Constantly Coming Out: An Interview with Juba Kalamka Part 1 Juba: Moving to the Bay area was my first
real intimate familiarity with biphobia in the queer community. I was really kind of naiive. Nia: So you were out in Chicago Juba: I was out in Chicago! yes. Nia: But you didn"t encounter biphobia there Juba: I didn"t encounter biphobia there. But at that time! I was in a monogamous relationship. Nia: #kay. Juba: I think that maybe there was a way it was okay for me to be bise$ual with the queer people who I knew. I didn"t really have a large queer community that I engaged really regularly! even though I was out. I certainly didn"t have a community of Black men at all. %he Bay &rea was the first place that I really had that. I was really kind of surprised about that. 'ven the artist community that I was in! but part of that was about the class issues within the artist community. It was stridently middle(class! upper middle( class! even in its approach and its understanding of art. It was a lot of bo$ wine and crudit) kind of events. %hat"s not saying that I didn"t get anything out of that or it wasn"t important for me to be a part of that. But I would say that I was kind of naiive in thinking that *+,B%- necessarily meant having a queer sensibility or a queered sensibility! being a freak or a weirdo! so to speak. Before I knew I was queer! I knew I was a weirdo. I can"t remember not being weird! you know! the weird kid. .hat happened for me was! I knew very many men who were bise$ual(identified! but not many who identified as a faggot. &nd that was something that was crucial to my identity formation! what that meant to me to refer to myself as a *fag-. %hat it was about resistance! about not denying se$uali/ed aspects of the conversation. %he first porn film I did in the Bay area was with ,ood 0ibrations. I remember being asked to the cast party. %hey knew that I was mostly in the monose$ually gay male community. %hey said! 1.hat was that like for you 2ou know! having se$ with women in this film 1 I was like! well! my primary partner is a cis woman. I"m out as a guy who dates and has se$ with men. 'ven with biphobia among Black men! it3s like! *If you"re hanging with us! you"re a faggot.- I think that they were more problemati/ed when I told them I did readings! I did poetry about leather community! about that kind of stuff! because that"s not *polite society-... Nia: %hat"s not striving for normativity...
Juba: It"s not striving for normativity. '$actly. &nd I get it. Intellectually! I get it. 4eople want to fit! people want to have a space! but something that my partner says often is that there isn"t a *safe space-. %here isn"t a completely safe space. It 5ust doesn"t e$ist. Nia: 6or you in your identities! or 5ust in general Juba: I would say 5ust in general. I think that there"s a way that we create safeties with each other as a community and beyond. But if safety means holding onto the idea that they won"t come for you at some point! then that"s ridiculous. Nia: 7laughs8 Juba: #f course we"re always working towards that and trying to create safe space for each other! but I don"t think that"s necessarily about each other"s... But it is about each other in the sense that you talk about! even the conversation around gay marriage! you have a largely about throwing the non(normative aspects of the queer community under the bus Nia: 2eah. %hat"s e$actly the e$pression I was going to use. Juba: &nd there"s a way I can relate to that! because being a middle class post(graduate educated cis guy! even as a Black man! and queer! there"s gobs of privilege that I have. Being able to have these conversations. But it"s still... &nd even how that"s a threat when you are the person that... I had a person! who"s kind of a person like me! and 5ust bothering to say! *.hat about them - *.hat about this - *.hat about there9 - I think that a lot of what happened after I wrote that story :in Anything That Moves; was 1#kay! you"re in the club. 2ou"re cool1 %hat"s why I go now! 1.hat about all this other stuff 1 &nd then that became the problem for everyone. It"s not about the work. It"s about the paradigms. It"s about the structures. If you"re not challenging the structure then you"re part of the problem. Nia: .hen you say! 1If you think they"re not coming for you then you"re deluding yourself91 I feel like what you"re saying is that there"s never a space where welcoming doesn"t feel conditional. Is that accurate Juba: & lot of the time! yes. Most of the time that"s been my e$perience. I"m not saying it"s all the time. But most of the time. Nia: It"s like! there"s always the threat of having your membership privileges revoked Is that what you"re talking about Juba: I"ve heard lots of people talking about! like when I performed at Sins Invalid! and to hear people say over and over again! what was so ama/ing about that pro5ect! and what continues to be :is that;! people will say! 16or the first time! I didn"t feel like I had to leave a piece of myself at the door in order to participate.1 &nd that"s so much of what happens for people so much of the time. 2ou"re told! 1you can hang out if you don"t...
