30 DAYS OF JAYE: Within

More from the crates! I forgot how much great stuff is in here: from 2004!

What was once ignored

Can no longer be…

The joy that I have found

So richly in you has

Perplexed my spirit and

Possessed my soul.

Thoughts of you appear

As dreamlike visions that

Sustain and haunt…

Forcing the true nature

Of this affection and hunger

To be made manifest.

To lie broken and exposed,

Naked in your presence…

This seducing suffering is

Comforting, reminding me

That I have loved this way

Before, but not since.

Powers beyond my finite

Scope of reasoning, draw

Me to you…as quickly as

I can pull away from them.

This resistance ignites my

Blood and liberates my

Heart…to be yours once more

(Jennifer-Phylon Bush, age 22)

**Written on division 9400 of Barnes-Jewish Hospital,  during the month of April, year of our lord, 2004

30 DAYS OF JAYE: Dream

Another from the crates! This one is from 2005!

the emptiness that lingers about

my room and my bed

causes restlessness and

lack of sound sleep

my thoughts are of you

and of you alone

as if I have been robbed

and seduced beyond reason or

measure

and I linger and lie in such

my want is your craving

and my desire to be all that you seek

to warm my nights, stay for my mornings

and have you near always

allow me to drink from the ichor

that imbibes and restores you and

allow me to make such ambrosia my own

(Jennifer-Phylon Bush, age 23 January 16, 2005)

30 DAYS OF JAYE: BECAUSE I AM BLACK TODAY

Note: This poem is dedicated to Alexis Templeton, Ashley Yates and Brittany Ferrell. Thank you dearest ones. The phrase attributed to Alexis here is what she used to tweet during the first days of action after the murder of Michael Brown, Jr. In Ferguson, MO. She would literally tweet: I hope they don’t kill you because you Black today.

“Black women take care of Black women.” – Ashley Yates

I performed this piece on The Writers’ Block Podcast on April 3, 2021 during the SEND FOR A POET SEGMENT. The show is called The I In You Series: The Five I’s Of Representation: Imagine. Click here to listen. Thank you.

“I hope they don’t kill you because you’re black today.”

that’s what Alexis said,

with her hands above her head.

as there were gas canisters flying at her head,

and her hands where they could see them ,

because to be without such visibility,

with a brick would render her defenseless,

from some alien to see without apology

that was the establishment has

planned has planned for

you, them, me and us, is a stark contrast

with the reality by which

it means to be Black in these United States.

Pray for those who stand in the street,

who stand in the gap for this new type of

street ministry:

this gospel that is unapologetic,

that reminds us that our Christ

who was tried as a criminal,

made bloody and bowed

because He, too, was about

His father;’s business and the

freedom and its protection of His people.

Yet, because of his skin,

he is remembered as one with

a lighter tone

because truth is often dark, and shows up on skin.

Yet-

because of the trials and tribulation set before him,

endured the cross

but you have to understand

that because He can,

so we shall!

We shall too and do in power

only to be resurrected when time is come,

our time is now !

The time has come to type up the bill

which has no come due,

We are the seeds of the Son,

which had the light of fathers

Malcolm, Martin and James

whom we have all seen,

whom met us at the mountaintop

because they too have seen the Promised Land!

From this place of promise,

from this place of elevation,

from this new place,

this new destiny we watched,

as this new nation is born through

this coldness that has been stifled

from the light that love can only bring–

only to only to be ricocheted back

after suffering violent

through hate and fear

and the fear mongering and the criminalization

of what I cannot control!

In the in the nightmares at

this black skin that continues to influence,

seeing that the most dangerous place to be

Black like me

is to be in the head of White people

Afraid of that the lie

they imbibe, by which they use

blood to justify

revealing they were never

superior, never first

–only using their worst

to steal the greatness from us.

“I hope they don’t kill you ’cause you black today.”

That’s what Alexis said, with her hands above her head–

And now? Today? They won’t.

This poem will be a part of the collection: SEND FOR A POET: Poems for Love, Godliness and Revolution (August 2021, Divinity Publishing)

A Year Ago This Month: Reflections From A Pandemic

This picture is one of the few taken before the onset of the pandemic in the US in early 2020 (this was taken in October 2019). What an odd moratorium–but here we are.

