Did I Tell You About The Time I Almost Got Catfished?

Dating is dangerous, family!

In February 2020, I talked about how discouraged (read: afraid) I was to start dating after the ending after of this last relationship. Then…I got on Facebook dating on a whim. You favorite was (almost!) the victim of a catfish. So, I got brave and made a profile on Facebook Dating. I made one before, starting trying to date someone—and that fizzled as quickly as it started. After random men offering lackluster and fervent sexual favors, this guy calling himself Kenvy inboxed me.

This handsome somebody I am positive didn’t inbox me.

I admit it:  He was handsome. He was sweet. But something wasn’t right. Now, I am a fan of the Alice In Wonderland live action movie. There is a portion of the movie, near the end, where before Alice can defeat the Jabberwocky, she has to believe 6 impossible things. Now, I had to notice those same impossible things in  order to not be swept up in nonsense.

This dude, Kenvy, told me that he was a “USA Marine” and he was in Africa at the moment (Impossible Thing #1). No Marine I know says he’s a USA Marine.

This dude told me that he had a daughter named Berry (Impossible Thing #2) and her mother was not in her life. (Impossible Thing #3). We talked for two days, and he kept repeating himself (Impossible Thing #4). He sent me pictures, and asked me to download WhatsApp—I did. I mean, my best friend is on it! The app is free, too! So, I acquiesced because he was cute.

Aside A: This is the fly in the ointment, with me and ‘Kenvy’. I’m a writer. I am a student of history. I also have been researching romance scams for the past couple years. I am also fan of the MTV show Catfish. I am also a year from 40. I am not that easy to fool.

Harpo, who this man?!

We exchanged pictures. He told me after talking to me two days that I was what he wanted (Impossible Thing #4). Kenvy told me that I was beautiful, and he could see himself getting serious with me (keep in mind, we were only talking like 2 days—Impossible Thing #5). In sending him pictures, he even started dedicating songs to me! Bruh, slow up! One of those songs being Perfect by Ed Sheeran (Impossible Thing #6)!

Curiouser and curiouser…

Keep in mind Perfect was a song that has significant meaning—by someone incredible! But let’s keep going. The whole conversation felt rushed! I asked him when his deployment would be over. He said, “Next month.” At the time it was late April—the month of May was in literal DAYS. When I pressed for details, he couldn’t give any (Impossible Thing #7). I asked why I couldn’t hear his voice—he told me some BS reason that was so convoluted that even I can’t match it (Impossible thing #8). He said the reason why he couldn’t call me was because it wasn’t safe or secure (Okay, maybe.). Then he asked if I would be willing to give him my number to give to his commanding officer to have it be verified (Hell Nall! Impossible Thing #9 and #10).

WHAT DO I LOOK LIKE?!

So, all my antennae are up at this point!  I can’t hear his voice, sentence structure is off, he’s repeating himself, and the pictures he sent don’t jive with where he is supposed to be in the world. My immediate thought—I am being catfished.

Wanna know what I did next? I waited on him to ask me for money. I felt that was coming and intuition rarely fails. In two days, this cat is talking about marrying me, kids, and wanting to always be here for me.

Aside B: I am secretly fascinated by romance scams! I have been researching them for a while, because I wanted to know just how victims are sucked in! From that research, from that second hand knowledge, I was prepared.

I. Was. Prepared.

He texted me through this shady ass app, and the dread was in my belly. I knew it was coming—this man only an illusion. But then, I realize what hooked these other women—attention. The overwhelming attention when there is nothing else granting it to you!

Then he had it…the audacity. He asked me to send him $200 on a eBay gift card to pay his Wifi (Impossible Thing #11). He said he would pay me back “when I get home (Impossible Thing #12).”

I told him to never contact me again. I told him how dare he ask me to send him $200?! He seemed hurt and confused, but he left me alone. Then, I felt the dread. Wondering about the pictures I sent, about whether my picture will be in this scam next time…and that person not be as smart.

Feeling stupid has a frequency, and other consequences…beyond screens.

Note: The pictures sent to me include a child who is probably his daughter. I don’t feel comfortable sharing them. He might be a serviceman and I pray his safety for him and his daughter.

In The Letting Go

For the sister I didn’t know I needed—Jahaira Balenciaga (DeAlto).

