Week 12-Reaching For Stars

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“No woman has ever written enough.”

-Bell Hooks

 

In 4 weeks, I will be a college graduate. In 4 weeks, I will be headed towards taking my GRE, with laser focus on graduate school. All while trying to a mother, a wife and a writer always.

This week, I had a bout of serious self-doubt. I mean, serious self-doubt! Not even for talent, ability or time. I thought it would be safer to not apply to the doctoral program–and just apply for my MFA. Writing is clearly my destiny, teaching is something I am good at–but all I could think of was, “What if I don’t get in?!”

Then, in stepped Dr. Drucilla Wall.

On Thursday, while looking over, analyzing the work of Flannery O’Connor, Dr. Wall, in the way the Galadriel, the Elf Queen in Lord of the Rings helps Frodo, she reminded us of the responsibilities we have–we have!–as writer. Dr. Wall told us about how Willa Cather burned the rest of her work, and her partner may or may not have saved some of it. I was reminded that Margaret Mitchell asked her husband, Dennis, to burn the manuscript for Gone With The Wind. I thought of the Black women writers whom were looked over twice because of things they were unable to control:  sex and race.

Dr. Wall reminded us to write, to value what we create. Value thought, making time for the mind as her husband, Dr. Amon Wall says. It was then, that I decided upon my passing, that I would have to leave record. I would have to keep my journals (electronic and written). My drafts. My poems. I, once more, was encouraged by Dr. Wall’s words. Which means, I will be reaching out to my professional mentor, Dr. Kimberly Welch.

There is a longing in me that desires to create, to be heard–stretching this gift to its capacity. I also know that there are things which I still struggle with in regards to my academic destiny as well. At 16, I wanted my doctorate in English. That is now within striking distance.  I know that teaching at a collegiate level was something I wanted to do. And still desire to do. But what cannot be dismissed is I am still a writer. I still have more to say. I need to say more.

I am taking a deep breath. I am putting faith in God and self, and going forward. I am looking at doctoral programs. I am going to give my writing sample. I am in all in.

I am all in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Movie Review: HARRIET

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I will admit this to you, dearest ones.

I wanted to go see Harriet, but I was scared. I was! I truly was. I knew that I was going to go, but there was a fear in me. I knew who Harriet Tubman was. I knew who Harriet Tubman is. I also know she died at 91 on the same day my mother would be born on not even 50 years later.

To be exact:  it was 37 years later.

I have felt a kinship to this woman all of my life!

I wanted this woman, this woman whom I considered a part of my family, of the bloodline that gave me my mother, to be honored right. I needed that. I needed this biopic to be honest, genuine and let’s face it–magical. 

I watched this movie with my daughters, whom are biracial and my husband whom is so apologetically Black. From the outset of this movie, from the music and the first shot of the movie–I wanted to cry.

I wanted to cry because I was transported.

I saw the heart of the director beating in every shot of this movie. The director, Kasi Lemmon, is from St. Louis. As am I. I understand that Harriet Tubman’s womanhood, her humanity, is not often discussed when her biography is told. I know she was married; I knew she was a conductor for the Underground Railroad; I knew she was a Union spy, suffered from epilepsy and narcolepsy from a weight being thrown at her–cracking her skull when she was about 13.

I knew this as walking around knowledge. I knew this woman as if she were my own grandparent. As if she were my grandmother, not the one I had–Arceal.

In seeing this movie, how Kasi Lemmon wove the fiction into the historical into the research, my heart soared! I felt like I, too, was in the movie. That I was transported not even 200 years past the Emancipation, towards and in a world that me being Black equated to captivity. A world where the children that I bore to their White father would have been considered property and their mother property as well.

I saw Harriet Tubman not as just an ‘American legend’, but a damn superhero! There was something to seeing this woman, this woman I had only seen in my imagination and history books, movies provided by my mind’s eye, embodied in the dynamic Cynthia Erivo. In seeing her, seeing Harriet, seeing my ancestor-mother (the woman that crossed over on the day God would give me my mother), appearing in the doors of an Underground Railroad station with groups of people–weary, wounded and tired. But free!

But free! The movie shows her.  

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Her missions, her family, the risks she took, what she lost, the master-slave dynamics and politics–it’s all here.  At the end of the movie, we have facts concerning the rest of her life post-Underground Railroad. Things that I knew, even the raid she headed with the Union Army in 1863!

It’s there. It’s all there. Even if there is some things that are embellished for the sake of movie magic. It didn’t even matter.

It didn’t matter.

I cried.

My daughter held on to me, to hold me up. Every part of me descended from women whom were stolen, men that were lynched, and the people who couldn’t and didn’t read and would die not knowing their descendant would master 26 letters of a language they were not born knowing when my line first started.

I wanted to cry. I wanted howl.

I mean howl like something in me had died…or was aching to get out. Her last words on this Earth, this Earth in those last days she couldn’t or didn’t walk on–yet she traversed, traveled and scorched for so many–she is recorded to have said, “I go to prepare a place for you.”

