Making A Place…For Us (For John Lewis)-#3

Q&A: Representative John Lewis Will Never Lose Hope
Wise men plant trees, even thought they may never see the shade of them.

Because he is with us,

and his history speaks to us,

we now we are the causes

of change and Good Trouble.

In his passing, in the seed

which became the root,

which begets the tree,

we can partake of shade

and strength, resting

for the moment, being

equipped for the fight

ahead, which should be won

which must be won!

We are both alone

and together,

both united and distant

as we remember what

heroes look like,

how loud lions are,

and the determination

it takes to be bridge

and door.

We are the causes of Good Trouble.

(c) JBHarris, August 2020

In Remembering Lions (For John Lewis)-#1

We remember lions

We do kings,

Expecting their presence

Reassured by their strength

Believing all that they are

Will remain and is

Unchanging.

Never do we believe

In age for lions,

For their roar is eternal

In the life of their cubs—

Adopted or born.

We see them as pillars

As we do kings,

Death cannot hold them,

For we know who holds

The keys to such doors.

And yet now,

This bridge, baring the

Name of the

most excellent forerunner

Has indeed become the door.

(c) JBHarris, August 2020

Book Announcement!

Support Indie Authors! Click here to buy my book!

“…no woman has ever written enough.” -bell hooks

My day job is in healthcare.

My mother is a retired nurse.

I have been in this field, adjacent to this field, for my entire life. My mother was a nurse when AIDS hit, and it is her wisdom I have leaned on when time have gotten crazy in this particular pandemic. It is from that space experience and art that I wrote this book. This is the blurb from Amazon:

The COVID-19 Pandemic has laid siege to the world’s population beginning in late 2019. No professional community has been witness to this onslaught like the medical community! This community has been a guardian of sorts during this pandemic, trying to provide help, hope and normalcy in the midst of the administration of the 45th US President. This book of poetry, written by and essential worker in a hospital, shows the siege first hand–and the hope she still has, despite what she sees around her...”

I didn’t write this book to get famous. I didn’t write this book to see the record the downfall of the American heathcare system. I wrote this book, because writing has been my solace while this pandemic has raged. I hope that this book, and its 21 pieces, grant your some measure of hope and peace. Also, as a testament to the hope I have that we as nation–and a world–will get through this…and be better for it.

Red Table Talk: Part 1-Will’s Teary-Eyed Anger

Facebook Renews Jada Pinkett Smith's 'Red Table Talk' Through 2022

I have been a fan of Will Smith since he was the Fresh Prince, making all these hits with DJ Jazzy Jeff! I mean one of the first raps I learned (aside from It Takes Two) was Parents Just Don’t Understand. Yes, I am that old. So, I remember when he and Jada got married. I remember when she was pregnant–with both Jaden and Willow. I remember how happy they looked,and how thrilled Will seemed to be because he was no longer with mother of his oldest son, Trey.

Now far be it for me to tell how messed up someone else’s relationship is. I, myself, have had 2 failed marriages. So, it would seem that I would have no idea on how to be someone’s wife! When the details broke about August Alsania? I ignored it. Why? I figured it was a publicity stunt! I mean, who would brag about having a sexual relationship with Jada Pinkett–the WIFE of Will Smith?!

Like, who would have the audacity?!

Imagine my surprise when this man came out with pictures, text messages, and all matter of manhood in gray boxer briefs! Imagine my horror when all of Beyonce’s innanet, powered by Black Twitter made all the memes about Jada ‘lying’, and championing August’s shenanigans. But thing that made me break my silence about what is going on was Jada announcing that she would confront these slings and accusations–with WILL at the Red Table.

Chile, look.

Jada Pinkett and Will Smith's Bizarre Red Table Talk | Higher ...
This face–this face right here–told me this man is hurt on levels you cannot even name.

In this almost 13 minute segment on Red Table Talk, I watched both of them play with language. I saw the semantics. I saw the word play, and I saw the hurt on Will Smiths face. Now, it has been an ‘open secret’ and suspicion the Smiths were in an open relationship. Even Will eluded to this in this comment: “It good to know you can do what you want with no fear of losing your family.” Um, excuse me, sir?!

