In Memorium: To The Dudes That Saw There First Pretty Black Girl In JET, & All The Black Girls That Wanted To Be On The Cover of EBONY

 

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I remember my mother subscribing to EBONY and  ESSENCE Magazine when I was a girl. I remember I would pour over these magazines before I would give them back to my mother. I would even carry a copy of either or both of these magazines in my backpack or purse. They would be devoured at lunch, after classwork or waiting to be picked up by my parents after school from 6th-8th grade.

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EBONY was a part of my middle school girlhood. I was a part of the ritual of going to beauty salon with my Mama. It was part of knowing who was doing what, and how many people we could identify! I remember what it meant to pick that up, see it in my house, and even in my classrooms at Yeatman Middle School on the Northside of St. Louis, Missouri in the St. Louis Public School District. I even remember some of the guys in my classes sneaking looks the JET Beauty of the Week!

That is how far back it goes. And this was only the mid-1990’s, fam!

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And this week? I find out that EBONY and JET are firing freelancers, getting rid of other staff and these historic portions of Black media are…going away. These publications are one of the reasons I wanted to be a writer. Why I wanted to be a journalist. Why I was a fierce reader. These publications, shaped my Black girlness and emerging womaness, while collecting my collective ethnic, cultural history.

To know that this is being erased, taken from collective Blackness is the resurgence of all things melaninated, dope and from and in front of Black Jesus?! This ain’t fair!

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THIS IS NOT FAIR!

Roland M. Martin was talking about this on his YouTube Channel today. We know the Johnson Publishing Company, the family company that owns EBONY and JET, has had financial issues for past few years. This is no secret. But! The news that is being unveiled  now suggests that the company which has a 70-plus year history, is about to fold! Like how can this be happening!

Roland Martin was saying that there are a lot of Black media groups that have not made the adjustment to podcasting; consolidating with other media groups; valuing the building over the product the building produced. But, there is a truth to this. But the fact is we need our histories too! We need our legacies preserved too! We need to adjust with the times, too!

Twenty-five years ago? I snuck these magazines in my backpack! Now, download this from the site and follow 9 other podcasts just like it! On my iPhone! Does that mean I don’t like the physical copy? No. I still by physical magazines! But it’s the convenience, dear ones.

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Just like this blog is for you right now.

But, my heart, dear ones, is grieved. I am so grieved! First the HBCU’s and now this. First the GoFund Me’s and Crowdfunding for Bennett College, and there’s about to be no more EBONY or JET in same year Blackness is about to be supernova?! This is a hellafied Faustian baragain, y’all.

Bruh, I am looking forward to being on the cover of a magazine of and because of these 26 letters I whip together all the time! I wanted my face, my staff’s face on the cover of EBONY! That is the one magazine everybody Black still reads and their grandmother and ‘nem keep in the curio cabinet! That is cultural history, beloveds.

 

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I don’t know how we come back from this one. But, I don’t want any more Black creatives or creative outlets to take unnecessary losses, dear ones. We keep saying what we do for the culture–then let’s start preserving it.

 

 

 

 

From The Crates (2016)

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This post came through my Facebook timeline this morning. I thought I would share. In my former life, my husband and I ran a church for almost 3 years. When Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were murdered back to back, I yelled as loud as I could into the either. I am not in a defined Christian ministry role now, but I am an activist. Make no mistake–just becaues you don’t see me, don’t mean I’m not working. -JBHarris

 

 

 

From the desk of Pastor Jennifer Phylon Harris, mother of 2, wife of Phillip Harris (Lead Pastor of Spirit Of Life Church-St. Louis), godmother to 4, with a dozens of adopted brothers and sisters in Christ:

I am granddaughter of slaves, sharecroppers, moonshiners and hybrid transplant from miry clay to the marvelous light. I was never taught to be ashamed to be Black.

We are at a point in this nation where silence is felonious. The murder of black people floods news feeds and cable news networks with the greed equivalent to hogs being slopped. The time to be quiet…IS OVER.

Please see the following:

If you defend the actions and silence of law enforcement, support the NRA, oppressive tactics, and the systematic destruction of Black and Brown people, unfriend and unfollow.

If you believe #alllivesmatter but have no desire to truly apply that to all people. Leave your humanity key. Unfriend and unfollow.

If you remain silent when these tragedies of loss of life surround you, unfriend and unfollow.

If you believe nothing is wrong, you are complicit. Unfriend and unfollow.

If you take issue with clergy being involved and outspoken during this time of unrest, revoltion and change, unfriend and unfollow.

If you still need to be explained what white privilege is, unfriend and unfollow.

If you believe that police don’t need tell on one another, and the officers that do speak up don’t need support, unfriend and unfollow.

