#InTheThickOfIt

Tellum, Bernie!

So, there is secret I am an ambitious woman. I think with my steady heartbeat towards 40, I can no longer call myself a girl–but when I can? I do so. But with that reflection, I have made no mistake or qualm there are some things I want do get done, and impart before this life is over. So, with that vision, ambition takes over more often than perhaps is ladylike. However, with that regard, I got kind of mad.

I have been told often (mostly by men) that may level of drive is somewhat problematic. That what I want to do, what I feel I need to do, I shouldn’t do to the speed I want to do it. I wonder if this is just the lot ambitious women endure–does my female sex still delegate me to the type of citizenry where to be this ambitious cannot agree with the fact I lack a phallus?! In 2020?

On my Facebook page, I let a peak of that despair shone through. I was angry. I was shocked…and a little unnerved. I thought of the length and breath of what I want to do. I thought about all the things I want to do. I thought about what I had already done. When I did, I got indignant. There was a righteous indignation which welled up in me. All I could think was, “If I was a man, no one would ever say anything like this to me.”

I was no longer mad–if I ever was. But I was aware: my femaleness is still a factor in my success.

And I threw my head back and laughed. As I laughed, I remembered all I had left to do. Had planned to do. And I got back to work.

Visionaries don’t have time to pay attention to what the blind call attention to.

Updates, Musings and Email Lists

So, here is what’s up…

My Lovelies:

Don’t feel neglected, I have been so busy lately and clearly my plate (read: my jump drive). I found projects I forgot about, 2 manuscripts, and lot of random poems and essays. I mean I even started a YouTube channel! Grad school is becoming a reality, my MFA is shaping up, and I still have to be a mother of 2 Queens.

Whew!

So what I am going to do, is get back to it. What does that mean? Oh, that means content my dearest ones! That means there will be things which are going to be both exclusive, published and private. At long last, this means the mailing list is coming! And I’m working on 3 (yes, one less than 4, 1 more than 2) books! On top of a collaboration book I’m doing with some writergirls!

So…know three things.

1.) I love you all.

2.) More content is coming here (and on YouTube).

3.) New books are coming this summer. Pre-order information will be up Friday. Here the covers:

Nice, right?
(June 2020)

You know you wanna read it already! Very Alice Walker.
(July 2020)

Even thought it may seem that you won’t/ don’t see me, nothing is farther than the truth! I’m even working on the sequel/prequel to RUBY! Whew!

Know that I love you all with all my Black Girl Magic!

Stay Tune, beloveds!

Greatness is coming!

Black LGBTQIA Kids Matter: Brava, Dwayne Wade.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, possible text that says 'Hakuna Truvada @angryblkhoemo Anyway, it's gonna be funny watching everyone who JUST screamed that we have to respect one famous basketball player and his legacy, now throw all that energy outta the window for another famous basketball player upon him telling y'all to respect his own child's name and pronouns'
Indeed. THIS WILL BE INTERESTING!

First thing first: BRAVA, DWAYNE WADE!

Second thing second: Y’all gone leave Zaya alone!

Third thing: TOXIC MASCULINITY IS TRASH!

This week, Dwayne Wade was on the Ellen show talking about how his cis-born son, Zion, came out to him as transgender. For those of you who followed this story before this salacious detail, know Zion (now Zaya) came out as gay. As a parent, all I could do was smile as he and Gabrielle embraced this news, still loving this child. With this added piece, I am brought to tears at how radically the Wades are loving Zion–now Zaya. The fact that all this radical ugly, vehement hatred of how Dwayne is loving his transdaughter (in full view of the public)? It makes me wonder how some of your cis-het cats even got some woman to be naked to procreate with you!

I don’t know what it is about masculinity that is so fragile that only sex and being an asshole can affirm it! Why is it so impossible to fathom this Black man, famous and rich, is loving and supporting his child–HIS CHILD! Who raised you people?! If anything I pray for the Wades that they have the strength to love their DAUGHTER as she needs to be loved! I pray Zaya become all SHE desires. I am thankful to see HER father love her like she deserves and having a stepmother that loves HER just as radically.

