Thoughts In A Mirror

For my diaspora family, and all of us of the 6th region. Home for us is a dream…and reality.

I want to go home to my mother

in the land with my fathers rules benevolent

in lands that were wide and gold..

I want to go home where the sun

is a shade of black

I want to go home to

my cousins and my aunts

Uncles, my nieces and nephews

lost the time and chance and I want to embrace them

as only family can

So they can see their cousin

Their niece their daughter

from long across the sea

Through time magic

And will

has come home —

changed and weathered, yes

but home

and I am afraid the when

my feet touch shores that my grandparents

were stolen

from that they may not

know who I am

-JBHarris, 9.18.21

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

Behind the Scenes: The Death Of Peter Parker And Other Fairy Tales (Part 4)

–and I held the mask.

Peter Parker being content

to be both open and secret,

the love unseen because

you could not be what I needed–

but the mask.

Oh, the mask.

Spider-Man to Peter Parker to

Spider-Man, leaving me to love both

lie, myth, and man.

I lived for the kisses in the rain,

upside down, to be held right-side up

making tears as rain–

living for the secret.

–JBHarris, July 2021

Behind the Scenes: The Death Of Peter Parker And Other Fairy Tales (Part 3)

Yet, I die in secret.

Yet, I die alone.

Yet, I die holding the mask of the One

whom promised me everything–

if i could give him anything.

The anything has become time–

now made immortal and absolute

sealed behind the myth of, “Just wait for me”

With the headstone in gravel and graphite

now covered in the same webs

you left me with.

Love in the webbing made indestructible

by my tears, and our youth,

spent dreaming and pining for

he who left me atop a building–safe, sound and high up–

when I asked, “Who are you?”

You only gave only your superhero alias.

Leaving me there because love

held me safe and to you.

For you.

Life was in me and

with you.

-JBHarris, July 2021

Behind the Scenes: The Death Of Peter Parker And Other Fairy Tales (Part 2)

This is a poem from the book “The Death of Peter Parker And Other Fairy Tales.” Mark your calendars for October 31, 2021.

Masks hide many faces, don’t they Peter Parker?

They cover lips that kiss–as well as lips that lie.

What have you given me other

than lies, Peter Parker?

What have you given

me to hold on to other

than what can wash away?

Even memories fade–and in there lies the true justice Plato spoke of.

Ah, justice! This, too, is a lie.

The justice of waiting for you to come back

to me and the me inside of

the Us to make whole together and all at once.

The waking dream of life with you,

to be yours in and out of times,

masks no longer needed–

not this time.

-JBHarris, July 2021

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.

Behind the Scenes: The Death Of Peter Parker And Other Fairy Tales (Part 1)

This is a peek into my head as I begin writing some of the most intimate prose I have in my writing career thus far. Look for a sample of one of these poems tomorrow. I promise it’ll be worth the wait! This book will be released October 31, 2021. Thank you. -JBHarris

I am no longer Mary Jane. That hurts to admit.

There was a time that I couldn’t tap into this gift, and I was completely distraught over it. I have spoken about this at length in WriteLife. But the thing about it is, the person whom was most influential in the discovery, or resurgence of that gift is someone that I veiled…for the better part of 18 years.

I am a writer. I am a storyteller. I am Black, woman and writer. I truly believe that I need all three of these identities to move in the world. I believe without the ability to write, to channel what I feel into a controlled format, I would be in a lot worse shape. But, let me back up…a little bit.

He knows who he is. I have mentioned who he is. And I talk about him in this book as well. Michael Lynwood Brown is Peter Parker. And me? Well, I was his Mary Jane. I was his…completely. In being honest, I had not, have not, loved anyone else as I have loved him. The hardest thing I have done, one of the hardest things I have done, is to walk away from him. For the sake of being a lady, all I will say is the repeated wisdom of what my best friend in the world told me.

“Love is a check. Commitment cashes it.”

-M. Southards

In processing all of this, in accepting that I waited on a man—that did not know what he wanted—to want me, to see me, to love me–I wrote. What I thought would be 3 poems with the theme of Death, Burial and Resurrection, has turned into a collection of poems.

I refused to let him live in my head rent free.

However, there is an irony to this. “When I writer falls in love with you, you can never die.” I understand that Michael will be a part of my life always (and being the person that he is, I’m sure he’s thrilled about that)–but the veneer is gone. The kidgloves are off, and the best way for me to process this–is to write it out.

