Week 7-See You When I Get There

img_2741-2

“Big sh-t, poppin, little sh-t stoppin’ “

-Clifford “T.I.” Harris

 

This week? Mane. You remember the paper I told you about that I got a whole 60 on? Well, when I resubmitted it, I got a 92. A 92/100. Bruh. I shouted! I really did! I am now at a 83.5 in Prof. Welch’s class (this is a B-). And this week we started If Beale Street Could Talk? And we have to write a reflection on this? And I love Baldwin?

I am now in a sweet spot for this semester–at least for this week.

In my 4700 class (yes, with Dr. Wall!) we are discussing the poet/writer Tess Gallagher. And with any English class, there will be paper writing. We have a paper that is due in about two weeks. The cool thing is if we do this right, this paper can be used as a basis towards our final paper.

This paper has to be 5 pages. The final paper has to be conference length.  This means it has to be ten pages:  nine full length pages, with the tenth being for citation. I decided to do my paper on Lucille Clifton.

Dr. Wall had us to write a thesis and be prepared to discuss it in class this week. My thesis? Glad you asked:

“The relevance of Lucile Clifton is demonstrated in the canon of American writers because, in the words of Toni Morrison, she helps to decolonize the canon.”

I know, I know. It’s lit.

Not only did Dr. Wall validate my thesis, not only did she champion it, not only did she see how excited I was to write it, she helped to develop my thesis! She helped all of us develop my thesis! This middle-aged White woman, whom is a fan of African-American literature, told me–an African-American undergrad–to write this paper. Like lean into it an write it! She also gave our class this other tidbit.

Dr. Wall reminded us to keep all of our papers. In the case of Lucille Clifton, there has not been enough critically written about her. This just means there has not been enough people whom have engaged her work. There haven’t been enough people that thought enough about her work to ask questions about it.

Trust, I am already thinking about this final paper. I am already thinking about my analysis. I am already thinking about the contrast I want. I am already thinking about where I could send it if Dr. Wall gives her blessing that the work is good enough.

At this point? I’m counting the weeks. I am about 8 weeks out of completing my undergrad. And I get to wear the stole of my father’s fraternity (Kappa Alpha Psi)? I can’t help but think that Daddy would still have to smile at all this.

As long as it took–I still did it. I did it.

 

 

 

 

For My—OUR—Mother, Diahann Carroll.

 

Image result for diahann carroll

 

Diahann Caroll (born Diahann Carol Diahann Johnson) has left the world.

I heard this news after getting the best news in regards to my youngest daughter. I cried tears of joy for her. Then my heart broke knowing that a woman that I had respected, saw myself in, had left the world.

We go a long way back, me and Diahann. My middle name is actually a take on one of the characters that was on Dynasty. I remember my mother and godmother talking about this woman named Dominique on the show. And how she was always getting into it with Alexis Carrington (Note:  I never thought Joan Collins was particularly pretty or talented). But I remember the first time I saw her.

She was immaculate. Like something out of a dream. She looked like a Barbie doll.

She was in his fur (as always) and makeup brilliant, and her hair was down, and she had slapped the stupid off somebody!

She was poised. She was audacious. She was Black.

I remember her being on A Different World as Whitley Gilbert’s mother. I remember her on Grey’s Antatomy. I remember the guest spots. I remember there was no other woman I thought was or could be prettier than my mother–other than Diahann Carroll.

It wasn’t until I had gotten to college that I realized how dynamic, how special, she was. I hung on every word she had ever said. I made sure I studied her mannerisms, her voice–and when I found out she was in Carmen Jones with Dorothy Dandridge? Chile, it was over!

There was something about her that I was drawn to.

My mother has this intangible class about her. Like Phylicia Rashad. Like Diahann Carroll. They were Black, moving through these hurdles life threw at them. Without becoming a stereotype, a mammie or a wench. I loved Diahann Carroll the way I admired my Mama. I have always said I wanted to age like Diahann Carroll. I saw her in me and me in her.

I saw me in her. 

 

Image result for diahann carroll

 

This mixture of grace, class and tenacity–I saw that in myself. I saw that being both Black and girl, not Black and woman, these stereotypes thrown on me were–were wrong. I was more than what I saw in North St. Louis.

