The Matter of Blue Ivy Carter

Before anything else, I need y’all to understand she is a Black girl. And I will not tolerate any disrespect or denigration to her or her mother, or her father. You will be put off this site. -JBH

Image result for blue ivy carter

I have never understood why the world hated this little girl so much. I mean to the point that the world had something to say even about how her mother styled her hair. I have never, ever understood that.

I, having grown up as an ABG (Awkward Black Girl), I was teased for being smart, tall, too Black, too quiet–everything. And that type of thing is not easily conquered (that God for these 26 letters–they have been salvation more than once). But as it relates to Blue, Shawn and Beyonce’s daughter, the world cannot seem to shake the expected aesthetic it wants for this child.

Enter the fetishism of Black women and girls.

As of this month, Blue Ivy Carter is 8. She’s eight.  I have stayed away from this internet debacle because I thought is drivel and stupid! The ability for a Black girl to be aesthetically pleasing to the world around her allows her safe passage through it. What does this mean you ask? If so, I am so glad you did.

The world does not like when the monolith it constructs for Black women and girls is challenged. It does not like to be both sientent and flexible. As Dr. Brittney Cooper says in her book Eloquent Rage, “Sass is an acceptable form of rage.” The world loves to see us either as model gorgeous like Iman (whom is riding age like nothing known of this world) or like Fannie Lou Hamer. There is no space to differentiate. No space to just be–you are constantly picked at, prodded and told with a smiles on faces exactly what you are not. Or can ever hope to be.

Blue, sadly, is not an exception to this.

Image result for blue ivy carter

The thing I hope, the thing that grants me such a hope, is the fact her mother and father know exactly who they are–and will not allow her to be anything less than what she is. In a side by side comparison, she looks like her mother–as most daughters do. How dare Blue’s genetics not make her a pretty Octoroon or gazelleesque Creole Barbie? How dare Blue’s genetics produce a phenotype that look like her father first!

To me, I think that’s who she looked like first–and now she looks more like her mother.

From her hair, to how she dressed to how she looked–the world had something to say. Only now, is that beginning to calm down. That calm, quite frankly, is unsettling to me. It’s almost like the wolves have gone further down the path, waiting for her to turn 15, 16–that’s when the extra lewd, trifling comments will come. On queue.

Ask me how I know.

But the difference between myself, my daughters and Beyonce and hers are exposure, visibility and money. I am of the insistent persuasion that raising a child, whom navigates this world as Black and female, is to have a hypervigilance paired with a empathetic compassion.

You have to both shield, protect all while you equip her to deal with a world that may never accept her as she is–and be okay with that. That is hard. I cannot imagine how had that is when you have cameras, bodyguards and the paparazzi is a daily an occurrence as pouring cereal.

Let Blue be. Just let her be.

Her parents allow her to be seen when they want her to be seen. They understand their role as parent and protector. They also understand (or should understand) that precarious position of being uber-visible in and around Black culture:  everything they do is monitored or scrutinized. Including the kids.  What I love, what grants me hope, is they give and have given her space to be herself. She has space to grow, and do, and be and it is glorious. They are raising her, and radically loving her. These elements will ensure Blue will have a sense of self that is not determined by likes, shares or other articles shared on blogs or other social media platforms.

In 2020, can we resolve to love all Black girls the same way? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[first image from PageSix.com, second from eonline.com]

Dear Karol: This Ain’t It Sis.

Image result for karol sanchez memes

Dear Karol:

Dearest one, I am glad you are safe and well. I am glad this was all a scam, a caper of sorts. I am glad–for what its worth–you were safe. Also, I am glad that you came back. With that said, allow me to say what I’m sure no one else has been able to–calmly.

Stop running after men. Stop. Stop it now. If you don’t stop now, you will do this your entire life. You will look for affirmation, comfort, adulation and praise from outside sources. Your life will remain a coup of the saddest sort.

Stop. Stop it, Karol.

I know him being inside you, flipping your body, pulling your hair and taking your body to an ecstasy your 16-year-old can barely hold  is intoxicating.  I know it is! Any woman that was ever a girl knows.  The sweet nothings, the thoughts of forever as you hang on to him as he does as best as he wills his body to give.

But this? What you just did? My dearest one, this is not how you craft forever. You are young, and these mistakes are expected of the young. In that respect, I can forgive. As a mother, I am defiantly angry at you. I am disgusted at this perverse plan you either orchestrated or co-signed. Yet, I can understand it. There were other ways, dear one. There were other ways–yet, here you are.

