Mood Forever: #IAmABlackWriter

Language is legacy.” -JBHarris


This is my mood forever.

My call, my job, my power, as a writer—a writer whom is Black—is to create in a place that does not wish to see me. Does not wish to see me rise, and thrives on me defaulting.

I will not be robbed of my pen, my power, because the mediocrity of whiteness cannot suffer the power and color blackness provides. I do not need whiteness to confirm my blackness!

I need my blackness to be seen just as readily, with just as much ease as whiteness. I will not bow to be seen by what is determined to erase me.

Stand As Ten-Thousand

white women we see you

from how you touch our hair as if we are some foreigner animal and then tan to have skin like us, and call us dirty?

white women we see you

we see you on how you teach your sons to never to touch our daughters but yet your fathers have children who look just like us

white women we see you

we see how you go to voting booths and claim sisterhood and then vote for interest in power that mirror the power that you have been so accustomed to that you are afraid to be without because then that would make you not special-

we see you how you look at our sons

and then cry when they have done

nothing wrong except exist in a space that you thought a black child should not be in-

white women we see you

we see how you excuse your sons to take the rifles of their fathers and grandfathers and then exterminate people as if they are roaches in the kitchen.

White women, we see you.

and then you are mad because we are loud, and yielding in equality of both fought and promised, but you have contempt for us?

white women we see you

we see how you have disgrace the memory of our foremothers whos milk was in forefathers mouths miles as if she were some dumb cow-

White women, we see you.

you see, we have always seen you

we have always been taught of your monstrous natures and to be told or seen

You see this allyship that you want?

Is not easy—wounds generations deep and you all have banded together at every turn for the sake of your own power-

like your fathers and grandfathers and patriarchs before you too desire to write your face across everything that has color in it thinking by doing so do you indeed have conquered would they have not.

And in true fashion

and a true form

we see you

from from ancestral bloodlines

Heavenly windows

Over office cubicles

to the way you cry to HR when we don’t speak to you when we come in in the morning because you cannot conceive that life has not always been subject to you

white women, we see you

It was the mothers of our mothers who taught us her daughters—the real witches who survive being burned, who survive being lynched, skinned, sexed, sold, in and made to be wench and Mammie-to talk to smile while dying on the inside—the matches struck so the heat can pass through time and blood to the unnamed us whom where coming—and now here.

Fend for yourselves.

-JBHarris, 9.5.2021

Feeling Like Ida B.: SOCIAL MEDIA LYNCHING

Note: This will be a longer essay on my Patreon.

I, like most adults, am on social media. I have been in Facebook about a decade, Twitter for about 5 years, Instagram for a few years (I forget out about it often), and at the urging of my best friend, am on TikTok. In October, I will be on TikTok for a calendar year.

And what a year!

In the last 90 days, I have been banned on TikTok four to five times. With this last ban, I was banned for about a week (6 days). When I actually got access to my main account (I’ll explain that shortly), it took 2 hours after the allotted time to get access to it. When I did, I was greeted with this:

James Baldwin had a federal file too.

Oh, yes! Your eyes are not deceiving you!

When I saw this, I laughed. I cackled, actually! As I sat and posted content on my main account, I thought about this. In this digital age, in the age of Black people and people of color being targets of oppression, hate speech, public murder and other social abuses, what do most minority people do in order to bring light to these things? They take to social media! What do most people do whom dislike this type of activism do? They block or mass report a particular account to the powers that be.

Which brings me to the tool of main accounts, backup account, and this practice of social media lynching.

Main account. Lots of people on social media have these, it’s not new. This is the account you most frequent, that you use most often, and where people are most likely to find your content. My main account on TikTok is @whatjayesaid.

Backup account. These are the accounts that people have due to careers, family or hobbies. These aren’t often used, but they are used in case you don’t have access to your main account. My backup account on TikTok is @jayesaidwhat. I made my backup account in preparation that I might need it.

Now, let me define what this idea of Social Media Lynching is (this is seen on TikTok alot!):

Social Media Lynching is the practice of suppressing the content/voices of minority people (especially African-American people) whom actively use their voices, or position, to fight racism, discrimination, erasure on a social platform only to be banned (silenced) or have their content suppressed, accounts taken, or platform sanctioned.”

