#BlakBlogsMatter Challenge-Week 11 (2021)

On Monday, I talked about Tignon Laws at the end of my post. I hope you Googled it. With that said, let’s get into the cultural appropriation of hair that is a slap in the face to Black women.

I started getting my hair straightened when I was about 5 or 6. I got my first perm at 9. There has never been a time where what grew out of my head naturally wasn’t a problem! Either to myself, my family or where I was working. I remember one offer of employment at a local hospital–in the employee handbook no less!–said that if your hair had to be a natural color occurring in nature.

Coded language translated as: Black girls, do not use your expression here as it relates to your hair.

The thing about this hair conversation is that it is an insult! I have to defend, I have to change, my hair in its natural state in order to get a job–but Addison can watch one box braid tutorial, have her one friend with the Black boyfriend to give her ‘boxer braids’, and she can go to work–and no one will bother her! These dames can go into Urban Outfitters and get hoop earrings to go with these looks and be seen as chic, or trendsetting. Meanwhile, if I do the same, or other Black women do the same, then we are a distraction and are disciplined for this!

I mean the CROWN ACT isn’t even 5 years old! There had to be legislation created, enacted and passed in order for Black people to just be BLACK at work, but Addison wants to take that from us and expects us not to be offended?

I mean, where should I begin with this? Your hair isn’t made to do what ours does–period! It is not fair for the styles most Black girls grew up wearing, learning, and perfecting the LAW has to give us permission to do? The fact that had to happen, and a class of Addison Rae thinks they did something by watching ’10 with Bo Derek that one time, and wore hoop earrings on ‘Casual Friday’ think they did something! You are not making something chic because you stole the idea from someone else, Miss Millie!

Black women are not flattered because you are in enamored with our culture so much that would like to steal it. We have been hip to you all for centuries–and Jordan Peele affirmed on screen everything our grandmothers, mothers and aunts whispered about. And to be honest–I’m glad Georgina fought that dame that tried to take her over. I truly am.

Do better, Addison.

#BlackBlogsMatter Challenge-Week 11 (2021)

I don’t know what it is about White women that take it upon themselves to believe taking what belongs to Black culture, and making it theirs is okay! Where they really believe that if they take what we have created? They believe that no one will come for them!

What I wish that greater White culture would understand–and even some of our African cousins would sympathize to–is the Black people here, the African-American people here, we have created a culture, an identity from memory. From what we could remember, what we could recreate and what we could save! We have a right to gatekeep! In the words of Sunni Patterson: What can be saved when all is lost?

This child took her privilege– without packing rhythm, style or swag–to Jimmy Fallon and all but had a seizure on stage to Cardi B’s song, Up. What is always so amazing about these Addison Rae’s is the chutzpah they have! They see something neither created by them, nor created for them, where they are not the center of which may put someone else in the center? They steal it.

There is no other way to explain this. There is no erasing of this. There is no, “You’re being sensitive.” or “You should be flattered.” No, I should slap fire from you! White supremacy is a viral contagion which is a threat to all POC/BIPOC/Indigenous people EVERYWHERE! You steal what we have preserved. You mock what we hold sacred! But the moment you can make money off it? The moment it is fad, fashionable–then it’s exotic! For capitalism, anything exotic is profitable.

Black people are not going to apologize for gatekeeping culture. We are no going to apologize for checking these Becky Sue JaneDoes/Addison Rae’s about what belongs to us. The time for that was over when Tignon Laws where implemented–and to a lesser extent? They still are. Now it is just called, professional attire. And the world wonders we as Black women celebrate the soliloquy of Mama Pope.

In The Letting Go

For the sister I didn’t know I needed—Jahaira Balenciaga (DeAlto).

It took me a week to write this. It took that long to write this because I am still processing all of it. I am actively, equally outraged, heartbroken and in rolling disbelief. The woman I had watched on YouTube for the better part of a decade, who I connected with through the gift of social media–for the better part of a decade–was murdered in her house because she was helping a woman leave her husband.

I am devastated. And here is why.

I was introduced to Jahaira through the YouTube channel MuchLove From KY (Ms. Nina!) who I love like an Aunt also. I liked Jahaira because she was funny, smart, and she changed her hair like I did! I didn’t even know Jahaira was trans until disclosed that. Now, was I raised to be homophobic or transphobic? Not at all. So, Jahaira being trans, was a small part of who she was. What endeared Jahaira to me was her authenticity, her love for the people around her, and her steady committment to make the world a better place.

I followed her YouTube channel (JahairasMission) for years! I celebrated when she got her associates degree. I rejoice when she enrolled in Simmons University to finish her bachelors degree. I was so happy we won her award! She was doing so much good in the world and to have her life snuffed out like this? It is so unfair.

I am reminded of the statistic that she gave when excepting her MOVA award about 3 years ago now. She said that the average age that trans women get to especially transwomen of color get to, is only 35. At the time of her passing, Jahaira was 42,43 years old.

