The same thing I am praised for, is the same thing people try to snatch me for—this thing I do with these 26 letters.
In the face of abject crazy which is the current world, I would be remiss in my duties as a writer not to speak or record it. When I decided to lean into writing, being a writer as a career, I knew what I was getting into—what it would cost, and what I aimed to do in it.
This is the thing I love, communication and the art of word play. It’s what I do. It’s legit what I do. And for the love of it, I happen to write down my imagination to sell to people. I keep pens on hand, my desk is covered in papers and my laptops are always running out of space.
This, indeed, is my sweet spot.
Love and blessings,
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*Written in response to White women demanding solidarity with this abortion issue (the Heartbeat Bill) in Texas in September 2021. This is dedicated to all the Black women whom keep saving the world from people determined to not have us (Black women) move in it. -JBH
from how you touch our hair as if we are some foreigner animal and then tan to have skin like us, and call us dirty?
white women we see you
we see you on how you teach your sons to never to touch our daughters but yet your fathers have children who look just like us
white women we see you
we see how you go to voting booths and claim sisterhood and then vote for interest in power that mirror the power that you have been so accustomed to that you are afraid to be without because then that would make you not special-
we see you how you look at our sons
and then cry when they have done
nothing wrong except exist in a space that you thought a black child should not be in-
white women we see you
we see how you excuse your sons to take the rifles of their fathers and grandfathers and then exterminate people as if they are roaches in the kitchen.
White women, we see you.
and then you are mad because we are loud, and yielding in equality of both fought and promised, but you have contempt for us?
white women we see you
we see how you have disgrace the memory of our foremothers whos milk was in forefathers mouths miles as if she were some dumb cow-
White women, we see you.
you see, we have always seen you
we have always been taught of your monstrous natures and to be told or seen
You see this allyship that you want?
Is not easy—wounds generations deep and you all have banded together at every turn for the sake of your own power-
like your fathers and grandfathers and patriarchs before you too desire to write your face across everything that has color in it thinking by doing so do you indeed have conquered would they have not.
And in true fashion
and a true form
we see you
from from ancestral bloodlines
Over office cubicles
to the way you cry to HR when we don’t speak to you when we come in in the morning because you cannot conceive that life has not always been subject to you
white women, we see you
It was the mothers of our mothers who taught us her daughters—the real witches who survive being burned, who survive being lynched, skinned, sexed, sold, in and made to be wench and Mammie-to talk to smile while dying on the inside—the matches struck so the heat can pass through time and blood to the unnamed us whom where coming—and now here.
I, like most adults, am on social media. I have been in Facebook about a decade, Twitter for about 5 years, Instagram for a few years (I forget out about it often), and at the urging of my best friend, am on TikTok. In October, I will be on TikTok for a calendar year.
And what a year!
In the last 90 days, I have been banned on TikTok four to five times. With this last ban, I was banned for about a week (6 days). When I actually got access to my main account (I’ll explain that shortly), it took 2 hours after the allotted time to get access to it. When I did, I was greeted with this:
Oh, yes! Your eyes are not deceiving you!
When I saw this, I laughed. I cackled, actually! As I sat and posted content on my main account, I thought about this. In this digital age, in the age of Black people and people of color being targets of oppression, hate speech, public murder and other social abuses, what do most minority people do in order to bring light to these things? They take to social media! What do most people do whom dislike this type of activism do? They block or mass report a particular account to the powers that be.
Which brings me to the tool of main accounts, backup account, and this practice of social media lynching.
Main account. Lots of people on social media have these, it’s not new. This is the account you most frequent, that you use most often, and where people are most likely to find your content. My main account on TikTok is @whatjayesaid.
Backup account. These are the accounts that people have due to careers, family or hobbies. These aren’t often used, but they are used in case you don’t have access to your main account. My backup account on TikTok is @jayesaidwhat. I made my backup account in preparation that I might need it.
Now, let me define what this idea of Social Media Lynching is (this is seen on TikTok alot!):
Social Media Lynching is the practice of suppressing the content/voices of minority people (especially African-American people) whom actively use their voices, or position, to fight racism, discrimination, erasure on a social platform only to be banned (silenced) or have their content suppressed, accounts taken, or platform sanctioned.”
Jennifer Bush-Harris, 9.3.2021
This lead me to this iconic quote from Ida B. Wells Barnett:
If they cannot get us with nooses, they mass report creators whom are ‘problematic’ or ‘violate community guidelines.’ We are punished in this public way, on a public forum, on a free app, because we as Black/African-American people, dare to speak about the issues that effect us individually or a whole!
In putting this warning label on my main account (which as of this posting is over 30,000 followers), is indicative of why most African-American people on TikTok have multiple accounts. Much like those of the Civil Rights Movement had code names, and why in activism circles the rule of thumb is ‘trust, but verify’.
