When A Black Man Loves - a romantic journey

In the face of impending doom and failure, keep on moving, for your next steps may take you across the thresholds of success.
Zachary Harris 5/6/2003

The book was a journey in itself, in the writing of it, the production of it, and the selling of it. Along the way, I made mistakes that any independent writer who also self-published their work would make. I have also come into contact with a number of people promising things that never materialized (capital investment, corporate shell, book deal... ha!) But through it all, I held [and continue to hold] steadfast in the whole process. (Etta says it's like everything is ready to break [for me] and when it does, it will be miraculous and fantastic).

I tell you at this time I can think back and remember to a place and time when things were all so simple. I was in high school and it was around the 11th grade. My best friend Jamal and I used to hit the arcade at 39th & Walnut (which is now a Kinko's) and then go over to the ice cream place over on Locust Street where Bocci's and Urban Outfitters used to be. It was all simple then; go to school, hit the arcade, and grab some ice cream with rainbow jimmies while they played Sade on the stereo system.

Well now it's sixteen years later and life has taken it's twists and turns. Things you thought would have happened, didn't. Dreams were deferred if not transmorgrified altogether. However, it's always the prize at the end of the road that you look at, not always the bumps and potholes along the journey.

The journey with this book:

  • March 2002 - The first "advanced release" version of the book came out around March 2003. I printed 250 copies and send much thanks to Maria Luna, who got me a number of sales over at the medical consortium she worked for.

  • April 2002 - Talked to a family friend regarding investing; did receive some limited support.

  • Friends in several cities (Atlanta, Chicago, D.C.) took orders of ten books each and sold them. Much love

  • May 2002 - Vended at the Sister's event in Philadelphia. Though the location was not the best, and I did not do the numbers I expected, I actually had a good time. I did find though, the difficulty in being somewhat shy in regards to selling your emotions in a book. However, after awhile I got over that and developed a good sales approach. Most of all, I wound up meeting a beautiful woman who I would go on to have grace my life for about a year.

    Thanks to Pace, Miya, Shawncie and Barbie for helping out.

    Oh, we printed 500 copies of the second generation of the book. Some things were edited and the pictures were changed.

  • June 2002 - Designed and printed the "Thoughts of a Black Woman" poster. Started shooting interviews of people who had read the book

  • June/July 2002 - Wrote all of the scene dynamics, cast roles, and soundtracks songs for two different films, each one based off of a chapter in the book.

  • July/August 2002 - Vended at Unity Day. It was hot as hell (like 100) and I had on jeans. Drank a ton of water and didn't get a chance to hit the bathroom once. Believe me though, I sweated it all out. Got into some good conversations with different passers-by and customers.

  • August 2002 - Shot "When a Black Man Loves: The Men Speak" over at my uncle's house in New Jersey. We weren't able to get all the people that we wanted, and the second cameraperson didn't show because of an auto accident, but we got it done. Much love to Bert for suppling us with Leikheim beer.

  • August 2002 - vended at a two day festival at Penns Landing in Philadelphia. Met the 'man' Lewis Williams. Also vended at a NAMBE event in Philadelphia, PA (Much love to Earl Harvey)
  • September 2002 - Sold a few copies at the Congressional Black Caucus; wound up turning down a vending opportunity to zoom back to Pennsylvania to meet with a billionaire regarding marketing my book. I didn't meet with him, but one person who was affiliated with his office. Was promised a book deal, but didn't get excited until I saw everything in black and red, meaning a contract. Was told to call this person, Dr. Alston in two weeks. Called him back in two weeks only to get no response back only to find out later that he was a scam artist and what not.

    P.S. I'll never forget the gentleman (though his name escapes me right now) who worked the Gillette booth and purchased several copies from me. Thanks for the love and support

    Vended at the Baltimore County Cultural Festival in Towson, MD. Pace met some interesting people and there was one woman who forgot her change. I tried to track her down, but couldn't find her. (Thanks to Zakia Barber-Hall and her husband for inviting me down)

    Vended in Roanoke, VA at a cultural festival down there. Some sisters were definitely upset with the brothers down there. Did this one solo but was invited down by the Halls (thanks again). Made some connections as well as some friends.

  • October/November 2002 - Had an open casting call for "Love By Any Means," a film inspired by short stories written by a co-worker.

  • January 2003 - Book re-edited by a friend and author.

  • February 2003 - redesigned website.

  • March 2003 - Finally got around to editing the DVD. Also working on interactive press kit for the book. Designed and programmed the opening and closing pieces for the DVD. Oops, they were a little larger than needed so Melvin Epps resized them in Premiere (that took some time). He does good work, give him a play and tell him Zach sent you Third Eye Productions

  • April 2003 - DVD and interactive press kit completed, now comes ordering cases, getting an initial amount duplicated, ordering packaging (plastic sleeves) and handling the printing of the outside insert (I am not a graphic designer, so yes, I am having Illustrator woes).

    The third version of the book arrives. I just did a limited printing and the book has more pictures, including the one on page 130 which I got fussed at for not having in the second run.