The tears I had swallowed, crested out of my eyes. And I pulled my body straight and I cried. I did the ‘Mama cry.’ Meaning I cried a little bit, until I could cry a whole lot, and keep going.

But thinking, in looking in hindsight, I wondered what Harriet, what my ancestor-mother, the one that crossed over  on the day my mother would be given to me, felt. What she saw. And in the midst of loss–how she kept going.

I looked at my daughters, square in the face, and told them to never let anyone tell them what they cannot do. Ever. It was then where this woman, utterly formidable, became as real to me as my mother, my aunts and grandmother.

This movie, for a moment, gave me a glimpse at my grandmother, my mother, and me. This movie, for an instant, gave me my grandmother back.

Harriet Tubman was a superhero. And it is time the world remembered that.

 

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Thank you, Harriet. Thank you, Mama. Thank you,Grandma. Thank you. 

 

[images from Google. The final photo is Harriet Tubman herself, at age 91.]

Week 11- Take A Deep Breath, And Look Around

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“Don’t die with your dream in you.”

-My Mom, Bessie Bush

My chord for Sigma Tau Delta will be arriving soon. I have to order my stole for my father’s fraternity will be ordered next week. I have my cap, gown, with tassel on said cap, hanging up in my hall closet.

I checked my grades after midterm and I have 1 A and 2 B’s–which may turn into 3 A’s. Right now? Your girl is coasting!

I am 6 weeks out from my degree, going back to work full time, and from taking the GRE for grad school.

This week, I am taking the time to count up the wins. My wins. I’m forgiving myself for what I did, should have done, and what I knew I should have done before now.

Y’all know the story.

I’ve been writing since 8. Wanted to be an English professor at 16. Wanted to go to NYU. Mom said she wouldn’t pay. My Dad died at 17. In abusive relationship for 3 years. At 22, I couldn’t write. Met a guy that started my heart–and gift–again.

Got married to a dude I didn’t really love like I should have. He got mad at me reading for fun, for finishing my education. For keeping myself up. Had not 1 but 2 kids by a dude that–and I promise this is true–had to cheat to get his GED!

My heart wanted to write. But I had to feed my kids. I ran after being a nurse from 18 to 33.

I journaled to keep my sanity.

I took English classes to offset the rigor of the science I took.

And now? I’m back where I am supposed to be. Should have been. Need to be. Needed to be.

I am a woman of faith, so I believe in destiny. I believe in the plan of God for my life, and have seen it work in these last 11 weeks. I have seen my destiny wide, and sweet an.

Always On Pointe, Black Girl…

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“Black women take care of Black women.” -Ashley Yates

 

Always.

she has been the chic,

the sturdy,

the fresh,

and fly one–

trendsetting as sunsets,

as bold as full moons.

Never stopping to check

for whom is not checking

for her.

In this body, walking

through this world as

magic, melanin, and millenniums

the rocks cry out

for me, for us, and the we

hidden in the magic

of our wombs.

It is the grace of our feet

and the rhythm in our sway

which carry us towards destiny

and the legacy meant for us.

Unmovable.

Unshakable.

Believing in us and each other.

Always.

-JBHarris, 10.15.19

 

This poem will be included in the new book–For A Black Girl, release for June 2020.

[image from the Facebook page Black Positivity by Kimmie Carlos]

Week 8- Get In Where You Fit In

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“I’m just trying to be me…”

-Lil Kim

 

This week was hard, loves.

When I started this week? There was all matter of dopeness! And as the week ends? I almost have a panic attack.

Why?

Money.

It always, always, always comes down to money.

These past 8 weeks have been something serious! I mean it truly has. When my husband told me to go back to school while I’m on this hiatus from work, I said why not. But in the ‘why not’ I knew that my financial aid was sketchy at worst and iffy at best! There were things that I needed to do–still haven’t done!–but this whole semester has been based in faith.

Let me tell you something. This how all this came to be.

I took a nursing exam for a LPN program and passed. Awesome! But, there are multiple hoops I had to jump through before I could ever start! One of them is I had to go through three interviews before I could even be let in! On top of paperwork, immunizations and other academic scrutiny. I was so frustrated. And I cried.

My husband, seeing me cry, offered that I should go back to school. Finish the English degree. In the course of a Saturday afternoon this happened–

I got a degree audit. I was able to reapply to my program. I only needed 9 hours, not the 12. This meant I could graduate in December. In reapplying, I got to start in Fall 2019, not Spring 2020. I started class that Tuesday. 

I believe that God was tired of me fearing what it is I was supposed to do:  I am a writer, not a scientist.

I am a healer of a different source…and that is okay.

 

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The dope thing that happened this week:

My professor, Dr. Welch, put me up on game. She asked me after turning in my second reflection paper, she asked if I was an undergrad student or graduate student (I’m an undergrad–last semester). Then she said this:

“I don’t know what your life journey includes, but you should consider grad school.”