Jennifer Bush-Harris, 9.3.2021

This lead me to this iconic quote from Ida B. Wells Barnett:

If they cannot get us with nooses, they mass report creators whom are ‘problematic’ or ‘violate community guidelines.’ We are punished in this public way, on a public forum, on a free app, because we as Black/African-American people, dare to speak about the issues that effect us individually or a whole!

In putting this warning label on my main account (which as of this posting is over 30,000 followers), is indicative of why most African-American people on TikTok have multiple accounts. Much like those of the Civil Rights Movement had code names, and why in activism circles the rule of thumb is ‘trust, but verify’.

In keeping us quiet, the goal is to punish us, shame us, or scare us into not speaking out anymore!

The strange fruit isn’t just in Southern breezes and trees! It is attached to phone plans and homescreens; updated and integrated into daily life! There are those such as myself with multiple accounts that they use for professional reasons, and the fear of the ‘permanent ban’ is always looming because this happens most often to Black content creators! The fear of having what you worked for, what you built, taken from you because there are White people that don’t like what you say, what you fight against, disliked the information revealed to empower—having that power being taken from you is present!

The lynch mobs have hoods and smart phones!

Through mass reporting, the catalyst of the process of silencing you begins! And once you have been reported on an app (in this case TikTok), even old content being reviewed can to reported, and the bans become more frequent!

Again, my last ban before the one which ended on 9/4/21 (after 6 days), was 6-weeks before, and that was for 3-4 days! And we won’t talk about shadowbanning!

This is not by accident, though. It never is! Silencing African-American people in public ways, threatening space, livelihood, bodily harm (can’t forget the death threats via Direct Messaging!), is not new–social media is new! Like our ancestors before us, grandparents after them, we aren’t going to be stopped by who didn’t like what we have to say. We won’t be stopped by whom trolls, reports, cries or comments because they are emboldened by their racism–thinking it is equivalent to/better than any lived experience they have not lived, or education they cannot hope or desire!

I have a great many opinions–and even write some of them down. Besides, they wouldn’t try to silence me, if I didn’t have something to say.

Result Of ‘The Talk’

Note: I am a single mother of biracial children. I have to teach my daughters how to move in the world is Black, as woman, and not die myself while doing it.

The Talk - Race in America

I had The Talk with my daughters, 12 and 13 1/2, while doing 70 mph going down I-70 going to my best friend’s house to see their best friends. I had done all I could to bury the nastiness of the world from them. I tried to keep just how mean the world could be from them, why it can be to them, and what they could do about it.

My daughters are in middle school. And really? Honestly? It was almost too late…I should have had it earlier. This is what it is like to be Black and a parent in a nation that is decidedly anti-Black. You are constantly playing Chess–never checkers. White families can do that, not us.

When I made the decisions to get my daughters cell phones, my mother protested and I screamed internally. I have been her child almost 40 years, and when I was 13–my father suggested I get a pager. My mother said no. Now, 27 years later, her granddaughter have cellphones. And she protested. The only thing that I could manage to tell her was, “The world is crazy, Mama.”

The world is crazy, Mama.

I had already had told my daughters not touch things in the store (“People may think you’re stealing!”), what to do if you get lost in the store (“Don’t go to store security/police, go to someone that works at the store and give them your Mom’s name.), and the emergency contact list (“What is your grandmother’s name/number? What is your aunt’s name/number?”). But when I had to tell them what to do when stopped by the police? I screamed. I howled. When I realized that my youngest daughter is the same as Tamir Rice. When I realized that in September my oldest will be as old as Emmitt Till will ever be, and one year younger than Jordan Edwards–I fought the air!

I felt helpless–for all I did, am doing, to raise my daughters to be ‘respectable Black girls’—a police officer with a God complex can take that way. And never be accounted for. As I sped to my best friend’s house, the safety of her house, husband, and daughters who are best friends with my daughters, I fought tears.

I had to tell them: “Even though your father is White, your mother is Black. And because your mother is Black you will always be seen as little, Black girls.” And then I thought of the 4 little girls, the young women in Birmingham–whom would be the same age as their maternal grandmother, 71.

Again we went over what to do if they were stopped: Don’t go to the car. Make sure they see your hands. Do what you are asked. Ask if you can call you mother. “If you can’t get me, what do you do?” “Call grandma.” My heart, my heart in two places, shattered. All I can do, all I do, is give them what they need to survive. What more could I do? Being Black in this nation comes with the Unwritten: in order to survive, you have to know exactly what can kill you, and who may try to.