But the thing that got me in this interview (besides it not being an hour long show like she does with other people–we see you Jada!), was Will’s expressions. He laughed trying to play it off, as if he was ‘passed’ everything they were talking about! the striking thing to me was–his eyes. He looked like he had been crying! But y’know–the innanet and the world at large cannot handle (or conceive) that Black men emote! I do not care what anyone says–this man was hurt! And he was hurt by the person he chose to spend this life with!

What I have always thought was funny about men is how fragile they can be when their hearts are involved! Like, he told Jada, “I was done witcho (witcho=with your (for my non-AAVE speakers) ass!” And he also said, “I’m surprised that I’m even speaking to you!” I really believe the only secret between people whom are famous, and non-famous people is the fact that when we (non-famous people) mess up–the world doesn’t notice or care! I cannot imagine what it feels like for Will Smith, dealing with this–from a woman that he has been with 25 years!

His presence here added an element of fall out to this situation. While Jada was matter of fact, with this demeanor of “I just want to get through this”. Will seemed stuck on “I cannot believe that I have to relive this! I cannot believe I have to come through this again with the world watching!” The part of the twosome who said, “It’s bad boys for life” is dealing with a woman he felt he could not make happy! Y’all saw the show!

In being with someone that long, of course they have dirt and issues. Of course there are things we as a the thirsty, nosy, prying public want to know–but just AIN’T our business! But what Will’s face told me all I needed to know! I have been will. I’ve also been Jada! But with Will being this focus of this part, I saw his heart broken. I saw his emotions go through paces–because he wasn’t safe enough to say what he wanted. There is definitely more to this than we are seeing…

Yet, what I want to do is have us begin to normalize men–especially Black men–being vulnerable. Being emotional! Being able to say, “This is what hurt me, and I don’t want to hurt anymore!” Pain and trauma are inevitable in a world that seeks to devour people–but we never expect that from people we love; whom we think love us. Men experience struggle love too.

Healthy love is for everyone. I hope Will has it.

In Case Of Emergency…Break Glass.

“I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.” -Audre Lorde

What does it look like  to make a woman less?

Is it to tell her what she is not

What she cannot become

What she is not allowed to access

What she is never allowed to think, dream or see?

What is it like to make a woman less?

Is it that her charm and her wit are disrespectful?

Defensive?

Dismissive?

Flippant?

That she is just too damn much?

What does it look like to make a woman less?

To say that her ambition is a deterrent?

That her desire is not on par with or even

Any kind of parallel keel to that is expected of her?

To be honored by those around her

What do you do to make a woman less?

To make her doubt her presence, her purpose?

To make her believe that her voice is noise

To allow her to remember that her hands are onlhy for service?

To give out

But never take

That her eyes should only shine from

The sacrifice it brings

That her tears

Whether streamed fluent

Or ocean prolific

Are those to be

Are waters to sampled and surfed

And taken

Enjoyed because she gave them and that should be enough

What do you to make a woman less?

Tell her she can never become

That she is bound

Only by what is told to her.

(c) Jennifer Bush-Harris, June 2020

I Don’t Understand: To The Matter Of Skeeter Mills

Y’all know me. I do not post trauma porn. I will not be posting the video. I will tell you it is on YouTube. I saw it on Instagram this morning. As of this posting, this young man has taken down all his social media. Cameras always reveal who the real gangsters are. -JBHarris

By any means protect Black Women #love #honor #essential #life ...
We must protect Black women, they are our hearts.” -John Boyega, actor

I saw this video this afternoon. This exchange, innocuous at the outset, and clearly the young lady isn’t feeling this dude, and he hit her with a skateboard.

A SKATEBOARD.

In the video, you see the young lady fall from the blow, and hit the concrete sidewalk. He walked away, talking noise, and being puffed up on the echo chamber of dudes in the background, one of them whom was recording the incident.

No one helped the young Black girl off the ground.

No one ever helps the young Black girl off the ground.

The recording, which is less than three minutes, you hear the utter disrespect and contempt ‘Skeeter Mills’ has for this girl. How it was just so easy for him to hit her, because he felt disrespected. The thing that struck me was everyone of those little boys have a Mama somewhere. They have grandmothers! They have sisters! Why is it, why was it, so easy for him to just assault her? I don’t want to hear excuses that begin or end with, ‘he didn’t know what else to do.’

