The End Of An Era

Please pick up a copy of THOUGHTS IN A PANDEMIC on Amazon. Click here to grab it.

Grimy shoes, warn out badge and a global pandemic. But I made it. TGBTG.

I am the daughter and goddaughter of nurses. I am a writer with a day job as a CNA. I am a mother who is a writer, whose day job was a CNA. My last day as a CNA was May 26, 2021. My last position was at a local hospital, and I started there at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. I can tell you this–I have worked in Level 1 Trauma Hospitals and Medicaid facilities. I can tell you this was something I never would have believed had I not been thought it in these cranberry colored scrubs.

When I started, I thought I wouldn’t survive it. Honestly, I was scared. I had children that needed me, and a marriage that was ending. All I could do was call my mother–whom was as nurse when AIDS hit. I was meticulous about my house cleaning, laundry, and wearing my masks at work and when I left work. I even thought about nursing school again! I even got accepted.

Then, the aches started. The pains were more insistent. There was no staff on my floor. There was management that didn’t care, and I heard management talk about how they ‘were tired of all these protests’ , and ‘I’m tired of hearing about Black Lives Matter.’ Then, my heart flutters started. Again. And the stress of this job was getting to me. Being the supergirl at work was making me tired–and making me ill!

I wasn’t here for my kids, and for the want of money–I was going to try to do nursing again. For them.

My final nights at work…whoo whee.

My best friend has been trying to get me off the floor for the past 5 years, as of this month, I have been a CNA for 7 years. And through her tenacity, and my education, I started a new gig.

At a desk.

During daylight hours.

And my kids see me when I am awake and aware! In moving into this side of healthcare, I am humbled. I am scared. I am now at a place where I can work on my writing and have a life as well. I can say now, with confidence, I am a retired CNA. I am a retired CNA.

This profession–and it is a profession!–has taught me more than people think it would! I have seen people at their worse, them dying, and at their absolute worst–and still have to care for them. It’s thankless, back-breaking, and we are not paid enough. Not nearly enough. For what it is I want to do, nursing can’t hold that. It cannot, and will not!

I am thankful for the new position. I am thankful for the new opportunities, and I am thankful that the Lord has freed me up in this manner to do what I need, what I must. Besides, I had ‘office hours’ for the hours between 10p-4p anyway! And now? I can have a writing schedule…like normal people.

Besides, there’s a story in this. Sure is!

My Mood Is Simone Biles

My mood is Simone Biles.

I know who I am

Among a set of people

And circumstances who

See both skin and mouth

As problem.

I do what I know

I can, and make no apology/I don’t smile.

Why?

My mood is Simone Biles.

“Smiling doesn’t win championships.”

I soar.

I tumble.

I see the world

From the vantage point

Of eagles.

With bare feet

With no hair

Out of place.

I am between sky and ground.

Needing the approval of no one.

My mood is Simone Biles.

I reverse twist on naysayers.

Vault over the negligent

Powered by ignorance

Landing in the promised place

Whispered about by ancestors

Lead by the conductor with

Both gun and lantern.

I cannot be held where there are none who can compete.

My landings are meant to stick, unwavering.

My leaping meant to jolt,

My run meant to scare.

You did all could

To stop me—-but I am still here.

My mood is Simone Biles.

(c) JBHarris, 2021

HAPPY BIRTHDAY EVE: Reflections At 40 (Part 1)

This lip made me feel unstoppable.

At this point, I can say my 30’s have taught me a lot. I know how you flip bills, drive in snow and how to always keep deodorant in my purse. On this day, the farewell of my 30’s, I am unsure if I can say that I am grown. I’m still not sure what that means or what it looks like! But yet, I am.

I’m a grown woman—with teenagers, rent and a car payment. In five years, I’ll have a 19-year-old and a 17-year-old. I’m accepting that I’m a divorcée—and own my part in the ending of both marriages.

BOTH. MARRIAGES.

My thoughts going into my fourth decade of life, in this fortieth trip around the sun, I am thrilled. And…settled. I am more me than I thought I was.

I am no longer shrinking.

No longer whispering.

I am no longer concerned with people who don’t matter to me.

This birthday is a milestone because I have made milestones. Out of those, bridges over waters I didn’t always trouble. Yet, I’m not afraid to cause trouble.

I got my own bail money now.

