No More Mammying: Give That B**ch A Brush!

 

 I really want Amber Guyger to prison forever.

I don’t want to hear about appeals, how her Mama feel about her being locked up, I don’t want to hear any defense to her indefensible shit.

Yesterday, after the year-held sigh of relief at her murder conviction was expelled, what followed next was unexpected. As with social situations like this, my social media was alight. My inbox my alerted, and what I saw was a Mammie in baliff’s uniform.

Now, for those of you that are new to this corner of the righteous, woke, well-read Black innanet, there are certain stereotypes which follow Black people:  Mammie (some people spell it Mammy), tragic mulatto, wench, Sapphire.  A Mammie/Mammy is this Black woman that lives to serve, cooking and cleaning and tending White children. They are seen as these superheroes without personal desires, depth or personhood independent of that which is given from a White gaze or narrative.

Yes, Hattie McDaniel in Gone With The Wind is a Mammy. That was her name in the credits. Scarlett O’Hara probably had a wet nurse who was probably a Mammy–and was probably in the personhood of Hattie McDaniel.

But let’s move on.

The fact that Amber Guyger is convicted of murder made me smile and cry. The fact that sis is smoothing her hair after she is convicted of murder or someone that could have really been this Black female balliff’s son? I was outraged. In seeing that, I cried out, “Get that bitch a brush!”

There aren’t enough surviving, ambitious reticent Mammies to coddle all the misbehaving White women in this nation that need release and relief! I refuse to believe that was an accident–and that 15 second clip has gone viral in the matter of 24 hours!

However, the thing that is not discussed, or scrutinized as heavily is the Black Dallas PD officer that defended what Amber Guyger did! As always, the brunt and blame fall to Black women. That is unfair, and is not right and we need to talk about this.

For the Black officer that vouched for Amber Guyger. You are trash, fam. You are so trash that you cannot even be sat out with the other trash! The fact of the matter is he testified as a token–I said what I said. I don’t take it back.

What needs to be discussed is the relationship some Black men have to power especially in the proximity and association to/with white supremacy. As the Urban Prophet TI said, “If the con is good, I ain’t supposed to see it!”

I see this con–I see this.

And I have seen it before! And over and over again!

What is not often discussed is the history of the Fraternal Order of Police. If you know your history, you know that modern policing (and its methods) are based in fugitive slave law practices–namely the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. If you are a student of history, for every press towards the high mark towards equality, the police have done two things:  stymie and enforce. Stymie the progress of minorities (whomever they may be). Enforce the narrative and wishes of their masters–keep all the people that scare us, whom we have harmed, whom we stole from, whom make my wife nervous is public in check–by any (deadly) means necessary.

You need only look at recent history to see that–how the police are used as a mitigating force between the good white folk and the meddling, needy outsiders who trouble the ruling classes for freedom, justice and to the pursuit of happiness.

How dare they?!

This is deeper than any “Blue Wall.” This is deeper than just trying to be a comfort to this murdering police officer! This construct of serving and protecting has racist roots from a poisonous tree! As the prosecutor said before the jury came back yesterday, “Convicting her doesn’t mean that you hate the police.” Just as me giving observation and asking questions doesn’t mean I hate the police.

The fact is, police need policing! The current permutation of law enforcement still needs an overhaul. Is it better than it was a century ago? Yes. But there is still so much further to go. The fact that this bailiff mammied to her, and she is vilified for it is one thing. But the sole onus of the chaos of this trial is not to be carried by this 15 second action! What we will not do is make her carry all this water by herself! The Black officer that agreed to vouch for what she did–saying she did everything her training said she could–needs to be drug a little bit as well!

What we miss in times of upheaval like this is the real enemy is the institutional, systemic and oppressive racism steeped and held in place by white supremacy! Amber Guyger killed a man in his house while eating a bowl of ice cream he bought, while on his couch, minding his business! She gets on the stand and cries (what most basic White women do after they have been caught doing something) and says how sorry she is. And people are supposed to comfort her, because that is what society tells us to do!

No.

