I'd promised myself I wouldnt respond to this, bit somebody's trying
to do *too much. * -Juba
"A liberal is a racist pretending not to be one".
-Harry Allen, Media Assassin (former publicist for Public Enemy)
in SPIN Magazine, 1990
Ralowe and Reginald said:
>From the two gay shame token negroes:
As Juba so eloquently described usthe reason for D/DC's nomination
draw attention the fact that they play into the most white liberal
aspects of identity politics as opposed to actually dealing with any
emotions or inspiration in the perpetration of their music. I,
never seen them perform outside of an all-white context and I felt,
negro that their work was only for the white people in the audience
J: If Reginald had not *seen* D/DC perform outside of an "all-
white" context (though I doubt we have ever done a show that could be
described as such) It seems specious that he would not ask a former
D/DC member who he is in regular communication with whether this was
true or not. In fact, it's downright lazy.
Zuna Institute (Black Lesbian Scholarship Fundraiser) Cal-
Berkeley Fist Nations Student Organization, On a Butch Tip
Productions ( Black butch women and transmen performance troupe) The
National Black Lesbian/Gay TaskForce,and the Sylvester Music Heritage
Awards are among the specifically non-white audiences/organizations
we have performed for and with. The overwhelming majority of these
shows took place in San Francisco and Oakland.
With regard to the content of our music, please visit
http://sugartruck.tripod.com and read the lyrics page, or check the
press page and click the link for the dissertation" The Rhetoric Of
Queer HipHop", by Doug Norman.
> Since what so much of what they seem to be about seems to be
politics I wondered about the politics of exclusion. It re-centers
and white supremacy to only focus on the white liberal response in
performance to your performance and not consider the black people in
J: I spoke to this above. Had I not, I think it would be important to
note, as I did with the Harry Allen quote above, that I personally
make no distinctions between "conservative" and "liberal"
manifestations of white supremacy, and generally avoid those who
would label them selves as "liberal"
As far as my "consideration" for audience members,well. I
speak my piece and my experience, and hopefully theres something that
an audience member gleans from that, and hopefully questions and
critiques the way they exist in the world. I've found that we're
particularly threatening to audience members who would posit
themselves as "liberal" (in the way that manifests in the SF Bay
Area) because so much about white activism, especially queer
activism, is about complicity/reification of white supremacy...as
in " we're so queer/freaky/poly/whatever that we don't need to talk
about our racism/sexism/classism/etc."
I think anybody who's *really* been listening to D/DC is
I really enjoy the opportunities we have to speak to Black
folks...it involves wading through a ton of
Our audience speaks back to us..I've gotten emails from gay Zimbabwe
boys who found us online who were really really happy and supportive.
I run into Black folks at Ashby Flea Market in Berkeley who came to
shows and had a good time...*repeated lyrics* to me, even. Its kinda
Now if D/DC didn't speak to the way *you* relate to *your* Black
self, I can accept that. However thats what you should have said.
That it didn't speak to *you* and your wants/needs rather than some
blanket inaccuracy regarding Black members of D/DC's audience.
That said, how has such consideraton played into decisions
shows or performances we have participated in?
We decided that it would be best to let the majority of available
members decide if we would perform
at a particular event or not..anyone that didnt want to be present
didnt have to; we found it a good way to respect the
personal/political space of individual members.Despite this, there
were still issues around certain shows, because Ralowe often seemed
disgruntled because *any of us wanted* to perform, despite the
respect given to his personal decision not to.
>We as black artists do not only make work to be seen and consumed
by white people. If any of you have seen a D/DC show, you can attest
this. See, it's complicated. At the bottom of this posting there will
verbatim re-cap of the original exchange when I left D/DC and why,
wasn't simply because they refused to show up for a show that was...
Posted all over SAN FRANCISCO ON FLIERS WITH D/DC'S NAME ON IT...
J:With regard to the Gay Shame event in question...this again,is
simply *not true*...Nor has it ever been inferred that this was the
reason he left. I made clear that Ralowe left because of an
accumulation of issues that he had within the group, which culminated
with the aforementioned conflama around the Gay Shame event.
Again, to clarify the final chain of events:
Gay Shame asked Ralowe if we would do the event (which at the time,
was *tentatively scheduled* to happen. I told him that though I
wasn't interested in them, that The End Of The World was performing
and I really dig them, so sure. Ralowe knew that it had been our
policy for shows that group members book individually, that he was
solely responsible for
1) ascertaining the technical set up (turntables,CD, # of mikes
available) and the logistics (sound scheck, showtime length of set)
and get back to us about it
2)insuring that any publicity material for the event (flyer, posters,
electronic files)were made available to group members.
I recieved a email from a Gay Shame member who said that Ralowe told
them to "get in touch with me" about show logistics" to which I
replied (and CC'd Ralowe) that "Ralowe is the point person for this
show" and that I was not to be contacted again because I wasn't
handling the arrangements.
Days go by.a week, two weeks. No word, flyers or posters.No call from
Ralowe saying " I have posters for you." Is a show happening?
