The Value Of The Put-On: Reflection On ‘Tiffany Haddish Presents: They Ready.’

Image result for tiffany haddish presents they ready

 

*the put-on:  Noun

This is cultural colloquialism which means to give someone you know a chance or opportunity; in a field you are familiar with or currently working.

 

I am a fan of Tiffany Haddish!

I love that she is loud, so Black and hood in white AF in white spaces. I am familiar with her story. I know that she was almost functionally illiterate. I know she was living in her car. I know she was doing comedy, when Kevin Hart talked to her. I know that he gave her $300 to get a hotel for the week. But what I also know is he put her on.

He saw her talent. He spoke to it. And he gave her an opportunity.

That is beauty of the put-on.

In watching this series on Netflix, what I heard so often was, “Tiffany came and got me.”

“Tiffany and I had  pact that whoever went first, they would throw the rope back. And she through it back.”

There is a power in maintaining space, but it is a totally unique power to create it! What Tiffany did is not forget the people that grinded with her, laughed with her, cried with her–and hustled together. It made me so happy to see!

A Black woman, whom is making and solidifying her own career, made a space for other women, especially those that look like her! This is the power of a put-on!

Let me explain this a little further.

 

Image result for tiffany haddish presents they ready

 

THE POWER OF THE PUT-ON

My best friend and I call this ‘putting someone in the room.’ But I like to use ‘the put-on’! This means that you know someone with skills, talents and abilities that someone needs to see. It means you have decided to build as you climb! The goal of it is visibility by an means necessary. The glorious thing, the beautiful thing? The put-on is a ripple in a pond. It provides a space for talent to be discovered and seen by more than just the person that put you on!

But what is the most important thing about the put-on is being able to give shine to people whom may not have it before. Or giving unique opportunities to those whom may never have had them otherwise (classic example:  the Wayans)!

The put-on is a best kept secret, and a card not often played. Why? The fear of other people’s greatness and competition. The put-on nullifies that! It grants presence to people whom need it the most! Or, sadly, may not have ever had it.

The beautiful thing about the put-on, is you don’t have to do anything but open a door. Or drop a card. Or a name. Even, in the case of Tiffany Haddish, go back to where it started–and some folk that people need to see.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[images from whatsnewonnetflix.com]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Plucking & Planting Of Strange Fruit

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At the time of this posting, Michael Brown, Sr. called for the current St. Louis County Prosecutor, Wesley Bell, to reopen this case. Read more about that here

 

I have lived in St. Louis Metropolitan area for the greater part of my life. When Michael Brown, Jr. was murdered by Darren Wilson–five years ago yesterday–there was no part of me that questioned why he killed him. None!

I have seen first hand how and why the police departments in St. Louis City and County treat Black people, and people of color. I have seen how police officers were used, are used to intimidate, corral, and control Black people and people of color! I have seen White officers in Black neighborhoods, and never felt protected.  I have seen the extent police officers in this region will reach to in order to protect their own. Or, when they must control the social narrative.

I have seen the farce that is Blue Lives Matter. The flag is toliet paper. Tell a friend.

When Wesley Bell won this election last year against Robert ‘Bob’ McColloch, my heart was overwhelmed. But, I had no peace. I had no peace because this is, still is, Missouri–or as some people refer to it as Mississippi North. There are still towns in this state I do not feel comfortable driving in, through or towards because of the general feeling of distrust, fear and unease! The fact is, this police officer killed this young man. He killed him because pro-police culture, city government indifference, and the fact Bob McCulloch’s father was supposedly killed on duty–by a Black man no less? Oh, why would Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson Police Department with White police chief Tom Jackson, with County Prosecutor McCulloch in office not think he would be protected?

As it was with the first chattel slaves beaten on whims; to slaves raped and murdered; to slave patrols and klansmen whom have day jobs as law enforcement, murder of Black men by nefarious men with social clout is not new! Police officers are not an endangered, as the token Black pundit, Candace Owens, is paid to say. The lies police officers tell to control the narrative are endangered! The worship of law enforcement as an unquestionable entity is endangered!

Police are being questioned, and people are not liking their answers. People are questioning the merit, skillsets and honor of those called to protect and serve:  who do neither!