You have to know what this means. A Black professor, of English, saw a Black student–and her promise–and told her to dream. Bruh! Not even dream, but prepare to take over! She told me that there is a way to complete my Master’s degree, and get paid to finish my doctorate. As a Black woman, in doing being in halls of academia–like a college–that would allow me to be in a space of influence that just being a freelance writer cannot touch.

Besides, the goal of the artist is to disturb the peace. What better way to do that than by degree at a time?

 

I’m A Dean Girl…Always.

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I’m an unbashed Fangirl.

From the moment I saw Dean Winchester in his leather jacket, forest green eyes, and driving that 1967 Black/Black Chevrolet Impala? He had me.

Completely.

I remember watching the Route 666 episode in Season 1 and was thrilled. Why? I called my best friend DiAndra at work and screamed this in the phone:

“Sis, Dean likes Chocolate! Dean likes Chocolate!”

I remember she had no idea what I was talking about, until she remembered that it was Thursday–and who Dean was. Who is Chocolate you ask? Oh, that was the girl he proposed to–Callie. She was Black. Even now, I sniggle hardcore when I hear uber confident Beckys sound in the belief that White men don’t like Black girls. And when they reconnected on that episode? Chile, lookahere. You couldn’t tell me Callie’s back wasn’t broken and her legs didn’t wobble. Why is that? I would have worn that green-eyed monster out!

Dean has BDE. Look it up. Let’s move on…

I have seen his character go from this slick, boyish–slut (I mean let’s be honest! Dean has a body count like an assassin on him), to this sentient, compassionate man. As a fan of his, as he is (one of ) the husband of my imagination–to an evercrush. I’m always going to be a Dean girl. And ergo, a fan of Jensen Ackles:  now a married man, and father of three. Yes, I follow him on Instagram. When I saw him shave his hiatus beard for this last season?

I whistled. Yes, I did. The old boy still has it.

With the Supernatural series coming to an end after 15 years, I had to think about the life I have lived parallel to it. I got married and divorced. Became a mother, twice over. I lost my grandmother, got remarried, started writing again, all while battling depression. Dean and Sam were the highlights of my week sometimes, and it feels right to say good-bye to him. These fifteen seasons feel right.

As a Black girl that loves a good story and boyish charm, I can let him ago. At least for a little while. There’s still binging to do on Netflix.

Click here for a fan video that only seems as gift now.

Jensen Ross Ackles is a gift. He is the first man I ever saw without a shirt (Eric Roman Brady, Days Of Our Lives–I was 15). And seeing him as Jason Teague (Smallville) and that stint he had on Dawson’s Creek–I was thrilled to see him Supernatural. It was my crush on him that got me over being in love with someone else. 

The top image is from Season 1 of Supernatural. And is one of my first favorite pictures of Dean/ Jensen.

Thank you to all the actors, directors, writers, set designers, editors, PAs, researchers, copywriters and all other staff that made this show possible. Thank you.

 

 

 

The Beginning Of The End

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Fifteen years, y’all.

Fifteen seasons.

Tonight. Tonight? It is the beginning of the end. The show that reminded me that horror writing is a skill, is ending.

Mane.

My boys–my boys–Dean and Sam–are leaving!

I remember the first episode of this show. I remember watching it my mom’s house, and knew I would love it. There was a grit to it, an underground nature to it, that made me want to watch it every week. Why? This line here:

“Dad’s on a hunting trip. He hasn’t been home in a couple days.”

At this point, at that moment, I was in love with Dean Winchester. I was in love with this show. I was enraptured by the writing–becoming a fan of Eric Kripke and Sera Gamble. The imagination, the reading, the lore and the walking around knowledge this writing staff has?! These were my people! These were my people.

I remember taking off work to make sure I could watch season premieres, and season finales! I remember telling my bosses I couldn’t work on Thursdays! I wrote fanfiction, I live Tweeted and texted with my best friends. I was a card carrying #DeanGirl. And still am.

For fifteen years, these guys were apart of my life. I was pregnant with my oldest daughter at the beginning of Season 2. I had my youngest two years later. I had gotten married and divorced by the time Dean had been to Hell, Purgatory and Sam killed Lucifer with The Colt.

I remember when Chuck came on the show when I started nursing school! I saw Jared and Jensen get married–and be Daddies! I stepped away from the show a while working, writing and building my own stuff.

I knew it was ending…and knew it would have to end. They’ve killed Sam and Dean at least 4 times. Especially, Sam. I mean, Dean killed his own daughter! I mean, where else can you go? I mean–I’m a writer. I know it could keep going. But I know it can’t.

Am I sad? No.

I’m amazed. I remember when the show was almost cancelled because of viewership! I remember Googling legends and stories the show featured (I looked up what a rougarou was!). It pushed me as a writer. It reminded me not to shut down what my imagination saw. Dark or light.

The show reminded me that I can love Jesus and the things that go bump in the night.

Remember y’all:  Driver chooses the music, passenger shuts his cakehole.

 

[image is fanart from aliexpress.com]