The End Of An Era & The Brilliance of Ryan Murphy

The Category is: Trans Representation — “Pose” Review | by Micah Glidewell  | incluvie | Medium

First: Billy Porter is everything! Now, with that said, let me get to a proper reflection.

I loved POSE from the first episode of Season 1, Episode 1 when the Mary Jane Girls were singing IN MY HOUSE. I got into the show after Funky Dineva’s review of the show on his YouTube Channel. I loved it! I loved it! I don’t know what I am going to do on my Sundays with this being gone! But, perhaps, I am getting ahead of myself.

One of the things that I loved about POSE was the unapologetic nature of the show! How good the storytelling is! And how bomb Elektra is! I am fan of this show and a fan of Ryan Murphy because POSE is the continuation of what PARIS IS BURNING truly was! There are no caricatures in this show! There is nothing forced in this show, a cis-het woman, it has forced me to confront any biases I have, see exactly the world that transwomen have been going through since FOREVER, and realize that the way I felt when Candy was murdered by a trick when she was only trying to take care of her House? The way I cried with that? This is how transwomen feel when another transwoman they know is murdered for just being themselves!

Shows like POSE are needed because representation matter! Ryan Murphy with the help of Janet Mock and Jennie Livingston, and the other excellent staff kicked in the door of FX! They were just what the world needed right now, and for three seasons, he GAVE all of that to us–every ounce!

I cannot wait to see what he does next! I cannot CANNOT wait!

Stanning Moments (in no particular order):

Besides, nothing will be as good as Damon reading Pray at the table when he found out him and Ricky were smashing! Whew, chile!

When Stan got Angel that condo and put him out of it when she was mad!

When Elektra and her House broke into that museum and took all the clothes!

When Papi and Angel first got together.

When Elektra and all the girls went to the rich man’s house for a weekend and he just wanted to be in latex in a garage.

WHEN ELEKTRA READ THAT BECKY SUE JANE DOE LIKE A DR. SUESS BOOK!

When Damon got into Dance school and joined Bianca’s House.

When Candy was haunting people, and the moment when her Dad and Mom.

When Elektra killed that man on accident at her job and went to get Candy at her job to help her.

For more, watch the show yourself. You won’t regret it.

[image from Medium.com]

White Women Know They Are Doing

Follow me on TikTok: @whatjayesaid

I saw this trend on TikTok starting the week of June 15, 2021. They claim that it’s just an acting tool. Who stupid?

in 2021, some white women are still doing what their lesser ancestor predecessors did—trying to make the world move by their tears. Once again on this free clock app, Becky Sue JaneDoes and all her little friends have decided to start this trend where they basically cry on queue and cut it off just as fast! Forgetting the Black bodies and blood both attached to said tears!

The cognitive dissonance on this app as a superpower!

When I first saw this trend earlier this week, I was taken aback. But not shocked.

And to be honest with you, even now, I can’t even say why I wasn’t shocked. Perhaps it’s because I’m well aware of my history—personal, national, and global. Simply put? Lying white women who cry are murderers: history was both dictated and recorded that.

History is deeper than my opinion.

I am no longer in a place of my own self discovery and acceptance by which White women calling me name can move me from my point! As I’ve said before, it is one thing to be an accomplice, it is another to be a performative ally!

This group of White women don’t even know what they started! They don’t even understand, neither can we conceive, but they just admitted to! And how tough their role is well which they now have to hoe! The fact of being in this tone deaf, and this ensconced in defending it? That’s a learned behavior.

Dressing up this up this trend as an acting as an exercise, “Black people are taking it too serious”, and they are not racist – – but those of us on this side? We see it differently. And it is that vision, powered by history, that is on our side! White women’s tears have been weapons to kill people, disenfranchise larger groups of minority people, rob opportunities, and generally make everybody else’s life hard!

That has always been a trend.

Brava Becky, Brava!

For The Culture: Bedknobs, Bonnets & Broomsticks-Part 1

Follow my favorite cousin (one of them!) on TikTok —@cfstory—for all other history tea. Thank you for all you do, Sis.

I’m still fine with my head wrapped up.

What do you think about his grapevine a debate in 2021 it’s just how crazy it got! This conversation about whether not black women should wear bonnets outside has sparked conversations of tone policing, generational trauma, misogyny, misogynoir, and beauty standards as a Black women.

This conversation has also led to that five-dollar word for policing: respectability.