There was more to this being a Black girl than what I was told I had to be.

I saw me in her. 

My grandmother died 6 years ago–this year she would have been 90. I find it interesting Diahann Carroll, too, was 84 when she passed. Realizing that she was gone, is gone, was like losing my grandmother all over again! My younger sister told me that I am too emotional when people die. That I am too emotional. I’m too passionate.

That is a slick way of saying I am doing the most. But you know? Most artist do the most.

In her passing there was a quote that she said which I will add to my own cupboard of wisdom. In pursuing acting, she had naysayers. She had detractors. She had people that thought she should most definitely do something else! But she said this:  “I didn’t want to be afraid of anything.”

This is what I will learn on, what supplements my desire to write and create. I don’t want to leave the world having been afraid. Having been subject to the opinions of other people. Having held on to things which will never add to me or the world around me. I do not want to live this life afraid of what it is I am supposed to and mean to do.

I want to live this life fearless, and flawed and loud. I will not leave it with a whimper or whisper. The crucial thing I learned from Diahann Carroll (even Jenifer Lewis), is to keep going. That nothing will be given to me–and it will be hard fought for in some cases. But it’s worth it. Just because people can’t catch up doesn’t mean I slow up.

Thank you, Diahann. Thank you.

No More Mammying: Give That B**ch A Brush!

 

 I really want Amber Guyger to prison forever.

I don’t want to hear about appeals, how her Mama feel about her being locked up, I don’t want to hear any defense to her indefensible shit.

Yesterday, after the year-held sigh of relief at her murder conviction was expelled, what followed next was unexpected. As with social situations like this, my social media was alight. My inbox my alerted, and what I saw was a Mammie in baliff’s uniform.

Now, for those of you that are new to this corner of the righteous, woke, well-read Black innanet, there are certain stereotypes which follow Black people:  Mammie (some people spell it Mammy), tragic mulatto, wench, Sapphire.  A Mammie/Mammy is this Black woman that lives to serve, cooking and cleaning and tending White children. They are seen as these superheroes without personal desires, depth or personhood independent of that which is given from a White gaze or narrative.

Yes, Hattie McDaniel in Gone With The Wind is a Mammy. That was her name in the credits. Scarlett O’Hara probably had a wet nurse who was probably a Mammy–and was probably in the personhood of Hattie McDaniel.

But let’s move on.

The fact that Amber Guyger is convicted of murder made me smile and cry. The fact that sis is smoothing her hair after she is convicted of murder or someone that could have really been this Black female balliff’s son? I was outraged. In seeing that, I cried out, “Get that bitch a brush!”

There aren’t enough surviving, ambitious reticent Mammies to coddle all the misbehaving White women in this nation that need release and relief! I refuse to believe that was an accident–and that 15 second clip has gone viral in the matter of 24 hours!

However, the thing that is not discussed, or scrutinized as heavily is the Black Dallas PD officer that defended what Amber Guyger did! As always, the brunt and blame fall to Black women. That is unfair, and is not right and we need to talk about this.

For the Black officer that vouched for Amber Guyger. You are trash, fam. You are so trash that you cannot even be sat out with the other trash! The fact of the matter is he testified as a token–I said what I said. I don’t take it back.

What needs to be discussed is the relationship some Black men have to power especially in the proximity and association to/with white supremacy. As the Urban Prophet TI said, “If the con is good, I ain’t supposed to see it!”

I see this con–I see this.

And I have seen it before! And over and over again!

What is not often discussed is the history of the Fraternal Order of Police. If you know your history, you know that modern policing (and its methods) are based in fugitive slave law practices–namely the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. If you are a student of history, for every press towards the high mark towards equality, the police have done two things:  stymie and enforce. Stymie the progress of minorities (whomever they may be). Enforce the narrative and wishes of their masters–keep all the people that scare us, whom we have harmed, whom we stole from, whom make my wife nervous is public in check–by any (deadly) means necessary.

You need only look at recent history to see that–how the police are used as a mitigating force between the good white folk and the meddling, needy outsiders who trouble the ruling classes for freedom, justice and to the pursuit of happiness.

How dare they?!