bring your partner. If you don"t acknowledge that you have this partner. %hat3s been largely my e$perience with monose$ually gay communities! that they3re very fiercely invested in this idea that misogyny and gynophobia is what makes gay men gay. %hat made them properly *queer-. Nia: So they"re in relationships with women but they ( Juba: <o! they had been. %hey weren"t in relationships with women. Nia: &nd so in order to *pass- better as monose$ual gay men! they would 5ust be really misogynistic Juba: 2eah. +ike that is what made you gay. I"ll give you an e$ample. %his is for queer parents to participate in. &nd it was really interesting talking about... +ike! I have two children. I have a son who"s =>. I3m sorry! I have two offspring. #ne who"s now an adult who"s now => years old. &nd one who"s nine. My son didn"t actually live in the Bay area till he was =? years old. @e lived in Chicago. 4eople knew I had a kid. But there was a way that even though I was out as bise$ual! because I didn"t have a child who was immediately visible! I was sort of conscripted into *good gay man(ness-. Because I didn"t have a visible child! or any visible evidence of previous se$ual e$periences with women. Nia: So it was almost like being in the closet about having a kid because your kid was in Chicago Juba: Aight! and I wasn't. I was always talking about him! when I would see him! whatever! had his pictures all over my place! you know! all that kind of stuff. But like! he wasn"t there. &nd all that really shifted ( well I wouldn"t say shifted ( but the question that I get asked once my daughter was born in BCCD! was stuff around! 1&re you with the woman you have the child with 1 &nd I"d be like! 12es! we"re partners.1 &nd even people who said to her! *I though Euba was gay.- &nd she was like! *.hy did you think that Euba was gay I told you that he"s bise$ual.- 1.ell I 5ust thought that he was 5ust kind of tolerating you.1 Nia: 7laughs8 Juba: I"m serious. I"m dead serious. I"m not e$aggerating at all. Nia: %hey said that to her face Juba: Said that to her face. 4eople she knew for years. It"s 5ust about the level of denial. Eust to give you an e$ample of the nature of denial9 %his fellow says! 1@ear me out! it"s not that you don't know any gay men with children who are your age! but it"s that part of the social contract is ( 1 &nd I would say! he wasn"t Black. &nd he said! 1even in Black communities I"m sure it"s the same way too! is that for very many men in order to be Fproperly3 gay! whatever they think that is! is that they have to cut off anything that they did before they said *I"m gayyyyyyG- &nything that they did then. So there"s a social
pressure for them to erase everything that happened before their coming out e$perience.1 &nd it"s 5ust stridently misogynist! and about how they were somehow polluted before. +ike I had a friend who was like this. %his was almost =B years ago! we were sitting in a taqueria having this conversation. I don"t know how we were talking about bise$uality and he was like! 1+et"s ask Euba about that! he knows because he"s bise$ual.1 &nd we"re like! 1Hude. %wo years ago! you were bougie! engaged to a woman in +os &ngeles. &nd now you"re gay party boy.1 So it"s like! quit frontin". &nd this is before we even get to transphobia in queer community. Eust about who"s a man and who"s not. .ho"s queer! who"s not. %he intersection of all of that. &nd as a word! I say *purity mythology-. 4eople are 5ust fiercely invested in this idea that what makes it good is it"s all one thing. Nia: 2eah. It"s sort of like the idea of being a *gold star lesbian-. 7laughs8 Juba: 2eahG It3s like! *Aeally .hen I moved to the Bay &rea! for the first time I met a monose$ually gay man who had never had se$ with a woman in his life. <ot only didn3t have se$ with a woman! but like didn"t even go to prom with a girl. +ike! that kind of gayyy. &nd it"s very seldom that you meet &frican(&merican men... I"d say you probably do more now! I mean younger kids! because people are coming out way younger and able to be like! 1%his is what my desire is!1 at a much younger age. So if that"s not something that they"re interested in then they don"t feel compelled in the way. Because you have institutions! you have communities that people can create more readily than you could! say! DC years ago. So you might have people 5ust going with the flow! so to speak. &nd also too! there"s ageist gerontocratic kind of resentment about that. Nia: I"m not familiar with ( Juba: ,erontocratic! meaning! 1I know the way because I"m older!1 as opposed to actually having the wisdom or maybe the understanding. Nia: ,otcha. Juba: 2eah! resistance to that! and like every generation going! 1#h! these kids...1 2ou know! that kind of thing. .hen I see young queer kids! I"m 5ust like! *.ow. I"m glad that you get to e$perience this e$panse.- My son! I remember him talking about his best buddy in Chicago! and my son ostensibly! as far as I know! is straight. &nd I think at one point he finally showed me a picture of his buddy. @e"s like! *%his is him and this is his boyfriend.- &nd I said! 1@e"s gay G1 @e says! 12eah.1 I say! 1.ell you didn"t say anything about that before!1 and he says! 1.ell it didn"t seem like a big deal.1 &nd I was like! wow. %hat"s 5ust a completely different e$perience. %here"s certain stuff that he... I"m not saying he doesn"t have at all complications navigating communities. But he does at least have a conversation about that that"s very different from... &nd that"s not saying