In seeing this debate play out in real time, I cannot help but wonder and think about what I grew up with. My parents are both Baby Boomers. I was taught to be pretty my hair had to be straight a.k.a. ‘done’ and I couldn’t leave the house with my ‘hair wrapped up’. That was not allowed! My father, the proud Black man he was, knew the value of imagery and projection! The unwritten rule of Black girlhood—you can’t do what White girls do!

My father knew that in order to equip me for the world to handle the conscious and unconscious White Gaze was to give me a name first off that did not sound intimidating (read: sounded white) and be able to sculpt my growing up, and my aesthetic in such a way that I would be more palatable to white folks around me.

In the raising of being raised as the Respectable Black Girl, they were certain things I just knew I couldn’t do. And not just wearing bonnets outside! When Brandy Norwood in the mid-1990’s came out with her braids (Brandy Braids or Box Braids) I asked my parents if I could have them!

I was told no. I’m still not quite sure as to why I couldn’t get them. The Paul Mooney quote about White people being relaxed when your hair is relaxed comes to mind…

But yet in the comments section of some of these TikTok accounts and DM’s of their creators, is the dirtiest kind of war! There are Black folk fighting other Black folk like Voltron! They are fighting each other with the same slurs and coded language racist White people use to describe, discriminate against all of us!

From being told that Black women look ratchet, tacky, ghetto, unkempt and classless, to name a few. With the idea being, “When we go outside with bonnets, who’s gonna take you serious?Which leads to the other great debate (as always): what Black women do with their hair!

It was devastating to see other Black people denigrate, pile on, and rip apart Black women just because we choose to wear what we were we go outside. It just confirmed my deepest fear: There is no safe space to truly we just Black and woman! Now, I understand that Black people in this nation have been in a place where everything about us has been police or controlled—including how we look and how we look at ourselves.

The one thing that needs to happen to come back to civility, there has to is the radical accepting of self! This can only be done one life, one generation at a time! Even if I as a Black woman choose not to go outside with my hair wrapped up in certain cases, and then cannot judge another Black woman who does.

The world judges us both when they follow us through Macy’s anyway.

For The Culture—Why DMX Matters

“To live is to suffer.” -DMX

I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t wanna write this piece. Because I’m still quite upset that Earl Simmons is no longer in the world. I was a fan of DMX starting in high school in early college (late 1990’s, early 2000’s). I liked his gravely m voice, his linguistic dexterity, and he said exactly what he wanted to say! A trait every writer can get behind. But remember: rapping is still just poetry in its elements in at its function. Poems are just a form of quick storytelling – – so why would rap be any different?

And losing him, the world has lost something precious. We all know about the drug abuse, we know about all the kids, we know what the drama with his babies mothers—but he was talented!

He was worthy of love and to be appreciated just as he was. The one thing that makes me so irritated, that is so heartbreaking about his passing, is the world wanted to focus on his drug use, not his work. But this is always the case with Black artists who die before their primes—before truly realize their potential.

They are remembered for the tricks and traps of fame and fortune; those being used in trying to fill holes that they never fill, and didn’t cause. These traps are worse than anything the SAW universe could dream up!

But the one thing I can say that I miss about Earl Simmons, about DMX, is that they won’t be another one like him. And I’m glad things are being put in place now to put his work out. To release or we release songs in certain cases things to Swizz Beats.

Black artists matter. Rest in peace, Earl.

Real Spit: “Where You Been, Chick?”

I know, I know.

With everything going on in the world, and plus my own misgivings about my talent about recording it, giving commentary on it, I did not feel qualified to come to you all. And that said, I almost gave up writing, but truly I thought about it for a second. Trust, I thought about being able to keep up with the demands of time and space at this point! There are reaction pieces I haven’t even done yet because I didn’t think I was strong enough to do it. What are things about being a voice (and I can except that about myself now), is everybody wants to hear you.

Even when you can’t hear yourself.

Let me be real with you because we’re family. Your girl had a crisis of Imposter Syndrome. I can say that in all truth! Imposter syndrome is the insidious kind of depression you could ever have (in my opinion). This is from someone who suffers from episodic depression—I called them my ‘blue days’—that is a lot.

But what I have decided to do is take my own advice that is given to my writing clients: write through it.

Fight for the words!

Fight for the pages!

I fought to regain my strength and my voice! And I’ve done that. I had to do that! I cannot give up being Black, woman, and writer all at the same time! Only two of those things are immutable! I refuse to live without being all three!

Years ago, the Lord told me that I had a ‘nation in my belly’.