Don't know. havent heard anything. Month goes by. Not one email
or call regarding the show.Month and a half. no call. Show date comes
and goes. I group email everyone re: a show at The Good Vibes Polk
Street store opening,and I get an angry missive from Ralowe, that I
later find has been posted to four or five public
listserves...something that I really didnt care about aside from fact
that the the mail contained my home phone number.
Ready to whip Ralowe's ass for this shit, I send him a mail
letting him know this is so. As I expect,Ralowe quits the group,yet
neglects to email anyone in the group in particular......Gay Shame
Awards call for nominations comes out a couple months later,
Ralowe 'jokingly" mentions nominating D/DC in a post on Phat-Family
and Gay Hiohop.com listserves.
Ko-inky-dink? Of course not.
Which leads me to another interesting thought..."Fliers all over San
Francisco"...Hmmm. What about fliers all over Oakland? were there
flyers there as well? I spend the bulk of my time there....and I
didn't see any, nor have I ever seen one for ANY Gay Shame event.
Odd,as at least three members of D/DC live in Oakland.
lessee ..380,000 people..thats what, at least 38,000 queers who
might be interested in Gay Shame were they ever given the
opportunity...that given Oakland's race demographics probably HALF of
which would be *non-white* people? Wow.
Maybe I just didnt see them....Or Maybe its the same resistance I
and other co-directors for Bay Area Bisexual Network (BABN) in
getting some SF'ers (read: white queers) to come to downtown Oakland
for a brunch every other weekend. that Queer=white and in
SanFrancisco, and that Oakland(hell...the Fillmore, HuntersPoint)
=Black,necessarily heterosexual and scary.
I could be wrong. But I doubt it.
>The most insidious position that people of color can ever be put in
position of only being able to speak about race.
J: Which is why we speak about sexism/patriarchy, class
discrimination, lateral oppressions and more.We always have.Which is
interesting to me, as its become clear that you can't really have in
depth discussion about race as a *construction* without speaking
about one of the aforementioned *constructs*, as they so often
collapse upon one another.
>That was the reason I left
the group and the reason why they got nominated for a Gay Shame
you understand that?
J:No, I don't think that was clear....though I think much more *will
be* by the end of this posting.
>Or are all of you too caught up in white guilt to be
"Oh My God, these invioable sad black artists...they can't possibly
J: I think they know better than that. I think that what was made
clear was that Gay Shame presented something that was potentially a
space for some interesting political dialogue (and action, maybe) was
actually the personal beef of two members in specific...both who
happened to be African American, one with airing his issues with
former bandmates, and another who had other issues but saw a
previously unavailable opportunity to air them.
That isn't to say that the nomination was undeserved. I'm saying
again, that niggers is nigroes is nigras wherever they stand. And
that a Racist is a Racist is a Racist, whether its on Strap-on.org,
SF Pride, at East Bay Pride, at Gay Shame, at the LGBT
Center,StopAIDS Project or wherever. I'm saying that Gay Shame is
as racist as anything else because *whiteness* is its fulcrum like
any of the other aforementioned organizations/spaces, and Deep
Dickollective *would'nt have been nominated* had there been no Ralowe
*We* are *house niggers* whenever we are *in the
house* ,fellas....because we are *niggas*...we are non-white people
living under white supremacy, and though not *necessarily*,we are
complicit in our own undoing.
. What's key I think is understanding how this power is
mediated.....How and when we are used against ourselves is just a
matter of degree....and in this case, a matter of how sloppily the
particular *house* we occupy does its business.
>Is anyone on this board capable of any real critique of
white supremacy and how identity politics plays into it or are all of
just reactionary dickwads?
J: I hope so. I haven't had a chance to read the rest of the board,
but it would seem so. there is at least an honest attempt being made
here to create a space.I could be wrong, but it looks promising.
>Juba and Tim'm are very very very smart and went
to a lot of school and have done a lot of reading about race. I
speaking) have not.Tim'm went to France and read the writings of
on race. He knows what the fuck is going on, and all of you are
this huge guilt ruse, that as Juba explained, he's trying to exploit
money out of.
J:You mean like with the HomoHop Festival, that lost $5000 last year?
or the D/DC "release party" at the 2002 Queer Arts Fest, that I lost
$400 out of my own pocket from promoting (the festival scheduled it
the night of the Dyke March, so we only got like 40 people)? Or from
the mabye-and that's a big mabye- 250 CD's that D/DC we've sold
since November, 2001? Or the $800 a year that is paid to the State
Of California Tax Board by Deep Dickollective,LLC and Sugartruck
Recordings,LLC whether we make a dime or not. Or from the payments
from our performances that barely pay for postage, promotion,web
services,press kits and the like? How about the $280 I cleared
working the box office for the National Queer Arts Fest for all of
Big pimpin' right?
Are you stupid, motherfucker or just REALLY bad at math?
It don't take a degree to figure out that doing queer music and art
projects ain't a good way to make money...Or mabye I'm just not
particularly effective. Or mabye that depends on what you mean
by "making money".