that he would never ever have any homophobic inclinations! but he certainly wouldn"t have any biphobic inclinations. Nia: #ne of the other things I wanted to go back to that you"d said earlier was! you were talking about the differentiation between bise$ual men versus *fags-... Juba: I wouldn"t say it"s a differentiation. 6or me! it was about a particular social modality. I think it was about was a way that people would relate to their se$uality that was more comfortable for them. +ike when gay communities started becoming very publicly hyper(masculine back in the ?Cs! and resistance to that from cultural spaces like the radical faeries! like 1.e"re gay! but you know what! it"s our gender e$pression and our cultural e$pression. .e"re not really investing in this particular normativity. If that works for you! you go ahead and do that! but we want to create a space where everybody can be who they are.1 %hat did and does have its issues in that particular space! but it was an attempt to try to address some of those things. So for me! what me saying 1faggot1 was about a particular kind of resistance. In the sense that even for me! when I"m telling someone I"m bise$ual! there"s having to deal with continual coming in and out of the closet. 2ou"re constantly coming in and out of the closet. #r feeling like you"re coming out of the closet all the time. Nia: So you"d say that you were a *fag- and you didn"t have to ( Juba: I didn"t have to consistently do that. #r saying *bi(faggot.- like how people say *bi(dyke-. 'ven dating profiles. Saying *I"m bise$ual. %hat means that I date and have se$ with men! so if you"re a woman who"s uncomfortable with that... I"m not a Fprogressive3 straight guy!- you know Nia: 7laughs8 Juba: If that"s your thing that"s cool! I"m 5ust saying! run with that. But I3m a fag. I am what you understand as a faggot. I date women. But I3m what you understand as a fag. So if that is something that you are uncomfortable with! then! I ain"t mad at you! but there"s probably some space where we don3t need to be hanging out together. Nia: %he way you differentiate between *bise$ual- and *fag- sort of reminds me of how we now use *gay- versus *queer.Juba: Aight! yeah. Nia: .here *gay- sort of has these assimilationist connotations! at least for some folks! and *queer- is supposed to be e$plicitly anti(assimilationist. Juba: 2eah. I was reading Eose Muno/3s Disidentifications. &nd he talked about that in the book. I remember it was the first place that I saw! in print! the use of the term 1homonormativity.1 &nd basically he was saying! that there came a space around the
activism of... +ike! even we talk about something like Stonewall. Stonewall was colored folks! poor folks! transse$uals! and femmes! and butches! and a little bit of everybody. But the narrative that gets sold to people is that it was all these 1&(,ay1 white! normative people. %hat"s not who riots. Sorry. Nia: 7laughs8 Juba: It"s notG &nd especially! you know! who was hanging out in the fag bar in <ew 2ork in =>I>. 6or me! when I"m driving down the street in 'ast #akland! down to International Blvd. in my van! and I see police lights flashing behind me! I"m not going like! 1#h my godG I"m a bise$ual polyamorous post(graduate blah blah blah! what are the police going to think <o! I"m thinking about! *I"m a Black dude with dreadlocks! I"m about to be shot in the face.- %hat"s what I"m thinking. &nd people don"t want to talk about that. 4eople in the queer community generally don"t want to talk about that. 2ou go a lot of 1for what it"s worth1 type conversation. +ike a derailing conversation about something else. &nd my response to *for what it3s worth- is! *It ain"t worth shit!- you know 6uck you. &nd that"s dear to my identity. I remember recently reading! I can"t remember the author"s name! it"s a book called Negro with a Hat: The Rise and Fall of Marcus arvey. &nd it was 5ust ama/ing and incredible to read because there was this whole conversation about him! about the beginnings of Black nationalism! about Marcus ,arvey as immigrant! about Marcus ,arvey as chronically ill person! about the cultural forces that made him. 