One year ago this week, I was married. I was a mom. I was a healthcare worker in-between jobs, and I was a recent college graduate! I had planned on leaving healthcare and transitioning into education. I planned on pursuing my Masters in English (a possible MFA), and was even recommended by one of my mentors, Dr. Kimberly Welch, to pursue the Doctoral program.

I mean, Dr. Jennifer Harris, sounds formidable, doesn’t it?

And then COVID-19 abducted that future. The fight that would end my marriage completely was brewing, I felt it. There was no where to go, I hated being home, and ‘sheltering in place’ with someone that you have no desire to be with is a different type of Hell. While sheltering in place, I had to confirm my plan to leave the husband who claimed to love me, but had hurt me so badly that I would have rather slept outside than in his bed! I learned just what activities he was up to! All while trying to keep peace for the sake of my children.

What kicked it off? Me doing exactly what I’m doing right now: writing. I was at my computer, and he asked me why I wasn’t talking to him. I told him I wasn’t bothering him, and I was minding my business. Why did I say that? And off it went. We argued. We screamed. And he asked me if I even wanted to be his wife anymore.

I, leaning against the wall, completely bereft said, “No.”

And the month of April was an exercise patience, being stealth, and having to do what you have to do with the world burning around you! I found a new job. I started a new job, full-time, with benefits. I found an apartment, looked at it and my mother got my deposit for it. I lied to the man that is now my ex constantly so he would leave me alone.

I still cooked. I still was gracious! I washed clothes and mopped floors. I still was a mom. I answered questions of children, I muddled my way through the beginnings of this quagmire of virtual learning. I mean, I even remember making Easter dinner last year, and all his favorites. Kill ’em with kindness, right? WWJD, right?

And Saturday, April 25, 2020? He packed his things, and the last thing he asked me, “Can I have my keys?” And I haven’t seen him since. And I am relieved! Relieved! I was able to breathe for the first time in two years! In that relief, I had to mourn what was.

There would be no more 2-parent household. There would be no more grad school, no TA-ing for my mentor. My plans for my MFA were permanently on hold. I couldn’t leave healthcare–I needed the money to sustain myself and kids! I was back to being a single parent, after almost 7 years. I was no longer going to be a married woman. I had to do the dirty work of putting my life back together…while falling apart. Whatever ancestral faith imparted to me, and I forged, I tapped into. I tapped into. The days immediately following his leaving, I barely remember! I had a house to pack. I had to get to work! I had to get back from work!

After being employed for a month, I even remember the day–May 15, 2020–I called off work. A huge issue in health care anyway! I literally felt my body and mind say, “I cannot go on. I cannot do anymore! Whatever you are demanding me to do, I cannot do!” I called my best friend, Tawanna, and told her what happened. She told me to take care of myself–and I did. I remember calling the Nursing Office, and robotically telling them–with proper 2-hour notice!–that I could not make it in. “I have an emergency with my children.” That was all I could muster. I thanked the woman that answered the phone, and I resumed laying down in the dark room with half of my possessions packed up in various rooms. I remember I laid in bed, tears breaking free from the prison of my own strength. I cried. Not loud, but I cried. I have been tired. I have even been exhausted! I have never been the level of tired where my entire being rebelled and shut down.

My children were with my mother and sister, so I could get back and forth to work (this was a lot of ride-sharing, and paying people gas money). A lot of groceries being delivered, and dealing with coming home to my lights being off (because he turned them off! They were in his name!), and him telling the landlord that we (myself and children) were gone! Imagine their surprise when I appeared out of the house after hearing noise in the backyard!

I had to pack a house, raise kids, and move my entire life to get back to where I had to get to. I decided that me was more important than the we! I had to mourn what was dead, and even what I helped to kill! With all that swirled around me, I didn’t die. I didn’t succumb! I didn’t quit! God truly kept me–He truly did!