If "making money" means having enough money to buy groceries
without going into debt, or being lucky enough to make enough money
to pay rent on an overpriced SRO or efficiency, or understanding that
I, personally can't be as effective as *I'd like to be* by living in
a squat, or wanting to making sure I have BART fare till the next
payday. I'm clear that motherfuckers who don't pay child support
often *go to jail*and I'm supposed to do it and I want to...so I pay.
, if those are bad things, as you seem to imply, then well....I'm not
that bad, because
*I'm barely doing them*.
I'm broke as fuck, and I don't have any romantic bullshit about it.
Dad lived in a colored
mining camp. Mama from Jim Crow-era Mississippi. Po azz niggas that
made sure I *wasn't*. I came to the SF Bay Area in January 1999, and
spent February in a homeless shelter in Richmond,CA cause my partner
and I were *flat broke* and didn't know anyone.
Poverty ain't cute, or noble. Its hard, its soul-stealing... It
breaks people. I've seen it up close.I have a hard time imagining
that anyone who's really ever been poor would attempt to make a
political statement out of being "raggedly excessive" as Gay Shame
encourages...especially if their life has been *excessively ragged.*
> That disgusts me deeply. I guess I don't have any moral
agendas to put on other folks (people can sell drugs, be contract
work for a bank) but I decided not to be part of it. I cannot make
art in a
world where I have to trade on people's perceptions of me to be
.....WHICH IS A BIG ISSUE, don't you think?, and is why I left the
BECAUSE THAT WAS ALL THAT IT WAS ABOUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
>I think it's cute how Juba feels the need to very carefully tally
of people of color involved in Gay Shame as if that made a difference.
J: I didn't tally the "people of color" (or more accurately "non-
white people") in Gay Shame. I made light of
1)of the actions/activities of the two *African-Americans* who I am
aware that are, or have been Gay Shame members
2) two people who had specific connections /investments in what I
have said or didn't say in connection to D/DC
Which leads to some more interesting dialogue below...beginning with
your equating of "people of color" with "Black/African-American" in
this specific instance, at least.
>I, Ralowe, not Reginald, (we need to make clear) created the Model
J:Which was my point. It really didn't matter which of you did. What
mattered is that When somebody said "hey what was that about" was
that there was a negro body to point to. Canadian or Jamaican, L.A.
or Chicago, niggas be completely interchangeable. I maintain that it
mattered not that it was Reginald or Ralowe. It mattered that it was,
specifically a *Black* person and more conveniently for Gay Shame, a
Black person with a specific connection to an Black entity/community
organization whose "shameful" activities/politics needed to be made
>I felt that there needed to be a critique of the fascinating white
liberal phenomenon that is Deep Dickollective, and I'm very pleased
J: I find that odd, as I don't find what you percieve to be
the "fascinating" connection that "white liberals" (a redundancy if
you ask me...much like "white racist" if one understands "racism" as
*white supremacy*) have to Deep Dickollective; which somehow
presupposes that white people (or one's we *think* are white...more
on that later) attending a D/DC show are somehow more invested or
understanding of the motivations of the group, or of any members in
particular than so called "conservatives".
Central to this kind of thinking is an internalizeed racism of a
sort...the "good white people/bad white people" conundrum I find so
many activist types stuck in...the kind of bullshit that makes Gay
Shame so offensive, as it posits itself as more conscious-than-thou,
or at least more than the aforementioned "conservatives"
>It makes me feel wonderful that all of you are pissed off, because
even though we are, as you presume, such disempowered and helpless
commodities, as your identity politics choose to relegate us to, we
fact not above critique and need to be made accountable for our
productions and the political implications that they have, you know,
conforming, complicity etc...
J: Conformity? conforming to what? When, if ever, are you, in the SF
Bay Area, with a few random exceptions, anything other than a black
body standing in a sea of white people, or at least a group or body
of people *affecting/asserting whiteness* whether consciously or not?
I understand the need for accountability. But to whom? I gotta be
accountable to myself, first and foremost. I'm attempting to be
accountable for my participation in sexism/patriarchy, transphobia,
my class bullshit that I run into every now and again. There's lots
one thing that isn't happening though, is being accountable to
*white people*, and more specifically, whiteness as a social
construction. I don't owe whiteness a goddamn thing, and I'm
especially uninteresting in so-called "radicals" and their lazy and
offensive politics around the issues of non-white people. Its a
constant conversation, albeit one with *no words*.
Gay Shame *knew goddamed well* what would, and could have been
the perception had they nominated D/DC without having any Black
members, and more specifically, members *clearly* of African
descent...meaning that they needed to have niggers that *looked like
niggers are supposed to look*- clearly discernable as non-white
people in the manner inwhich that is coded socially,in order for them
to present that award without some kind of community backlash.
What could be more convenient than the gay nigga flava of the
month, D/DC? Plus, as an added bonus, an disgruntled former member as
a mouthpiece, and another colored boy to corroborate his position on
these bad bad niggas. A racist Artradicals's wet dream.
> it's not enough to dismiss the award as an art
school arty punk rock faux-radical posturing because focussing on
misses the point of the critique.