It took me a week to write this. It took that long to write this because I am still processing all of it. I am actively, equally outraged, heartbroken and in rolling disbelief. The woman I had watched on YouTube for the better part of a decade, who I connected with through the gift of social media–for the better part of a decade–was murdered in her house because she was helping a woman leave her husband.

I am devastated. And here is why.

I was introduced to Jahaira through the YouTube channel MuchLove From KY (Ms. Nina!) who I love like an Aunt also. I liked Jahaira because she was funny, smart, and she changed her hair like I did! I didn’t even know Jahaira was trans until disclosed that. Now, was I raised to be homophobic or transphobic? Not at all. So, Jahaira being trans, was a small part of who she was. What endeared Jahaira to me was her authenticity, her love for the people around her, and her steady committment to make the world a better place.

I followed her YouTube channel (JahairasMission) for years! I celebrated when she got her associates degree. I rejoice when she enrolled in Simmons University to finish her bachelors degree. I was so happy we won her award! She was doing so much good in the world and to have her life snuffed out like this? It is so unfair.

I am reminded of the statistic that she gave when excepting her MOVA award about 3 years ago now. She said that the average age that trans women get to especially transwomen of color get to, is only 35. At the time of her passing, Jahaira was 42,43 years old.

Foolishly, I thought that she was passed that danger point! I thought that she had made it over so to speak. And that all the good in the world that she was aiming to do, the children that she helped raise, the love and legacy that she left—she was going to be able to be one of those trans women they got to see old age and seen the reward of all her hard work. I wanted that for her…

It is being reported out of Dorchester, that The person that murdered her was actually staying with her! He’s now in custody, and I am enraged!

I have been watching her videos on YouTube for a week because my mind cannot wrap itself around the fact that this woman that I knew, who had gone through so much, who was destined to do so many good things is GONE!

It is being reported out of Dorchester, that she was murdered by the estranged husband of the woman she was trying to help to leave him. He wound up killing Jahaira and his estranged wife!

This ain’t right. This isn’t fair. And I don’t know how I’m coping. I can only imagine how her mother feels! Jahaira DeAlto is the 21st trans woman to be murdered this year. Yeah, even in all of my grief and anger, I’m choosing to do the very thing Jahaira reminded us all as her sub tastics told us do: LIVE.

And with that four letter word, let that be her legacy. She encouraged us all to live and live unapologetically. Owning every last piece of our truth, embracing every flaw that we have, and celebrating every victory!

See you one of the other side, Jah.

The Life Of A Dangerous Black Girl-Lie #2: It Doesn’t Take All That!

The world loves to tell Black women and girls what they can and cannot do! It loves to define Black women and girls for what they believe they should be. I am not a should-be Black girl. I am not a should-be Black woman! I own all that I have gone through, all I have done, and I want all that I dream of being!

I own me on a level I couldn’t dream of before! I suppose inching towards 40 which has settled me in a way that I didn’t think I would reach yet. Yet, in the intersection of aging, motherhood and adulthood, I find myself confronting the need to hold my own space. There is a need to protect that space, and every footstep that goes into owning that. The lie that I break daily is that I “do too much” or “it doesn’t take all that.” But, it does! It does take all that–it takes every bit of THAT which makes me Black and woman and walking through the world!

There is a different level of moxie, chutzpah and bravado to be a Black girl in a world that either wants to be you, erase you or kill you! It take every bit of your THAT to walk through the world and not be overtaken by it! What is THAT you ask? THAT can be a myriad of things, but here are the three things that I have deduced THAT is: Voice. Style. Presence.

Voice. There is a power, a magic, that Black women have. There is a natural authority and sway we have. When we open our mouths at certain points, God will come out! And in that space, from that place of authority, people who don’t want to see or hear Black women–silence us. We get removed from rooms. We get ‘rescheduled.’ We get delegated. We get told that we ‘too loud.’ We are ‘too aggressive’. And then those accusations are met with rebuttal? Oh, then we are called ‘bitches’. As if that will make the roar soften because you call me a name! No. I’m too told to be stopped by that.