From those early days of confusion, trying to get masks, and washing clothes every time I went outside–to being an a 2-bedroom apartment that catches the morning and evening light, where I see trees every morning. A pandemic didn’t kill me. A bad relationship couldn’t stop me. An abusive ex couldn’t, didn’t silence me. What this pandemic has taught me is I am stronger that what I thought, and had to become more resourceful that I ever thought.

Now, in this new ‘normal’, I pay my own rent. I am still employed, being an great mom–who keeps masks in her car. I am 2 months away from 40, and looking to buy a house. Is this a happily ever after? No. This is the next chapter being written. For that, I am grateful.

#BlackBlogsMatter Challenge-Week 5 (2021)

Woke work is a dual-edged sword.

And being Black while doing any aspect of social justice, can be tiring–but it is necessary! It is essential that we as minority people ‘stay in the way’ as it relates to matters of race, class, and any type of social reform.

This work is essential, and dovetails into what Coretta Scott King said about freedom being won in every generation. Until those at the top relinquish power–and that power is often taken by force!–there will always be work to do! There will always be a space to break into, a voice to amplify, and a reason to keep watch over the weak and invisible!

Sometimes, honestly, this work is hard.

Sometimes, this work is thankless.

Sometimes, this work has slow rewards.

Sometimes, the only thing you can do is fight!

When you decide to do woke work aka being a Social Justice Warrior, you are part of the Avengers who are in the iconic scene in Avengers: Endgame! You have been called in to fight against Thanos, and all the powers of darkness sent from the Dark 9 Realms to stop all progress, justice, equality and fairness. You are an Avenger! You have to fight! Why? It is the right thing to do.

It is right to help protect the weak and vulernable!

It is right to protect children and those who cannot fend for themselves!

It is right to protect and preserve the land we and others live on!

It is right to do the work of making the world better–Alice Walker said that activism is the rent you pay for living on this planet. So, pay your rent.

We fight, because we cannot afford to die.

God & Lil Nas X-Part 2: Takeaways

For my overview, click here for Part 1.

I write this part as a cis-het, Christian, woman whom is a mother, and hope hustler (minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ).

With that established, let’s get it!

1.) You cannot tell me that this young man is not hurt and isn’t lashing out. I have heard the hellfire sermons as it relates to homosexuality. They have never sat well with me. This is the only ‘sin’ there is no grace given to or for. The gospel of Christ is a hammer, yes—but it was never meant to massacre! Imagine being told as you live your life, the source of all things will turn His back on you. That is a nightmare! People forget that love draws, hate divides! Guess which was the last thing Christ told us to do? I’ll wait.

2.) This video was meant to be divisive. The vibe I got watching this video was to make people mad. He fully embraced this identity as a pariah. Completely and utterly outcast from society as Black, gay man—the video celebrates everything in his reality that will ostracize him elsewhere! He is celebrating the fact that “all gay people go to Hell” and pole dancing the whole way there! That is a boldness without equal. Then to simulate sex with Satan, only to murder him(!) and take He’ll over?! Like Crowley on SUPERNATURAL?! Fam!

I don’t think y’all get that: He. Just. Trolled. God. That is a different kind of hubris, I don’t have—or could ever want. His arms are too short for that smoke.

3.) There is an artistry to this video that is undeniable. It’s a pretty video! Very avant-garde! And the creativity that went into it is amazing.

4.) The ownership of your complete self is a process—and when done well? It is incredible!Since Lil Nas X came out, he has made it his mission to accept himself—regardless of who said what! With the state of the nation being what it is, he fact he has been able to do this, done this work to ricochet out into the world? You gotta admire that.

5.) It is a middle finger to heteronormativity. As the transactivist Diamond Stylz says, “It’s gay as fuck.” This video was a treat for the eye, with no video vixen in sight! His self-love, acceptance, with no need to compromise. Bruh.

6.) The video is a demonstrative of the cost to of living the life you want! This young man is a successful, openly, gay Black rapper. I cannot imagine the smoke that came from just that! And peep the double entendre: call me by your name! Basically, call me what you want—it doesn’t matter! Whew!