J: I didn't dismiss it at all. I said I think Gay Shame is important
and should exist as it does whether or not I like anything that they
do. I just said it was a particularly sloppy and transparent example
of the organizations politics at it's very worst: racist and myopic.
I mean...shit...nigga please. Nominating Osento bath house for
encouraging lesbian bed death because its not a sex club? what the
fuck kinda stupid shit was that?
>It should be stated that this critique is
not coming from the arty white folks in the group... it's coming from
arty black folks, meaning me and Ralowe, but putting it out there, as
was, it's for everybody, clearly.
J:Which is my point exactly.... It was clear (at least to me, and a
few others) where it came from, and thats the problem. It *would not
have come* had you (or some other convenient Negro foil
not been there. I wonder what shape this critique would have taken
had the groups white membership not been so cowardly It might have
Or maybe not.We have done a slew of shows that Gay Shamers have
frequented. I've had sex with people in Gay Shame. Run into them on
the street now and then.
Not a word about our "no-show" at the February Gay Shame event
from any representative of the group, or anyone.....not on our
website,or through email or our MP3.com page...nothing from anyone.
Except for...Reginald and Ralowe. Odd, it seems that the only two
people particularly invested in this issue are - badda-bing - the
two Negroes who put it together.
Somebody's gettin' played like Monopoly.
>I have issues with Gay Shame.We, Reginald and Ralowe, were not part
of the planning,
and I, Ralowe was not there when the award was handed out because I
was working on music and I
didn't think that it was really necessary to go to the Castro again
with this little thing we do.
J: again,...why? Oh that's right. we just figured that out, above.
>It should be said that we both ambivalently participate
in Gay Shame out of a need to exist in a space outside of the
community and not to be totally isolated.
J: But thats just it, Dude, you're BLACK.
You ain't never been part of mainstream gay anything. Never.
You've always existed outside of it.Go watch "Tongues Untied"
again,man.....Black Harvardite....gay...rejected by his southern
peeps...rejected on campus......struggling to find community...coming
to SF and getting dissed in the Castro....attempting to confront
racism in the gay community....conflicted around his identity issues
and having them brought into sharp focus by his white lovers...you
get the point.
If you don't, go get it and watch it.You'll see that You ain't
that different from the rest of us.
>Ralowe leaving D/DC clearly meant
that his voice in that context could not be heard.
Remember the Guardian article?
J: If you are referring to the August 21,2002 cover story on Deep
Dickollective? What about it?
For those not familiar, the story was pieced together from a 2 hour
interview at S.M.A.A.C. Youth center in downtown Oakland, part of
which Ralowe spent standing on his head in a chair (which the writer,
Amanda Nowinski, mentions...as well as his purposefully misogynist
antagonizing of a waitress in Merritt Bakery).
You said lots of cool incisive stuff when she interviewed us. Are
you saying that's Tim'm' s fault thats she decide to focus on you
acting an ass? Is that my fault the article essentially painted you
as a Flavor-Flav style comic relief? Did you email her and sak why
she left most of what you had to say out of the piece?
I guess you were being silenced by me when you said much of
nothing and spent the afternoon denigrating yourself when I selected
you for the panel I curated at the SF Black LGBT Film Fest in
Poor Ralowe. shut him down.shuthimshuthim down.
>In the Gay Shame context it can despite its shortcomings. I felt
that my voice was less likely to be censored at Gay Shame than as it
the D/DC context, as will be illustrated later in this writing.
>I came up
with the name for the award "model minority" from a usage that Juba
throw around and call other people of color as he saw fit.
J: Not true, either. I'm particularly careful of the way I say that
kinda stuff....like dismissing Black men who date white men as "snow
queens" and shit like that. Its lazy.Doesn't take much work.
And if I had, what the fuck are you saying it for now? If I did,
and it was fucked up then, whats changed about that? Haven't you
applied it any any other title/critique "as you see fit" whats the
>They always say
that when you criticize someone else that you're really projecting
feel about yourself.
J: Damn, Ralowe... eating Freud Chicken for lunch when you was
writing this shit?
>Hence. Thus. Also is any person of color who doesn't
fall into Juba's limited idea of what is possible culturally,
socially, automatically a house nigger?
J: No. I'm saying that you, and I , may be, are often used as such
whether we percieve that to be so, or whether or not that is our
I've been a program assistant for a Black men's program at a
lily-white San Francisco HIV prevention organization. Now I'm the
Festival Director for a pride event in a major city. I'm in the
house, so to speak.
I get to do some things, make some moves that some
artist/activist types don't. Some stuff that some people might not
like. Its a constant struggle.
Something I'm very clear about though, is that I cannot use my
position as a platform for my petty personal shit, or let other
people use my beef against me or other people in my community. You
think I like or get along with everybody I meet/work with? Maybe the
HomoHop festival happened, and I was successful in getting people to
buy into it, because I'm more of an Uncle Tom than you.....better at
shining shoes, smiling and toe- tapping at the right moments or
>It is reductive for him to say that
my critique of D/DC is only about the perputation of a black
paradigm; it also skirts the bigger issue of representations of black
masculinity in hip hop...(duh!)...