Amber stood flat-footed and shot him, so she can stand flat-footed and take these years the jury is about to give her. Don’t be distracted at Sis that smoothed her hair. Don’t be distracted at the turcoat fam on the stand. The game is afoot, Watson. And the con is exposed. You cannot help but see it now.

So since you see it, and I see it, and we see it, then let’s dismantle it.

Learn the game so you can play it better.

American Girls, Addy & Me

I am almost 40.

This means I am old enough to remember when the American Girl dolls came out. I was in fifth grade and totally enraptured by Samantha. Keeping in mind, the first three dolls (Kristen, Samantha and Molly) were all White. I, ten-year-old girl in St. Louis, was not. It would be 1993 when Addy would be added to the American Girl doll line; with her addition, her story.

I have always played with dolls. My first doll I remember having and taking care of was a female Cabbage Patch doll named Lynn. She was white.

My first Barbie dolls were white.

My godmother got my first Black Barbie when I was in third grade. But throughout my toys in my girlhood, I always had White dolls. There were always more White dolls, and Black dolls were harder to find. If there were ever any.

Seeing Addy as an American Girl, even in reflection, has me sad. I am glad that such representation exists. Yet, my first question is why does she have to be a slave?

Why did the first Black girl to be marketed to other girls–namely Black girls—have to be a slave?

We can debate about history, recognition and visibility. We can have the free versus slave argument. We can even debate using Addy as a teaching tool! But the question still is, “Why did the first Black girl to be marketed to other girls–namely Black girls– have to be a slave?”

The diaspora of Black people does not have its genesis here on colonized shores, nor will it have its zenith here. Having Addy being this controversial is only a further indication of the chasm that is race relations in this country. The thing which I don’t think we pay enough attention to is the American Girl company was not founded by a Black woman or a person of color. That unique cultural awareness–that mix of representation, honor and sensitivity–was absent.

Just like with the founders of Mattel. The first Black Barbie was sold in 1968–as Christie. But a BLACK BARBIE was not marketed until 1980! I was born one year later. The first Black Barbie I ever remember being given to me was Peaches and Cream Barbie. She was so pretty–but you have to understand. Black dolls, Black Barbies especially were hard to find! I know this was only 30 years ago, on the heels of all things Black:   from Civil Rights, Voting Rights, literature (Roots and Queen by Alex Haley for example), the Cosby Show. Yet, there seemed not enough Black Barbie dolls in St. Louis for every Black girl that wanted one.

So imagine My delight, when I find out American Girl had this doll.

img_2782

Who is this girl?

Cécile Rey was the eleventh Historical Character of the American Girls, representing 1850s New Orleans. Cécile was released in 2011 along with Marie-Grace Gardner.

In May 2014 American Girl announced that they would archive Cécile’s entire collection; she, Marie-Grace Gardner, and their collections were archived prior to the BeForever relaunch. Their books remain available for purchase.

Personality and Facts

Cécile comes from a well-to-do and highly regarded family within the New Orleans community. Cécile wishes to become a stage actress, and shows a talent for storytelling, recitation, and poetry when she volunteers her time at the Holy Trinity Orphanage. Unlike Marie-Grace, Cécile is homeschooled.[5] She finds her lessons to be boring and especially dislikes writing. Cécile takes voice lessons with Marie-Grace, but unlike Marie-Grace, she doesn’t feel she’s very good at singing. Cécile is very good at keeping secrets, as she kept both Armand’s and Marie-Grace’s secrets.

Cécile is characterized as being confident, curious, and loving the limelight. She likes to be original. Americangirlpublishing.com describes her as bold. Cécile loves to make others laugh. Cécile is popular and has many friends in contrast with Marie-Grace. Cecile is outgoing and loves parties. One of her dreams was to become a famous actress, and dance at parties every night.

While Cécile can occasionally be outspoken at times, she is also shown to be sensitive and caring, such as teaching Marie-Grace French, spending time with elderly people of color at La Maison, and keeping Armand’s desire to become an artist rather than a stonecutter a secret from Papa. Cécile has also shown interest in distant lands, traveling, and adventures as she loves to hear the exciting adventurous tales her Grandpa tells her and is in awe with Marie-Grace’s experiences.