7.) The game is afoot, Watson. Understand (again) that this young man is playing a role. Understand this is about money, clout and marketing! The more pressed you are, the angrier you are, the more he cashes checks! I refused to be pressed about this because I know the agenda! The world said/says he is a demon destined to go to Hell? Bet! And made a sneaker line to boot? Chile! You better understand what the real issue is and how to handle it! Not sure what the issue is? Re-read Part 1, and all these pieces again.

I’ll be here when you get back.

God & Lil Nas X-Part 1: Overview

“The goal of the artist is to disturb the peace.” -James Baldwin

“You can’t live without crossing somebody’s line.” -Lafayette (Nelson Ellis), from TRUEBLOOD

The people I know cross genders, expressions, and religious backgrounds. I mean, my own father told me that there was no God! One of the closest men in my life is actually an atheist—married to my best friend whom is a recovering Catholic (her words, not mine). I, myself, I came to believe in Christ at 8, baptized at 16, called to ministry at 30, and believe in Christ (born of a virgin, crucified and coming again). In the midst of that faith journey, let me be a little more transparent.

I’ve had premarital sex. Been divorced. Had impure thoughts. Stolen stuff. Lied. Lied on people! I have a past and a God that understands! But God that at my lowest points, when I called Him—He answered me. It is with they adage, and familiarity with my own shortcomings that I make it a mission to not “take God” from people. I don’t have that right—neither do I want it!

Enter Lil Nas X.

With full transparency (and age) I had to admit the reason I didn’t listen to him was he took a piece of Nasir olu dara Jones’s name as his. I knew then I would be too old to listen to him! Yet, in the interest of being an involved parent, when my kids starting singing ‘can’t nobody tell me nothing’? I had to know who this child was!

Enter CALL ME BY YOUR NAME.

I saw the video on YouTube after seeing segments of it on TikTok. After watching it, I won’t lie—I was unnerved! I looked at it through the eyes of a concerned Mama Bear. I thought, “This child is really content on going to Hell, huh?! Why?!”

Then, I took a deep breath…and looked closer.

Who buying these? Not I.

As pretty as the video is, my takeaways are here. But let’s get back to these observations.

The video is unapologetic. The video is trolling Christianity and Christians. It is a middle finger to the gospel of Jesus Christ. It just is. However, beneath the trolling, there is more there. And it is indicative of Newton’s third law of motion:

“For every action, there is an equal, opposite reaction.”

This video is just that. Am I bothered by the video? No. Did the video shake my belief in Christ? No. Would I let my kids watch it? No. Lil Nas X is trolling Christianity through making himself a Satan caricature the vehicle/ vessel to do it. Why? Look at what he said (first image)! How would you feel if an institution with so much power and influence continued to condemn you, and others like you, because its doctrine said it could? Conversely, offering grace, love and hope to everyone else—BUT NOT YOU?

I’ll wait.

He got the entire planet pressed in less than five minutes—literally! He, through the vessel of art, is owning all that he is, and embracing the dogma of homosexuality being equated to the only irredeemable sin worthy of Hell! The only one we need to clobber on, be the only concern the church has. He has fully embraced this and declared (through his art!), “If imma go to Hell like y’all say? I’m going to do what I want, and when I get there? Imma take that bitch over!

With that level of don’t careish, he has declared what he wants and marketing it as such (see the the limited edition numbers blood Nikes which are $1000!)! This is game, and Lil Nas X is looking at all these pressed Christians…and laughing! It’s classic rage farming—and trolls do this!

The question we need to ask is, what is the church going to do? Not about Lil Nas X, but how the church treats ALL God’s children we are supposed to love, teach and instruct?

This is bigger than a video.

In The Matter Of Derrick Jaxn

These are my first and final thoughts on this Jaxn Dilemma. Follow your girl on TikTok (@whatjayesaid).

Thank you to Rebecca Quarles for this meme. The internet is undefeated!

I stumbled on Derrick Jaxn in the rabbit hole that is YouTube. I like how personable he was, and the fact that I thought he was handsome surely helped. I liked his approach to relationships, his advice made sense, and I even used it from time to time! I mean, I was solidly, #TeamJaxn. I followed him on social media (Twitter, YouTube) and even used his advice from time to time! I mean, I even shared his advice to some people (i.e. women) I knew!

Then, I started looking a little closer.

