The Life Of A Dangerous Black Girl–Lie #5: You Do Too Much!

won’t you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.

-Lucille Clifton

As long as there is a world that seeks to erase Black folk, we will never be ‘doing too much.’ In this observation of ‘too much’ who quantifies this? Who can say what is ‘too much’ or why it is ‘too much’. Now, I am well aware of what the phrase means. I know what the words in their individual power mean. What I am not understanding, or what I desire to understand is how these words are so apt to be affixed to Black women! I truly do not believe the world realizes just how and how hard it is to be Black and woman–daily. To have everything from your skin tone, hairstyle, speech pattern and whether or not your knees are crusty examined. I’m sure there are no new contagions studied with such scrutiny!

Have I said this phrase to more than one woman I know? I sure have. Have I said this phrase when a situation was already out of hand, and someone’s behavior (whether Black or White) exacerbated it? Yes! The phrase ‘too much’ is itself an exacerbation! Yet–it is the behavior I want to see change, not the essence. Therein lies the rub! The current adage is we [Black women] will always be too loud for a world determined not to hear us. So, the idea of being ‘too much’ manifests in success, in victories, in triumphing over something set, thought, and set out to kill us! I must become ‘too much’ in order to be seen, heard, fed, to feed, and to thrive!

I must become my own hero because none is coming! I have accepted the title, own the space of ‘being too much’ or being seen as ‘doing too much’. I accept that there are those whom will see out that space I occupy or they will flee from it! It is not my job to acclimate to a world on a continuous basis that only seeks to destroy or deconstruct me. I have decided to celebrate–because even in graveyards, there are trees.

I have purposed myself to stretch towards that light, the power, the space of knowing all I am is valued, necessary, formidable and most of all undeniable.

A Review: Why We Needed “Black Is King”(Part 1).

“Step out of your estimate and into your essence.”

I downloaded The Gift, the comparison Beyonce album to The Lion King live-action remake. I loved the album, and Key To The Kingdom, Spirit and Find Your Way Back are my favorite songs! The whole album is a vibe, really. Being totally honest with you all, after LEMONADE? I became a Beyonce Stan. I work part-time and weekends at the BeyHive.

But, what has impressed me about her, what made me become a Stan, is her raw talent and willingness to challenge herself–and in that challenging, to let us see only what we need to see. And, like all good artists, she wants us to see ourselves. I have seen and listened to her become more herself, more confident and self-assured as an artist. She is no longer just Beyonce that was the lead in Destiny’s Child! Like she said in HOMECOMING, the world wants Black women to just stay in their little boxes. Well, Black women don’t really do that–and have never stayed in boxes well.

Not ever.

The world, all vain and White-seeking, wants to relegate anything which is non-White, not White-seeking, to a box designated for erasure. We as minority people, especially Black people, need to be able to see ourselves as we are, as we must, as we have always been. Black Is King is a loveletter…to us! Every depiction in this film is positive, is beautiful, is detailed and brilliant! Every aspect of this film, from the significance of colors, to how she wore her hair, to the languages (yes, LANGUAGES!) she sang in. No detail is overlooked!

You have to appreciate the time and detail it took for her to compile this, to do this, to release this! The film is a masterpiece, rich with symbolism, clearly made with a love for a culture, and a people. The artists that were featured on the album were in the film as well for their respective parts! Why? Real artists, like real leaders, know you build as you climb. You leave keys, maps and ladders so that those after you have a path and a way up and out!

I watched this film with my daughters. I watched as my youngest, fascinated by all things creative, watched in rapt attention. I watched her see herself on screen. And her eyes lit up. It was the same light that I had once I found out I could create worlds from thought–the first time a saw a Black Barbie doll. It was a stirring that I am sure my baby girls felt as they watched this woman they had only seen in sips and pieces create a lovenote for them.

Especially for them.

As I heard the words of Waran Shire come through the vessel of Beyonce’s voice, it was a confirmation of the power of words and the visibility of myself in print. I sat straighter as I watched. I sang and danced around my living room, feeling myself light up from the inside. You see, according to African mythology, all the stories of the world belong to Anasi The Spider. In being a storyteller, in being a writer, I am only doing what my ancestors did. Gathering wisdom, gathering strength, and giving it as gifts for those who need it. I am doing my celestial assignment. I am doing what I was purposed on Earth through the mind of God to do. And for that reminder, I am grateful.

We as a people needed this film. We needed to see ourselves as we have always been. We have always been great, despite people and time and circumstances! There is never a bad time to remember who you are. There is, and will never be, a bad time to remind your children who they can become.

For this love letter, thank you, Beyonce Giselle Knowles-Carter, mother of Blue, Rumi and Sir. Thank you.

Note: If you enjoyed the film, please consider becoming a supporter of the poet Waran Shire (she did the poetry for Lemonade too!). All her work is on Amazon, especially her most noted, Teaching My Mother To Give Birth. Thank you.

In Remembering John Lewis

I as well as the rest of the nation, are reeling from the loss of Congressman John Lewis. And after doing so, I feel now that I can put words to my mourning. I can put feeling behind action. I can begin to unpack the loss, so that hope can be repacked. So, over the course of the next three days (starting Monday, August 10th), I have made a three-part elegy for him.

Part 1: In Remembering Lions

Part 2: Crossing Muddy Waters

Part 3: This Bridge Called His Back

It is my hope in celebrating his life so publicly on this platform, all that follow after this thing called ‘good trouble’, will be reminded of the legacy laid before–which is now both map, light and path. The reward for a hero is rest.