Foolishly, I thought that she was passed that danger point! I thought that she had made it over so to speak. And that all the good in the world that she was aiming to do, the children that she helped raise, the love and legacy that she left—she was going to be able to be one of those trans women they got to see old age and seen the reward of all her hard work. I wanted that for her…

It is being reported out of Dorchester, that The person that murdered her was actually staying with her! He’s now in custody, and I am enraged!

I have been watching her videos on YouTube for a week because my mind cannot wrap itself around the fact that this woman that I knew, who had gone through so much, who was destined to do so many good things is GONE!

It is being reported out of Dorchester, that she was murdered by the estranged husband of the woman she was trying to help to leave him. He wound up killing Jahaira and his estranged wife!

This ain’t right. This isn’t fair. And I don’t know how I’m coping. I can only imagine how her mother feels! Jahaira DeAlto is the 21st trans woman to be murdered this year. Yeah, even in all of my grief and anger, I’m choosing to do the very thing Jahaira reminded us all as her sub tastics told us do: LIVE.

And with that four letter word, let that be her legacy. She encouraged us all to live and live unapologetically. Owning every last piece of our truth, embracing every flaw that we have, and celebrating every victory!

See you one of the other side, Jah.

For The ‘POSE’!

I am already crying.

I NEED ALL THE THINGS TO HAPPEN ON THIS SHOW THIS SEASON!

I stopped my entire life to watch the Season 3 premiere of POSE on FX! I made sure my kids were in bed, that I had snacks, because I was prepared to have my emotions snatched from me.

It was then that I remembered that this was the last season. Then I remembered that there are transwomen being my murdered left and right—including my dear YouTube sister, Jahaira Balenciaga just this month!

I am looking forward to what Ryan Murphy and company do this season, because so far (we have now jumped from 1991 to 1995):

Blanca got a bae

Papi and Angel are still together

Ricky and Pray together still

Cubby died (Whew, Jesus!)

Pray back to drinking

Lulu got Angel back on that sh#t!

Blanca going to nursing school!

Electra is still shady as hell!

Whew! And that is just the first two episodes! What being a fan is this show has broadened my scope as it relates to empathy. To love and even what it means to be and ally, accomplice or an advocate. You cannot love POSE and not support Black transwomen.

I said what I said.

I know this is about to be so good, I know I am going to cry so hard, and I know I’ll be cussing at the television in two languages again—BUT! That is the power of great writing. That is the power of great story telling. That is the power of representation.

Let’s hope the Emmys get it RIGHT this time. Indiya Moore and Mj Rodriguez deserve EVERYTHING!

#BlackBlogsMatter Challenge-Week 10 (2021)

*OBF: Only Black Friend

Being the OBF is dangerous. I said what I said. You, as a Black friend, in the ashes of Orange Thanos, you need to be mindful and critical of whom your friendship group is! Consider this your first and last warning in regards to your own tokenism. 

I do understand that with the expansion of educational opportunities, remote working and job expansion, that it is impossible to keep the same friend groups, or have those friend groups be homogenous! I am saying being mindful when you are consistently the OBF in a friend group. There is this sense of awareness that you have to develop which allows you to be cognization of what is, what is not, and what will be. Let me break it down this way.

What Is. Being the OBF is sometimes isn’t avoidable. No one moves in this life without needing, talking to or even befriending other people. However, being the only ANYTHING in a community or a friend group, is—concerning. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself, “Why am I the only one that looks like ME in this space?”

What Is Not. In the interest of honesty, remember that every friend is not an ally and a ally is not always an accomplice. The world is too dangerous for you to not know who is on your side! There are too many stories of OBFs in situation where they needed assistance or to be verified by someone else (aka someone non-melaninated) and–weren’t! Be mindful of this, because once it is shown to you, it cannot be unseen. 

What Will Be. The danger that I speak of in regards to being the OBF is the ever looming threat of tokenism. It is the threat that whenever something happens in the culture or to them, you will either be either excuse to continue microaggressions, or ‘the Black friend’ they know. Don’t allow yourself to be set up for failure because there are people in the world who don’t think diversity and inclusivity matter. Yet, these are the same people believe since they are friends with you they have met both requirements. 

Just like when you were younger and you were told to look both ways before crossing the street? Look around before you get invited into the all-White friend group with no mirrors.

#BlackBlogs Matter Challenge-Week 10 (2021)

In the grand scheme of things, I can honestly say that I have never been the Only Black Friend in my friend group. For this, I am grateful. In the current climate, I cannot imagine being the Only Black Friend in friend group in the age of Get Out and the hellish reign of Orange Thanos! Being the ONLY anything in a friend group at this point is dangerous.

Yes, DANGEROUS. 

There are cases in the media now (and some not in the media) of Black folk either out with a group of non-Black people and something happening to them–yet ‘no one knows what happened.’ If bullshit was a mountain, No One Knows What Happened is its foundation and summit! What I am not understanding is why this is the aspiration! It is neither my want nor desire to be the only anything in a friend group purely for safety reasons–if nothing else! The world at large is entirely too unstable, too dastardly, too capable of erasing all people that look like me for be to be anywhere, with anyone, who is unwilling to vouch for me, look for me, or protect me if something were to happen!