This is the problem with toxic masculinity! I makes women a target, and leaves men no room to emote: they can only be happy, horny or aggressive. Think about that! What does that mean for Black women and girls! He was saying the young lady that he knocked out with his skateboard disrespected him!

How?

In the video she doesn’t put her hands on him, she’s not so loud that the dudes with him hear what she’s saying from where she is standing. So where was the disrespect to the point he had to hit with a skateboard? The only thing that I can think of is that she told him ‘no’ to something! From that ‘offense’ he was so flipped, that he decided to assault her–and leave her there!–because he felt disrespected?

The thing that disturbs me about this is cats like this will go to war over the women in their lives that find themselves in! They will be incensed that someone had the audacity to hit their sister, their mom, or their close homie! What makes this girl any different? And the fact this young man is Black? In the age we are in now? All I want to do is slap HIM this a skateboard!

Watching this video, I thought:

“I have to teach my daughters how to interact with racists cops; a system that wants to either kill them or erase them, and how to handle men that look like them when they have to tell them no?”

It’s too much. It is entirely too much! And yet. The most troubling thing in this video, his friends, these other beta jackals, are sniggling, and made the sound of a complicity as the skateboard connected with her face “OOH!” Yet no one helped her. No one ever helps the Black girl up off the ground.

[image from Pinterest]

Cultural Conversations #2-Single Vs. Married

“Yeah, but is she married?”

I cannot tell you how often I have heard this question thrown around in conversations related to success, especially for women. Even in the lives of the women I respect, it almost seems their achievements are diminished because a man is not attached to them! I understand the cultural implications and expectations, yet I cannot help but think roux of these needs or necessities stems from the emphasis of wanting to be chose–above all else. I am the first one to have said, and continue to say that I am an ambitious woman. With that ambition, I have also laid to waste 2 marriages.

Yet, in the wreckage of that, I always had this thing I was pursuing. And now, with the second marriage ending, that is much more apparent. I wonder why that is. I wonder how that is. I know there are more things at play than just ‘irreconcilable differences.’ There are many a woman that I know personally, who have dealt with this! But, for the sake of argument, let’s contrast the lives of two of my personal heroes: Viola Davis and Shonda Rhimes. Gorgeous. Gifted. Talented. Black. Both mothers, yet one of them is married. In some circles, Shonda Rhimes isn’t/couldn’t be as successful as she is without having a man. Which is totally unfair, archaic and utterly false!

Upon closer inspection, it would seem that the reason for is this for the love affair with patriarchy: a woman cannot be successful–really successful–without having a husband! Which, on some end, lightly diminishes Viola’s star because she is married. The thing is–the most hurtful thing is it would seem women have to consistently choose. They must choose between to romantic relationships and their personal ambitions; there is no way to ‘have it all.’ The most common adage I have heard is, “Women can have it all–just not at the same time.” Well, that’s some Phyllis Schlafly bullshit!

Now, I GET that for virtue of time and the demands on personal responsibilities won’t allow ANYONE to do all they desire all at the same time. I GET there are people whom trade-off the things they want to do against the things that need to be done. There are people that do change careers later in life or start college after sending all their children; pursue lifelong hobbies more seriously as they age or children or grown–even having children after a certain age. These trade-offs are applicable to everyone! But, more often than not-women bare the brunt of it! Women are expected to be self-sacrificial to the point of their own self: sacrifice because that is ‘just what women do’. It is not fair to attach the success of any woman because she chooses to be married.

I have never thought that!

I have never thought that was fair!

I mean, I cackle at the word compromise in relationships! Like Eartha Kitt, I laugh when asked to compromise. I ask, “Compromise for that?!” Men aren’t told they have to compromise–men are taught to dominate and take. They are taught to be ambitious is to be successful. For a woman to be successful she needs to be married? She needs the respect of being married to validate her? Something about this makes me indignant! Being married doesn’t validate a woman. Being single doesn’t limit a woman!

Women have the right to self-determination: to build, do and achieve as they want. When these conversations arise–that angry little girl who was told “No one can feel your brain” wants to scream! They don’t have to feel my brain, they need to respect me as a whole, sentient human being–inside pretty packaging. These conversations around what a successful woman looks like has room to expand, needs to have room to expand. The woman that decided to give up her career to raise her children—and is happy to do so!–should be celebrated. Also, the woman that decides homemaking, marriage and children aren’t for her due to what she decides to do should be celebrated. Besides, isn’t making this life your own the goal?

Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

Someone Tell Karen That Her Tears Are Getting Old. And People Die Behind Them.

Amy Cooper, in the tradition of other silly White women before her, almost got a Black man killed. This is not pandering, this is not ‘race-baiting,’ this is not ‘pulling the race card’. Amy Cooper called the police on a Black man that was bird-watching in the Ramble section of Central Park! She did it because she could! She did it because her privilege told her: “How dare this n—- tell me what I can and cannot do! I’m going to show him! Watch this!”

And she pulled out her weapon of choice and called 911 saying a Black man was threatening her life. Had he not filmed this incident, who knows what would have happened? From there, Amy Cooper, has lost his job, the dog she wouldn’t put on the leash, and now she is saying her life is ruined.

Allow me to retort: So, WHAT?!

She was hellfire determined to ruin Christopher’s life! Why should be be cincerend in what she is ‘going through’ as it relates to a situation she created! According to Mercury News, her direct quotes as it relates to his situation are:

“I’m not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way.”

Translation: I don’t like that this n—– told me as the epitome of Whiteness empowered by racism and classism, had the (pearl clench!) audacity to tell me what to do?

The problem with this is, on tape, she said this:

“I’m taking a picture and calling the cops. I’m going to tell then there’s an African American man threatening my life.”

Plot twist: All he told her was to put the dog on a leash–the thing which this portion of Central Park advises. He didn’t do anything threatening other than tell a White woman what to do.

I’m going to say this, because it needs to be said. White women need to stop this shit! They need to stop it NOW! There is a reason that feminism in its current permutation is false and not accessible to the people whom would need and benefit from its protection! My Facebook friend and allied troublemaker, Korla Masters, said it this way when she shared this post from Mercury News: “You tried to take out a hit on someone.” Where is the lie? Hint: There is none present.

Now, she is apologizing. Apologizing for WHAT Super Karen? You said you weren’t racist! You said you were just scared! You said that you acted badly, and just didn’t think! Nall, son. That isn’t it. Not at all. Let me give you some historical context. There is a certain class of White women whom do no check other White women whom do things like this! Its not just Amy in the Ramble–it is the women who call campus police when you are sleeping in a common area. It is the White women who think Black girls whom don’t let them treat them like pets are mean! It is the Air B & B owners who think that if the Black guests who would have just ‘smiled and waved at the neighbors’ wouldn’t have gotten the police called on them. Karens, Amys, Beckys and Susans are the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Miss Millie, on the Color Purple.

Children cry when they can’t get what they want. Children with no other coping skills, cry when they care confronted–rather than admit what they did wrong. Crying is deflection! Crying is psuedosympathy! It is manipulation and control! It is a way of moving the situation out of the center of the conflict, focusing on your reaction to the situation (again) that you caused!

It is similar to when a child breaks something you told them not to touch. When they break it, and you hold them to account (Look at what you did! You broke this! I told you not to touch it!), and they scream and fall out? Why? They don’t want to be blamed. Being ‘blamed’ comes with consequences. It comes with people whom will hold you to account for your behavior! It comes with negative attention, and judgement! Righteously so! I mean, you did something wrong!

White women like this whom use tears as weapons never want to be held to account to or for problematic behavior! They are completely absorbed with being in the center and what they power means. In removing them from the center, to focus on what they did wrong, activates this deflection mechanism!

KIDS. DO. THIS. TYPE. OF. SHIT.

There is something sinister about this. There is something evil about manipulating the emotions of people for your personal benefit and gain! You White women have to understand your ancestors with their tears and lies have decimated communities! They have caused the deaths of innocent people! They have caused people undo stress, loss of jobs and their peace of mind! No one care that this woman’s life is being ‘destroyed’! No one cares that the White Woman Coalition of Basic Beckys have decided that being called a “Karen” is equivalent to being called a ‘nigger‘ and they they cry because it hurts! It also hurts to lay in the street and bleed out for 4 hours. It also hurts to be a Black woman to be in an environment where if she doesn’t smile, she can be written up because she is considered ‘not a team player’.