J: No its not reductive, its clarifying. I don't have issues with
crituque of Black masculinity in hip hop. Youre doing that if you're
an out, queer black male MC.
I do have issues with what I see as internalized racism, as its
clear to me that there are certain types of Black bodies that the
white LGBT community is most often comfortable with. Stereotypically
fey/effeminate presentation being one of them, Castro-style hairless
muscle boy being another.Look too much like a b-boy or
too "Africentric"or too much like a homeless man on Market Street and
white folks, even many the so called "progressive" types,start
I don't fit any of those boxes, nor does the do majority of the
queer Black men I know,and I am clear that there are people in queer
community, white and non-white, who are uncomfortable with
that.....like the gay Black bio-men who looked at me like I was crazy
when I said Marcus Van had joined the group. We have our own issues
about these things intraculturally,and we have talked about them in
our music,on panel discussions, and in the press.
I'm still trying to figure what planet Reginald has getting his
information from, as he doesn't really know any of us, and hasn't, as
far as I know. had a much as an email exchange with anyone outside of
>and how they're often complicit with white
supremacist representations of black masculinity. This particular
clearly doesn't interest D/DC At all.
J: It clearly does concern me, as stated above.
>At all. That's why I took off. It really
bothers me that people can be so completely jaded and/or stupid.
When I was in the group I felt that my general voice (I am a black
raised in a white suburb) was censored (of course a black person in
can't be talking about being from anyplace but an all-black ghetto)
J: There aren't nor have there ever been any D/DC members from
an "all-black ghetto" nor has anyone ever posited themselves as such.
Aside from Tim'm ( rural Arkansas) our upbringings have been
decidedly priveleged and middle class, hence the first album
title "BourgieBohoPostPomoAfroHomo", which was an attemple to
critique ourselve and poke fun at our existence in the same breaths.
>: to draw
an example, we were doing a show at the Good Vibes anniversary and
gay supervisor Tom Ammiano...which caused me to suspect other local
political figures had been invited...so I asked up front and found
Gavin Newsom had also been invited...Gavin Newsom was a supervisor
upscale Marina district and entrepeneur who was running for mayor
refer to this link for details:
...anyway I was like I wanna say something about Gavin Newsom if it
out he shows up here to Juba and Juba told me to stop acting white.
J: Not *completely* accurate. Juba actually said "stop acting like a
white boy and pretending you haven't already decided what you're
going to do"....It's a common Af-Am dialogue among those working in
white collar jobs and management, having dealt with white
supervisors/managers who ask their opinions on policy as if theyre
actually interested, and only *after* they have made critical policy
Extreme Elvis (an alternately fascinating and trite performer)
also happened to be present, and Ralowe asked me if I recall, could
they do something or other(as if I could stop him somehow had he
chosen to), which annoyed me further
By the time the Good Vibes Annivesary show had rolled around,
Ralowe's acting out around his pathological need for attention had
gotten to be stale. I found myself wasting way too much time to pay
a white girlfriend. Does he talk to her like that?
J: Uh, no.....I *don't have* a white girlfriend.
Ralowe is speaking of my primary partner, who is a *mixblood* and
a *mischling*. Someone who in many places *could* pass as white if
she chose.....though as I've come to understand over my lifetime,
such is a dynamic that requiires a certain amount of disbelief of the
part of the observer(s)...Ralowe in this case.
No, Ralowe, Not white. And more accurately, and importantly, someone
you *doesn't even know*.
You met her twice for mabye five minutes and haven't had more than a
hi/bye conversation with her.
Which makes his mention of her that much more problematic in terms of
the schizophrenia non-white (and more specifically, African-American
people) engage in.
Inside Ralowe's head, while he be clack-clacking away in Yerba Buena
"So I feel like Juba is questioning/disqualifying my particular
modality of Blackness,
so I'll pick something that I think I know about someone who is in
what's clearly a significant relationship with him, not in the name
of any real discussion....just as opportunity to invoke a supposedly
problematic *object* or *abstraction* as a means of revoking some
imaginary Ghetto Pass thatJuba has ( and that mabye I desparately
what a jive-ass nigga.
>I, Ralowe, have no problem with the way I exist in white supremacy.
people do. I exist as a being filled with a lot of self-hate, desire
loved by white people and an intense feeling of alienation from black
J: And despite your particularly unique permutation(s) and
sociopathological expressions, how does this make you *different*
from the vast majority of colonized *non-white* people on the planet?
>Everybody knows this about and I think I make it pretty clear if you
ever hang out with me. I don't think that history nor the social
that inflict this upon me will change in my lifetime.
J:No, they won't. I agree.
>I make music that
deals with this complicated plateau of recognition and resistance in
I don't think that things can be easily summarized as being one or
other. My relationship with the world is way more complicated than
represented at D/DC.
J: Which I think, was the crux of your issue. That you mabye
*expected* your relationship to the world to be represented by Deep
Dickollective...something that I, nor anyone else who has been a
member of D/DC was interested in, or was attempting to provide for
you. That's why everybody has a zillion outside projects going on,
and always has,and why yours were encouraged and supported
regardless of our individual personal interests;the difference being,
I think a ridiculous and shortsighted expectation of *corroboration*
that you expected to recieve and did not.