I am not shocked that Ferguson exploded. It was time. It has been time. I regret the circumstances. I regret the fires. I regret the loss of faith in the police. But I do not regret being angry! I do not regret being vocal, for marching or for being on the ground! I do not telling a White woman in Webster Groves, Missouri this:

“Wait until they kill your son! You have no problems, ma’am. You wake White ma’am! You wake White!”

I make no apologies for being angry.

This young man was old enough to be my brother. Or son! As a mother, I could never have sat in the house as this unfolded around me and my surrounding community. We have every right as a people to be enraged! We are no longer pleading for attention, and sometimes a riot is the best way to let people know you are no longer playing with them!

It is not longer okay to kill men, women and children whom are Black and think no one is going to say something! We are tired of seeing our children become ancestors due to the zeal and impunity of badged Reapers! The police are not the keepers of a city–the people are.

I want Wesley Bell to reopen this case. I want to know exactly what Bob McCulloch told the grand jury that made them think this was okay; why he never challenged Darren Wilson on the lies he told; I want him to slap Tom Jackson with the things he hates:  facts. I want the lawyers that lied for McCulloch to be disbarred!

I want the wrath of the law to be felt by the powerful! What better way to demonstrate that power than to confront a chief tenet of white supremacy:  police officers. You cannot kill with impunity. You cannot serve at convenience. Protection does not make exemptions for race, and Blue lives don’t exist.

If your protection and service are steeped in racism, which dehumanizes me or invalidates my life along with those I love, a riot should be the least of your worries.

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BH90210: Who Asked For This?!

If you are a girl of a certain age, you already know who is missing. Who is it? Exactly.

First off, lemme say this: I was about 10 when the first permutation of Beverly Hills 90210 aired. I started watching it because that’s what every girl in Lowell Elementary School was watching! I could not suffer to be left out!

I remember my mother telling me that the show was ‘too grown’ for me. But, by the time I was 10, 11, I knew what sex was! I knew I couldn’t have it. But I knew my Mama didn’t want me to see Marky Mark drop his pants (thank you to Queyonna M. Barnes, my fifth grade best friend, for showing me his Calvin Klein ad in the magazine she had!) and I knew whatever she didn’t want me to see in him, she didn’t want me to see in the show!

This is the cast I remember–with Dylan.

With that said, I don’t know why Fox execs thought revamping this 20 some years later would be a good idea! I mean Dylan McKay made the damn show! Luke Perry is dead! Like?! I remember being caught up on whether or not you were a #TeamDylan girl or a #TeamBrandon girl! This was waaay before Twilight! I was always #TeamBrandon. But, let’s focus.

I think that this is a check grab. I really do! As memory serves, these this is where life left this squad:

-David and Donna got married

-Brenda is in London

-Kelly IS A THOT: she slept with her best friend’s man (Brandon and Dylan were best friends! Brandon and Brenda are twins–Kelly slept with her brother! Trollop!)

-Steve (who also slept with Kelly!) got married or in a committed relationship with a chick and had a daughter.

-Dylan was involved in mob stuff and his wife got killed and he left Beverly Hills.

-Brandon proposed to Kelly, but I don’t remember if they ever got married.

-Gabrielle Carteris’s character? Chile, I don’t even remember her name on the show! She left after the first season. I remember her coming back, but what I most remember? She had feelings for Brandon and never acted on them!

-Kelly? Chile. Look. Whatever peen she wasn’t chasin, she was ridin! She broke Girl Code by banging best friend! And her brother! Like, BIHH! Stop it! Coochie is not a buffet! It is not for everyone!

Will I be watching this? Even as a mockumentary? No. There is no Dylan, and Brenda is the definition of entitled bitch, and Kelly never deserved Brandon. There I said it! Ain’t no body ask for this, so I cannot devote any time to this.

Y’all watch it for me, hear? Thank you.

I Thought About Buying A Bulletproof Backpack For My Sixth Grade Daughter.

 

Streetwise Emoji Bulletproof Backpack Yellow

*This cheery backpack is available on Amazon for $223.95. It is available for Amazon Prime shipping. You’re welcome.

 

I had a two month fight with my husband about why our almost 12-year-old daughter needed a cell phone.

I will be honest, I didn’t want to weigh in about this. I really did not. I wanted to glaze over this, and let someone else speak about this topic. However, when I come across things that are uncomfortable*? I am going to write about it anyway.

