed to participate in the project. Soledad then hired me to work with her to produce the fifth installment of Black in America - "Who is Black in America?" which aired on December 9, 2012.
Meanwhile, I had already signed with a New York literary agent and we were sure that a major publisher would quickly pick the project up. Fifteen months, over 250K website views, a CNN documentary and more than a dozen publishers later - still no book contract for (1)ne Drop. Although the editorial feedback on the project was overwhelmingly positive, editors “passed” on the opportunity to publish the book, not because they didn’t find the project “intriguing,” "fantastic,” “very important,” “timely,” or “necessary,” but because (a) it is “image-driven” and in their estimation, color images are expensive to produce; and/or (b) ...how do I say this?...simply put, from their perspective, “everyday Black stories" do not have enough marketable value.
But what about “everyday Black stories?”
We are not all rappers and not all of our lives provide reality TV entertainment. Our realities are much more beautiful and much more complex than the extremes showcased by the publishing industry; and our stories should serve more purpose than to simply facilitate the publishing industry's profitability.
Rather than continue the search for a publisher, I've decided to take matters into my own hands and publish (1)ne Drop independently.
The decision to publish (1)ne Drop independently is bigger than (1)ne Drop itself. Not only do I want to give the larger public insight into the vast and beautiful complexities of Blackness via my own work, I want to ensure that they might also have access to a larger body of Black literary and artistic work – those stories that need to be told but may not make it past the gates of traditional publishing houses.
CITIZENS OF KICKSTARTER, I PRESENT TO YOU (DRUMROLL PLEASE)...
In the spirit of the Harlem Renaissance, Négritude, and Black Arts Movements, BLACKprint emerges as a small, independent press devoted to giving Black artists a platform through which to tell our own stories in a publishing climate that continues to marginalize everyday Black realities in favor of stereotyped and sensationalized ones.
As a publisher of non-fiction projects, our publishing program emphasizes illustrative works that are documentary in nature ("BOOKUMENTARY") to better illuminate the depth, breadth, and complexity of Black experiences. Our books interweave written narratives with visual ones, a way of showing our stories that facilitates the telling of our stories. Building upon the legacies of such greats as Gordon Parks, Malick Sidibé, Deborah Willis, and Jamel Shabazz, we are committed to providing high-quality, aesthetically captivating books that not only archive but enliven a visual record of our generation, a mirror of our times.
BLACKprint celebrates and champions the beauty and brilliance of Black culture.
BLACKprint. OUR STORIES. OUR TERMS.
By reserving your copy of (1)ne Drop NOW, you are helping to build the foundation for BLACKprint.
We already have a few exciting projects coming up the pipeline. They include:
Curated by: Shantrelle P. Lewis
Juxtaposed against an urban backdrop where the clothing of choice for many Black men is a pair of sagging pants, exposed underwear, and a white tee – the “hip hop” generation has produced another phenomenon of style – the New Age Dandy Lion.
HER WORD AS WITNESS
Photography by: Laylah Amatullah Barrayn
They use words to incite our imagination, to expand our vision, to investigate and document. They are novelists, poets, journalists, playwrights, essayists, and songwriters. Her Word as Witness is a visual tribute to mothers of literature and daughters of the Diaspora.
By ordering your copy of the book in advance, you are casting a vote of confidence in BLACKprint.
But FIRST THINGS FIRST!!!!
We have to publish our first book - (1)ne Drop
THE BOOK IS FINISHED AND READY TO GO TO PRINT!
Powerful, engaging, AND BEAUTIFUL.
- 9x9 trim
- Hardcover with dust jacket
- 284 full color pages - 75 pages of photographs
By paying for your copy of the book in advance, you are helping to pay for printing and production.
When it is released to the public on BLACK FRIDAY 2013, the cover price on the book will be 40.00 USD plus tax (where applicable) AND shipping & handling. By pre-ordering your copy of the book today, you save 25% off the cover price. I plan to ship it to you weeks before its release date which means that you'll be among one of the FIRST to have it.
The total cost of printing and production is $25,000. By setting the goal at $13,500, (minus Kickstarter's fees) I'm essentially asking you - my community - to "go half on it" with me. (Please note that you are more than welcomed to cover the entire bill if you would be so inclined. Thank you!!!!)
REMEMBER - Kickstarter will not charge your credit card until the campaign ends on August 31.
INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING: Please note that international shipping must be added manually. If you have already pledged yet forgot shipping, you can edit your pledge amount through your account.
YOU are the best publicists we could ever have!
The biggest lesson I learned from our first Kickstarter campaign is that crowdfunding is a powerful marketing tool. People who believe in the campaign, back the campaign. People who back the campaign, tell other people that they backed the campaign. When other people learn that someone they know backed a campaign, they are more likely to back that campaign. Do you see how this works?
SHARING IS CARING!
As SOON as you back the campaign, PLEASE TELL EVERYONE THAT YOU DID!
Are you a blogger? BLOG ABOUT IT! Give us a shout and encourage your readers to support the campaign by pre-ordering the book! Need a quote? Want to interview me? Please send me a message and let's make it happen!
Got friends in the media? MAKE SURE YOU TELL THEM ABOUT THE CAMPAIGN! You know how I got connected with CNN? One of our backers so happened to be friends with a CNN producer. See how that works?
HELP US TO PUT (1)NE DROP ON A FEW BESTSELLER LISTS!
While our goal is to pre-sell at least 300 books in 30 days, I am hopeful that we can sell many, many more than that. Lots more. LOADS MORE!!!
BUT WE CAN'T DO IT WITHOUT YOU!! (Yes, YOU!)
RESERVE YOUR COPY OF (1)NE DROP TODAY!
Risks and challenges
To ensure that we are able to offer (1)ne Drop at an affordable and accessible price ($40), the book is being printed by an offset printer located in Canada. Though I do not anticipate any, there can always be delays that are out of my hands. Our production schedule currently has about eight weeks of padding between the time we expect production to be completed and the book release date. Should there be any delays, we promise to keep our backers up-to-date.
A problem I welcome with a smile! Should we sell-out of our initial run of books, we will have to put in another order, which we would not be able to do until AFTER the campaign has ended and the funds have been released (mid-September). If that were to be the case, the second batch of books would be delivered right around the time of the release date as opposed to several weeks before. Should this happen, we promise to alert those backers affected and keep them up-to-date on an expected date of delivery.
- (32 days)