'ven about later when he was e$iled. #r Marcus ,arvey writing to one of his mentors going on and on about his white girlfriend. It"s this whole different picture of him. I was 5ust like looking through this book cracking up. I"m ama/ed! but at the same time... @e was made a person! he was made whole by all of these aspects of his life and of his personhood and things that he did that were really ama/ing! and that were really not cool. &ll of it was there. It was a beautiful rendering of a person. %hat"s something that I was reaching for! in trying to have conversations with my father. @e"s now a ?C(something! straight Black guy from the South. @e is who he is. But there"s conversations that we can have now! that we do have! where he asks questions! and if he gets it he to hold it. <ot saying he"s always necessarily comfortable! but also understanding he doesn"t always have to be comfortable! he 5ust has to be who he is and let me be who I am. .e3re not antagoni/ed by each other anymore! in that way. Nia: %he other thing that you said that I wanted to go back to. 2ou were talking about the strive towards assimilation in the gay and bise$ual male community when you came out here. I was wondering if part of that might be a generational thing. I interviewed Eulia Serano. &nd she talks a lot about how particularly the Bay area! and particularly queer women"s communities ( I"ll say queer women and trans men because a lot of times they overlap in some ways ( there"s this really fierce anti(assimilationism that means that anything that"s perceived as being assimilationist in any way is considered not *queer-.
It"s sort of the opposite of what you"re talking about but it"s similar in that it"s drawing these borders around who"s considered part of the community and who"s not. &nd bise$uals in theory are e$cluded from that community but there are so many people that are bise$ual that 5ust call themselves 1queer1 that... It"s such a weird thing. 6or me personally! I used to identify as bise$ual and I was told that that was transphobic! and so I stopped. &nd Eulia and I talked about that. She identifies as bi and as trans and is like! *that"s bullshit.- So I didn"t want people to assume that about me! so that"s part of why I stopped calling myself bise$ual. But at the same time! I feel like by not associating myself with that term! that is helping to perpetuate biphobia by saying 1#h! I"m not part of that group.1 Juba: It"s like how the conversations about the notion of binarism about bise$uality go. So like! 1gay1 and 1lesbian1 aren"t binaries If that"s the conversation you"re having... If that"s your rhetoric! they should probably think about how there3s this @olland %unnel( si/ed hole in that conversation. &nd I really appreciate what Eulia is saying. In my e$perience! I think I"ve seen it more in trans male community. I know trans guys who are open and vociferous about themselves as trans men. &nd I know some who are stealth. &nd that"s their thing. &nd they"re very fiercely invested in passing. &gain! I say! whatever conte$t somebody is passing in! that that"s their right to pass! as they do. If you"re talking about passing! that there"s ways that people pass unintentionally. I"m sure I pass most of the time as straight! because people will pro5ect that on me. #r I could pass as monoracial. &nd I"m not. #r I could pass as middle class! upper middle class on the basis of my. &nd then when I say my dad grew up in a mining camp in .est 0irginia! my mom grew up in dirt floors! with polio! in a shack on the Mississippi Aiver. .hen I tell those kinds of stories... Nia: I"m sorry! she had polio Juba: 2eah! she does. 'ven that conversation is a complicated conversation about ability! about race. But they all are complicated conversations. But I think that having had both of those e$periences... In terms of passing! I understand it absolutely in a visceral sense! in the sense of people wanting to be safe! or think they are safe! or their e$perience of assault or potential assault. &nd there"s ways that people can do so for safety! in lots of ways. But also! there"s the conversation about who can pass and how and when because it"s all conditional and it"s all conte$tual. &t one point I was in the Bay! I was in #akland! and I walked out on the street and I flounce while walking down the street. %he first time I went back to the .est Side of Chicago! I was walking from the train to my mother"s house and noticed the difference. I felt myself *butch up- while I was walking down the street. &nd it disturbed me. I understand that it was a refle$ive safety response that didn"t necessarily have anything to do with my queerness! I should say! didn"t have anything to do with my se$uali/ed race! but it was about my *not man-(ness. 'ven as a kid. Eust the way I relate to that!
