Three successful Black men and one successful Black woman have come together to launch a publishing company that is not just a business but part of a movement. The primary goal of Prosperity Publications is to publish books, in all genres, that carry a positive message about the strength, beauty and wisdom that we, who are a part of the Black culture, inherited from our wonderful ancestors. Our message to the rest of the world is a very simple one, and that is we refuse to stand by any longer and allow others to demean our culture based on a distorted definition of black. There has never been a greater insult in the history of all civilization, than what has been hurled at us for centuries. Black is ugly, black is the devil, black is evil; black is wicked, dismal and represents failure. We at Prosperity Publications say, “No More and Enough is Enough.” It is time for us to define ourselves and if others don’t approve we feel no obligation to them.
As primary keeper of the vision for this company, I arrived at my determination to no longer accept these insults through the wise words of three cultural icons. The first comes from the writings of Langston Hughes, in a book review of Native Son that appeared in the Crisis Magazine in 1941. Writing about the tragic character Bigger Thomas, Langston asked the question, “Where are the Black heroes in our literature?” The greatest of all our cultural icons was alluding to the failure of Black writers to create heroes in their works. Hughes went on to elaborate, “Where, in all our books is that compelling flame of spirit and passion that makes a man say, ‘I too am a hero because my race has produced heroes.” The great poet was expressing his disappointment with the manner that Blacks were depicted in novels at that time. He believed there should be a better balance in character portrayals. Not all Black men and women were troubled souls like Bigger, and not all Black men and women found it impossible to deal with both poverty and being black. He suggested it was time to break the cycle of negative characterization of the race.
The second significant influence came from another literary giant, Ralph Ellison, author of the great American classic, Invisible Man. He made the following observation as early as 1944, “The solution to the problem confronting the Negro will be achieved when he is able to define himself for what he is and what he desires to be.” Ellison obviously is referring to the fact that Black Americans have always allowed others to define them. And the definition has been based on the perverted concept of the color black as projected onto a race of people and their culture. Over seventy years later, Prosperity Publications is determined to do exactly what the great essayist and novelist suggested. We will define who we are through our publications.
And finally I was moved by the poetry of Dr. Maya Angelou:
“You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt,
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.”
The sheer genius of Dr. Angelou is that she captures the essence of our struggle for a positive identification in this country, in four simple lines. She ends, however, with a message of hope, and despite the insults we have endured over the centuries we still have the capacity to rise.
The four managing partners and our investors are committed to participating in the larger movement to change the negative direction of our culture. We strongly believe, however, it begins with a new definition for the word black, and that also means alternatives to a lot of the music, the television programs, and the literature that dominates and inundates our communities. We choose to take on this battle in the literary world. Our company has a history of involvement in projects such as creative writing courses, lectures on our culture, and of course the publication of works that we feel meet our criteria of uplifting the culture and the race.
We invite all writers who share our vision to submit their works for review. We invite all readers also to peruse our works and strongly encourage you to read our publications. They are and will continue to be entertaining, enlightening and empowering. Join us in the movement to make a difference in the lives of our youth and adults as we work to make all our people repeat James Brown’s famous verse, “Say it loud, I’m Black and I’m proud.”
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