Tim'm's" Red Dirt Revival " is not Deep Dickollective. JB's
involvement with Naked Souls Artist Alliance isn't. Juba's porn
flicks and bisexual activism aren't. Marcus Rene' Van's spoken word,
hip hop and trans-specific activism (most recently with his group
Transfix) isn't D/DC either...nor should any of these things be.
I hoped that D/DC would become a space in which people could
collectivize and encourage their individual growth by providing a
space to reflect back to.I have had this conversation with you on
many occasion. I won't venture to guess why it didn't sink in.
>I, Reginald, am trying to construct a complicated subjectivity where
of a fixed identity are constantly disrupted. I feel as if most the
who know me know this, and Juba's simplistic categorization of me
erase my years of work as an artist, activist, and living performance
J: I didn't categorize you, Reginald. I mentioned what I was told by
Tim'm about what you wrote to him, and talked about his response.I
don't know you outside of Ralowe and Gay Shame.If I was interested
in "erasing" you as such, I wouldn't/haven't been particularly
effective....and clearly if such is true of your work/motivations ,
the truth of that would shine through any negativism I could put
forth about you.
>I was really hurt by his evaluation and insulted since he knows
my politics which have been consistently over the years anti-white
supremacy, anti-capitalist, and anti-patriarchal and much to the
many of you here
J: Actually, I do know something of your politics. I'm clear, on one
level at least,regardless of the depth and extent of your particular
leanings or involvements, that you engage in much of the same
desperate need for corroboration instead of examination of your own
Maybe I'm too easily annoyed. I've had one conversation with you
of length, at The Stud last year, prior to a D/DC show there (
Ralowe and I performed). You said to me, "Aren't these people
You struck me as catty and obnoxious, but I didnt say so. I
replied "No more than anybody anywhere else working their shit out.
If you feel like that, why are you here?" You then walked away to
another part of the club.
Its the same shit bullshit conservative,liberal,radical....sometimes
it wears Dockers and loafers, other times wearing runny mascara, a
tinfoil shirt and shinguards.
I'm glad Gay shame is What it is. for two reasons. One, corporatized
Pride shouldnt exist without alternatives, and crass commercialism of
that kind needs to be commented upon by somebody.
Secondly, but most importantly, is the truism that *real bad boys
move in silence*. Gay Shame's manuverings and such exist within a
culture that corroborates such behavior, and often uses it as a
distraction from real serious pressing issues and needs .Like
volunteers and money at places like LYRIC Youth Center, Dimensions
Clinic, and the aforementioned S.M.A.A.C.
I'm not so self important that I think my work,art etc. are above
critique. But I tire of stupid ass shit
from the "I'm gonna-outradical-all-of yall" crowd, especially when
I'm clear that the "crowd" don't care about me or family my communit
I could ramble on but I think ya'll get the point.
Don't mess with as snap diva.
From: "Ralanka Ginko Baklava"
Date: Fri Jul 18, 2003 1:38 pm
Subject: Reflecting on Juba's brilliance
Reginald: I found Juba's response to our earlier posting exhilerating. Much
of what I feel is that I'm doing as a culture-maker, activist, performer is
provocation. And therefore, I appreciate Juba's skilled use of black
vernacular to call out our particular position.
Ralowe: Actually, that's funny Reginald because I thought he wanted it to be
really long so that nobody would actually read it and just assume that what
he was saying was right.
Reginald: Well, I read it and took notes and thing that the brother has it
goin' on. Though I obviously disagree with him. There's clearly black
fierceness and brilliance on display.
Ralowe: Whatever. I think that he was really good at talking a lot about
what he thought the issue was instead of missing the actually issue. Par
exempla, his reiteration of the "good white people / bad white people" thing
is cute and I agree with it, but the way he's using it in context of
resisting Gavin Newsom leaves me to suspect that his opinion is that black
people shouldn't care because it's a white issue and that racism and black
oppression will continue whether or not Newsom gets elected or not...
Reginald: Well if he thinks that he's right, but I would think that someone
who's clearly more interested in working within the system as he has
demonstrated that he is would be invested in making sure that someone with
horendous policies around the homeless, among other things, would not be
elected mayor of SF. But oh yeah, that's right...he lives in Oakland. Where
all the black people are. So I can see why he would not be concerned.
Ralowe: Also, he calls us out as harboring internalized racism with being
uneasy with the image of black masculinity...which may or not be true...but
masculinity is still masculinity and is an oppressive ideology and should be
Reginald: Well of course all black people and people of color living in a
white supremacist context have to deal with internalized racism. But the
racism I have to deal with is always always coupled with a genderphobia.
Juba may or may not have noticed that I rigorously maintain a very
androgynous appearance and this makes me invested in critiques of
masculinity for entirely different reasons.
It's ironic that Juba mentioned Tongues Untied, the seminal and extremely
important work on video by a visionary artist and activist, Marlon Riggs. He
brought this up as if to suggest that we had not seen it.