You cats are going to have to get over yourselves on this one! Is the mistreatment of Black children so common that the only way y’all think undesirable behavior will change with more like behavior–because anything less for a man would make him soft?!

Y’all are exhausting.

[Image from Twitter]

Hot Take: Part Of Ciara Praying Is This—She Waited.

Russell and Ciara at the 2020
Vanity Fair Oscar Party.

I love how Russell Wilson loves his wife. I love how Ciara has done nothing but glow since she’s been with him. This glow—this Melanin Shimmer here?—is what happens when a woman is loved completely. And well!

I have repeated told my preteen daughters I would love nothing more than for them to find a man that treats them as well as Russell does Ciara. My exact quote was, “Don’t bring something like Future home to me.”

Yes, yes I did!

There is no secret Ciara has mentioned prayer was one of reasons she and Russell got to together. Now, I’m going to do what my faith tells in regards to older women teaching the younger women. This means, I’m going to be honest. This also means I’m going to pull from the experiences seen and heard!

I have been in relationships which demanded I settle for toxic behavior, crazy bullshit and mediocre treatment—believing sex will fix it! Pro-tip: Orgasms do not fix heartbreak.

I repeat—orgasms do not fix heartbreak. But that is an altogether deeper topic. If you just look at the pictures of Ciara and her ex, compared to the pictures taken with her and her husband–you can see how she has transformed! This glow–the glow up as we call it–is from her leaving a situation which no longer added or served her! With the vessel and tool a prayer, she asked God for help (been there!).

Prayer coupled with change produces change! The secret ingredient to love, a healthy love, is patience! It is the willingness to wait for what is for you! The depictions of love in the media (read: for Black women) is they have to suffer and wait and tolerate ill-treatment. Why? Y’know, we can take it.

Read more: Black women are not worthy of a healthy love from the start. They are not worthy to be treated well, to be supported. Black women have shown they thrive on trauma. She will be no different.

Before:

Image result for ciara and future

After:

Image result for ciara and russell white house

You tell me.

I have been a woman for while now, with a failed marriage and other relationships under my belt. I know the glow of what is healthy–because I know what its like to feel as if you are dead on the inside! I get it. I promise I do.

I believe the chant of ‘Give us the prayer sis!’ comes from that place of not seeing the love you want in your own life. As a Black girl, that is a scary place to be in. The world expects us to hold pain and trauma like camels do water. We are supposed to sit in discomfort and doubt as soil in faith that roses of hope will grow from us.

No.

The Good, The Bad & Kobe Bryant

If you think this is going to be a sensational drag, it isn’t. -JBHarris

Image result for kobe bryant

Kobe Bryant is dead. The Black Mamba is dead. Vanessa Bryant’s husband is dead.

I, as a woman of a certain age, can only began to imagine the grief that is associated with this loss of this man. I tried to stay away from this reflection, I truly did. Yet, I feel at this point, I must weigh in. The push to weigh in came from the attacks waged at Gayle King–from Snopp Dogg of all people. Now, I could segway into how hip-hop with the help of some artists have popularized misogyny to such a point that it perpetuates rape culture, but I’ll stay on topic.

What I have seen in the world since the loss of Kobe Bryant is the freedom for Black men to emote, to grieve and be vulnerable. I mean, it feels like my brother died! I saw Kobe go from this hotshot player to this athlete statesman! It was beautiful to see. And in that did he have his own struggles, yes.

Let me say this here and now. Buckle up.

Rape is a crime. Rape is about power and control. Rape is crime that is often underreported. Rape is a crime that allows a woman to feel as if her body is not hers, and her personhood reduced to the pleasure her body parts give. Rape is not a genderless crime:  the majority of victims are women. Rape is a crime that is insidious, affecting all portions of the victims life as it relates to intimacy and consensual sex. Victims are often not believed, which goes to the  This where I also must remind you, dear reader, of three things:

Rape is often unreported/under-reported.

Rape committed on a date, is still rape.

Rape is a trauma.

Also:  #MeToo. With that said, let me say this.