Cécile is quite interested in clothes and her appearance, and often tries to avoid getting her clothes dirty. For this reason, she’s not too fond of Marie-Grace’s dog Argos, who often has muddy paws.

She is always full of clever ideas and can be quite mischievous.

Her nickname, Cécé, is a diminutive of her full first name.

[taken from Americangirl.fandom.com]

See how deep this goes? See how imperative it is for Black children *to see themselves outside of what is reinforced? I understand not every child was born into such privilege as Cecile but not every Black child was born into chattel slavery either! I can appreciate that American Girl tried to make Addy as connected to her African culture (with her earrings and celebration traditions). I can appreciate that they tried to have Addy be an exception of sorts as it relates to chattel slavery. I can appreciate the effort to try and embody everything an entire culture familiar with erasure would need. The problem is, it wasn’t enough. There was more that was needed.

The doll did not, does not challenge the Master Narrative. Neither should that responsibility be laid on a toy company, or on the plastic soldiers of a doll. Addy began the conversation, but she has only scratched its surface. Leave to a White-loving world to think a Black girl, even a doll, can fix everything.

*-To date (with Cecile included), American Girl Historical Collection only has 3 Black American Girl dolls, 1 Latina doll, 1 Native American doll and two doll which can be classified as a POC.

[images from American Girl fandom]

They Didn’t Hire Me To Entertain The Staff.

Despite what the reading public thinks or says, I’m an introvert. I like to be left alone, I like quiet, and people are taxing. This doesn’t mean I’m sociopathic, or people-hating or even unapproachable! I grew up as a shy, quiet Black girl in a family of loud people. My quiet nature led to me being shy–which is not an asset in a public school.

I learned to be loud, and vocal–just like I learned to write. I learned that as a quiet, introverted kid, I needed to have a loud persona.

But then came life after high school. There was this unspokenness around me when I entered college. The school I was at (the now closed Deaconess College of Nursing) was predominately White. My high school was predominately Black. So, I really didn’t know how or where I fit in at.

But what I did notice was my White cohort thought I was unapproachable when I was quiet. Thought I was mean when I spoke my mind and needed my banter to feel comfortable. Even on some jobs that I have worked, I have noticed the same thing! When I’m quiet and doing my job, I am seen as someone worthy to be suspicious of. I’m legit just working.

But, when I am more open, soft-spoken and quiet at certain intervals, then I’m seen as a team-player, consistent in my work, and easy to work with. That is my personal favorite.

(Thee personification of my silent rage.)

When I came across this article on BESE.com by Sequoia Holmes, I rejoiced. Every woman in me, lived before me who had taught those women, telling them to hold on for me, screamed.

Can I not just come to work, make this money and leave?! Please?! Damn!

But I know that predominately White places police anything and everything which isn’t White, or White and male! From the names on resumes, to if you bring a dish to the office party or participate in Secret Santa. You are consistently monitored to see just what kind of Black girl you are.

If you don’t play the role of a Mammie or a Sapphire, then you have become identified as a problem. White America loves sexy, sassy, loud Black girls! Introverted Black girls need not apply.

Let me help the White folks you work with right quick:

The powers that be did not hire me to entertain you. They don’t pay me enough to banter with you, make up nicknames for you or teach you how to twerk. Don’t touch my hair when I change it. If my door is closed to my office do not knock. I meant to close it, I do not care what y’all are getting for lunch. You slick wanna see what I’m doing. If I am at my cubicle working quiet, that means I am doing just that.

I’m minding my business.

You should try it.

Black women have to be and do so many things just I have peace walking through the world! This none so apparent as when we work in predominantly White spaces. It is tiring: enter code switching, shifting and have a persona you put on from the moment you darken the door in the morning.

You cannot just go to work and be left alone–because introverts need to recharge from people. It’s just how we are wired. But Black girls are expected to be on in order to have some peace at work.

At work.

