I am female, fiery and unapologetically Black. I'm in no position to mince words, so I don't. This writing, this craft, is what I delve in, drown in, and seek to master. From that mastering, comes portions of the divine through light and screen or ink and paper.
I invite you all on this journey of thought, conversations and other benevolence life has to offer.
You can also follow me on Twitter (@authorjbharris) and my networking page on Facebook (Jennifer P. Harris).
Thank you for stopping by and remember to live, love, write and repeat.
At my day job, a lot of my co-workers are married or seriously dating. This is not a bad thing! I don’t really weigh on those things unless asked. I grin at the married people jokes. I chuckle at the shenanigans of single people dating. I watch the quiet faces of women that cry in the locker room because of relationship drama.
I have been all of those women. All of them.
In this wisdom I have accumulated by experience, gleaning and folly, allows me to give empathy where there could be none, save for these experiences. And in that space, I realize how serious healing is. I realize how relationships might be distractions from addressing just what is wrong with you! In the almost year I have been single, I have made the decision to not shy away from the hard work of healing up. Truly healing up! This means confronting what I allowed in relationships, what I did to harm/end them, as well as what not to do again.
And that is hard. It’s hard to stop playing the tape of “I’m hurt and it’s all someone else’s fault.”
I never thought I would be repairing my heart right now, not like this. Not again. With that the pain, I can heal. I can clean out the things that hurt in order to be healthy. I even have become serious about therapy for myself to understand what it is I was content to be where I was no valued; stayed when it was the healthier thing to go; why I took care of myself last. I now have the time to ask myself, “Why?”
As I figure those things out, I’m sure I will keep healing. And that is the goal. Dating will come. No rush. Time is on my side for once.
I need you to know that nothing about me is easy. I need you to know that the woman you say you want to be with, get to know, take out, or make scream your name is neither easy, nor a conquest. What I want you to know up front is that what I want, what I need more than anything else is your attention.
I will never play second, nor will I ever settle for being an option. I am a resourceful woman able to take are of myself! Truly capable of making my way in the world independent of the male gaze or its praise. Neither do I need it in order to truly function! However, I will always ask how you are. Always looking you in the eye, needing you to know how serious I am in all inquires which involve your mind, body, or time.
Know that I am not mean, but I am firm. Resolute, even. Yet, I make comprises and concessions only when needed or necessary. I do not swallow my tongue–no solider swallows their weapon in battle! But, I want you to know there is tenderness there, not just warrior Queen fire! I need you to know that passion is still important, and if you desire mine…chase me. Make every day a pursuit as if I might float away! Make me feel special and precious.
Note: Sex, by itself, cannot keep me.
Read it again.
You sending pictures of your penis and I do not know your last name are not intriguing. They are tiring! They are trite! I need you to know that for what I want, I am not willing to settle. I cannot settle! What I want is to be able to be both Queen and partner. Friend and lover. I want to be able to count the seconds until I see you again, rather than dread the hours until you return.
I want you to be able to understand me when I say I have to write, or when I ask for a few more minutes with a post before bed, or before we go out.
I want you to know how seriously I value your time and my own. I want you to know that you have the space to pursue all you desire, and I will help in whatever way I can! Know and understand that I do not like to argue, but I will defend my point!
Know that kisses are the best way to have me hush and listen. Know that I ache to listen and always aim to understand what you need, where you are in a situation, and where you want us to go. As I am used to leading, I am not against you doing that heavy lifting of leadership or providing direction. However, don’t get mad when I ask, “Where we are going?!”
Know that I can pump my own gas, but I’m glad when you offer. I like having my own money, but I like when you take care of me and hand me lunch money. Know that I like to cook, and will master the thing you love to eat because details matter. The little things are what make things grow…or will tear things apart.
Know that I desire reconciliation over being right. Know that when I fold into myself I am not angry, mad, or running from you. I am only looking for space inside myself to figure out the world. So I can react to the situation and not reactive to you.
Know that I am trying every day to be a better woman. I am my own worse critic, but every inch of me is every bit your cheerleader. Match that energy accordingly. Please? Thank you.
Know that my heart is broken, but I want to love again. And I just might love you.
Thank you to Karen Banks and Tiffany Blue that help me to unpack both broken heart and tired mind.