The circumstances surrounding what people believe Kobe Bryant did, or what the believe he didn’t do will always be subject to debate. There are those who are glad ‘A rapist who was a good basketball player is dead’ (this was said by the Uppity Negress Podcast), and there are those that do not believe Kobe did anything to this girl. Let me also say this, and this is all I will say about it:

I have been a woman for some time. I know women lie. I know women lie about being raped. I know that there are those same conniving women whom get pregnant on purpose to keep a man. I have known men that get into situations they are warned about and lie to cover them up, or lie to get out of them. For me, the whole incident is sketchy (read:  her nasty underwear). But the fact Kobe owned up to what he did, the circumstances that lead up to this incident. For that, I am proud of him.

But for Gayle King to be this attacked over asking a question? Asking a question of woman in a similar profession as the deceased? Hold on, fam. Pump your brakes. Nothing she did, or said, warranted death threats!

 

Image result for gayle king IG snoop dogg

I am rarely in a position to be speechless.  The fact Snoop called Gayle King, a journalist and a Black woman, a bitch for asking a question? That’s outrageous. I know everyone is mourning, everyone is mad, everyone wants answers–but the job of a journalist is to ask the uncomfortable. Now, did I think her asking the question about this rape accusation (because he wasn’t convicted), so soon after him dying was in poor taste? Yes. However, this level of misogyny is toxic!

Gayle King does not deserve death threats because she asked a question.

Kobe Bryant’s death does not exempt his life from scrutiny.

I suppose it is the gift of celebrity which society tries to make one immune to any outside criticism. Fame can be the worst kind of insulator that way–it can make one impervious to reality; there’s always someone to augment your reality! But herein lies the problem:  Black women are should not be charged to hold legacies without analysis or critique. Black women should not, do not have to decide between the exercise independent thought and insulation of what is deemed acceptable by the Black collective. Black women do not OWE the world anything. For all we have endured, the world OWE us. Back up off Gayle. Now.

2020 Black History Contest- ‘I Am Black History’

Image result for black history month

I am overjoyed to the announce the first annual I AM BLACK HISTORY Essay Contest!

The contest is open to 13-17-year olds, with the submission date opening February 3, 2020, and deadline being February 25, 2020 at 11:59 PM CST. Here is your theme:

Black history is on-going:  future and past. Describe a person (living or dead) or a movement within Black History that you admire or identify with (i.e., Ida B. Wells Barnett as an admired person; The Harlem Renaissance as a movement; resistance against apartheid in South Africa as a movement) and why. 

 

Here are the criteria:

-Essay should be between 2-4 pages (this is roughly 500-1000 words)

-Must be typed, double spaced, written in Microsoft Word.

One entry per child.

-All entries need to have name and contact information in the body of the email.

 

Now, the good part. The prizes:

First Prize:  $75 Amazon Gift Card

Second Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card

Third Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card

 

Entries should be mailed to iamblackhistory.ibf@gmail.com.

Winners will have their essays posted on the I Breathe Fire site, and read on the The Writers’ Block Podcast.  Decisions will be made on February 28, 2020. Winners will be notified through email (please make sure you have correct email address listed!). Gift cards will be sent via email on March 1, 2020.

Good Luck!

Culture Conversation #1: Stop Saying The White Dude In Black Panther Saved Wakanda. Real Answer: It Was Shuri.

Note: This is a hotly contested topic. With the success of BLACK PANTHER, and the succeeding/proceeding movies which comprise the MCU, I believe the analysis of the movie in its climax (as it pertains to the White Savior Complex) is in error. All opinions here are my own. Thank you. -JBHarris

 

I have been a fan of Marvel Comics since I was about 7 or 8. My cousin, Jason allowed me to fall in love with these worlds–seen and unseen–in the comics he had. I will always thank him for giving me unspoken permission to think, dream and create what I saw in my head.

With that said, I was beyond hype to see Black Panther. I was excited for this film with all the magnanimous blackness within. I was happy about Chadwick Boseman becoming and doing all matter of King-level shit–thereby becoming an immutable-etch in Black culture. I was excited to see Angela Bassett looking regal, and beautiful and the Queen she ever always was–I mean, I was ready! I loved the movie!

