Call for Submissions: Down to the Wire

Down to The Wire:
An Anthology of Black Thought on HBO’s Greatest Show Ever

~call for submissions~

HBO’s The Wire came out of left field and captured the attention of hundreds of thousands of devoted viewers in Black communities throughout the country. The question is, “Why?” On one level, the show gave numerous Black actors the opportunity to showcase their talents and to breathe life into nuanced, three-dimensional roles. “Stringer Bell” and “Michael Lee” are two of the most compelling characters in the history of American television. Another reason for the show’s tremendous popularity amongst Black audiences is that we love to see ourselves excel, and The Wire gave us five seasons of stellar performances, a mirror in which to gaze and appreciate what we saw.

Yet, as excellent as those characters and performances were, The Wire did not always reflect back images black folks wanted to embrace. Many of the show’s best characters were drug dealers. Filmed on location in the most blighted sections of Baltimore, Maryland, the show’s storylines tackled the maladies of urban America head-on. The Wire‘s success was definitely not rooted in the feel-good, uplifting mode of The Cosby Show. Instead, The Wire appealed to Black people because it chose to tell the truth, warts and all, about urban life, and it did so deliberately, but rhythmically, like an extended blues song.

“Down to The Wire” will be a collection of essays exploring the cultural significance of The Wire, particularly to Black folks and our communities. The collection will explain why, contrary to popular belief, The Wire is indeed the greatest TV show ever produced by HBO.

The editors welcome submissions from emerging and established Black writers, entertainers, cultural critics, and other observers. We seek well-constructed critical essays and creative nonfiction which address such topics as:

Getting Out of the Life: The vision of Stringer Bell

Gay Thugs: Omar and Snoop

The White Perspective Still Comes Through: The death of Proposition Joe and the skewering of Black Baltimore history

Crying Foul: White Characters and the Race Card

I’m Just a Gangster, I Suppose: Avon Barksdale, Marlo Stanfield and the New Day Co-op

Playing with the Boys: Snoop Pearson, Kima Greggs, Marla Daniels and Nerese Campbell

Real-Life Drama: How The Wire changed the lives of individual viewers and their contributions to the communities in which they live

The Wire as scholarship: What did the show teach us about American society, culture, racism, classism, economics, and public policy? Can these lessons translate into meaningful social change and exchange?

Why was The Wire so popular with black viewers, but less so with white viewers?

Does The Wire glorify drugs and violence? If so, why do we give it a pass?

Hopeful or Hopeless: Bubbles and Duquan

This is not, of course, an exhaustive list of possibilities. Generally speaking, we are interested in original, provocative musings and analyses which address what The Wire means to Black folks.

Take a position and defend it. Tell a well-crafted story. Make us laugh, cry, think, shout.

Submission deadline:
December 17, 2008

Up to 6,000 words

We will only consider submissions of previously unpublished works and those for which the author hold rights allowing for re-printing.

Please include your name, email address, mailing address, phone number, and a short bio (50 words or less) with your submission.

Email is the preferred method of submission. Send essays within the body of the email to:, with the subject heading: Down to The Wire submission. No attachments, please.

Submissions may also be postmarked by the above date and sent via regular U.S. mail to:

Down to The Wire
c/o Roland Laird
Posro Media LLC
PO Box 585
Trenton, NJ 08604

Unfortunately, we cannot acknowledge every submission. Authors of those essays selected for inclusion in the anthology will be notified via email by February 26, 2009.

About the Editors:
Roland Laird is a published author and entrepreneur. His book, Still I Rise: A Cartoon History of African Americans, was named “One of the Best Books in Print” by the New York Review of Books Readers Catalog when it was published by W.W. Norton in 1997. He recently completed an update of Still I Rise with his co-author and wife Taneshia for a February 2009 release by Sterling Publishing He is also the founder of Posro Media an entertainment company specializing in producing compelling African American images. Roland and Posro have been the subject of numerous media stories including in the New York Times, The Washington Post, and on NBC’s Sunday Today Show and on MTV. Roland holds an A.B. in mathematics from Brown University and a Master’s degree in computer science. In 2004, the US Mission to the United Nations recognized him as a global ambassador for his tireless devotion to his world community and heritage.

Deesha Philyaw is a freelance writer whose publication credits include Essence, Wondertime (a Disney parenting magazine), Bitch, and The Washington Post. Her writing has been anthologized in Literary Mama: Reading for the Maternally Inclined (Seal Press), and Just Like a Girl: A Manifesta! (GirlChild Press). Deesha writes a monthly column at, a website for parents committed to raising children with an anti-racist outlook. Prior to that, for four years, she wrote a column that was in part based on her experiences as an adoptive mother, for Deesha holds a B.A. in economics from Yale University and a Master’s degree in teaching. In her pre-mommy, pre-writing life, she was a management consultant, briefly, and then an elementary school teacher. A native of Jacksonville, Florida, Deesha currently lives in Pittsburgh with her two daughters.

3 Responses to “Call for Submissions: Down to the Wire”

  1. On The Road in 2009 [Speaking Engagements] + Announcements at Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture Says:

    [...] is still looking for women voices to throw into the mix for “Down to the Wire: An Anthology of Black Thought on HBO’s Greatest Show Ever.” Head over to her website for [...]

  2. Crystal McMillian Says:


    As a wombyn writer and avid watcher of “THE WIRE”, I am writing to find out if the deadline for this anthology has been extended at all. I discovered this post in a google search for “call for submissions” Unforunately, today os Feb1 15, well past the posted deadline. The folks over at Racialious said that you were still seeking a female perspective as of January 29th.

    just curious.

  3. deesha Says:

    Hi, Crystal,

    Yes, the new deadline is 3/31.


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