Mothers do not have the programming to be your friend before the age of 25. As daughters, we need all their wisdom, clarity and influence to live and survive! Female children need mothers equal parts satin and iron. We need their softness and comfort. We also need their strength and steadfastness! Your mother is not your friend–stop looking for her to be.

What you have done? This is a stunt. This is a tantrum. With girls that look like you vanishing every other day–whether by stunt, bad decision, fake friends, immigration–what made you think this would be ‘cool’ to do? What you have done is kicked a hole in the relationship between you and your mother. The relationship you wanted ain’t possible right now. The time she will need to get over what you did–will not be quick. Not at all. This is not the kind of lore your family will laugh about until your mother is dead.

The consequences of your actions will go beyond being talked about on-line, blogs or other forums. You need to understand their are consequences to these types of capers:  you cannot go through life raging through it!

This was wrong, Karol. I cannot even express how wrong this was. Bad thing is you won’t see just how wrong this was until you have a daughter. The lore is when a woman has a daughter, however she was to her mother, she will get a daughter just like she was–3 fold. At this point, Karol, I’d pray for a son.

 

The Day Harriet Tubman Died…

img_1844

 

 

“I go to prepare a place for you.”

 

In the most excellent now,

The journey of 300 trips,

From North to South.

Thousands of nights

And the guided by moons

And Suns,

Our greater mother

And greatest protector

As awoken to see her last

Sunrise.

 

On this day,

Answering questions,

Giving smiles and self

Her body slows

Eyes heavy.

 

But she fights.

She waits.

The air in her body heavy and laboring.

 

The world around her,

Apart from her,

Will ask for her

Need her,

Seeing her as superhero

And angelic.

On the end of this day,

When beans picked,

Visitors and family fill

Spaces, furniture and hours.

Windows are open,

Only to shut again, as

She goes to her room.

Body and soul,

Matching cadence

Of those needing rest.

 

Step by step,

She lays on the clean bed

Made and kept for her.

 

The breath that tasted

Possession by force,

Seeing death, chaos around her

Immeasurable grief,

Called to the law of the Lord

For strength and guidance…

That breath slowed.

 

Her eyes heavy.

The rest is coming.

The rest that is needed.

The rest that is owed to her.

 

The murmuring of the house

Loud in the ears which are shutting,

As her breath,

The same breath she held to swim

To hide,

To gather strength for the journey

That breath is fading.

 

In that body,

Cared for, carried by

Breath for 9 years

Less than a century,

Seeing the fall of a institution,

Which thrived, fed on

Blood, life and bone

Of a stolen people.

She saw the

Dividing of a nation,

Still, and now, trying

To find it’s way back

Together.

The breath, this dynamic cadence,

Was giving way.

 

Her eyes shut,

The Great Chariot wheels

Louder, beckoning for

The Conductor to come.

Yet, she is held by the love in the room.

The ancestral core, shedding, stirring

Ready for the last sojourn, to follow

That same North Star,

In the same endless sky.

 

She is leaving.

She was, leaving.

And in the leaving,

The comfort is still coming.

 

The Comforter still in the room,

The rushing mighty wind

Filling the same space,

That held her by love,

Kept her by power and duty.

That same breath tells all those

Waiting for the last blessing

The last words,

The last right to her,

She does what all

Black women do.

 

She gives herself before she leaves.

 

“I go to prepare a place for you.”

 

This place, this place

Giving from mother to daughter

Given from daughter back to mother

To be held by mothers to give to the daughters

To be carried by wind and earth

To remind those whom are to come,

Are here, will come after

That someone will be there

When we got there.

 (c) JBHarris, 2019

This piece will be included in For A Black Girl collection, to be published in June 2020.

 

Selective Outrage Is Tiring: Leave Lizzo Alone.

Image result for lizzo

Today I found out Lizzo’s real name:  Melissa Vivane Jefferson.  I found out today that the rap group she was in had an affinity for the Jay-Z song Izzo; she started calling herself Lizzo.

Cool. Chic. I could rock with it.

The thing is, I don’t really get into a whole lot of this ‘new rap’ but I like Lizzo. She doesn’t look like or sound like the type cookie-cutter rapper forced onto the greater streaming public. I sing ‘Truth Hurts’ loud and often with my 10-year-old daughter. I actually love ‘Good As Hell’ and added ‘Lingerie’ to that special playlist. I love her confidence, the embracing of her body, including her sex appeal.