Ralowe: When I was in Ventura I jerked off to it...or was that Looking for
Reginald: Well I saw it in 1991 and it changed my life. Being from Alabama I
had not had the privilege of seeing this display of black gay brilliance
before and it was inspiring. Yet when I was walking here to read you this
response before I had knew of this mention of this work I was thinking about
bell hooks' response to this video in a discussion with Isaac Julien. She
seemed to suggest that it was easier for black people, particularly black
men, to deal with harder representations of black masculinity as was shown
in Tongues Untied (everyone was maintaining this extremely defensive front)
as opposed to Looking for Langston, a film of the same period by british
film director Isaac Julien, and that in an audience of predominately
non-white people that people seemed especially disturbed by how these very
vulnerable black men were expressing desire for one another. My critiques of
the representations of black masculinity are coming from a feminist longing
to address masculinity in general and have it remade. And, it's not simply
enough "to be a out black queer emcee" as a critique of patriarchy.
Ralowe: That seems obvious. I mean is the castro critiquing patriarchy?
S.M.A.A.C.? The Pendulum? Creating a culture of resistance is way more
involved than anyone in the group seems to be willing to do. Or maybe
they're not willing. But why state that "queer boys/girls doing hip hop is a
revolutionary act?" Maybe that was originally only meant to be in the hip
hop context. But is that obvious to everyone who hears D/DC say that?
Reginald: Because I don't spend much time in the gay community my interest
in black masculinity is without interest in sexual orientation. I'm not as
much interested in what Juba describes as a "fey" "effeminate" version of
black bodies but more the fact that the dominance of more masculine
representations seeks to erase all presence of the effeminate. It's obvious
that masculine bodies in a gay context are more valued, deemed more sexually
desirable, if you are a banjee boy or bringing any kind of thug drama you
are way more likely to get laid by black or white men than if you are even
remotely a queen. This is a re-inscription of the value of male supremacy.
Is this a sloppy evaluation. You tell me?
Ralowe: It seems that Juba seems insistent that positing oneself as an "out
black queer emcee" somehow aptly undoes male supremacy but that always
seemed kind of lazy to me.
Reginald: "Queer boys doing hip hop" is not a revolutionary act. When Marlon
Riggs said "Black men loving Black men is a revolutionary act" more than ten
years ago (and your biting of this misses some critiques brought by
feminists, or one feminist in particular, again bell hooks, that "Black men
dealing with their childhood is the revolutionary act") though I except that
this may not speak to you, I thought it was deep.
Ralowe: I've been doing a lot of thinking about my childhood lately. I hope
this doesn't get off topic or anything, but I think that if anything D/DC
should be making art that is personal and deals with their experiences and
to completely dislodge themselves from rhetoric because the pre-occupation
with creating a commodity is what really is the downfall of the whole
project. But that's just me.
Reginald: Well, it's interesting that Juba mentioned the one conversation we
had at the Stud over a year ago. I don't remember saying that anyone is
pathetic. I remember making specific comments about not liking the music. It
was some mix of house and techno. I don't really know, because I hate this
music. And I said to him, as much and his response was "I like this music".
And this was interesting to me in reference to his comment and his posting
that of course we (meaning me and ralowe) feel isolated in a white
supremacist context and from the gay mainstream. He's right to say that
isolation is a fact for people of color under white supremacy but my
alienation from the gay mainstream and its horrible music would include him
and all the gay clubs, The End Up, The Stud and the LGBT liberation projects
where he performs. My response to his assertion that "why don't I just
leave" is that I had never seen my friend whom I love and care for deeply
Ralowe perform and though I despised the context I didn't want to miss an
opportunity to support him and see his work. The gay mainstream to me
includes all those horrible gay clubs and bars, black mixed and all-white,
that perpetuate this horror of music, culture and fashion as well as the
LGBT center and all the attempts to utilize this pathetic acronym of
inclusion. I guess it's true I'm not down with the liberation of the LGBT
community. So sue me.
Ralowe: My guess is that Juba is trying to say that instead of presentation
the public with visible outrage at the state of affairs is beside the point
and that real community building is elsewhere...but as far as I've observed
being at S.M.A.A.C. and all over Oakland that there is no elsewhere. Every
aspect of life right down to the civic planning even if you live in the
heart of Oakland is controlled by white supremacy. He keeps citing this
exclusion of Oakland from Gay Shame...Gay Shame is based in San
Francisco...and I don't think that just trying to live outside of San
Francisco is enough. It's an illusion. And being that I live here I
participate in actions here, because if the sight of resistance is
unavailable then I'm terrified that it would never happen. We all can't work
for non-profits and shit.
Reginald: I would argue, though I'm not sure, that I am way broker and
financially destitute than Juba but I don't have child support to pay so it
is unrealistic for me to come up with BART fare to make it to Oakland, what
has become the symbol of whether you're down with the niggas.