In keeping us quiet, the goal is to punish us, shame us, or scare us into not speaking out anymore!
The strange fruit isn’t just in Southern breezes and trees! It is attached to phone plans and homescreens; updated and integrated into daily life! There are those such as myself with multiple accounts that they use for professional reasons, and the fear of the ‘permanent ban’ is always looming because this happens most often to Black content creators! The fear of having what you worked for, what you built, taken from you because there are White people that don’t like what you say, what you fight against, disliked the information revealed to empower—having that power being taken from you is present!
The lynch mobs have hoods and smart phones!
Through mass reporting, the catalyst of the process of silencing you begins! And once you have been reported on an app (in this case TikTok), even old content being reviewed can to reported, and the bans become more frequent!
Again, my last ban before the one which ended on 9/4/21 (after 6 days), was 6-weeks before, and that was for 3-4 days! And we won’t talk about shadowbanning!
This is not by accident, though. It never is! Silencing African-American people in public ways, threatening space, livelihood, bodily harm (can’t forget the death threats via Direct Messaging!), is not new–social media is new! Like our ancestors before us, grandparents after them, we aren’t going to be stopped by who didn’t like what we have to say. We won’t be stopped by whom trolls, reports, cries or comments because they are emboldened by their racism–thinking it is equivalent to/better than any lived experience they have not lived, or education they cannot hope or desire!
I have a great many opinions–and even write some of them down. Besides, they wouldn’t try to silence me, if I didn’t have something to say.
This series is for every woman, and for every girl that still doesn’t see herself represented enough in mainstream media and film. This piece is for every Black girl, whom is now a Black woman, whom still doesn’t see enough of herself to be full. This piece is for my Best Friend, Marissa–the founder of The Awakenings Project.
I am a dedicated Blerd.
I was reading by 4, drawing by 6, writing by 8 and writing poetry by 10. I had a father that could quote Star Wars, loved science fiction, and taught me the world was bigger than Missouri. I had parents who never hid the fact that I was Black, whom never taught me that being Black was a bad thing.
I am also a Black woman, whom was once a Black girl, born in 1981. I remember what Disney was like before Princess Jasmine and Princess Tiana! I remember what it was like to not see anyone that looked like me–Black and girl–on television. I remember what it was like before the MCU was a thing, before the cultural event of Black Panther, and before the only goddess a Black girl saw was Ororo Monroe! I remember, and that wasn’t so long ago. With that said, and I say this with love–and the boldness that love gives: Marvel, especially the MCU, has an issue with powerful women. On, and off screen.
It is no secret that most of the female led movies Marvel has produced (before Black Widow) have not done that well. On of them in recent history is Dark Phoenix. In the comic, Jean Grey is an Omega level mutant (Google that), with rich backstory! And they took all that power and hallowed her out–in X-Men 3 and in her standalone movie! Do you know how frustrating it is to be a female Marvel fan and see this? And see it happen continually?! Yet, this plays into the other theme that is apparent in this movie as well–the world will continually try to assert itself among women and girls, telling them–us!–whom we should be.
Through the lens of Natasha Romanov we see exactly what it means to be under estimated, overlooked and ignored. When a girl becomes a woman and does not see herself in the world, how can she know what to become? Even in conversations with other male comic fans, I have heard them say this movie was ‘a throw away movie’ or ‘they should have told this story sooner’. Yeah. About that: PANDEMIC.
Nevermind the fact that Black Widow fits in right after/during Avengers: Civil War. Nevermind the fact that she is one of the more well known Avengers (even though Wasp is integral in forming of this group)! Nevermind there are little girls all over the world that made Nat at part of their girlhoods! You cannot take that from them! In the fallout of the inevitable greed that surrounds these superhero movies and their demand for ROI, we see that Scarlett Johannson is being seen as the villian for wanting her fair share of money from the Avengers franchise? Barring COVID-19, why can’t they pay Scarlett, but you take a WHOLE risk on Robert Downey, Jr? Oh, okay. Separate issue.
Yet, the MCU is now in Phase 4. And the people that should be sticking up for her aren’t–shocker there! However, to me this one of the reason why Marvel will not create/produce more female-lead movies! As diverse as the Marvel Universe (from Marvel Comics, the true source material for all of this!)is, it can be seen and assumed that misogyny is still in the room–right along with racism. These two things are always the enemy of representation!
There is no need to put forward what they do not believe will be profitable!
What can be done? Well, the writing rooms need to be more diverse. There need to be more female directors, producers, storyboard artists, and female characters cannot be ornamental until they are functional for the appeasing for the male plot! We are ornamental with out bodies being the focus, and not the talent (check the evolution of Nat’s outfits).
I want more back story about the Red Room; I want to know where the Black Widow came from. Whom was the first? These are things that I need to know, and are reminiscent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the show was so much better than that halfway good movie with Luke Perry)! Again, another conversation. Should this be a show? Maybe. But people need to remember the words of Queen B: “Who run the world? Girls.”