I sometimes envy her confidence. Then I remind myself to own my own magic. And I do so. Thus, the magic replenishes.

Which is why I am confused as to why the world is mad–that fish grease heated!–because she twerked in a revealing outfit at a basketball game. I, personally, thought it was hilarious! I mean, she did the thing my mother says often:  “If you gon watch me, Imma give you something to see!”

She’s young. She did it. With her body, with her confidence, she twerked at a basketball game. And it was fine. In the most extreme circumstances, it was a shade inappropriate. I wouldn’t have done it. But, where was all this outrage when the very married Ciara and the gorgeous Megan Thee Stallion where a whole two-woman twerk team in a parking lot? Where was all this ‘outrage’ with the outfits the cheerleaders/dancers wear?

People kill me with the outrage when it comes to Black women and the ownership of their bodies! You are ‘mad’–legit upset!–because a grown woman twerked at a basketball game? Y’all are upset, cursing and hella uncentered because a fat, Black woman did what she wanted to do with body she owns.

Do not insult my intelligence by dressing this up as ‘inappropriate’ or ‘poor taste.’ Aight, fam. When looking through my social media timeline, all I could do was shake my head. The writer and feminist Bell Hooks, says that patriarchy can be wielded by anyone. ‘Patriarchy has no gender’ she says.

Image result for lizzo

Lizzo, in speaking about about this trivial craziness, said that the world hasn’t seen a body like hers “doing what it wants.” I completely agree. I love that she wears what she wants, when she wants and embraces every part of her, that is her. Lizzo is the big girl whose confidence that envy. Who loves all of herself, and does what she wants, with the body she has with no regard for who does not like it.

The world hates Black women like this. The world hates Black women that do what they want, that shun magical/exceptional Negroism. The world hates Black women own, move and do. The world hates the Black female form which refuses to be policed! It hates women which do not conform, who do not shut up, who embrace there sexuality, play up their sexuality and do not think it strange to twerk in public.

The world hate Black women whom own all they are–especially if they aren’t size 2 or above a 12. All depictions of sexy, desirable Black women–wenches or Jezebels–are not built like Lizzo. The men who like women built like Lizzo are made fun of in public. Women like Melissa Vivane Jefferson are relegated to Mammies:  asexual, modest, unseen.

Leave Lizzo alone. Let her be. Let her twerk. Let her own her body. 

Maybe if you do that, we can take one more brick out of the wall of patriarchy! This wall which can divide; makes us second guess ourselves; dim our light to affirm partners content not to see us; to make us feel like the only way women can feel desired, or seen or sexy, is associate–shamelessly correlated–to how big my breasts, belly or ass is. The patriarchy that does not value me, does not see me, content to judge me because I (literally) don’t fit.

Let her be. So we can be.

Twerking ain’t the issue. And if you believe that it is? You’re the issue.

Let’s Talk About It: Tiny & T.I.

Image result for tiny and ti

TW:  struggle love, pain before love, toxic patriarchy

This week, the entire internet is a blaze over Jada Pinkett Smith’s Red Table Talk. I did my best to stay away from this because I think this is a conversation is overdue. I also am aware of the cultural implications of this conversation.  I knew that the moment I, as a divorced Black woman with two children from a failed marriage, all the hounds of Hotepean Hell would come after me. But yet. this is what I do here. I speak. This will be no different.

I know women like Tameka Dianne “Tiny” Harris.  I have been a woman like Tameka Dianne “Tiny” Harris. Everyday I am graced to walk towards 40, the more perceptive I have become. I see the things at 38, that I could never have seen at 18 or even 28. I see life as the gift that is, and value whom I want to keep in mine. So, when I saw this Red Table Talk with Clifford and Tameka? It was like looking into a mirror.

The one thing I do like about Red Table Talk is Jada Pinkett Smith as allowed, held space to have hard conversations. However, here? With this one? I think she missed something. Too often in African American/Black communities, Black women and girls are prized and chosen, seated as wives or queens due to how much we can bare. How hard we can work. How much we can hide the depth of our pain, cover our own rage with make up, a clean house and healthy children.

This is a most curious type of auction block.