As I have said before, I am of that dubious class of 1999. I was in my Spanish III class when the shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, CO happened. I remember watching the news my Senior year at Jennings Senior High on April 20th. As a 17-year-old kid, I couldn’t/didn’t know how to process what the hell I was seeing! If I’m honest, my mother didn’t have time or the vernacular to tell me about her concerns. Meanwhile, I had a sister whom was a high school Freshman, and a brother that was in sixth-grade.

My! Look how life comes full circle.

My oldest daughter is now in sixth grade, and I am twenty years out of the halls of Jennings Senior High School. Since my graduation a score ago, there have been so many more school shootings…and the most devastating one was at Sandy Hook Elementary. Adam Lanza killed what is equivalent to a classroom full of children.

Children, who now in some cases, are old enough to be my children’s age.

In the rush, with the rush as most parents are familiar with, we are in the thick of getting things ready for them to go to school. This means we are getting all the things on these exorbitant  lists so the kids can have all they need. The one thing we have always done for our kids is let them pick their own backpacks. 

The can be as plain or outrageous as they want! This year as we finished shopping, I thought about the backpacks that are $200. They are $200 because they are bulletproof. That word ‘bulletproof’ was bitter in my mouth, and drying to my throat! I thought for a moment about getting my children one. I truly did, and still am.

One of my jobs as a parent, as a mother is to protect my children. I’m a Mama Bear! I have to and always will take care of my Baby Bears! In conjunction with thinking of buying this backpack which is the equivalent of a cell phone bill (or half a car payment), I thought of getting her a phone.

My husband said she was ‘too young’. But I told him this:

“She’s about to be 12. The world is crazy!”

 

The world is crazy.

It shook me how a cell phone was a luxury when I was in high school, to a necessity before she can get high school! I was struck that I had to argue with him about it! This is the reality of the world we currently live in. And it made me so scared for her, and my younger daughter. As a mother, I have to deflect or subvert those types of fears. But this one was persistent!

My dark fear is my babies not coming home to me because someone had a bad day.  If someone is mad their sibling is dating interracially. If they feel that there weren’t enough girls that like them. If they lost their job to someone that didn’t look like them! My fear is my babies being okay! Or being able to tell me they are okay if they are huddled in a bathroom because a monster has an assault rifle!

If a $200 backpack or an iPhone will alleviate that stress? And protect them? So be it.

 

This is parenting in the new millennium in America.

 

I Have Surrendered To The Air To Ride It.

Image result for toni morrison freedom quote

 

I was about 15 when I discovered Toni Morrison.

In my fury of reading ‘dark’ literature, romance and horror, I found her. There was a girl in my Spanish I class that had a copy of The Bluest Eye. I read the back of it, and was enthralled. However, how our high school was set up, I never got the chance to take the class this classmate did.

In my house, there were more books than television sets. At any of my maternal aunts’ houses I visited for that matter, there were books. Harlequin. Avon books. Encyclopedias. Langston Hughes. Toni Morrison. The first book I saw of hers was at my Aunt Stella’s house:  Sula. 

I finally read The Bluest Eye in my early twenties. I read her next to last book, Home, before I got a chance to read God Bless The Child. I had a habit of lending out my books, and sadly, due to this generosity, I lost a swath of my books. Most of them, by Toni Morrison. Thank God for Amazon, and Amazon Prime’s ability to replenish a library!

I found a home in Toni Morrison, I believe, due to her age and her physical resemblance to my maternal grandmother. I knew that Mother Morrison was getting older, and I knew she would pass away, but this loss? Her loss? It feels as if the world has gotten all the more dimmer. There is more of a chill to my day. There feels like there is all the more, that much more, lack in the world.

The one thing that I have to remember is writing, being a writer, carries its own immortality! Right now, I can go to a library, a book store, or the retail monster known as Amazon and find her!  I can find her imagination present in fictitious people or  in essays of power and substance. She may be lost, but she is not lost to time! In this, for this reason, am I comforted.

The question is now, how shall we proceed? We have long held up the artists of our parents’ and even grandparents’ generation. We have lauded over them, and protected their memories, with no thought of who will come after them! I understand (and it goes without saying) no one can be Toni Morrison. But what I can say is there are a generation of writers she inspired. Another generation of writers both/all Black, female, woman whom are grateful to her. Whom are steadied by the volume of her work, and whom now, I hope, shall be brave enough to put pen to paper. This is what I want…I want the work of writing to continue! From the accomplished novelists and essayist, to the young girl starting her first journal.