even as a kid! I wasn"t a skinny little kid! and so there"s a difference even in the same body. I"m big! there"s a way that people might approach me in a way that they wouldn"t if I was a skinny little kid! but I still have that there. %hat"s still in my head. I"m still the same person! and I3m still vulnerable in the same kinds of ways. So I get it and understand it. &lso too! I think when we"re talking about those passing or assimilation! understanding that even as a non(white person and a queer! there3s a particular set of privileges I have around being the big public *freak- that I am! and not feel that particular pressure to assimilate! because of the way that... %hat"s why we have that conversation in the Bay area! because it"s such a bubble. 2ou hear that term over and over again! and it"s so true. &nd when I say Bay &rea is a bubble! I mean if you go to +ivermore or 6airfield. 2ou know! where you don"t have to leave a BJ mile circle from San 6rancisco or #akland to understand what that is. %here"s a queer kid who might want to wear a dress or makeup or whatever that particular e$pression is of their genderness! outside of the norm. But they"re foregoing that because it"s about being about their safety! not even 5ust in their community but in their home. &nd having to deal with that. I problemati/e the way a lot of times that it gets bandied about because it"s done in this way that people who don"t consider reality... Nia: I"m sorry! the way that what gets bandied about Juba: %he idea of assimilation. %his whole notion of assimilation. %hat if you"re not doing it this way! you"re ( Nia: 2ou"re somehow *less queer-... Juba: ( you"re somehow less queer. 2ou"re some kind of tool of the system or the over( cultural conspiracy. But people have to stay alive till tomorrow! or the ne$t hour! or whatever! and people figure that out in different ways. It might not be the ways that I figure it out! but they have a different e$perience of that. So I feel like my responsibility! what I do! is in terms of! I have a lot of :privilege;. #ne! I have the privilege of being asked to have this conversation. &nd the opportunity to have my work out in public. So as part of these conversations! I want people to really feel like I3m a resource in a particular kind of way. +ike I said! I have a different understanding than I had when I wrote that story! a different language than I had when I wrote that story. %hat didn"t stop right there. It wasn3t like! 1I got mine! okay. I got to get away.1 I felt like it was about keeping it moving! keeping it going. &nd helping other people figure out what their own *keep it going- is.
Nia: 2ou said you did a show with Big 6reedia =C years ago in <ew #rleans Juba: 2eah. &t +ouis &rmstrong 4ark. Heep Hickollective opened the show at the park. It was probably =JC degrees outside. #ur records were warping on the turntable. Nia: 7laughs8 Juba: .e"re trying to stay under this tree and I had never seen or heard Big 6reedia before that. She came on the stage with what looked like fifty(eleven dancers! and doing *,in in My System.- I was like! da!n. I hadn"t seen bounce music or anything at that time. &nd I was like! 1.owG .hat is this 1 &s the homo(hop scene started to get more attention! the people who started to get booking opportunities and club days and get play and get mainstream press attention were mostly genderqueer kids! trans guys! and trans women performers. <ot because of some spectacle! but because they were doing fun dance(able club music. Most which was intensely political but was dismissed as such because it was club party dance music. &nd then there was this really! at first soft(pedal! but then in some places! really ignorant and obno$ious and transphobic! genderqueer(phobic response from cis men in the homohop community who were resentful of this idea that this is who was getting the attention once it had relative mainstream surge! so to speak. Because they were *real hip hop-! because they were cis males and masculine. 6reedia! of course! has been around forever. &nd artists like 6reedia have been around forever. But most of that community that I was part of was fiercely invested in actively ignoring 6reedia and people like 6reedia. 6or no more than 5ust bare(bones bald(faced transphobia! 12ou"re fucking it up for the rest of us.1 %he rest of us being be(penised male folk. #r cis women who were part of their own acceptable sort of hip hop. Heep Hickollective started as kind of a 5oke. But if we had been named *%he Black Menor something like that! no one would"ve paid attention to us! no matter what we did. Nia: %hat"s true. Juba: But it"s like! now! even after we"re not performing anymore! people are still name( dropping us everywhere. %hat"s 5ust not going to stop. .here the name Heep Hickollective came from was about all of us dealing with our various frustrations about the scene. %im3m .est had been having some success when he moved here to the Bay for graduate school! but then when it got out that he was gay all of the shows dried up. So out of frustration! I said 1.e can be Heep HickollectiveG1 It was designed to have people doing their own thing! but it was also about playing with these conversations about phallo(centrism! deep diction and thinking! and also about queer collectivism! and that kind of thing. I remember when Marcus 5oined the group! that all of a sudden! I started having these gay