What I am learning now, at this portion of my life is that peace is invaluable. Peace is what it is needed beyond anything else. For the first time in a decade, I belong to myself for the first time. Complete. Whole. Knowing. My mother told me a while ago that I would ‘settle into myself’ when I was 25. I didn’t really know what that meant, and didn’t have sense enough to understand. This is why the old folk say, “Youth is wasted on the young.”
Single. Unmarried. Seeking no prospects. Settling into myself.
What I have learned is that to be myself, the woman that I want to become, I have to be able to fight for her. That means, I have to do the hard work of healing up. Let me assure you, dear reader, that it is work. Confronting what it is I want, want to do, and how painful it might be able to do both. I am seeing a therapist to help me unpack my head, rescuing me from the thoughts of feeling less than regal which always threaten when you are engaged in the tender work of healing. Oh, and it is work!
I am learning to define myself outside of being someone’s wife, girlfriend, or even someone’s mother! The scary thing? I’m not scared to be alone anymore, when I thought I was before. I no longer have the draw and ache that allowed me to stay in place which were torturous or empty. I enjoy the word, “No.” I enjoy how it tastes, the sound of my own voice or silence. I enjoy saying what I need and while walking away from what I do not want.
I do not want my time wasted.
I refuse to dim my light and take off my crown for people that no the value of either.
I am not simply DTF.
I am not going to settle for what I deserve.
I am okay with my Saturdays being quiet, with a good book or a nap–or binging YOU on Netflix.
I am in love with my own features again, not needing that confirmation of another’s gaze. I wear makeup because I always have, but now, it feels like adornment rather than war paint. But, somedays it is both! The red lipstick looks good on a Black girl that knows what color is and what it means to wear it. I am learning to be happy.
But, I am also okay with being sad.
I realize that my pain is real, tangible and should be acknowledged. I realize to just bulldoze past my pain is almost worst than ignoring it. My tears are a release valve, not a weight. I have given myself the gift few are afforded–myself. Love is not just the passion for another, but for yourself. I have given me back to me. I am learning now, at 39, that I am a whole treasure–meal and snack. I am more than what has happened to me, and I have the right to hold on to all of myself. I have the right to make myself all over again, and for myself. How fitting? The writer, at the source of her own plot, gets to re-work it….as she sees fit.
The Lord truly works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform.
I found my hero in the face of Ida B. Wells Barnett. I found a power in her face that was familiar, not sweet, that reminded me that my head should never be bowed. My life was mind to wield, and when I found out she was a journalist? Oh, that was game over. At that moment, with her eyes like fire, face looking up, I knew what I wanted to become. I wanted to be just like her.
This is the power of knowing Black History Month. This is the power of seeing people that look like you, having done or doing what it is you want to do. And for me, with this passion of knowing, needing to know what it is from the very beginning, it is not lost on me the thing I love to do, would have gotten me killed If I had been born in 1881 or 1781, than 1981. I have always been wary of that, then reverent of the fact that I am Black, woman and literate. This is the power of knowing history, your own history. In knowing who you are, what you can become, you realize that the low place the world wants you to stay in is not for you. As Beyoncé said, “Life is your birthright they left that in the fine print. Take a pen an rewrite it.”
Black history is always going to be needed and necessary. There will always been a need to tell a child they are young, gifted and Black. They have always been gifted, beautiful, needed and necessary. In reminding the children of enslavement, the product of the worst kind of capitalism, they are not defined by history whitewashed to tell them they were less than. They are unseen. They are a nuisance and unnecessary. There is always a need to tell a child who they are, what they can become and there is a trail for them to follow.
History will always light the way, for those brave enough to hold the torch to light and to follow. Oh, yes! There is always a reason to teach a child who they are. How else will the world change unless you are told it can? Black history makes a Black future, which will change the world.
I found out that Facebook has a DATING section. Oh, the things you miss while trying to heal up! When some of my co-workers found out I was single again, I cannot tell you many people told me to try Bumble, OkCupid or Tinder! The thought of being visible again, and men looking at me, freaked me out. And if I’m honest? I had a moment when I thought, “What if my ex-husband sees this?” I mean, I really don’t want any part of my life exposed to any part of him ever again. I’m not sure if that makes me wise, bitter or paranoid.