Everything that can be quantified to us as women. You must be esthetically pleasing. Tall, but not taller than him. You must be able to work as hard as a man, be satisfied with less, be able to clean house, have kids and have your breasts, your ass and belly look unaffected. Everything has to snatch back, and ready to still sate every ache in a phallus! Now, by no means am I, will I say, these attitudes are present solely in African-American homes and communities. They aren’t, I assure you. But I can attest is my personal experiences, failures and realizations. It is through those realizations, I make my case and give my empathy.

Image result for wedding ring images

There is something in Tameka that I have seen in myself in the grip of an abusive relationship. This breaking and holding together, is done in cycles. Where you believe so much in a man, so much, that it kills you. This is not an exaggeration! My girlfriends have a name for this:  struggle love. 

This is the love that we idolized, and told is inevitable as a women and girl-children. This type of love, we are told, is based on this scripture, 1 Corinthians 13:7:

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

It is this scripture that allows women to stay after it’s time to leave!

Those of you that follow me, know that I am a women of faith. This piece is not an assail or assault on Christianity. What I want you all to see is, struggle love–this love that prizes the ability to suffer greatly first and always–is not God. And I am tired of being told, or hearing women say that it is! There is no part in scripture that prizes the inflection of pain on another person as a way to prove that you love them. When pain is found is scripture it is due to, or a part of, a process which has an end!

Suffering is not supposed to be prized! It is a tool to reach, remind and instruct! It is not a prize!

My ability to endure the insufferable doesn’t make me a prize. It makes me a mammie! My ability to be consistently uncomfortable does not quantify me as a woman to be prized above all others! Can we stop doing this? Can we free our daughters from the chains of believing someone the love has to hurt them, that life, that relationships, have to try you with volcanic fire in order for to be considered as girl friend or wife? I understand that relationships have ebb and flow; relationships are constructed of and between two people trying to make a life together. Each valuing something different or wanting something more. The idea being that what they feel for one another should be support, strength and refuge. Suffering can be a part of that due to the fallen, selfish nature of human beings. However, my ability to suffer should not be the factor that makes me a desirable partner. Do not intentionally inflict harm upon me to see how fast I will heal!

I am worthy of love, of care, and of respect. I am worthy to be seen, to be valued and cared for. I deserve a relationship that will hold me to account, assure me of my safety and grant me space to grow and to become. I am worthy to be loved; that love is not proved through how badly I can be hurt.

Through the podcast Expeditiously, Tameka said something that startled me, and confirmed one reason as to why she may stay. She said an aunt once told her to “Marry for security, not for love.” When I heard this, I almost screamed. I understand the reason why her aunt said this. I get it:  men are taught to be protectors and providers. Money is a tool which allows both. Yet, with everything this man has done in the course of their relationship, can this protection and provision be so comfortable that she will endure it? Love that makes you suffer to attain it is manipulation. God loves you no matter what you do. In that relationship, love is first and love is paramount–and He is present no matter what and where you are.

Love is first. Healthy love is first!

There are things in this life which are more important than financial security. We have moved beyond the point in society where women need men for social acceptance, and financial security. Do I believe that relationships can become better, the people in them change for the better? I do. I believe people have the ability to do better, especially for the people they love. I believe that if two people are willing to make something broken work, it can. This comes from accountability, recognition of what was lost or broken. And that takes work.

Struggle love is greedy, one-sided and viciously selfish. It takes from you, and is enraged when there is no more to take; angry when the willing well is empty–having drank all from it. Struggle love is narcissistic, seeing and feeding all it wants. Even when Tameka spoke on the podcast, he cut her off. As a writer, she sounded what can only be described as ‘backed up.’ On the show, she vacillated between being over it, wishing her husband would be honest and accountable; to stoic–just letting him express himself.

When I told my first husband our relationship was over, he seemed shocked.  I had done all I could do to love him, honor him, and be the dutiful wife even while he refused to be a husband to me. It is not wisdom to say in these situations. He refused all avenues which would help us fix what was wrong and he refused. But yet, he still wanted to be with me: ‘I want my family’. he said. Yet, he was unwilling to anything which would care for it. I had no more, of me to give to him, to fix the us.

I had no more of me, to give to him, to fix the us. 

I refused to die with a man that would not build his life with me. 

I have been where Tameka has been, more than once. I have seen the people in my life–men and women!–having to sit where she did on the promise of ‘it’ll get better.’ Sometimes the better is the day you decide you can do no more. God hates divorce, yes. He also provides a way of escape to things which overwhelm, threatening to kill whom He loves.