In this collection I am having my own personal reckoning–from messy start to clumsy end! This collection is not a dig at him–that is easy. But it is…tacky. This collection is written to heal…for me to heal. I was in love with this man, for the better part of my adult life, and he didn’t choose me! I am healing from the fact that I have been what amounts to a life-handed wife, side chick, professional toy for a man that could not see who I was or would become! Or, conversely–he did see it, and gave me just enough to believe that I would get this happily ever after. I didn’t. And I never will.

I was the MJ. For those of you familiar with this uber-romance between Peter and MJ should be aware of how powerful that is. I was chosen one! For that cause, these poems will be written through that vantage point of a broken-hearted, loving, angry, sullen and even forgiving Mary Jane Watson. As that persona, I can examine exactly how I feel–and maybe how I got there!

I deal with that: someone that I envisioned marrying, and ending my days with…didn’t want that with me. I was asking too much. I was too insistent about it. I was wrong for wanting a plan! I needed to shrink more. I needed to be more of what he wanted–but he couldn’t be anything that I needed.

I loved him from 22…to 39. This book is salve. It is a balm. It is a reminder that my life didn’t start with him…and neither shall it end with him. Tomorrow will be the first poem that I wrote that will be included in that collection. It will be in three parts, posted all day. Enjoy.

How fitting…but I’m a writer! I always get the last word.

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!

In Defense Of Sha’Carri Richardson OR Being the ‘RIGHT’ Kind Of Black Girl (Part 1)

Sha'Carri Richardson's Suspension for Marijuana Defies Common Sense | Time

I am old enough to remember Florence “FloJo” Griffith Joyner. I remember how beautiful and how FAST she was. I remember being so sad when she died (in her sleep, not from steroids or any other illicit drug!). When I see Sha’Carri? I see that same beauty and talent. I am solidly #TeamShaCarri.Full stop.

With that said, my heart is breaking for what is happening to her at present–and how the Black community seems to be split as far as just how (or if!) to support her. I am fully persuaded that at this point, respectability politics is internalized racism! Let me elaborate further.

Sha’Carri Richardson is a talented athlete. Just as FloJo was, and Serena Williams is. With that talent, she has been denigrated for being “too masculine”. I am still trying to figure out what is ‘too masculine’ when it comes to female athletes! What does that really mean? What does it mean to have your femininity stripped from you because happen to be athletically gifted?

But that is another conversation.

What I want to focus on is this idea of being the right type of Black girl. This is the caveat when you begin to become the type of woman that you have decided to be! In this life, we have to under the world we navigate loves to do three things with Black women: erase, minimize or destroy. That’s it!

Fast fashion: Olympic star Flo-Jo's one-legger legacy to spice up biopic
A Becky WILL NEVER! #FloJo

If you are the type of Black woman that is problematic, then the world around you will see and declare you as problematic! It starts with something as simple as our names! Then from there, we are taught what it means to be respectable–hair, speaking voice, how she dressed, interests, physical representation, etc. Sha’Carri Richardson is problematic for the same reason most Black women are seen as problematic! She is not able to be controlled or defined by other people!

This nation sees Black women as the naughty children whose parents keep leaving alone! We are seen the perpetual problem children of this nation who are constantly in need of raising.

We aren’t! We are in need of re-raising by a nation whose fame and infamy has come from the stealing and murdering of our sons. No, she is not the respectable Black girl. Sha’Carri is a Black woman who is confident in herself, knows when she has messed up, and should not be discounted because she made a mistake! The nation voted for an internet troll, so we can get over the fact Sha’Carri smoked weed to handle a tragedy–and she still dusted her competition!

Tell me why you really mad.

[image from Time.com]

So….I Am Doing A Thing. Again.

For those of you whom are following me on TikTok (especially @whatjayesaid/jayesaidwhat) will know that I was been toying with the idea of starting a Patreon again. This time, I am creating a Patreon solely for anti-racism essays and think pieces.

Oh, yes, this is happening!

There will be between 4-5 essays posted a month with the following tiers:

TIER: $3 (Firestarter: Light, Heat & Smoke)

Access to Reading List; essays included

TIER 2: $6 (Nikki Giovanni)

Access to Reading List; Early essays

TIER 3: $10 (Toni Morrison)

Access to Reading List; Access to Behind The Scenes footage; Early essays

The official launch date for this Patreon is going to be July 30, 2021. This will give me enough time to organize all I need to in order to launch this effectively. In the meantime, follow @jayesaidwhat on TikTok. For what I am about to say, for the conversations that need to be had, they will ban my account.

I’m not afraid of that, but I am aware.

Thank you for all your love and support!