I understand that I am supposed to have a life after him, and that is fine. The thing is, or the dark irony is, I haven’t posted any thing about my relationship in almost a year, and no one either noticed or cared to notice. My social media has been wiped clean of his presence, and no one noticed! It feels as if there was a silent bet that someone won, and they are gracious enough not to collect in front of me. But, this is what happens when your relationship is failing like cheap glass in a hurricane. Everyone can see it, they just hope the storm passes without killing everyone in the process. The end of this feels like a hugger-mugger funeral: quick, clean, quiet. Perhaps that is the best way.
Wounds heal better when everything is done cleanly, cleaned out, and you have time to recoup. Time is always the factor. Right now, I’m giving myself time. Then, I can be pretty, primped and perfect for someone to swipe left or right on me.
It was three years ago this week that I saw Black Panther on Opening Night. I saw it with my second husband, and sat in the push AMC seat with him and was transported to Wakanda for the very first time. There was magic seeing Chadwick Boseman on screen as T’Challa–I had never seen a Black superhero on screen before! I had seen Blade of course, and Wesley Snipes owned all pieces of that role! But this, this was different. It had an ancestral feel, and during the middle of the movie, I almost cried. At the end of the movie after hearing young Black men discussing fan Marvel Comics fan theory? I threw my arms around them! It was glorious. Simply glorious.
One of the last things we did as a family was take my daughters to see this movie. The complete delight on their faces as they watched, I cannot quite describe. It indeed was a cultural moment worthy of all hype and celebration!
Then, Chadwick Boseman died.
This is after telling my daughter after she was so distraught after watching The Avengers: Infinity War, “No one dies in the Marvel Universe.” I told her that to dry her tears, only to have her collapse in my bed almost three years later, knowing that the actor who brought him to life is dead. How do you reconcile that?
As a mother, I need what to say to make her okay. As an artist, I am still grieving. When this reminder came through my memories, I was taken back to Opening Night. I remember getting ready to music, thinking about my outfit, and even what earrings to wear. I wanted to be pretty and pretty effing hot. What strikes me now are the hidden conversations: recasting, the sequels, plans going forward. In the comics, Princess Shuri takes the mantle of Black Panther. There was even talk of Black Panther (T’Challa) should not be recast. And I won’t lie to you, I was on that same bandwagon! I wanted the role to stay sacrosanct! Don’t cast anyone else as T’Challa! Then, I ventured into one of my Blerd groups. Those hidden converasations ceased to be whispers, and I realized how silly (and selfish) I was being:
“But, there have been how many actors who have been Batman? Superman? How many have been Spider-Man?”
The Extraordinary Journey of a Black Nerd Group
When I sat and thought about it, and thought about it as a writer? The creator of that post and those commenting on it were right. The best way we honor Chadwick is to make sure the character doesn’t die with him. Chadwick is immortal and integral to the MCU, and with still so much left to do–but he left us so much.
The little girl in me is grieving, but the writer in me is elated. I want to see what more can come from these characters! I want to see what Ryan Coogler or even Nia DaCosta come up with as possible directors for these new movies! I want to see what the writers, storyboard artists, CGI teams come up with. I want to see what happens next. As the old hymn goes, “I feel like going on.” I want to see what happens next–I must see what happens next. My hope is the staff and all teams involved will honor the source material, current standards and push past all doubt and give us he sequel we all need! I for one, cannot wait.
I have been separated (soon to be divorced!) for 10 months. In that time, I have not been pressed about seeing people! Frankly, I don’t want to be seen and not really concerned about people trying to see me. There is a fear in me that doesn’t want to date. I mean, I really don’t want to! There is no reason to! I am loving my own company, loving being able to command my own time and space. I don’t have to be anywhere, being anything to anyone when I get there, and I have no desire to put myself anywhere.
There are girlfriends of mine who tell me that it’s time that I start dating. There is no rush. There can be rush. Why? I just don’t want to. I’m not sure if that makes me mean, wary, or just a bitch. I’m still trying to figure all that out. But, the thing that I find striking about all this healing I’m doing is that I am becoming honest with myself. I am learning that the most pure form of love I could have for myself is to not lie to myself again.