cis guys saying! 1I hear there"s a trans man in HKHC... .hat"s that about 1 %he fuck do you mean what is that about @e"s queer! he"s Black! and he"s a man. .hat is the e$tent of the conversation .hat is the investment in transphobia9 which in that particular period was from people who really weren"t interested in us in the first place. But we were their *freak flag!- in this cheap kind of way! that it was easy for them to attach to. &nd also because we were post(grad academics. 4eople wanted to read about where we came from! but wouldn"t actually read anything that we wrote or weren"t actually paying close attention to anything that we were saying. Nia: %hey 5ust wanted the cultural capital. Juba: 2eah. '$actly. Cultural capital. I think that was it at the end. %here"s a way that Big 6reedia resonates because Big 6reedia is not trying to ( Nia: Be 'minem Juba: ( not trying to be 'minem. <ot trying to assimilate in a particular way. #r someone like 6o$$Ea/ell. Because they *passed well enough- but still talk about themselves as trans women. &nd vociferously so. But then again! going back to what we were talking about safety. Big 6reedia is safe 5ust because you saw 6reedia on %0 or because 6reedia got a documentary going Big 6reedia or 6reedias! the multiplicity of 6reedias! are in danger #f course! yes! you get to do shows! you get to travel! that is a privilege! there"s privilege attached to that. But that doesn"t mean ( Nia: It doesn"t protect you. Juba: It doesn"t protect you! at all. I was in Berlin three years ago! and my partner was 5ust absolutely terrified. & lot of people didn"t know that I was legally married. %hat we"re legally married. 4art of the reason that we"re legally married! and that was a difficult decision for us to make politically and personally! but doing it because that was the easiest and the best way that we had in the moment. I didn"t want something to happen to me outside of the Lnited States ( best case scenario: hurt! worst case scenario: deceased ( and to have my partner not be able to take care of herself and everything that would be needed. I didn"t want to have someone straighten me out! so to speak! after death. &nd make it a really political decision to have to do that. &nd also to recogni/e that I"m a very masculine cis guy. But that"s something at the end of the day I don"t worry about. I"m still from the .est Side of Chicago. So I don"t pretend like I can"t get got. 7laughs8 Someone asked a friend of mine! 1.hat3s Euba"s deal 1 Basically trying to figure out if I was... %hey were being purity mythological( Nia: Aight! so like! *Is he secretly straight or is he secretly gay Juba: Aight. So my fried said! 1Euba"s Euba.1 I was really like! 1.ow.1 Because whatever I am! if we ain3t getting down like that it don"t matter! you know <o one"s ever asked me that! regardless of gender! *in the throes!- so to speak. 7laughs8
Nia: 7laughs8 Juba: <o one caresG Hoesn"t matter what I call myself. &ll that matters is that I was getting it done the way it needed to get done. Hon"t nobody ask that. 2ou ever know anybody that asks that <o one asks that question ( Nia: In bed 7laughs8 Juba: In bed. But really! like! be honest about it. +ike why do you care .hat is that about 2ou know! that"s not really about me. %hat"s about you. .hat"s your investment in that It always comes back to! like I"m always talking about! purity myths. 2ou can go buy the right shoes! then once you got the right shoes! ne$t thing you know your shirt"s not gonna be right. %hen it"s gonna be your pants... 2ou ain"t never gonna be right. 2ou ain"t never gonna be okay. Because it"s always about selling you something. %hey gonna figure out something to sell you to tell you that you"re not! because that"s all it"s about. &nd that"s why it keeps going the way that it does. If people could grab that! I think! they"d generally be happier! but a lot of things would be different. Nia: 2ou said that you don"t curate anymore! but you still run a label! correct Juba: 2eah. Nia: So are you 5ust producing your own music Juba: I"m 5ust producing my own music. +ast year! I released an album that I"d been trying to produce for a long time. & Heep Hickollective greatest hits album. &lso! talking to different people about things they"d been trying to release for years! but there3s only certain people I deal with. I try to be really clear. %he only other record other than Heep Hickollective and myself that I released was Matastrophe3s first album. @e had actually approached me and I was very clear about the details! about what I was able to do! what I was interested in doing9 and they should really understand if there was a better or more viable opportunity! then please go and do that! because I did not want record business bullshit to pollute my relationship with him. I went to great pains to make clear that I *pro5ect(coordinated- the record. @e got the cover art! I did some of the graphic design on it and got the barcode. I pro5ect(coordinated it! but it was a complete pro5ect that was done before I had anything to do with it. Nia: So you didn"t mi$ it and master it Juba: @e did all of that himself. 4eople were actually hyper(invested in trying to make that something that I did. %hat was a problem for the moment. %hat was a serious problem.