    Put out press release for the book through blackpr.com (didn't know that the contact form wasn't working on my web site, oy vay)

    Got a lot of leads from Melanie Sparks in Cali. Sent out the book and/or the DVD to contacts at BET and someone to possibly rep it to HBO.

  • May 2003 - gearing up for selling in Richmond on the 17th.

    Sending out package to someone who can rep the DVD to Blockbuster. Working on proposal for the second DVD which will have both men and women who read the book discussing love through the dynamics presented there. I am open for people, hint!

    Just emailed the Oprah Winfrey Show on my story, hopefully someone will put me on. I need the hook-up!

    Launched "Thoughts of a Black Woman" essay contest. Hope this starts things to steamroll.

  • June 2003 - hopefully Odunde. Possibly filming the second DVD then. Also possibly doing the spoken word album as well.
  • Late 2003 - wrote When a Black Man Still Loves

  • Early 2004 - rewrote When a Black Man Still Loves

  • April 2004 - premiered the DVD in Philadelphia

  • September 2004 - May/June 2005 - employed a PR person that couldn't do what I needed

  • April 2005 - finished my third book, attended and presented it at the Book Expo America in NY
    Note to all: never stay at the Carter Hotel near Times Square

  • January 2006 - got a call from someone in Ohio; I guess it's time for a reprinting and time to get this book out there big time

  • January 2007 - A good idea gets stolen - TV One's "Black Men Revealed" is nothing more than a bad attempt at duplicating my documentary. Such is life.

  • February 2007 - decided to give a free version of the book out online; there just doesn't seem to be enough positive images of Black men loving out there. Sometimes, it's about the principle and the message, not about the profit.

The thing about me is that I don't give up, and I also know that some things don't happen exactly when you want them to. A lot has happened since the release of the original book, and maybe it is now where I have amassed enough resources and connections for it all to come together. Part of my inspiration comes from my homegirl Barbara Purnell, whom I have known since either 1990 or 1991.

My journey now is a combination of bringing my technical skills my artistic creative and my analytical mind to bear, opening up my heart and putting it back out there again, and also just continuing to move forward with all of the possibilities that were always there. My passion does not only encompass women and music, but has expanded to wine, and if I can bring my honest to the romance of it all, then maybe I have finally found my place.

Right now, the opportunities that I see are limitless, and my dreams also involve helping a couple other people achieve their dreams in return. Since I wrote this book, I was afforded the chance to meet wonderful people and attend some wonderful events.

  • Early 2005 - Attended the swearing in partner for Senator Barack Obama. Met Reverend Wille T. Barrow first, and then women such as Michele Obama and Linda Johnson Rice. I met the then-senator and told him not to forget me because I was the only person down there from Philadelphia and maybe all of Pennsylvania. I've gotten tons of emails from him asking for money, but he's never called me.
  • Early 2005 - Mint Condition played at the Lincoln Theater in DC and I was there. I reconnected with a friend from college and had a lovely time. Also, met the guys of Zwei - a great band.
  • Summer 2005 - Attended the taping of Mint Condition's concert at the 930 Club in DC. I am in the front row and you can see me on the DVD. If I had my way, Mint Condition would play at my wedding.
  • Unknown dates - Attended the Black Tie Masquerade balls put on by the Greater Baltimore Leadership Assocation (Teddy Coates). Every year came in with a different mask to bring some more "drama" to the party.
  • The Brand New Heavies - got to see them kick off a tour at The Borgata in Atlantic City. Also, met the phenomenal Taragurl
  • Swing Out Sister - aside from Incognito and Mint Condition, I am a severe fan of this band. I got to see them both at the Trocadero and also at World Cafe Live
  • Floetry - Marsha almost made me leave my date/girlfriend when I saw them perform at the Trump Marina as they opened for India Arie (I have a thing for Marsha) and they rocked the concert when they did a concert with Erykah Badu at the Tower Theater right outside of Philly. If she remembers, they signed my right arm.
  • The Black Caucus - I have essentially attended every year since 1998 -- I might have missed one year -- but I was not able to make it this year because my best friend as getting married (the nerve of his scheduling). I have met a ton of people down there and flirted with a ton of women, but always remained a total gentleman. Some folks know me as the "wine man" because I normally bring one or two cases of good stuff which I will share with other attendees. Love seeing the old-heads every year and some of the other regulars.
  • Adrianna Evans - the thing about me is that I will email an artist whose work touches me, and I emailed her when I listened to "All for Love" off her album El Camino. You see, after writing the book, I ran into a woman named Sharon who I fell madly in love with, and though it ended, I was never able to cry over it. However, when I heard this song, it just reached down and gripped my heart and something came out. I wound up having to put it on repeat to get some of those feelings out. She probably though I was a nutcase, but such is life.

Ultimately and summarily, the past ten years have been interesting, and I have had some great timeas and some bad times. When I poured wine at the Chocolate Show in New York for Quady Winery several years ago, I was truly in the zone, and it was a point in which love of women and wine met [we just need music], and I was hooked. What's funny is that Andrew Quady thought that I would only do it for about fifteen minutes, but I was going good for about an hour and having total fun. I want to do a couple of television shows dealing with wine, and maybe one dealing with relationships. I also want to become an ambassador of Italian wines and Port and Madeira from Portugal.