Don’t die with life still in you, believing better will come. Better sometimes, sometimes God shows up, the universe makes itself known when you listen to the inner self that tells you in the still small voice, ” I have done all I can, with all resources given and acquired. I will trust in what will come after this ends which will grant me what I deserve. This ain’t it. It cannot be it, and I must go.”

I simply must go.

In the words of my sister, the beloved Kelly Heflin, “Don’t tell me to struggle for love, and tell your daughter something different.”

 

[image from Facebook Watch]

 

 

 

 

 

Always On Pointe, Black Girl…

Image may contain: 6 people, people standing and shoes

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

 

Always.

she has been the chic,

the sturdy,

the fresh,

and fly one–

trendsetting as sunsets,

as bold as full moons.

Never stopping to check

for whom is not checking

for her.

In this body, walking

through this world as

magic, melanin, and millenniums

the rocks cry out

for me, for us, and the we

hidden in the magic

of our wombs.

It is the grace of our feet

and the rhythm in our sway

which carry us towards destiny

and the legacy meant for us.

Unmovable.

Unshakable.

Believing in us and each other.

Always.

-JBHarris, 10.15.19

 

This poem will be included in the new book–For A Black Girl, release for June 2020.

[image from the Facebook page Black Positivity by Kimmie Carlos]

When I Found My Claddagh Ring, I Almost Cried.

sterling-silver-ladies-authentic-claddagh-ring

Claddagh Ring Meaning

A popular piece of Celtic culture, the Claddagh signifies love, friendship, and loyalty. Traded among close friends and those in a romantic, committed relationship, a Claddagh portrays two hands holding a heart, topped with a crown.

The Claddagh is most often seen in a ring, but it can be expressed in necklaces and earrings as well. Some common reasons people wear Claddagh include:

  • As an engagement or promise ring: Yes, the Claddagh is so beloved, some use it to signify their romantic, lifelong commitment to one another.
  • Best friends: Close friends who want to honor their bond may wear matching Claddagh rings as a symbol of friendship and loyalty.
  • Looking for love: Wearing a Claddagh ring on your right hand with the bottom of the heart facing away from you is a signal that you are available.

 (Taken from Google)

I’ve always been a romantic. I’ve always had a flair for the dramatic. Perhaps this is my artistic nature. With that said, it is of no surprise really, that I kept a ring from a young man that I once wanted to give my everything.

I was 18, you see. I was. In love and a fresh-faced nursing student. I was in love with the idea of adulthood, American Movie Classics and this guy named Daniel Nelsen. In my years of dating, I never found a sweeter dude. He asked me to marry him. Sent me a key to his house, and said I was his everything.

Like with all young women eager for the world and its holdings, I’d break up with him when I wanted to date someone else. He was in New York, and didn’t leave. He’d take me back when I wanted and I did this to him for 2 years. Until, I finally told him how I was treating him was wrong.

In the madness of our coming together and leaving, he told me to pick out a ring. I was about to be chose chose! I wanted this ring to be distinct, unique and totally unlike any other I had ever seen.

I got the idea that I wanted a Claddagh ring from a Nora Roberts novel. She’s always so proud of her Emerald Isle heritage and this ring sounded like something I would love. That I have to have. Even now, so many years removed from wearing one I can spot on and the dating status of person wearing it.  

I remember the weight of it, how gorgeous it was. And it meant more to me than any jewelry I had ever owned. And our breakup was amicable, for the most part. And I haven’t spoken to him sense. There was no need to.

That’s ring replicated itself with my last serious boyfriend. I wanted one, I wanted that affirmation of what was unique and special about our relationship. When that shattered, I kept the ring. Which is odd for me. I kept this ring and stored it. I cannot tell you why.

It was only during a recent move that the small white box was unearthed. I saw the tarnished silver ring and thought. Not about the guy, but about–loss.

The loss of time.

The loss of future, and alternate nows.

I thought about how I allowed myself to be the damsel in distress waiting on someone to save me–waited for the kiss in the glass coffin; save from the spinning wheel; rescued from the tower.

 Yet, those before were not strong enough to stay. Or desired to rescue. I thought about trust I had given. Willingly. Pieces of me I gave away. Willingly. I thought about how none of what I gave to them could ever be given back to me. Ever. Conversely, nothing I did to them could ever be made right.

I lost what I could not replace or barter or hustle for more of: time.

I wept because the ring, with its tarnish, remembered.