My job is to do what my job requirements are, and no more. Not every Black girl is Tiffany Haddish or desires to be! Not every Black girl dances or watches Scandal or Power. I don’t have to placate your expectation about being Black people to be seen as valuable to a company.

The same respect you give to David who never opens his office door until he leaves, to Becky that brings her cat pictures to work because it soothes her, is the same respect I need when I come in and sit at my desk to answer emails.

Let me be Black and remain employed.

Thank you.

From The Crates: Destiny

Let me blow your mind for a minute:

Those of your that revere the called, the chosen the appointed of the Lord, to the point of envy, let me remind you of something. We are, they are, just as human as anyone else. We have frailties, issues, quirks and hang ups as well. We also are confronted with decisions of human and Kingdom importance on a daily basis. It is to the work of the Kingdom, yea our assignments, that we can and do continually die to what the world would have us cling to, remembering the Kingdom of God is at hand (Matt 6:33).

It is to the demand of our assigned positions that we must decide on a daily basis to continue to follow, serve, love, pray and impart. Ministry is not glamour. The call is not an accessory to your Bible bag. The assignment is not something that can be forwarded on to someone else. (Esther 4:14). Pray for those that serve. Pray for those you don’t always see serving. Pray that assignments are imparted clear and with power. Assist in capacities allotted for the work to continue. It is sometimes, for this call, yea, this assignment those which have been appointed say:

“DESTNY IS NOT OPTIONAL.”

In putting to death the things, visions, and people of the life WE designed and willed, gives God permission to stretch out and stand up in us that much more, being empowered for our assignments. For that cause, do we stand and say in tenacity, as the prophet Isaiah did, “Here I am Lord. Send me.”

Let me blow your mind for a minute:

Those of your that revere the called, the chosen the appointed of the Lord, to the point of envy, let me remind you of something. We are, they are, just as human as anyone else. We have frailties, issues, quirks and hang ups as well. We also are confronted with decisions of human and Kingdom importance on a daily basis. It is to the work of the Kingdom, yea our assignments, that we can and do continually die to what the world would have us cling to, remembering the Kingdom of God is at hand (Matt 6:33).

It is to the demand of our assigned positions that we must decide on a daily basis to continue to follow, serve, love, pray and impart. Ministry is not glamour. The call is not an accessory to your Bible bag. The assignment is not something that can be forwarded on to someone else. (Esther 4:14). Pray for those that serve. Pray for those you don’t always see serving. Pray that assignments are imparted clear and with power. Assist in capacities allotted for the work to continue. It is sometimes, for this call, yea, this assignment those which have been appointed say:

“DESTNY IS NOT OPTIONAL.”

In putting to death the things, visions, and people of the life WE designed and willed, gives God permission to stretch out and stand up in us that much more, being empowered for our assignments. For that cause, do we stand and say in tenacity, as the prophet Isaiah did, “Here I am Lord. Send me.”

#asyouwere

Written by Jennifer P. Harris, August 7, 2015

The Gravest Of Matters

 

According to my mother, my maternal great grandfather, Dave George, was murdered by the Klu Klux Klan. Within this dark family lore, I was told he was murdered because he wouldn’t give up his land. I am aware that when one dons a MAGA hat, it is more convenient than wearing the white hood. It’s portable. Less messy. Then, you can tell people when you wear it you are a racist– you ‘just believe in what the POTUS is doing.’ In critiquing  the current state of the country, in calling the POTUS to any accountability, your retort is ‘you hate America.’

However, whenever you see some of these ardent supporters, especially in careers of helping or influence, they always have sunglasses on with their hats. One interview which struck  me was when a nurse, in the full MAGA regalia of cap and glasses, said that she supported the president because ‘he says what I think.’

This had me thinking.

With the addition of the Civil Rights Amendments to the Constitution, Title X, and the continued press for racial/gender equality, these archaic pre-antebellum notions have not gone anywhere. Just like the story of my Grandfather Dave, the story his killers told remained in their families as well! This is why you see these seemingly civil White folk relishing in this ideology!

