Monday, July 13, 2009

Row Over Black Prides In NYC: Updates

This afternoon, I received an announcement written by Lee Soulja announcing a New York City Black Pride event to replace the defunct annual POCC Pride In The City weekend. People Of Color In Crisis (POCC) canceled last year's Pride In The City event amid a cascade of legal and organizational problems. POCC has since shut down altogether. Original NYC Black Pride founder and charter holder James Saunders had been organizing NYC's Black Pride event since 1998. With the abrupt cancellation of last year's Pride In The City and Blackout Arts Festival (pictured, I was supposed to be a panelist at that event), it was an open question whether there would be a Black Pride event at all this year.

Then came this afternoon's announcement, from Lee Soulja in which he deigns to "set the record straight" about Black Pride events for this year in NYC. Soulja says that James Saunders, the holder of the legal rights to the NYC Black Pride event and name, was now associated with his new "Jubilation" project. At the time of this writing, I was unable to discover any websites or links to this new, heretofore unknown event, scheduled for July 31-August 2, according to Soulja's announcement. A telephone message left at Soulja's contact number went unanswered, and I reached out to Lawrence Pinckney and James Saunders, looking for verification of the event. Their reply was, in part, "We have NOTHING to do with any Pride events. Why Lee Soldier [sic] would write something using James Saunders name like that without his permission is deplorable. I have been answering this question all day".

The drama continues. Whither Black Pride events in New York City for 2009? Stay tuned.

UPDATE: James Saunders, of Black Pride NYC, Inc. has posted a statement on his website about Lee Soulja's "viral letter". In his statement, Saunders reiterates that he and Black Pride NYC, Inc. are not involved with events "in the first two weeks of August", citing "Jubilation", "Pride In The City", and "Fire Island Black Out". Saunders states further, "I have asked the author of the email to send a retraction to clarify many of the untruths of his email." More updates on this developing story, as I get them.

UPDATE 2: The Jubilation Black Pride website is up and running, complete with details on events and venues. There is also a Facebook Group with links and contact info. Stay tuned.

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