Ralowe: Down with the niggas: that reminds me of the white female life
partner scenario...no amount of miscegenation would dissolve her privelege
and how that ties to you is puzzling in a social context considering your
incisive critiques of white supremacy... like my suggesting the group make a
political statement at a rather apolitical gig... it's been the group shared
memory I'm sure that whenever I do things without checking with everyone
else it has always been an issue... maybe it's hard for you to imagine, I'm
sure for a lot of people it might be, but I was actually wanting to see if
the group was interested in making a statement about that at the Good Vibes
show, and trying to use the analogy of the white executive figures is
condescending and rather typical of the way in which you saw me and what I
stood for over the course of when I was in the group which is why I left...
I've always felt very strongly about my politics and it was just one of
those things that our group could never reach consensus on...so oh well...
Reginald: It should be said that I think D/DC's existence is important to an
agit-prop display of identity politics but I guess what dismays me is that
they seem to only operate on that level. And for all the brilliance of that
group I have a huge amount of respect for Juba and Tim'm's intellectual
rigor and I guess it just saddens me that on a critical level and
discursively I don't see their work advancing much beyond the conversations
that Isaac Julien, Marlon Riggs and Essexx Hemphill were having more than
ten years ago and entering into public discourse. The fact that the cultural
fascination with hip hop allows them to continue much of this discourse in
the context of rap I don't find particularly meaningful. But who am I to say
they should be doing with their work and I want to only critique it from a
political standpoint but also from a formal and aesthetic standpoint being
that I make rock music and not hip hop maybe they would find my critiques of
1. I have not always received fliers for every show and the group never
formally sat down and decided that Juba's method of booking shows would be
the group's fuckin' method...
2. LYRIC and SMAAC are both fucked and I would encourage all to avoid them.
3. D/DC does not permutate anything of our individual talents into one
thing... we're given topics and then told to go write in a vacuum... that's
not just how I think a group of people should work on music...maybe I have
way too much time on my hands, but "given the impress" of this stuff we're
doing isn't it important?
Reginald: It should be said that the loving relationship that Ralowe and I
share is not without conflict. We disagree often and I agree with Juba that
your antics are often a desperate need for attention.
Reginald: I say that to say that I often want to give you that attention and
think you deserve it. Though I often don't think your analysis is sound,
your voice is always strong and I stand behind it even as I disagree with it
often. I want to also say that the picture Juba paints is one of quote "I'm
this upstanding queer black man working with the community for the community
and what are those other niggers doing (Reginald and Ralowe) with a group
that largely wants to provoke and be a voice of dissent (Gay Shame)...I have
never believe in the myth of 'community' and largely want to destroy
everything including notions of family and nation, but then again I don't
have child support to pay, but maybe that's because I know about
contraception and despise constructions of a family and find them extremely
One of the things I wanna question is the whole idea of the black man
fighting the good fight trying to do right by family nation and state. It's
not that there shouldn't be black men out there doing that, but why is that
the only voice heard? These community voices often seek to silence voices of
dissent who don't share their approach and belief that working within the
system is meaningful. I agree with Juba that we are all niggas often in the
house and outside of it, but I want to break this binary opposition of house
nigga and field nigga and suggest a burning of the plantation. I know it
sounds mythic and heroic but that gets me through much more than would
working within some gay social services slash non profit organization and
the fact that you choose to work within these structures logically makes you
a target for my critique, my dissent, and my rage.
Also, you're quite right in suggesting that I was "obnoxious". I want to
continue though. As I say all this I want to acknowledge the pleasure I've
gotten from this dialogue and I do see it as a dialogue that is worth
having. I have lots of respect...
Ralowe: We never wanted to have this dialogue however in
D/DC...never...NEVER... but I guess everyone's too busy and shit...damn...
Reginald: ...for Juba's intellectual prowess and sense of performativity in
text. I wish I felt that same brilliance and sense of play in his
performance. I really think this brother's got something going on with the
analysis though it's often binary and retrograde. Maybe they should just
work on being the next Ludacris or 50Cent because they're relationship to
masculinity as well the form that their music takes (very straightforward
commercial sounding hip hop) could possibly mean that Juba really would be
able to pay rent and child support. One of the things that I find
captivating about your work Ralowe is the extent to which you're taking
formal risk that you seem to be committed to content not only existing in
the text but in the form. The form itself is challenging.
Reginald: And asks quesions of the listener and requires a more active
participation from the audience. It's deep heady shit. And when you were
part of Deep Dickollective it was your performance that most interested me.
It seemed to involve the most artistic risk. I think the best thing that
could've happened to you was to leave the group since you've not been a part
of this very formally conservative hip hop collective I think your work has
blossomed. I would encourage anyone interested in hip hop to go to his
website and check it out.
Ralowe: I didn't write any of that. I swear.
Reginald: That's right. I think I made my above statement to suggest that
the identity politics agit-prop that seemed seminal to the reception of
D/DC's work is not all that is out there. I would also suggest that in the
mere form there is something in 2003 conservative about D/DC's approach. Now
I know that Juba is going to hate on me for using the word conservative
again, of course not positioning myself as liberal or conservative but
"radical" but I personally don't think that trying to occupy a space that is
radical is in and of itself objectionable. Certainly it is often a failing
proposition but seeing as I can't operate within the milieus in which Juba
and D/DC seem to navigate well what are my options?