So, what do we need to do to run it? Write ourselves in it!
Also, this series is dedicated to my best friend, Marissa–who’s nickname is Romanov.
I finally was able to watch Black Widow this week. I am glad of this, though. I was able to watch it alone, with all my girlhood, womanhood and writer self all in the same room. In watching Infinity War: Endgame, I (like every other MCU fan) was horrified at the loss of Natasha, rather than Clint, to get the Soul Stone.
Yes, I still feel away about this. But, let’s go on.
I have daughters whom are dedicated Marvel fans, and they were born during Phase 3! So, seeing–knowing!–that Natasha ‘Nat’ Romanov was getting her own movie–and Scarlett Johanssen was going to have Executive Producer credit? With a female director? For a Marvel movie? Oh, yes! Game changing! There is definitely a distinct difference when a woman directs a movie and when a man does. But, this? Oh, but this. Here are some of my take aways–and things that you might not have paid attention to.
1.) The rampant nature of the abuse of women and girls. All through the movie, we see just how easy it is to hurt women and girls. When Nat and Yelena run from the small force of Widows who come for them, one falls off the roof and breaks her tibia. She is told by the Red Room to terminate (kill herself). Though Nat tries to help, her free will has been hijacked. This also speaks to how suicide is till a problem among women, and how we can somehow feel as if no one can help us.
2.) Black women and girls are often the victims of human trafficking. Although the African-American/Widows whom are Black don’t have dominant screen time, but it points to just how easy it is to erase Black women and girls–and how no one looks for us, if they don’t look for us. There is also the creepy and telling line that Drestov says regarding how the world has too many girls, inferring they (read: we) are a wasted resource. Throwaways. Natasha hints to this as well as she confronts him before destroying the Red Room.
3.) Sexualizing of young women and girls. If you have watched the evolution of Black Widow’s outfits through the Avengers movies, you will notice just how her costume changed. How cleavage, and her figure were emphasized. I This movie, the uniforms at it were, are form-fitting, yes–but they are not overtly sexual.
4.) How we (the world) expects girls be self-sacrificing. From the first time Natasha kicks the gun out of the soldier’s hand to protect Yelena, Yelena blowing up the engine on the plane, we see that girls are ornamental, only being functional for a common goal or end. The theme of personhood, freedom, free will and the ownership of self are woven throughout the movie.
5.) We teach girls that pain is what strengthens them. Melina tells Natasha, “Don’t let them take your heart.” This is one of those sayings that I believe encourages girls to stay in tune with their emotions–they make you human. In the run of Black Widow through Phase 3, we do not see Natasha breakdown. We do not see her unravel! The last tears (or first tears) we see of Natasha was when she was crying in this mix of fear, rage and disbelief if was around her sister, Yelena. In becoming a woman, there are outrageous things that will happen to girls and in order to cope–we shut off.
We detach. We stuff down. We shift. We lie. We hide. We run. We self-destruct!
Melina’s reminder, even from this staged motherhood, is a reminder that shutting off never works–and should never been the long-term solution.
6.) Trauma bonding. “I cycled through the Red Room four times before you were born. Those walls are all I know.” When Alexei, Yelena, and Natasha find Melina we see just how trauma is two-fold, yet the same: how we hold together and what holds us together! From Yelena and Natasha fighting in Budapest, Melina alerting the Red Room where they are, Red Guardian bonding all his identity to Captain America (Steve Rogers), and the freed Widows not knowing what to do after being given said freedom. Trauma is unavoidable, unsustainable…but unavoidable.
7.) When women work together, they can do anything. What I loved about this movie–yes, loved!–is the relationship between Yelena and Natasha. I loved how Melina gave Natasha the rundown of the Red Room while prepping her what she’s about to face, and even how Taskmaster–Antonia, Drekov’s daughter–had to be freed from her own father and his desire to dominate women. The takeaway–when women of all walks of life work together–we can topple the toxic patriarchy.
Natasha Romanov deserved, and still deserves, so much more.
Note: As of this posting, the world at large does not know the identity of this couple, and maybe that is for the best. I have lots of feelings. LOTS of feelings.
One of the reasons why I like TikTok is because it allows me to respond to news in real time, and find things out in real time. I saw these engagement photos on TikTok, and I still don’t know who this couple is; I don’t know who the photographer is; and there is nothing on Beyoncé’s internet that can confirm any information. After seeing the pictures, I had no desire to see or learn anymore.
Like, nothing else!
There are more pictures than the two I have here, but the ancestral rage would not allow me to post all five that I saw. For the people that know me in real life, know that I have dated interracially. My first husband was actually White, and my children are biracial. I, like Mae West, only limit myself to two types of men: domestic and imported. Even with all the interracial dating that I have done, I couldn’t imagine doing this:
Now, I am going to go out on a limb and say that this idea, this theme was HER idea.