I want the work of writing to continue. This is how best to honor this giant of a woman is to have her spark, remind, invoke, provoke the writers whom will add to the canon of this glorious genre of Black literature.

As her body as surrendered, doing all it was purposed, let us be reminded of her quote in Song Of Solomon:

“If you surrender to the air, you can ride it.”

 

Ride the air, dearest ones. Ride the air.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gay Panic Defense Is Trash. Don’t At Me.

 

 

 

 

 

As with all matters of transparent fairness, I must say this piece is written from the vantage point of a cis-gender, heterosexual woman. In that privilege, I have to chosen to express my frank opinion about this matter. Blessings, JBHarris

 

I have never understood the phrase ‘Gay Panic Defense.’ Sure, my first language is English–and I read and write it well. I even make a modest living, deriving from my dexterity of these 26 letters. So, I know what all three words mean. What I do not understand is the continued fear and stigma around liking what you like.

This is definition is taken from The LGBT Bar:

The gay and trans “panic” defense is a legal strategy which asks a jury to find that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for the defendant’s violent reaction, including murder. It is not a free standing defense to criminal liability, but rather a legal tactic which is used to bolster other defenses. When the defense is employed, the perpetrator claims that their victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity not only explains – but excuses – their loss of self-control and subsequent assault. By fully or partially acquitting the perpetrators of crimes against LGBTQ+ victims, this defense implies that LGBTQ+ lives are worth less than others.

One of the most recognized cases that employed the gay “panic” defense was that of Matthew Shepard. In 1998, Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old college student, was beaten to death by two men. The men attempted to use the gay “panic” defense to excuse their actions. Despite widespread public protest, the defense is still being used today.

How is the defense used in court?

Traditionally, the gay and trans “panic” defense has been used in three ways to mitigate a case of murder to manslaughter or justified homicide.

I was a high school Senior when Matthew Shephard was murdered in Wyoming. I still do not understand why he is dead. As a mother now, of children only years younger than the age Matthew will eternally be, I teach them to treat people as they would like to be treated. I tell them that if someone is gay or trans, you respect them as people! We forget that part. Despite religious affiliations, or dogma. I make no bones about being a woman of faith, in believing in God. The thing, the last thing, that Christ told His followers to do before He left, was to love one another.

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” -New Living Translation; The Book of John, Chapter 13, verse 34.

Before I can open my mouth about you to say what I think about you, I have to love you. My faith demands that I do!

This defense makes me uncomfortable as a cis woman! It makes me uncomfortable because no one should have the right to correlate their violence to someone’s sexual orientation or gender expression–it shouldn’t ‘provoke’ them to violence as if there was no other recourse. As if harming someone was all one could to preserve life and safety. That is trash. It is trash logic. It is a trash defense, and anyone that uses it in defense of killing another person is trash!

What happened to just letting people live as they wish, and leaving them as you found them? If you were out with a transwoman and she didn’t tell you who she is right off, and you ‘find out’ in intimate situations? If that’s not what you’re into, leave her alone. Be a decent enough person, possessing enough self-control to leave people alone! If you as straight man has a gay man hits on you, you don’t have to assault him! You have the option of walking away. There is no need to hurt, maim, assault or people because they aren’t what you want. Or what you think they should be!

On the documentary The Life And Death of Marsha P. Johnson, Victoria Cruz, a worker for AVP in New York, talked about how one individual upon meeting someone at a gay bar (I believe it was a transwoman), and this man killed her–using the Gay Panic Defense. And got off! Perhaps it is my critical and empathetic nature that will not allow me to hurt someone in this fashion. Have I had gay women, transmen hit on me? Yes. Did I verbally assault them or make them leave the world by my hand? Not at all.

There is a power in controlling your emotions in stressful situations. Every situation doesn’t require a response of physical violence! Some actions are better received when you do nothing. When you see a situation for what it is, and not add more to it. I get that not everyone is taught that grace. However, actions have consequences–and you don’t get to pick them.

Being gay or being transgender/of trans-experience isn’t a viral contagion where you have to kill the host! This nation needs to stop acting like it. Don’t blame your bigotry on your paranoia, anxiety and the ‘might be’! You don’t get to take someone out the world because you ‘think’ their sexual orientation deceived you, or made you uncomfortable! Best advice for unwanted advances? Thanks, but no thanks.