Style. The poet Nikki Giovanni talks about how divine this thing called style that Black folk have. The poet herself even said, “If the Black woman wasn’t born, she would have to be invented.” There is a power in this! There is something to Black women, whom bear Black girls who, too, will become Black women have that is indicative of self-expression. In a world which is bent toward erasure of anything it considers and aberration, Black women still are noticed–we can’t help but to be noticed! From hair, our nails, make up and shoes–to how will pull ourselves together for dinners, weddings or a night out–Black women have shaped, reinvented, and owned style from the first time we discovered color. This was before chattel slavery, dear ones.

Presence. I have been a tall girl my entire life. In quoting my aunt about the state of my body, she says it this way: “All you had all your life was legs and ass!” That’s a direct quote. Now, I stand 5 feet, 10 inches tall, and about 200 lbs. With the right outfit and shoes I am over 6 feet tall–you notice when I walk in a room. My mother tells me that a lady always has presence about her. It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s until I realized what that meant. Presence is owning your life, experiences and all that your body is–stretch marks, muffin top, eyeglasses–whatever. The world doesn’t know what to do with a woman they are supposed to be ignore (let’s not forget we aren’t to be lusted after!), and it wants to erase! What do you do with a woman that you can’t help but see?

So yes, dear ones, it takes all of THAT. This life takes you owning your space. Amplifying your voice. It takes knowing who you are, and having your life not be defined by what other people can look or conceptualize you as! You make the boxes and draw outside of them!

Never let the world which can only take you in sips demand you give them a chaser! No! You have every right to be in this world–so be in it. Be. In. It.

In Defense Of ‘WAP’

Note: This is review is for grown women only. I knew what WAP was when I saw this image. Why? Cause I’m grown. Check the notes at the end. You’re welcome. -JBHarris

I am not a virgin.

I know how babies are made, and where they come from.

I like sex.

Now, with that out the way, I thank you that your misogyny hasn’t overruled your common sense! I also thank you for continuing to engage in this discourse. At this again (I am a year from 40), I know what I like and who I like it from. Also, the concept of dancing to sexy music is not a new thing. I mean, I listened to Lil Kim and Trina when my mom wasn’t home during my last two years of high school. So, when I heard WAP at work two nights ago? I vibed to it, and was mad I couldn’t be anyone’s Meg Thee Stallion! But let me not ahead of myself…

My mother and father taught me to not and never be ashamed to be Black. My mother never told me to be ashamed of my body, even though my mother is of the generation that still call Black girls fast–and I, too, was warned about the ‘danger’ of being *’fast’ or being ‘a fast-tailed girl’**. It was work to begin to love my body, and all it could do. It was a whole other struggle to remind myself that sex, and liking sex doesn’t make me anything but a sexual being.

In growing up as Black and girl, whom will become Black and woman, there can be this almost oppressive chastity imposed on you! To own your body as a Black woman is a revolutionary act! It a declaration of your personhood and ownership–complete ownership!–of your body. There are still people (read: men and ‘conservative’ women) that think to own you body, and to take pleasure with it, automatically makes you a whore! Slut-shaming is trash LD/DAP energy. I said it.

The video is a declaration of the ownership of the female form! I still have no idea why Kylie Jenner was in it! WHY?! Other than for the reputation her sister has and it being a declaration that she is DTF. But, I digress.

I have no idea why sexually confident women scare people! In the two days this song and video has been up, the complete backlash is almost comical! Too $hort can talk about pimpin an Cocktales, video vixens have been the ornaments to all hip-hop videos, NWA has a song called ‘My Penis’, but let a woman declare just how bomb her body is! Let her declare how well she can use these hips Lucille Clifton talked about! Let a woman declare that as Meg said in Captain Hook ‘I like to drin and I like to have sex’, now she is undesirable?

Yet, there is a large swath of these so-called outraged men that still watch porn, by the ‘services’ of women and have ‘known’ more than a few hoes in their ‘player days’. But, you want the woman you want to be pristine, low body count and just do ‘hoe shit’ for you? Do you hear yourselves?

In literature, there is this idea called primo genture. This ideology comes up alot in Shakespearean plays. The idea is to police and control female sexuality, you can then assure legitmate heirs to a line. Notice the legitmacy of an heir falls to a woman–even though she can neither determine when she gets pregnant, or the sex of the baby. We need only look to recent history to men–married men!–whom had whole families outside of their ‘legitmate’ families! What does that mean for them?