“Our lives begin to end when we stop being silent about the things that matter.” -MLK

BLACK LIVES MATTER.

DISMANTLE WHITE SUPREMACY.

PROTECT PEOPLE.
(“Ain’t nobody free, till we all free. -Fannie Lou Hammer)

LET THE CHURCH BE THE CHURCH. DO THE WHOLE WORK.

QUEER LIVES MATTER.

TRANS LIVES MATTER.

BLACK WOMEN MATTER.

BLACK DOLLARS MATTER.

“We can do this y’all. C’mon.”
-J. Harris

Claim To Fame: Why I Breathe Fire

Reflection:

The same thing I am praised for, is the same thing people try to snatch me for—this thing I do with these 26 letters.

In the face of abject crazy which is the current world, I would be remiss in my duties as a writer not to speak or record it. When I decided to lean into writing, being a writer as a career, I knew what I was getting into—what it would cost, and what I aimed to do in it.

This is the thing I love, communication and the art of word play. It’s what I do. It’s legit what I do. And for the love of it, I happen to write down my imagination to sell to people. I keep pens on hand, my desk is covered in papers and my laptops are always running out of space.

This, indeed, is my sweet spot.

JBHARRIS

P.S. If you love what you see here, consider donating! You can donate as little as $1 USD. Either via CashApp ($JBHWrites) or PayPal (sgwritingservices@yahoo.com)! Also, share the fire with others who need to laugh, cry or think!

Love and blessings!

In Memoriam: This Is It

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Next month marks  decade in this artistic-music era where there is no Michael Joseph Jackson. That didn’t resonate with me until the documentary/movie This Is It  came through my Netflix home screen. You see, I remember Michael Jackson as this entity that could do anything–include defy gravity!

I remember watching Thriller every time it was on. My mother’s youngest sister, whom is 11 years older than me, had that album cover on the wall of her room! She played his music constantly, which means that the younger nieces and nephews that she watched listed to him and the Jackson 5 all the time.

I remember…I remember where I was when he died. My boyfriend at the time, living and working in California, called to let me know. I didn’t believe him. And this morning, I am still in a dream state. While this documentary played, I became that 8-year-old girl watching MOONWALKER over my cousin’s house after school. There was this aura that surrounded him. Perhaps as an artistic child, slightly out of step with the world, I noticed the otherworldly nature that was Michael Jackson.

I am old enough to remember singing to every song in his songbook when it came on the radio*. I remember for a month and some after he died that the hardest dudes I know were bumping Billie Jean, Thriller and Bad from their cars. I remember.

I’m also old enough to remember the first scandal. And the trials. And the settlement money. And the craziness that is the Jackson family. I am under no illusion of the cloud that hovers over his legacy. And in the age of #MeToo, we need to believe the victims. Conversely in the age of #MeToo, we know that people lie and are devious. But let’s move on.

I fought tears watching this. I grieved him. Just like I grieve Prince. Just like I grieve Aretha Franklin. There is something divine in being about to create, to walk in that God space of pulling something  that wasn’t there, was unseen, to where it can be seen. I know that Mike died from an overdose of prophophol–a powerful anesthesia. However, I know what it’s like to be that consumed with an idea, or a vision, that it robs you of sleep. Where you have to make yourself shut down–to stop, and even that sometimes doesn’t help.

I get it.

I was never graced to see Michael Jackson perform in concert. But everytime he was on television, I watched. I remember the raucous that was over the Black or White video when it premiered on Fox! I also remember how when that aired in 1991 (when was 10!), Mrs. Grant’s fifth grade class talked about it! Everything he did seemed so damn special. This Is It is no exception. I am happy someone had the presence of mind to record all this.

Y’all will excuse me while I get my Michael Jackson playlist rolling through Apple Music.

 

*-Top 10 favorite Michael Jackson/Jackson 5 songs (no particular order):

1.) Liberian Girl

2.) I Just Can’t Stop Loving You

3.) Jam

4.) Can You Feel It?

5.) Speed Demon

6.) Thriller

7.) Ghosts

8.) Bad

9.) Dangerous

10.) PYT (Note:  THE JABBAWOCKEEZ MADE ME LOVE THIS ALL OVER AGAIN!)

This Is Me…Then

 Yesterday, this thought came through my Twitter through the television show THE REAL. The question/topic was would you date your twenty-year-old self. Adrienne Haughton answered this as only a woman could whom is familiar with her entire self. She admitted that she was selfish, didn’t know how to say “No” and was only worried about her career.

I mean, that’s powerful.

So, the question is this:

Would Jenn want her twenty/twenty-something-year-old, dated?

In a word? NALL.