Don’t take the drink, or send it back. Don’t smile back. Don’t go home with anyone. And above all,  keep your hands to yourself. The gay aggressor troupe is a myth, and it’s inflammatory. Lastly, if another man seeming to be inappropriate, don’t watch any professional sport where ass slapping occurs. Do better, fam. We have to do better.

 

 

 

Lela. Nicole. Antoine. NO.

 

 

 

 

 

By now, dear ones, you have read a piece of my reaction to this Lela-Antoine-Nicole debacle on Runitback Friday on The Ideal Firestarter. Here now, I am going to lean in a little more.

I want to look at the something I believe that is missed in all of this. Hear me out.

Lela Rochon is a gorgeous woman, married to a man that does not seem to value her. She has raised children, has a career and is struggling with a chronic illness:  Lupus. According to gossip sources, her husband, Antoine Fuqua, has fathered two children outside of their relationship. Now, this here would be enough for me to leave. Flat out. But, I am not Lela; Lela doesn’t know me. But I do know how hard it is to be married, my dude. Especially to someone that seems to get off on how bad they can treat you.

With that said, I remember how gorgeous she was when she was a younger woman. For me, the greatest thing we as women can do is age. In that aging, we can either welcome it or dread it. However, Nicole Murphy, like Lela Rochon, is in her 50’s. For the blessing of money and melanin, they are aging well. But, let me remind you that the cosmetics industry is a billion dollar business.

As a woman, if you have a flaw (real, imagined or manufactured), there is a procedure, cream or camouflage for it. Women are in the constant pursuit of pretty–it’s a consequence of capitalism and patriarchy.  However, with that said, the onus of this situation is not Nicole Murphy. I blame Antoine!

Why do I blame him?

Antoine is the one married to Lela. Antoine is the one that decided to marry her. Antoine wanted to life with her. Have children with her. He wanted to be with her. He decided he wanted more, and wanted all those that would throw drawls at him! I don’t know the extent of the relationship beyond this kiss seen by more than half the English-speaking planet, but I have been a woman for a while now. I have been a wife, a side-chick, the scorned wife, and the girlfriend who tried to become a wife. So, let me see what that swath of experience can and will add.

First, you cannot make any one love you.

Second, you cannot make anyone stay with you.

Third, more sex doesn’t always alleviate or solve problems within a relationship.

Fourth, more sex with other people doesn’t solve problems you have within yourself.

Fifth, you can be inside someone–or in their very presence–and not have you.

Sixth, people do what they deem important.

Seventh, people do what you let them do.

Eighth, being beautiful does not exempt you from heartache, loneliness or loss.

Ninth, marriage is not for everyone.

Tenth, if you do not value yourself, no one else will.

 

I have been Nicole.

I have been Lela.

I have dated men like Antoine, and married one.

These things may seem simple or even mundane, but I have been the wife that was cheated on. I was the girlfriend that held on to a man that didn’t know what he wanted. I’ve been the wife that tried to hold it all other while being broken and bleeding! I have been the girl who was texted in the middle of the night, or met in secret places. I have been the one that texted in the middle of the night. I have heard the conversations men in my life had when they thought no one was listening.

I have heard how some of these men said how they didn’t like how their wives or girlfriends’ bodies changed. They didn’t like how nothing ‘snapped back’ right away. How they wished they hadn’t had kids, or they didn’t ‘know’ their bodies would ‘change like that.’

Is Nicole Murphy blameless? No, of course not. However, what I see is a woman that still has her own issues she is dealing with. That she is striving to fill in the most pleasurable way known. The need to be desired, wanted and touched is normal. Nicole is not the first woman to feel an ache with a man–and she shant be the last. With that said, it is easy to call her the harlot, the whore or Jezebel. The expectation among women is that there this code that other people’s husbands are off limits! Especially, if these are women you know.

But what must be understood, is Antoine knew he was married when he kissed this woman. The fact of this matter is–he didn’t care. You cannot reason with that. In the age of Black presidents and Black Girl Magic, we still are holding women to a standard that men seem to be exempt from.

I wish Lela all the love and light God can give, because at some point? You have to choose you, and love you, more than another person.