We got to their best friends’ house, safe and sound. I collapsed on her table and almost scream-cried. The world I had constructed for my daughters, the last peace that I tried to give them, was gone. The world was in my house…again. But this time, I was Mama. Like my mothers before me, I had to learn how to put down a wolf or a dog–and know the difference. The only thing I found that works, if make my daughters into the wolves…and give them a pack that will protect them above all else.

White Women Know What 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.

#BlackBlogsMatter Challenge-Week 14 (2021)

Currently on TikTok, there is a war happening. It has been happening for months–MONTHS!

All over what a White person said in the presence of Black people. Read it again. And read it again. What I need you to understand that ‘white catfishing’ is not a new condition! As long as their is racism, white supremacy and white fragility–without accountability!–white catfishing will exist!

One of the greatest cases of this outside of Ms. Millie in The Color Purple, was this creator on TikTok that went by the name of my_doode (as of this posting, he is not on the app anymore). This is the creator that was a stabilizing force during the 2020 Election! I thought he was smart, woke, and proving himself to truly be a part of the fight for social justice!

Then, he had a public fallout with a Black creator. A Black woman creator.

Then, he said that the shooting of Ma’Khia Bryant was justified.

Then, he got checked.

Then, he got read.

Then…he quit. And made a video about that. It’s the privilege for me!

White catfishing is always going to be steeped in white fragility and white supremacy–powered by audacity and mediocrity! It is dangerous to movements, progress, healing and anything that looks like equity, equality and access. It must be confronted, vetted and not tolerated!

#BlackBlogsMatter Challenge-Week 11 (2021)

I don’t know what it is about White women that take it upon themselves to believe taking what belongs to Black culture, and making it theirs is okay! Where they really believe that if they take what we have created? They believe that no one will come for them!

What I wish that greater White culture would understand–and even some of our African cousins would sympathize to–is the Black people here, the African-American people here, we have created a culture, an identity from memory. From what we could remember, what we could recreate and what we could save! We have a right to gatekeep! In the words of Sunni Patterson: What can be saved when all is lost?

This child took her privilege– without packing rhythm, style or swag–to Jimmy Fallon and all but had a seizure on stage to Cardi B’s song, Up. What is always so amazing about these Addison Rae’s is the chutzpah they have! They see something neither created by them, nor created for them, where they are not the center of which may put someone else in the center? They steal it.

There is no other way to explain this. There is no erasing of this. There is no, “You’re being sensitive.” or “You should be flattered.” No, I should slap fire from you! White supremacy is a viral contagion which is a threat to all POC/BIPOC/Indigenous people EVERYWHERE! You steal what we have preserved. You mock what we hold sacred! But the moment you can make money off it? The moment it is fad, fashionable–then it’s exotic! For capitalism, anything exotic is profitable.

Black people are not going to apologize for gatekeeping culture. We are no going to apologize for checking these Becky Sue JaneDoes/Addison Rae’s about what belongs to us. The time for that was over when Tignon Laws where implemented–and to a lesser extent? They still are. Now it is just called, professional attire. And the world wonders we as Black women celebrate the soliloquy of Mama Pope.

For The ‘POSE’!

I am already crying.

I NEED ALL THE THINGS TO HAPPEN ON THIS SHOW THIS SEASON!

I stopped my entire life to watch the Season 3 premiere of POSE on FX! I made sure my kids were in bed, that I had snacks, because I was prepared to have my emotions snatched from me.

It was then that I remembered that this was the last season. Then I remembered that there are transwomen being my murdered left and right—including my dear YouTube sister, Jahaira Balenciaga just this month!

I am looking forward to what Ryan Murphy and company do this season, because so far (we have now jumped from 1991 to 1995):

Blanca got a bae

Papi and Angel are still together

Ricky and Pray together still

Cubby died (Whew, Jesus!)

Pray back to drinking

Lulu got Angel back on that sh#t!

Blanca going to nursing school!

Electra is still shady as hell!

Whew! And that is just the first two episodes! What being a fan is this show has broadened my scope as it relates to empathy. To love and even what it means to be and ally, accomplice or an advocate. You cannot love POSE and not support Black transwomen.

I said what I said.

I know this is about to be so good, I know I am going to cry so hard, and I know I’ll be cussing at the television in two languages again—BUT! That is the power of great writing. That is the power of great story telling. That is the power of representation.

Let’s hope the Emmys get it RIGHT this time. Indiya Moore and Mj Rodriguez deserve EVERYTHING!