Perhaps they, too, sat at the knees of their grandparents, or outside of locked doors and heard the stories. They heard the rumors. They heard the stories about the cutting off a left ears. Of lynch mobs. Perhaps they even heard the stories of these same grandparents–whom where once children–going to lynch parties, watching living, strong, Black bodies become strange fruit. With horror, then glee. The power is what they covet, what they believe is missing. What these generations previous and current believe they have to instill is the belief that to be White is to be powerful, and anything that is not White is to be removed, repressed, oppressed or subdued. This is one of the tenants of  White supremacy.

What this election has done is expose the veneer of racial civility–completely. What we are left with now, which much be reconciled with is why do people of this seeming elite ethnicity believe they are superior to anyone else? Ergo, to ensure that power, this superiority, it has be reinforced generation, after generation. The adages have to be repeated, embellished, and ingrained. The rights of others, the equitable treatment of people of variant backgrounds have to be seen as an infringements to the right to do as you want. Infringements on power structure of a society they have to be indoctrinated to believe they are entitled to run!

White supremacy  is a straw man for weak minded individuals with no sense of self outside of skin tone. It has to be reinforced:  it is a legacy that demands ignorance at the cost of progress. At the cost of inclusion. At the cost of life, health and well-being. When that is exposed so that it can be dismantled, the layers of this fallacy are exposed! We see that is built on things that are not based in reality; quantifying everything unlike you as other, evil or foreign. That is not reality.

What must be addressed in this time of what can only be called MAGA fascism is no one wants to say it with their chest! You want to hide behind hats, glasses, fake accounts and bots and retweets! But you won’t go to the job that pays you and spout this lunacy! Why? There are parameters in place which you respect because there are consequences! There are are bigger things at stake than you calling your boss a slur because they got promoted and they don’t look like you!

Racism costs. It will always those whom cannot afford to pay. On and in the chances when the opportunity to confront those whom perpetuate this poison are called out and confronted–with tangible, economic repercussions–they feign ignorance. Suddenly everything was misconstrued, miscommunicated, and through the tears we hear the choruses of “that’s not what I meant!” are always heard.

The thing is, these things are meant. Anything that is taught, is a form of discipline. Memorization, a deposit to use for later. A weapon needed in specific situations. They meant it! They mean it every time they put this hat on–because their decedents meant it every time they gathered rope. Or raped mothers. Or took land. They mean what they say–racists don’t have the acumen to pay the cost because the world doesn’t, isn’t lily white anymore.

And if you hate me, at least do the dignity of your betters and say it to my face–and not behind a tweet. Or a hat. Or the hat-glasses combo. Say it with your chest.

“If you can only be tall, when someone is on their knees, you have a serious problem.”    -Toni Morrison

Why It Comes To This

There are certain things in this American pop culture that people clearly don’t want trifled with. Now, me being the fan of language that I am, and as big a fan of storytelling that I am, let me put you on game real quick.

Walt Disney, the machine that is DISNEY, did not have an original idea. Aside from Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto, Daisy and Goofy. The powerhouse stories are taken from The Grimm Brothers, and in the case of The Little Mermaid, it is a taken from the Hans Christian Andersen story. You can link that here. What Disney has done in adopting these stories for the entertainment of children, is take a source text to adapt it to a suitable audience.

This is the beauty and nature of literature and art. What we not about to do is champion the craziness that is found in this campaign of #NotMyAriel or #MakeArielWhiteAgain. We not about to do this over here. We really not. What the Disney has done, again, is take a source text and reimagine it. I don’t have time to go into the literary breakdown of how cool that is, but I will say this.

First, Halle Bailey will be amazing as Ariel.

Second, if you think a mermaid–an imaginary creature from an almost 200-year old Danish story–which is a play on the sirens of ancient Greek mythology, cannot be Black? You are part of the problem.

What is the problem, you ask? The problem is your issue with visibility, diversity and the challenging of what you think should or could be acceptable representation of Black women and girls. It would seem that the people of this adamant persuasion regarding The Little Mermaid, are hilarious. But perhaps, this was the most potent social media comment pertaining to this situation:

 

 Imagine this.