And I saw it more than once. Trust.

I listened to the reviews, the jubilant choruses of Blackness cheering and discussing fan theories, then the Hot Takes came in. I began to be unsettled by what I was seeing, reading and hearing. I began to hear the White Savior Narrative being mentioned and pushed as it relates to the saving of Wakanda at the end of the film. These analyses paint Agent Ross as the savior of Wakanda.

I listened to the reviews, the jubilant choruses of Blackness cheering and discussing fan theories, then the Hot Takes came in. I began to be unsettled by what I was seeing, reading and hearing. I began to hear the White Savior Narrative being mentioned and pushed as it relates to the saving of Wakanda at the end of the film. These analyses paint Agent Ross as the savior of Wakanda.


I, here, submit this is not true. I will do this in four points.

 

Image result for black panther movie posters

One-The Tech. It was Shuri who gave her brother Prince, then King T’Challa the upgraded suit to be more proficient in the protecting of Wakanda and its people. It was Shuri that gave him (along with General Okoye and Nakia) Kimoyo beads to enhance communication. It was Shuri that was able to save the life of Agent Ross (and Bucky–spoiler!) in the lab she created. Shuri is a girl confident in her skills and abilities–without other outside affirmation.

Two-Her support. Princess Shuri loved her brother. She wanted to be an asset to him in whatever way she could. This was seen on Challenge Day, when her brother was found and rescued out of the snow by the Jabari Tribe, and of course when T’Challa told her he wanted her to oversee the curriculum of the STEM schools he wanted to build in Oakland. T’Challa affirmed his sister in her talents and skills. If nothing else I say can be seen as relevant, please support Black women–beyond their exterior.

Three-Knowledge of Self. Shuri is an unapologetic tech nerd. She is confident in who she is and what she can do. From helping her brother navigate a car from the other side of the world, to almost giving King M’Baku that work when he tried it with her on Challenge Day (notice how the Dora’s attempted to restrain her, while she looked both ready and unbothered). Shuri knows who she is and what she brings to and into any situation. Shuri practices self-determination and autonomy, always good things.

Four-Resourcefulness. While T’Challa is fighting to get to Killmonger, the Dora Milaje are truly fighting Killmonger, and the other tribes are fighting among each other, it was Shuri that orchestrated the resistance attack to counteract Killmonger’s planned military aerial attack. It was Shuri whom chose to go fight along side Nakia, the Dora Milaje and her people.

Here is where I believe prior analyses falls short: there is the focus on Agent Ross manning the AI to save Wakanda–the AI Shuri created! It is forgotten that Shuri told him what to do. Told him how to man the program, what to listen for, and even how to leave the lab when it was bout to self-destruct. It was Shuri, through the communication devices she created, told Agent Ross how to shoot specific weapons. Why? She was out in battle! She was still Princess. Wakanda was still her home. She still had a responsibility to protect what was hers!

Point A: The analysis falls short here because it glazes over why Shuri wasn’t where people believe she should have been! Agent Ross was able to save Wakanda because Shuri was on the ground. Agent Ross had flight experience; just like when T’Challa asked her to help with driving the car to catch Klaue–Agent Ross was a tool. All scientists use tools at their disposal to maximize all outcomes in situations which demand their attention or involvement.

Point B: Black women have become masters at being in two places at one time. With their achievements and sacrifices minimized or ignored. The same thing has happened here! Brava for this social Easter Egg, Ryan Coogler.

Point C: Shuri is an integral part of Wakanda and its running–and its future. If Shuri was not able to organize and implement strategies to save Wakanda–using all able-bodied help (including Nakia in the Dora uniform!), all would have been lost!

It is easy to look over Shuri, because of her dynamic involvement: she is never pigeon-holed in this movie. It is easy to give credit to this character, Agent Ross, forgetting who put him there–and why. This is not a case of a White Savior Complex, it is a matter of Black women doing what they have always done–whatever it takes. Mama Pope said it best, “Admirable or ridiculous?” We sacrifice, we excel, we protect and it goes unnoticed. Shuri deserves to be seen. Black women, whom are expected to be superheroes daily, deserve to be seen.