My intention is not to fear-monger. My job is to be light, heat and smoke! I would be a disingenuous to not explore this topic light and dark! There is an element that is totally based in uncertainty–rightfully so!–when you are the only anything in a friend group! Friend groups are supposed to provide protection and support. In the age of people chasing clout, false-flag allyship, in the wrong place we will all be looking like Chris did when he was looking at Rose for his keys.

Remember I told you.

30 DAYS OF JAYE: The Epitaph Of Derek Chavin

In April 2021, Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of the murder of George Floyd. This piece was rewritten before the verdict was read on April 20, 2021.

Here lies the body of white supremacy wrapped in blue skin with his knee on the neck of progress while he cries out for his mother.

While the tears of the unborn leak from our eyes and our hands are bottled up, folded up underneath us trying to get out from under the weight of its oppression—-

And yet you only say you ‘were doing your job’.

You were only doing what you were allowed and hired to do,

What you were granted power by the state to perform and because of that reason

for that cause, you have ‘no fault’.

You standing straight as Johnson grass in the middle of a hurricane willing that

none should see you as you truly are!

Scared little boy.

So free, so afraid of blackness,

anything and its entirety

including height, weight that you choose

on this day to take matters into your own hands and then underneath the weight of all that you hold dear that has been whispered to you as lullabies—

When they were really lies.

Only now—NOW!

You discover exactly

what it means to be wrong,

and not just wrong—

But evil, loud, and wrong.

For that reason,

you have been called

to the core of eternity

where the All-seeing,

The All-knowing has now

seen every piece of

your work laid bare without

a badge—

left silent as the grave

you are now shut in!

Taking with you

every secret,

every fear,

that white supremacy has

that perhaps the god that

you said was white —never looked like like you.

HE looks more like HIS SON

that was murdered by the state,

Seeing that truth of always in color,

Even to the shed blood.

The evil clothed in

Red, white & blue

because it is easier to

be a coward, shrinking us

So you might grow strong

And mighty into the lie of

Your greatness independent of

Truth and dependent on subduing

What you believe is evil

We have never been.

We have been storm,

Fire and seas…

And now you look

That Immutable in

His face, seeing it was

Never your mirror.

Now, you have to look

Him in the face and

you cry for mercy,

and for your mother as

HE tells you

“Depart from me I never knew you.”

-JBHarris, April 2021

30 DAYS OF JAYE: Sunshine

at last and once more

peace within myself

and in what is around me

I have love restored and

new as it should always be

passion as I never knew it

or I thought I could have

to have all that I seek and

have sought just within

the width of my fingertips

mine…mine… the impending joy

of possessing it thrills me

to have and to hold…not to cleave

for I know that I need not chase it

it soothes me, allows my mind to

quiet my mind to watch the clouds

roll past, and count each one

as I once did

I can shut my eyes to the world

and sleep in the sun…breathing deep all the while

(Jennifer-Phylon Bush, age 23) May 1, 2005

#BlackBlogsMatter Challenge-Week 9 (2021)

The biggest microaggression I have encountered, and still encounter to quite a demonstrable degree, is this phrase: “You are ________________ for a Black girl.”

I hate that. Don’t say that to Black women, Black girls, ever!

It implies that being Black –in whatever context!–is either undesirable, unworthy, or a deterrent. And it seems to be a shock to non-melaninated people when you don’t take lightly to backhanded compliments. There is no reason for them! The one thing that I do know is I have heard, “You are smart for a Black girl” more often than I want to admit on a public forum. When I started dating?

Oh. Dear. Holy. God.

You are pretty for a Black girl was a reflex, and it felt like acid in my face every time that I heard it! Every single time. I didn’t understand it! For a Black woman, for a Black girl to look in a mirror and value, love, what she sees is a whole process! You have to deconstruct what the European beauty standard is so you can love who you see. To be considered pretty by a non-melaninated person is not an achievement! It’s not an aspiration!

I am a beautiful woman.

I am a beautiful Black woman.

I am beautiful woman whom is also Black.

These are the only three permutations of this complement I will tolerate. Ever.

I am not ‘smart for a Black girl.’ I am resourceful, dual-degreed and do not need the validation from non-melaninated people to be considered intelligent! Ever!

I am an intelligent woman.

I am an intelligent Black woman.

I am an intelligent woman, who happens to be Black.

These, too, are the only compliments I will accept in this area.

In the Gospel according to Queendom, that makes me a Bad Bitch! Let me go adjust my crown to dismiss peasants properly. Whatchu thought this was?

30 DAYS OF JAYE: With Him

How could this happen?

Seducing me with the

honey of his lips to my

ears, my heart in his hands

kisses inspiring soft tears

upon rounded cheeks.

He found me and loved me anyway.

Far from me, his is

From his thoughts and mind

I have searched for him

and found him not

it is in him that I found

the strength to be better

to not settle, to let my

hunger be my drive,

my sustaining force…

Be my own Jedi master

Yet, where is he?

When I have gotten

so used to him, loved

and love him so, still

what happens to me now?

Jennifer-Phylon Bush (Rourke) September 20, 2005