I have lived almost 4 decades, man! In that time, you would think that I would have learned and applied something. What I have noticed is it is easier to be involved with someone else rather than work on myself. And right now, I want to work on me. I don’t want to be bothered with someone else. I don’t want to be concerned with the whims and moods of someone else! I am selfish right now. I am not apologizing for that. All I want is all of me. I don’t want to, I don’t have to and I have no desire to. Right now, my time intimate selves are both commodities–rare and exquisite. Until I am ready to share both, I’m cool right here–healing and not worried about someone thinking of swiping left or right on me. I chose me, no one else matters.
I have been married twice. I have always been in a relationship. So, to be in this position after being with someone almost 7 years, it is strange to be by myself for the first time in almost a decade. But, it’s strange how quickly I have fallen back into just doing me.
Like truly doing me.
I am in a place and at an age that I have become intolerant of my time being wasted, I am not randomly smashing, and have my own money. I can lay out in my bed, and not touch anything but pillows and peace! There is a peace that comes with this level of singleness, with being single this time, it feels different. I am not sure if this is because of me about to turn 40 (I am still in real disbelief about this!), but this bout of singleness feels different. Dare I say it, this feels natural. It feels appropriate to be single right now. I mean, I am in awe of that right now. I am in awe of how settled I am–I don’t take that lightly though. I am at the age now where I would rather be alone than wishing that I was!
I am learning to be okay to be by myself. I am learning myself again, what I like and even who I want to spend time with. I am becoming more me than I think I ever was before. I am…happy. I have peace when I wake up now, and when I lay down. When I have to make a decision, I can do it without thinking about how it will sound to anyone else–or needing their approval!
I am a single girl who has never had a problem getting a date, or laid, whom has called herself an Eternal Juliet; whom in a former life had the nickname, Amoranda (which means worthy of being loved), is single for the first time in over a decade collectively.
And I am now in love, with myself. As it should be.
The creator of the BECAUSE OF THEM WE CAN movement, Eunique Jones, has this as her mantra: “Children cannot be what they cannot see.” And I agree! You cannot expect a child to be excellent, without then ever seeing what excellence is. Black history is still made daily, and for that reason, we cannot stop.
From the inception of Negro History Week by Dr. Carter J. Woodson, to right now, you have to understand that magnitude of what it is he started. It is through the vessel and tool of education that shows people–especially children!–what they can be and do. For this reason, there is no reason to ever stop teaching Black history. It is through this month long opportunity that we show Black children who they are descended from, and remind them of what they can be.
It is through the opportunity of Black History Month, that I found my heroes. Those heroes are Ida B. Wells Barnett, Queen Hatshepsut and Dorothy Dandridge. The last two I found on my own due to my voracious reading habits.
In Dorothy, I found that Black women have always been talented and hotter than any habanero pepper.
In Queen Hatshepsut, I found that Black women have always run things–and wield power well.
Well, in Ida, who I call my grandmother of the truest sort? I found a woman that looked like she could belong to my family who never let ‘No’ be her final answer. Ever!
Black children need to see both legacy and opportunities set before them and trails yet to be blazed! Black history is essential to the social encouragement and development of Black children. Period. Besides, you never know what will happen! While on this hero’s journey of raising Black children, it is essential for them to know they are not alone. They need to know their dreams are real, valid, and there may still be space to be the first to do that very thing. History is a road map–and when you teach Black children how incredible they really are? This is how you remind them to change the world–because of them we can; because of them we must.
[ images from cleveland.com, amysmartgirls.com and biography.com]
One of the most upsetting things to encounter for those gifted to be scribes/writers is to be silent. It is dangerous for a writer to be silent. It is dangerous for our pens to be still, screens blank, skills dulled to the point of collapse. Our eyes seeing with no faith to believe for change, no words to create to draw attention. Words which have power to stir thoughts to instill or stimulate change. It is the artistry of imagination where possibility is created, exposed and changed. Writers are misfits. We see the unseen, name the unknown and touch what is hidden. Yet, these things must be seen and said. The atrophy of time must be rebelled against. We must race against the light given to us, race against it. We cannot curl up with the words, the word inside us. The unsaid, the unwritten must still be said…even in dreams.