Revolution #229, April 10, 2011

Let Us Know Your Experience

April 15-17: A Major Push to Sell and Distribute BAsics

April 9, 2011

Next weekend, April 15-17, should witness a major push to sell and distribute BAsics. This should encompass passing out promotional material and getting up posters... selling the book on the street... impromptu "read-ins" of quotes... getting bookstores to order copies... getting unconventional outlets to take books wholesale or on consignment.

Also this week: choose a campus and get out there with the book. Then return once a week, same day, between now and the end of the semester, with the book again, as well as other materials. Get to know people. Become a presence.

In making plans, don't fail to read and re-read the letters and interviews we have printed thus far—these give a real window into the great potential for this book.

We will, this Thursday, post more ideas on this. Please send us experience before then that others can learn from. For now, a few beginning incidents and experience. First, this from an urban university:

[The friend I was with] spoke to a table of 8 women—a bit older than the rest of the students, maybe mid-twenties—mostly Black, a couple of Latina women and one white woman)... they offered to him that one of the women was a spoken word artist—so my friend asked if she would agree to read a quote out loud to the table if he picked one out for her. She asked her friends' permission and they agreed. So, she took a few minutes to prepare herself and then my friend called me over and we both listened. She read the quote, "Look at all the beautiful children who are born female.." [#10 in Chapter 1] and people listened intently. Her reading was poetic and furious, very intense. About midway through, heads at the table started nodding slowly and pretty seriously. When it was done, the whole table burst into enthusiastic applause. Then, one woman looked up at me and declared with some amazement, "Are those your words?!" (she had misunderstood my friend when he explained the book and why he was calling me over... but I clarified that they were BA's words... it is interesting, that given the power and the poetry of the quote itself, and the fact that their friend was a spoken word artist, some of them seemed to think it was a book of poetry and they were really impressed). But, then another Black woman turned to her friends and to me and said very seriously and with some amazement, "Its all true. That's crazy! That's crazy—that its all true." It was like when the outrage of the situation—of what we learn to live in every day—finally hit her, it was overwhelming and intolerable. It seemed that she, and a couple of the other women at the table, were responding particularly to the references to the constant brutality that women face, but also the quote as a whole.

The second is from an elite university, in a large classroom chosen at random because the professor was not yet there. An older male comrade with a rather commanding presence shouted over the hubbub of the gathering students that "this sister"—pointing to younger comrade who was with him—"has an important announcement to make and people need to be quiet and listen." There was a momentary hush and a younger comrade—who herself has some experience in the dramatic arts—then read quote #31 in Chapter 1 ("If you can imagine a world without America..."). The students were rapt and very responsive and the teacher who came in let them finish and pass out their promotional cards before bidding them farewell. This campus has also been the site of outdoor read-ins, where people read quotes in a dynamic way and engage others with the materials.

We have also heard that one particular quote that has struck a particularly deep and powerful chord from students is quote #23, in Chapter 5. Interestingly, this has also been one pointed to by prisoners. It is the quote that begins, "If you have had a chance to see the world as it really is..."

Another experience: in a mainly Black neighborhood in a large city, on a rainy day when it was hard to be outside, some people went into a cafeteria and passed out xeroxes of the first three pages of quotes from the book, along with palmcards. Three customers came up, money in hand, to buy the book.

Let us know your experience between now and Wednesday night, and we'll try to post it by Thursday night. Then go all out this weekend and get BAsics out in a big way... and start a consistent presence with it at least one campus.

We have a great tool in our hands. Let's wield it, in creative ways.

Send us your comments.

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