To that, I say rest easy, John.

Book Announcement #2

As writer, sometimes the best fodder for your imagination are the things you have gone through. Nothing could be more accurate than what my own life is at present.

With me facing a second divorce in 7 years, I had to reckon with this concept and construct of my ‘married name’. The only thing I could do to combat is this confusion was to write it out.

Indeed, this is a personal work and I am in the cycle of grief about the demise of this relationship—and owning my part in its demise! What I have had to reconcile with this idea of having the name of a man whom I no longer have/desire any attachment to.

This chap book is available on Amazon, and I hope that it helps illuminate just how complex being 1 then 2, and back to 1 again can be.

30 Days Of Jaye: Final Reflections

This month has been catharic.

It has allowed me to explore further my love of writing, especially poetry. In my personal canon, there are about 300 poems. Some haven’t seen the light of other screens or been published. There was a time when I thought this gift was gone, so it is amazing and humbling to share a portion of my work with you all! I hope that you enjoyed it. I hope that you quoted it! I hope it reminded you of your own desire to write, or reignited a love for poetry. I hope my works were added to your personal library and conversation. I hope you loved the tour around this portion of my writing world, and I hope you will stay. while.

You all are now members of this corner of the universe, and shall always be welcome.

Fare well, dear ones.

With Love & Ink,

JBHarris

30 Days Of Jaye: Elicit

Sleep be stayed…

Give me more of this

that I have wished and given

my soul for,

let the angels bare witness

to my devouring

let my pleadings coat his ears,

my taste on his lips and

rest on all of him that is utterly

male and in defiance of my

moans of cessation

let my no’s be his yes and

take me as I am, as I wish to always be

make me his

let me remain here

let me stay in this inferno that we

have created in these moments and in the ones

that follow

let sleep ever be elusive from me

let me be subject to him

and belong to none but him

let his desire and his lust for me

be my healing balm

let his hands be ruthless in his pursuit of me

in his thrusting in and out of me

let me be his

prayer cannot be used to soothe

such aches and neither will I permit it to

he is all I need

Jennifer Bush (now Harris) age 23, January 26, 2005-personal canon

30 Days Of Jaye: Golden Girl

In looking at the date on this piece, my oldest daughter was born exactly 3 years later. I am humbled. –JBHarris

health and beauty

strength and love,

I have so many things given

to me and to be thankful for

now I’m wondering when my life

becomes mine, if my dreams,

faith and hopes are misplaced, when

will I truly be able to become

whom I was meant, for whom I was

meant for

I have lived for other

people and their dreams for me,

for the better part of my years,

more than I would want to remember

I have fulfilled my obligations as

as child and continue to do that daily

In essence, I have not begun to live yet. When will I?

I must make the

decision to step from my

comfort and dip into the unknown

to embrace the new and foreign

regardless of whom may think what…

I want the only opinion that matters to be mine

I have decided to take off this shroud

that I donned so willingly,

perhaps unwillingly for several years now…

I have stalled my growth in favor of

other’s happiness and comfort

at what cost?

At what cost?

Live in its true intent

and purpose is a journey

one that can be survived, so why fear?

I have all that I need within me

I am able to do all that I wish

with He that Is All

let the whispers and laughs come

let the doubts be raised,

I have oceans to see, stars to count…

I must live…by MY rules.

Jennifer Bush (now Harris) age 23) September 1, 2004– personal canon

30 Days Of Jaye: Over My Shoulder…Thank You

without you

I could never be who I am

I could never have seen

what I have seen

nor be able to find what

I sought through what seemed

like a never ending night

thank you for being my rock

and my morning star

thank you for being you

thank you for letting me be me

thank you for never leaving me

for embodying my wishes

for being my desire

for being my healing balm

and my spark…for being my ache

for giving me something to reach for and keep

thank you for telling me that I can

for telling me that never is not an option nor a possibility

thank you for being my love

for your love

thank you for taking my hand, when I didn’t want to walk

for holding me, when I couldn’t see

thank you for consoling me when the tears wouldn’t stop falling

and when they wouldn’t fall at all

thank you for seeing me, as I was, as I am and not changing me

For that, I love you…always…

My wish and my wanting hope is

when you need me,

and you look over your shoulder,  you’ll let me be there….

Jennifer Bush (now Harris) age 24) July 15, 2005

30 Days Of Jaye: No More

through countless prayers and

sleepless nights

against dense and soggy pillows

I have longed for you

given my all against rational reason

to none but you

all I was and all I had was you

and the fading promises and too often

whispered phrases that make women

frail and subject to their own folly

yet I feel no hatred

no misandry there

only sorrow…this lingering stench of want

when I had thought all of me

had been rebaptized and made whole

that stench, that wretched odor,

came upon me once more

and the wondering began, that wishing hunger

the wondering if this is really to be mine

again, the wishing hope that all I had

suffered was for this love, my love

the hunger of having it near me again

memories of this mock the mind

and quell the essential rhythms and

sheen to the eye

once the light of day

made new caresses the face and enlivens the blood

it brings all things back into focus

I have realized that I have tried to capture

the moon with a net, and the stars in jars

I have seen my err and forgiven myself for it…one day

now I must be ever

watchful of this and in this

he is not mine

he never will be again.

-Jennifer Bush (now Harris), 2005-personal canon