Nia: %hat people were trying to give you too much credit Juba: %hey were trying to give me too much credit. &nd I took great pains to be like! whenever I was promoting it or talking with people about it! I"d be like! 1%his is what I did.1 Nia: 2ou worked mostly on distribution Juba: 2eah! I was mostly on helping distribute it. But really! what"s interesting about how that worked was the political part of it came in. %hat was a way that people relate to him! he had relative success at that particular moment. Because they had this picture of him as this well(ad5usted white trans dude who had it together. .hat was even more problemati/ed was! when people were attacking him and pissed off at him about this whole *cultural appropriation- conversation about hip hop! was that all these people that were talking about racism and cultural appropriation! all these white people talking about racism and cultural appropriation and attacking him9 not one of them actually came to me: the Black man who put his record out. No one ever said anything to !e. I saw all this shit going on! but no one came to me and asked me anything about it. Because apparently I was 5ust this stupid nNNNNN who ( Nia: I think probably because they were afraid of you. 7laughs8 Juba: .ell! e$actlyG It"s like! what is that about .hy are you afraid If you"re afraid! why are you afraid If I"m 5ust some ignorant pygmy waif! that3s been taken advantage of by the diabolical white rapper. Nia: 7laughs8 Juba: I mean! really. .hat is that about Nia: I would guess that they don"t want to try and... "Cause they reali/e they have no argument. If you"re a white person trying to argue with a Black person about cultural appropriation! you can"t win that argument. Juba: 2ou can"t win that argument! and you"re scared of nNNNNNsG Nia: &lso true. 7laughs8 Juba: %hat"s what it is. So you indicting him for something you did! that you"ve actively committed! that you"re actively engaged in. Nia: 2eah. Juba: &nd that"s not foreclosing notes kind of conversation! that"s not what I"m saying at all. But it was 5ust such bullshit about how people act. %hat"s another part of it. %he
rampant dishonesty around that! and self(seriousness! and really! the standard(grade racism attempted by white people. Aeally! it3s like 1I"m white1 already 1and I"m queer! so I"m whiter. &nd nNNNNN! I know what3s better for you than you know for yourself.1 %hat was 5ust tiresome. &nd it still goes on in its own kind of way. But it"s even the way I"m having this conversation now. I agree with you that there have certainly been people who have been afraid to talk to me. .ho have read something that I"ve said in print. But actually! I was much more polished and nicer 5ust now than I was years ago. But now I"m trying to be mellow. 4art of it"s being older and understanding more. But part of it"s 5ust less patience with the same ( Nia: Bullshit. Juba: ( the same sort of bullshit. It"s like! really Nia: +ast question! is there anything you want to plug before we wrap 4erformances coming up or records coming out Juba: I got a record coming out ne$t year that"s tentatively titled 1Eig School Confidential1. Nia: #kay. Juba: It"s coming out. I"m working on a couple different pro5ects with a couple different people that I"m e$cited about. <ot sure what kind of shape they"re going to take. 4robably doing more stuff with Mangos with Chili. Nia: Cool. Juba: I love performing with them.