It was done by activist/poet Steven Fullwood, Manuscript Librarian at the Schomburg Center For Research in Black Culture in New York. Fullwood’s questions are in bold
- Take us to your scribbling beginnings. Young Ernest, on a front porch somewhere, reading/thinking/being/writing.
I’ve written ever since I first learned to write – poems, short stories, everything. As I said earlier, I actually started working as a journalist/critic while I was an undergrad at UCLA, where I was an English Lit major. So, I’ve been at this for over twenty years. It took me a long time to call myself a writer, which would infuriate my friends. If people asked what I did for a living, I’d say that I reviewed film and music. I wouldn’t say I was a writer. My friends thought I was insecure or not “claiming my shit.” But I’ve always made a distinction between being a critic and being a writer. I think people like [New York Times film critic] Manohla Dargis and [legendary Negro cultural critic] Greg Tate are both, but it’s a rare fusion. Criticism as you see it in most newspapers and magazines is definitely a lesser form of writing, as far as I’m concerned. And that’s cool. People need something to read while they’re eating their lunch in the middle of the day but don’t want to commit to anything too deep, or something to peruse while they’re taking a shit. And I don’t trip if other people put what I do in that category. But still, writing – to me – is a sacred calling. Er’body ain’t able.
The rest of the interview is here