When I saw these pictures (oh, they only get worse), I wanted to know how this concept was even uttered, and why he as a BLACK MAN would agree to this! How does the woman you chose to marry, bring this idea to you–you agree to it!–only to know that she was serious!
Think about this now:
You, a Black man propose to a White woman. Your fiancée, a White woman, wants to do engagement photos. You, a Black man, agree. Your fiancée, a White woman, proposes a theme for said engagement photos. You, a Black man, agree. Your fiancée, a White woman, proposes that theme be antebellum slavery–with her as a White woman as a Mistress, and you–as a Black man–as the slave. You, a Black man, whom asked a White woman to marry you, agree to her idea. You as a couple find a photographer willing to do these engagement photos, and you, as a couple, pay the photographer. You, as a Black man with his White fiancée, pose for these pictures. You, as the couple chose the ones you want. Then, somehow, this pictures are released.
The reaction to these pictures on-line is a tsunami! Rightly so! One of the things that I heard more than once is, “There are some Black men that make dating interracially their whole identity.” I don’t see a lie. There are some White women that believe having a relationship with a Black man allows them to own them, collective Black culture, and they can bring White supremacy in their relationship! I really need to know how she is sharing these pictures to! Whom is HE sharing these pictures with! Why was this okay? WHY?
I am a fan of history, dress up and think that engagement photos are a chance to show the personality of the couple. The only thing that I see with these photos is the price of capitalism! I don’t blame the photographer. I am more shocked that he, a Black man, agreed to this–and no one stopped him! No one told him to watch out for Rose, and that GET OUT was right! What disturbs me the most–he’s probably going to marry her anyway. And the slippery slope will begin again. I can tell you right now, he’s going to let her get away with N-word ‘slip ups,’ tokenizing/weaponizing any children they have and saying, “I know my wife isn’t racist because she married me.”
Is this why we can’t be free? I’ll wait.
[Images screenshot from the TikTok account the_savage_lokius.]
Note: I am not a nurse, a doctor or a scientist. I am woman, a mother, a Black women whom is a mother, who desires you all to be safe and prosper. These are only my thoughts. Thank you. -JBHarris
I am a retired CNA. A Certified Nurse’s Assistant, with the plantar fasciitis, tender left hip, and sore shoulder to prove it. I have seen people die, seen people recover, seen people give up, and seen nurses do all they can to preserve life. My last year of being a CNA was during the initial COVID-19 wave. I started this year with a dying marriage, two children, in a global pandemic. I remember calling my mother–whom had been nurse when AIDS was being called GRID–to ask what to do. I believe it was her knowledge, common sense, and God that kept me through that entire year.
Was I apprehensive about the vaccine? Yes. I will not lie to you. I wasn’t going to take it! I thought the creation of it was too quick (viruses mutate and there wasn’t enough information about any mutations at that point), and I am aware of the history of medical experimentation of Black/Brown/Indigenous people in this nation. I wanted to wait. When talked to my mother, she told me, “Pray, take the shot, and keep going.” This is literally what I did. I monitored my symptoms on TikTok when I got the first vaccine in December 2020. There were thousands of people in my comments of that video whom said that I was crazy, I had been microchipped and there were magnets in it (the same things that are being said now).
I remember when I protested with my mother about taking the vaccine, she told me, “Jennifer, some protection is better than no protection.” I don’t know why that statement made everything click (she is my mother!), but it did. I am a Black woman, raising children in an anti-Black world, and don’t want to leave them unprotected. Then, there was my best friend whom is autoimmune. And her daughter that has respiratory issues. And my daughters whom are best friends with them. Immunity was important not just for me–but for my kids.
My kids. My heartbeat in two places.
I chose to get my children vaccinated because it is my job to protect them. As best as I can, as long as I am able. The week that my daughters got their second shot–completing their immunity cycle–there were 12 children in an ICU in Mississippi. Where my family is from…where my grandmother left when my mother was not even 8 years old. Everything in me shattered!
I came home from their vaccination appointment and my life converged into one point. The million little decisions that brought me to this point–some decisions I made, some I didn’t. This is what I thought: If my grandmother hadn’t left, my family may still be in Mississippi. Had my mother not become a nurse in Missouri, whom married the man that was my father, I would have never grown up respecting science. Had I not respected science, seen it work, I would not have listened to my mother. Had I not listened to her, believed God and her, I wouldn’t have vaccinated my children. These things all connect, dear ones. They all connect!
With the looming onslaught of the Delta variant, I urge you all to be careful. Think deeply,. carefully, about how you are going to move in the world around this. The first wave of this was terrible, and scary. I fear that this second wave may be the same…with far more grave consequences.