*Not seeing yourself in any media depiction that wasn’t subservient. That wasn’t magical. That was delegated to the maids, mammies, and shadow people. Imagine that the casting of someone that looks like you, in a public medium like film, and having the reaction as vitriolic as Halle is having? Imagine having the color of your skin, your hair, your very being seen as so ‘offensive’ to what people call the ‘original’ film? Can you imagine how insane that would be?

Furthermore, as a Black girl who grew up before Tiana in The Princess And The Frog, was a voting adult before the election of President Barack H. Obama, as a Black girl that was told there were limits on my own imagination–representation is everything. If there was a little White girl that can imagine herself as Ariel, why can’t a little Black girl finally see herself as Ariel?

Is it the seeing of a Black girl as more than a caricature that is offensive? Is it the desire for diversity, in the insistence of our personhood, our presence, or magic? I wasn’t so struck by the need for this level of diversity with this particular film until my oldest daughter, whom will be 12 in September, gave me a gift. She made this mermaid sculpture at a camp. The mermaid was blonde, with brown hands, and a white face. She had never seen a Black mermaid. There weren’t even any Black mermaids in The Pirates Of The Carribean! I remember there being a Black mermaid (read:  tokenism!) on the cartoon in the early 1990’s. But the insidious thing that I had to catch myself on? What I had to confront was because I had not seen it, I could not believe it, ergo it could not be possible.

As a writer, I had to dive into this. Why couldn’t I believe mermaids could be Black? only because I hadn’t seen it. The Little Mermaid, the Disney version, is now about 30 years old. I was 8 when this movie came out–and didn’t even see it in the theaters. I was more into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at age 8. However, in deconstructing this feeling, I was encouraged by the fan art which is making appearances on Facebook. Here are some of my favorites:

 

“Up where they walk,

up where they run.

Up where they play all day

in the sun,

Wanderin’ free–

Wish I could be…

part of that world.”

Indeed this lyric from Part Of Your World has never been more prolific. We are part of this world.

 

 

*Author’s Note:  I would be remiss in my writer duties not to remind you to watch the documentary Horror Noire which is still available on Shudder. In watching that documentary, I believe much more will make sense to you.

 

 [top image: Disney via Google. First Ariel image is by Nilah Magruder (@nilaeffle–she first displayed this image on her personal Twitter timeline.]

 

JUNETEENTH In The MAGA Era

 

There are some things that even the woke ally cannot wish you.  Do not tell a Black person, whom is a direct descendant of chattel slavery, Happy Juneteenth.  Stop. Do not do this. I’m not going to ask again.

With that being said, this Juneteenth feels a little different with Orange Thanos in office. It feels like we have to fight a little harder to be seen. It feels like I need to be that much more Black to counteract all the toxic whiteness and malignant red caps. It feels like every thing Black has to be preserved, illuminated. served and strictly defined as ours.

OURS.

This nation is the diverse, beautiful, luminous place that it is, because of the minorities that were either kidnapped, enslaved, conquered and mistreated. From that muddy, rocky roux–we have a myriad of traditions that are now classified and quantified as childhood memories. Especially for those of us whom are African-American.

In this era where the insecure majority feels as though it has to stomp out anything that is not white or conforming, Juneteenth is our reminder as Black/African-American people that we cannot die. We will not die. Our power, our survival has been in traditions and support. It has maintained our sanity and our love for one another. It encamps in the lives of us their descendants to remind us of our own power. The strength of the combined force of time and tradition which yields legacy. It is this legacy which allows us a people to keep going. It is this living history that lets our children know that there is still joy and love and light in the world–and they are owed some of it.

I am in favor of all things being equal, but there are some things that I refuse to compromise with or on. And there are things that these MAGA sycophants are not going to take from me. They aren’t going to make me shrink. They aren’t going to make me think being Black is bad, dangerous or something to apologize for! A red cap is a white hood is a crooked badge is a Johnny Reb is a plantation overseer.

Juneteenth is our holiday. Is our day. Is our history. Our ancestors survived so much worse–we will endure this too. And at the end of this? We will celebrate the end of this tyrannical dynasty too. Just watch.