It is tiresome. The tears are a ploy. No one is falling for this! And there is no reason for this to keep happening in 2020! However, want to know why it keeps happening? People react to it. People excuse it! They coddle the White girl that messes up! She gets her hair smoothed, her gets the Big Bad Black person who was mean to her fired. She gets the delegated mammie to tell her “Its gon be alright, my little Lamb”, like Mammie in Gone With The Wind. She gets the promotion. She gets the attention for a brand! She gets Instagram followers. She gets to be forgiven–with her actions considered just ‘over reacting’. Whiteness will always excuse the foolishness of its children, its supporters and the dainty evil fragility of its worshipers.

White women know when they cry, someone will do something.

When Black women cry, we are told we are too loud.

Make it make sense, Karen?

I’ll wait.

The Ancestors Be Watching: Remembering Ida B.

Pulitzer Prize awarded to Ida B. Wells and NYT's 1619 Project ...
“Those who do the murders, write the reports.” -Ida Bell Wells Barnett

Ida Bell Wells is my grandmother. There was a kinship I felt with her when I first saw her face when I was 9 in Ms. Annie Green’s class. It was this classic photo, with this look of “Don’t come for me, ‘less send for you” spoke to me. At that point, I wanted to know everything about her. And I mean everything. It was because of her I wanted to go into journalism! And I thought she was a superhero!

She was brilliant, was a writer in the time where most most Black folk were murdered for trying to pursue education of any sort! Consider these fast facts about the dynamic force that is (and was) Ida Bell Wells:

-daughter of slaves–and she was born one!

-raised her sister after their parents died of Yellow Fever

-Went off on the principal of the school she was at who tried to talk to her crazy (a WHITE man in a position of authority AT THAT), and put her out of the school.

-she refused to give up her seat in a railroad car BEFORE Plessy v. Ferguson (May 1884, Plessy v. Ferguson was in 1896!).

-One of the founding 4 members of the NAACP

-Investigated lynchings IN THE CITIES THEY HAPPENED IN.

*-She sued the railroad this incident happened on and won a $500 settlement. The Tennessee Court overturned this decision. It was this incident that caused her to start writing.

She wrote for US, mane. She confronted racism, called out the bullshit that is perpetuated through traditional white feminism which lead to the illest thing she did to let these (white) suffragettes know she wasn’t the one. What do I mean? Peep this (thank you to The Atlantic for this piece):

“Seen through the lens of Wells’s life, the history is sobering: When Wells traveled to Washington, D.C., to march with the Illinois delegation in the suffrage parade of 1913, the group’s leaders asked her to move to the back of the parade with the other black women. (She ignored these instructions and took her place with the white marchers anyway, Giddings writes.) In an earlier incident, when Wells was heckled during a lecture in Rochester, New York, NAWSA President Susan B. Anthony leapt up from the audience in defense of Wells, declaring that African Americans faced racism in the North as well as the South—only to illustrate her own point when she confided to Wells that she’d excluded black people from joining her organization or even speaking at its events for fear of alienating southern white women from the cause. According to Giddings, Anthony rationalized that issues of racial inequality could be better addressed once white women had the vote, the ends of her strategy thus justifying the means. (Wells, who on most points admired Anthony, respectfully disagreed.)”

My feeling has always been God knew the fight Black women writers would have and was gracious enough to give us Ida Bell Wells Barnett. We needed her. We still need her. And I am grateful I can put her name in any search engine on any part of the world and she is accessible. So, to have her awarded the Pulitzer Prize almost 90 years after her passing? I don’t know how to feel about this.

As a writer, I am happy! I am glad she has gotten the recognition she deserves. The part of me that is woman and Black is like, “Posthumously?! Really bih?!” Why do I feel that way? This nation loves to honor ‘acceptable’ Black folk, and ignore the living Black folk doing the same work! I am mad at this, fam! I am upset because for all her work, for all her power, for all her talent and insistence on justice, the powers that be decide to award her almost a century of her being in the ground! I feel like this is the nation spitting on her grave, walking over it, and then planting flowers!

But, what do I know? I’m just a Black woman writer–who subscribes to the gospel according to Ida B:  “I felt that one had better die fighting against injustice than to die like a dog or a rat in a trap.” Sometimes the best way to free yourself, and other people as Toni Morrison says, is to get a pen.

God and Ida gave me one. My job is to keep giving it to other people. With smooth ink, and no chaser.

[Image from TheGroit.com]