NALL!

 

And here is why.

At twenty, I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know where I wanted to do. I wasn’t in school. I was aimless! I didn’t have an idea of what I wanted or how to get it. I wasn’t writing, and I was depressed! No one needed to date me! I needed to heal! But if I were to narrow this to three things, maybe four, as to why thirty-something Jennifer, is much better than twenty-something Jennifer.

 

Ambition. I didn’t finish college with my first degree until I was 27. The ambition that I have now, I didn’t have then. Some, but not all. Twentysomething Jenn (TSJ) had all this drive and no assistance to channel it. I knew I wanted to write. But I had small kids! Ambition without aim is wheel-spinning. It’s not cute. Me, now? I don’t shy from that ambition–and I have a trajectory for it now. I have a better idea what, and how to get that. More than before. No one wants a partner that has no aim but all power.

Confidence. I was always tall girl. TSJ was insecure and carried what people thought. I was a people pleaser. I remained fluid with stressful or toxic situations. I stayed when I should have left. I made excuses when I should have never agreed. I was the girl that stayed when I never should have gone. I wasn’t a pushover, but I wasn’t as strong as I am now. Some of that comes with life experience, but some comes from the lack of common sense. Relationships thrive where are spaced of equality and support. Being insecure, within yourself, helps nothing.

 

The ability to dream. TSJ was a dreamer.  I still am on the cusp of becoming 40. In my early twenties, my dreams were nebular. They were there, but they weren’t as solid as they are now. In that label ‘dreamer’, I cheapened the vision for my life. I’m not just a dreamer. I know now that I am a visionary. That is beyond dreaming. That is dreaming plus the implementation. In that dreaming, I am able to pinpoint and plan and set things in place to create what I see! And that visionary capability–sometimes I think–curves advances for my affection or attention before. For and in my current relationship, that visionary capability fueled by my own ambition has caused issues in my relationship. Why? By his own admission, he had never encountered a woman like me. EVER. Dreaming is one thing. Implementing is another. What I understand now is a the dream is one thing, but the hustle is never free. It’s mandatory.

 

Love. TSJ didn’t think that she was pretty. I thought I wasn’t curvy enough. Breasts too small. I didn’t want to get darker in the sun. I didn’t love me like I love me now. I thought if I was different, looked different, my life would be different. Now, I love all of me. Even  the stretch marks, and small pudge. I love the woman I am, and who I am becoming. I grin at the gray hairs. I think, now, that beauty isn’t just being eye candy but being your whole self. Without apology. TSJ wouldn’t do that.

I was ratchet at points. I was ridiculous. I made mistakes and fucked up! Alot. There are things I wished I could change. There are things that I have learned that I would never have learned without going through them. My husband tells me that he wished that he could have met me earlier. Nall. NALL. I wasn’t ready for a man that had a mission or a call or direction! I was unsure of who I was, but I knew that I was alot.

TSJ was still a girl.

Jenn approaching 40 is dope and she is amazing and she is deserving of all good things.

 

 

I am grateful for my twenties. I learned. I strived. I became a wife and mother. I became a grateful for everything that I learned from 20-29. But, my mother says it this way, “After 25, you start settling into yourself.” I’ve settled into myself, and I’d have it no other way.

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He Worships…Me.

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There is nothing that he won’t do for me, if I just whisper it.

 

I have become something else beyond beautiful

and woman and feminine.

I have become something more divine

simply by being all that I am to him.

Full, supple and in vision unfiltered.

 

He drinks the sunlight off my skin,

careful and cautious as to where and

when to apply his lips to chosen skin.

When my mouth opens to greet him

with such gratitude, his eyes memorize me.

 

Almost as if I will fade away as ghosts and hants oft do.

 

His hands on me are home.

Welcoming and quiet at first.

The need of me, without me near

or inside me, overwhelming.

 

The divine of our together so potent

that he pulls me often from my seated

perch between the power of the manhood

unsheathed and hidden inside me, to sit

where he calls ‘my throne.’

 

The suckling of sweeter flesh,

with my thighs fixed to his cheeks

all of me opens and floods his mouth.

Moans as song, echo from wall to wall.

My hands on the top of his head guiding

his mouth to all his tongue found to be

treasure.

 

Enjoy, he said.

Let me please all of you, he said.

I need you, he said.

I cannot die without knowing how you taste, he told me.

 

He told me I was his ache.

His cure.

A goddess housed in melanin.

 

How could  I deny one so intent on being in love with me?

 

There is nothing that he won’t do for me, if I just whisper it.

 

He has decided to live at my feet…and I will let him.

 

(c) Janelle Fallon, 5.13.2019

 

[image from Pintrest]