There was a live that I saw with him on it (it might have been on YouTube), at least two to three years ago, and he mentioned a baby. A new baby. When I heard that, I turned the live off. I had this question: “If you have all this wit, wisdom and knowledge, how do you have a Baby Mama and not a wife, sir?!” It was from there, that I quit listening to him. I want all of us as Black folk to win, and I left all that where it is.

And from there? Life is on fire this week! On fire! Completely!

Turns out Mr. Jaxn has been cheating on this woman, his wife, who is the mother of his daughter–the Baby Mama!–for a minute! Like?! What part of the game is this? According to the Facebook Live event they did as a couple earlier this week (which his wife, Da’Naia, said was her idea!) left me staring! And I mean, staring!

Derrick Jaxn: Relationship guru confess to cheating on im wife - BBC News  Pidgin
Chile, there is no way I would have come on camera about this. No God.

With the interest of full transparency, I have been the woman that has been cheated on. I have also been the wife that cheated. I own both of those identities! I can tell you that there is no greater pain than realizing the person you are building your life with has cheated on you–emotionally or physically. Also, there is nothing like believing the person that you re building your life with cannot be what you need–neither can they meet (or see) those needs you have expressed!

It hurts either way.

Yet, the thing that I find more glaring comes from this deep sense of a boundary being violated! According to his wife, DaNaia, said she had dealt with this a year before! A year! She went on to say that she left him–took the baby and bounced! Da’Naia said she told her husband, Social Media Sociologist and Relationship Guru, Derrick Jaxn that she wouldn’t come back to him until he decided what it was he wanted! Now, I can commend this! No one needs to be in any situation where they are hurt, exploited or abused. No one! Derrick and Da’Naia have said they have worked through these issues of cheating–which only came to light after one of the women that Derrick was involved with came forward. Why she chose to do this? Who can say.

But there was something in me that was so angry watching this Facebook Live event. Da’Naia is a woman that has leaned on her faith to get through this–and I commend her. I have done the same thing in times of extreme distress! But, as a woman that has been through more than a few mishaps, and situationships–I know hurt when I see it! With her dealing with this situation with her husband, the father of her child before, I cannot imagine what it took for her to sit on camera to be aired out again!

It could not be me! I cannot be me! I would have put out a statement and have that be it. With all the money and clout that her husband has, you couldn’t find someone to write a statement and just keep it moving? It is so hard for me to believe that she volunteered to do this Live, or that it was her idea! Especially, after this was posted on her own Instagram:

I’ll spare you the rest of the sorted details (and I apologize for the quality screenshot), but this here? This is what made me think that there is more here than either of them are saying! In this post, Da’Naia, says that she studied the flicks that Derrick made of these women on his phone! She studied the women’s bodies, down to the ‘secretions’! I’m sorry, what?! Sis–no! This is not God’s best for you! No! Even to find out that they have been on and off for twelve years before they got married?! Sis! What is this about!

Luvvie Ajayi Jones said that this is the problem with the church–it weaponizes the gospel! This is horrendous! As a woman of faith, I am appalled, confused and sad. The same gospel that freed me and strengthened me–looks to be the same gospel being used to imprison her! Women are always expected to stay by husbands whom have done horrible things! Yet, you don’t see many men that do the same for their wives as publicly! I understand that love covers a multitude of sins–I get that, and am grateful for it. However, when is enough enough? When do we make the differentiation between gospel and gaslighting?

Derrick cheated on his wife, Da’Naia.

Da’Naia forgave her husband, Derrick, that cheated on her.

Who are we to judge that? What I will say is, people will only do what they are allowed to do. I cannot imagine what it is to be aired out twice like this! In front of the world! Again! Derrick and Da’Naia also have books they are selling–about relationships as well. How convenient? I cannot imagine what she is going through, because this does not seem to be over soon. Even now there are still women coming forward–with screenshots! Chile…how long Da’Naia? How long? God has more for you than to be this embarrassed…on a regular basis.

If they can really come back from infidelity (not everyone can!), I wish them God’s best. If they cannot, if it becomes too much, then she knows what she needs to do next. God indeed be her strength.