Why is it so hard to find a list of black authors on any list of complied authors or works of books that should be in the public domain. The first black author published a book in America in the 18th century, there should be hundreds, or thousands of texts from black authors from years ago that should be freely available now. Do you know how to access any of these archives?

This is a painful question for me, you’ve totally ruined my Sunday Anonymous; but I’ll answer anyway.

I wish the problem was simply finding list.  It’s a much bitter issue than that.  We are losing entire collection of academic and artist works by our well known and more obscure Black artist and academics.

The reason it’s hard to find complied list of Black authors, artist, recordings, artifacts, etc; is because Blacks don’t have sustained institutions.  We’ve struggled to build institutions over and over in the US and the rest of the African Diaspora but they are subverted, dismantlement, looted, burned, or simply under funded and de-funded.  

The reason our academic and archivist institutions are so vulnerable is because everything else about Black people is vulnerable.  

For some reason, we seem to think that we can piecemeal our way to empowerment and liberation.  We think we can focus on education, or focus on amassing fiat currency/getting paid/making money/opening businesses, or learning our African Culture and Heritage, or healing the multi-generational wounds of oppression, or Arming ourselves for armed struggle, etc.  

People who embrace one aspect of the struggle don’t link with those who emphasize a different aspects of the struggle.  So, those who follow W.E.B. Dubois will not fuck with those who follow Booker T. Washington; and so on.  

We need to wake up and understand that we need a holistic struggle, and we have to revolutionize all aspect of human relations in the Black community, we also have to make all endeavors Pan-African as well as Revolutionary, or our descendants will be here with the same problem and issue that we are talking about here; just as we are talking about a problem that plagued us a century ago right now: the neglect, loss, and lack of access to our intellectual heritage.  
But let’s get back on topic.

So, we have many valiant efforts to create, collect, and preserve Black academic and artistic institutions and archives, from the Vivian G. Harsh Collection, to the Schombug CenterThe Black Archives of KC, the Chicago State Archives; etc.  

But most if not all of these archives and collections are under funded, understaffed, too dependent on Public funds (which can be snatched away or reduced at any time, just look as the Harsh Collection, truly tragic), and many of them are struggling to preserver their documents.  They don’t have the resources or man power to digitize their collections, to create detailed list, to hire the professional need to compile the list, to expand the collection, to bring more attention to the collections.  This is the problem.  

There is enough money in the Black community to shore up all of our existing archives and build dozens more.  But there’s a lack of awareness in the community, also a severe lack of organization and prioritization.  We can’t just blame the Hood, many of those tasked with preserving and overseeing our archives run them like exclusive and private clubs or fiefdoms; so the larger community don’t even know about the plight of these institutions.  

What I’m saying here is just the tip of the iceberg, there’s so much dysfunction in Black academia and among the so-called Talented Tenth.  

There’s also a strong move towards anti-intellectualism in the US, and the Black community is following the larger society in this, unfortunately (Susan Jacoby is done some great research and writing on American Anti-Intellectualism).  

You’ll even find people who are supposed to be Conscious, to be organizers of the community pushing anti-intellectualism, emphasizing work over study, research, dialogue, and contemplation; that’s what the damn Slave Drivers would do, push the “Work don’t Think!” mentality on Black people, now we have our Pro-Black leaders doing the same.  I think that’s a significant factor in our failures to preserve and modernize our archival materials.  People really think they can get all the “knowledge” they need from YouTube videos.  

So, this is what I think should be don’t in the short term:

1. Find the archives in your community, and begin to engage, some will welcome you, others will not.  If they don’t and they are a public institutions, don’t allow them to turn you away. Get involved, hold gatherings, organize academic clubs and formations.

2. Find activist and Revolutionary elders in the community and establish relationships with them, learn their stories, record their stories, reestablish those broken generational links in the Black Liberation Struggle.  All of our Freedom Fighters were not assassinated in the 50s, 60s, and 70s;  link with them, they still out here.  Also, there are Freedom Fighters in exile, and in prison; we need to open lines of communication and exchange.

3. Begin you compile your own personal archives.  I’ve seen the personal libraries of some of our best scholars like Haki R. Madhubuti and the late Professor William Mackey.  I was blown away, before I visited Prof. Mackey’s home I was just an avid read, but he taught me to be an archivist, he made me realize that my collection had to be multi-media; not just text, but recordings and videos.  Men like Haki and Mackey should be role-models for us all, every Black home should be an mini archive of Black art, text, recordings (speeches, lectures, interviews), etc.  Every Black child should grow up in a home surrounded by our Black Intellectual, Artistic, and Revolutionary Heritage.  You don’t need a lot of money to do this, you can link with friends and pool your resources to build a cooperative collection.

We can’t depend on the internet to preserve our heritage, we need hard text and recordings, secure a cassette player, a working VCR, a DVD player, ad CD player, a record player, etc. preserve and maintain that shit.  We are way to dependent on digitized shit, if you are too young to even recognize a VCR if you saw one, at least have a free standing storage drive that’s not connect to the web.  Information is still power, and the oppressors are moving toward Total Information Awareness and Dominance; and the more web dependent we are the closer we move them to their goal.  So, go offline with your shit whenever possible.  If you find a lecture on the web that you value, secure that shit, make copies; and preserve it don’t assume that the web will always give you access, or that the damn web will always be available to you, or even up.  IJS. #SecureHardCopies #1984IsNow

Damn; I’m gonna set up a web site to help with this, gotta star better practicing what I’m preaching here.

4. Fight anti-intellectualism in the community whenever it is present.  This is the most important thing you can do, cuz even if we have all the needed list, all access to all our our materials, it don’t mean shit if our people will not use them.  I’ve been on panels, where people have showed up to share insights with our community, and people on the panel start off by saying shit about “we don’t need to be doing all this talking, we need to get to work.”  I’m like “muthafucka, do you want to live in a building where the carpenter, electrician, plumber said; fuck talking, fuck studying the blueprint, we about that work, let’s just get to work.”  I didn’t say that, but I thought it.  People really think that because I read, write, dialogue, and advocate that I am not doing work, and I don’t know how anyone who’s doing any functional work neglects the intellectual component of that work.  So, don’t be discourage by the “work over talk,” and the “action over thought” clowns out here.  We have to remind people that we can chew gum and walk at the same time.  We have to push the value of our intellectual heritage and it’s as valuable as our physical work.

So much more to say, but this response is getting long, and I think I may have gone way beyond your question, and if so I apologize.  But you ruined my Sunday, so, conciser us even if I failed to answer you question properly.  LOL!