This is deeper than any “Blue Wall.” This is deeper than just trying to be a comfort to this murdering police officer! This construct of serving and protecting has racist roots from a poisonous tree! As the prosecutor said before the jury came back yesterday, “Convicting her doesn’t mean that you hate the police.” Just as me giving observation and asking questions doesn’t mean I hate the police.

The fact is, police need policing! The current permutation of law enforcement still needs an overhaul. Is it better than it was a century ago? Yes. But there is still so much further to go. The fact that this bailiff mammied to her, and she is vilified for it is one thing. But the sole onus of the chaos of this trial is not to be carried by this 15 second action! What we will not do is make her carry all this water by herself! The Black officer that agreed to vouch for what she did–saying she did everything her training said she could–needs to be drug a little bit as well!

What we miss in times of upheaval like this is the real enemy is the institutional, systemic and oppressive racism steeped and held in place by white supremacy! Amber Guyger killed a man in his house while eating a bowl of ice cream he bought, while on his couch, minding his business! She gets on the stand and cries (what most basic White women do after they have been caught doing something) and says how sorry she is. And people are supposed to comfort her, because that is what society tells us to do!

No.

Amber stood flat-footed and shot him, so she can stand flat-footed and take these years the jury is about to give her. Don’t be distracted at Sis that smoothed her hair. Don’t be distracted at the turcoat fam on the stand. The game is afoot, Watson. And the con is exposed. You cannot help but see it now.

So since you see it, and I see it, and we see it, then let’s dismantle it.

Learn the game so you can play it better.

Week 6-In The Thick Of Things

img_2741-2

 

 “I know I can.”

-Nas, God Son Album

 

I hadn’t written a paper in about 4-5 years. I just hadn’t. And academic writing has always been hard for me. But, for what I need to do, and the spheres I travel in, this  has to be something that I conquer. And this week? I got a D on a reflection paper.

A. Whole. D.

A 60.

My formatting was off, and analysis was weak and it was a trash paper! I mean, it was! And my professor (yes, Prof. Welch!) gave me the chance to resubmit it because the formatting was so trash.

So, did I do?

I cursed, called Monday (the day I got it back) trash AF, and resubmitted it.

Point:  As a student, especially as a minority student, you have to know when to play the game and when to pop (totally) off. You have to know that certain halls of academia are still tinged with race, sex and class! You cannot pop off when you are been shown grace. What do I mean? My professor told me that she would be open to changing my grade if I resubmit my paper. What would have happened if I snapped off on her? Thisclose to graduation?!

Girl. Chile. NO.

I resubmitted my paper. I took the critique disguised as grace, and did what I had to do. I mean, she could have just given me that ugly, hard D. I refuse to let pride stunt my destiny!

This week confirmed that I am built for this. That the wit is still there. The talent has only strengthened with time and experience. That my analysis is–it’s there. Like any muscle, I have to work it.

 


With my class for Dr. Wall (whom I adore!), we have to do 2  papers. One is for a midterm, and I plan on doing my midterm on Lucille Clifton. I didn’t even meet her until this class. And she died of cancer. Dr. Wall is a space-maker. A space-holder. Unapologetically so! Dr. Wall said in her class (while talking about criteria), there is not enough critical literary  analysis of Lucille Clifton.

What does that mean?

Critical literary analysis is being able to break down what the writer is saying and apply it in a broader or more narrow context. How deep can you apply it? And how does it apply?

And on Thursday, ya girl applied for graduation for this Fall.

THIS FALL.

Oh, yeah there’s something brewing for this. A poem may–or may not—be what culminates at the end of this journey.

#HereSheCome

 

 

 

 

 

Words To Music Are Always Lyrics

img_2741-3

 

I have always been a fan of music, all kinds of music. And for this semester–if you have noticed–I’ve woven in lyrics and hip-hop lyrics into this series. So, in typical Jenn Harris fashion–I decided to create a playlist for this last semester of undergrad studies.

Look for that at Week 10.

It will be available on Spotify and Apple Music.

Title of the Playlist:

SABEM–How I Made It Over

 

From Nas to Duke Ellington, to Stevie Wonder. From G-Eazy to MTS and Hozier. Music helped me get through papers, study and even press my way through to get through these last weeks.

 

Enjoy!

This is my graduation gift to you all.

 

Love you!