He was gonna make me ‘a voice, and not an echo!’

How humbling is that? And because of my finite understanding of the divine plan of the Almighty, I didn’t totally believe Him– – and now I do. And honoring my faith, in honoring my talents, I got to get back at it. So with that let me get back to work.

I love you all.

Did I Tell You About The Time I Almost Got Catfished?

Dating is dangerous, family!

In February 2020, I talked about how discouraged (read: afraid) I was to start dating after the ending after of this last relationship. Then…I got on Facebook dating on a whim. You favorite was (almost!) the victim of a catfish. So, I got brave and made a profile on Facebook Dating. I made one before, starting trying to date someone—and that fizzled as quickly as it started. After random men offering lackluster and fervent sexual favors, this guy calling himself Kenvy inboxed me.

This handsome somebody I am positive didn’t inbox me.

I admit it:  He was handsome. He was sweet. But something wasn’t right. Now, I am a fan of the Alice In Wonderland live action movie. There is a portion of the movie, near the end, where before Alice can defeat the Jabberwocky, she has to believe 6 impossible things. Now, I had to notice those same impossible things in  order to not be swept up in nonsense.

This dude, Kenvy, told me that he was a “USA Marine” and he was in Africa at the moment (Impossible Thing #1). No Marine I know says he’s a USA Marine.

This dude told me that he had a daughter named Berry (Impossible Thing #2) and her mother was not in her life. (Impossible Thing #3). We talked for two days, and he kept repeating himself (Impossible Thing #4). He sent me pictures, and asked me to download WhatsApp—I did. I mean, my best friend is on it! The app is free, too! So, I acquiesced because he was cute.

Aside A: This is the fly in the ointment, with me and ‘Kenvy’. I’m a writer. I am a student of history. I also have been researching romance scams for the past couple years. I am also fan of the MTV show Catfish. I am also a year from 40. I am not that easy to fool.

Harpo, who this man?!

We exchanged pictures. He told me after talking to me two days that I was what he wanted (Impossible Thing #4). Kenvy told me that I was beautiful, and he could see himself getting serious with me (keep in mind, we were only talking like 2 days—Impossible Thing #5). In sending him pictures, he even started dedicating songs to me! Bruh, slow up! One of those songs being Perfect by Ed Sheeran (Impossible Thing #6)!

Curiouser and curiouser…

Keep in mind Perfect was a song that has significant meaning—by someone incredible! But let’s keep going. The whole conversation felt rushed! I asked him when his deployment would be over. He said, “Next month.” At the time it was late April—the month of May was in literal DAYS. When I pressed for details, he couldn’t give any (Impossible Thing #7). I asked why I couldn’t hear his voice—he told me some BS reason that was so convoluted that even I can’t match it (Impossible thing #8). He said the reason why he couldn’t call me was because it wasn’t safe or secure (Okay, maybe.). Then he asked if I would be willing to give him my number to give to his commanding officer to have it be verified (Hell Nall! Impossible Thing #9 and #10).

WHAT DO I LOOK LIKE?!

So, all my antennae are up at this point!  I can’t hear his voice, sentence structure is off, he’s repeating himself, and the pictures he sent don’t jive with where he is supposed to be in the world. My immediate thought—I am being catfished.

Wanna know what I did next? I waited on him to ask me for money. I felt that was coming and intuition rarely fails. In two days, this cat is talking about marrying me, kids, and wanting to always be here for me.

Aside B: I am secretly fascinated by romance scams! I have been researching them for a while, because I wanted to know just how victims are sucked in! From that research, from that second hand knowledge, I was prepared.

I. Was. Prepared.

He texted me through this shady ass app, and the dread was in my belly. I knew it was coming—this man only an illusion. But then, I realize what hooked these other women—attention. The overwhelming attention when there is nothing else granting it to you!

Then he had it…the audacity. He asked me to send him $200 on a eBay gift card to pay his Wifi (Impossible Thing #11). He said he would pay me back “when I get home (Impossible Thing #12).”

I told him to never contact me again. I told him how dare he ask me to send him $200?! He seemed hurt and confused, but he left me alone. Then, I felt the dread. Wondering about the pictures I sent, about whether my picture will be in this scam next time…and that person not be as smart.

Feeling stupid has a frequency, and other consequences…beyond screens.

Note: The pictures sent to me include a child who is probably his daughter. I don’t feel comfortable sharing them. He might be a serviceman and I pray his safety for him and his daughter.

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.