Oh, I forgot. Men are supposed to ‘sow their wild oats’, right? Get all that hell-raising and bed hopping done with before getting married. I cackle laughing at this every time someone mentions how chaste a woman is supposed to be. Yet, this wisdom is never expected from men.

The fact that WAP exists, and I’m SURE is on many a playlist the kids can’t listen to, and been ‘tried out’ by now, I need ya’ll to grow up. If you don’t want to listen to it, don’t. If you think Cardi and Meg are too much–don’t listen! But don’t come for those of us whom have done the work of loving ourselves, including those of us who know we have WAPs, and like using them from time to time. Use that energy to take down the president who likes to ‘grab women by the pussy.’

Women are allowed to own their bodies, their sexuality and express that however they see fit. Societal approval is not needed for a woman to be seen. A woman need only a mirror for that–and the right to not be judged because she looked, with the audacity to like what she saw. And twerk in celebration.

Note to help you not be a prude:

Shameless Plug #1: Read Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women A Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall.

Shameless Plug #2: Read by miniseries from last year FOR A FAST GIRL. Click here to start that.

Shameless Plug #3: Listen to my podcast, The Writers’ Block (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play). For the month of May, I did a miniseries called For The Love of Hip-Hop and I talk about sex, women and hip-hop on the third and fourth show.

Shameless Plug #4: Listen to the Sexpectations podcast hosted by Nicole Powell.

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.

In Memoriam Of The Charleston 9

It has been 5 years since Dylan Roof walked in the Mother Emmanuel and killed 9 people at a prayer meeting. I remember watching this on national news, and my heart breaking. BREAKING in my chest. At the time, my [then] husband and I were pastoring in Ferguson, Missouri–trying to figure out how to be married, clergy, activists and sane a year after Michael Brown, Jr. was murdered not even 10 minutes from our apartment. 

What Dylan Roof did was evil. The absolute level of evil is for God discern when he closes his eyes for the last time. As for me and mine, my [then] husband and I kept pastoring. We kept serving, kept loving the community we were in, and trying to do what God told us. In 5 years time, what I have seen is two fold: people running away from anything Jesus-related, or they are clinging to it. 

The folk whom are running from it, say they have abandoned it because it is a ‘White man’s religion.’ Forgetting that Jesus isn’t White, the Gospel went to Africa before it went to Rome, and the ‘fishers of men’ didn’t speak English at a native language. I say all that to say this. The White Evangelical Church has a lot to explain. A whole lot! Once more, it has taken the death of a man who was innocent to have dramatic, world-wide effect. You have to understand, as a woman of faith, the housecleaning that is happening in the faith community is overdue! It is overdue! Do you know how hard it is to preach this gospel with the assertion that most people believe that Christ is a ‘white man’s savior’? Let’s not even get into what it means to be a woman doing this work! 

In the light of this resistance–this once in a generation resistance–it seems fitting that this memoriam would be commemorated! However, the best thing about this? The White Evangelical church is having to deal with these chickens coming home to roost, dens of foxes in henhouse, and packs of wolves in sheep’s clothing. What reassures me that a reckoning has come is when WHITE pastors are confronting racism in their respective denominations. 

One of those pastors is Pastor Judah Smith of ChurchHome-Seattle. On a June 4th Zoom live, he said these two things: “We have colluded with the culture.” Meaning, there is still a thread of racism (real, palpable RACISM) that is going through the church. But the quote that struck me was this: “We have preached America as if–at times–its is scripture.” I see no lie present in this. None! The church, the one founded by Jesus Christ was NEVER supposed to collude with a culture. It was never supposed to align with one race of people! It was never designed to be a place where all people were not welcome! The fact Dylan Roof did this, killing the pastor of this church, only to have his body taken to internment under a Confederate flag? Insult isn’t even the word. In commemorating this tragic event, it is right that the church–a entity of change, hope, protection and security, begin to examine just how much of Christ is in the church. 

I mean, it was founded by a Middle Eastern man, whom didn’t speak English and was a refugee whose non-English speaking parents teenage parents fled their home to prevent his murder, only to be murdered by this state in front of his mother for being a threat to power—maybe, the legacy of this moment is the change it would bring. Rather, that is bringing. Octavia Butler said it this way, “All that you touch is change, all that you touch changes you. God is change.”

Change has now come.

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.