Selective Outrage Is Tiring: Leave Lizzo Alone.

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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.

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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.

The Radical Anyway: Slings And Arrows Of This White World

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In the age of Homecoming, Lemonade, the ageless Michelle Obama, and Black Girls Rock, this shit is enraging. How is Taylor Swift Artist of the Decade?!

The decade?! From 2010-2019? Decade?!

Fam.

This shit here, is one of the reasons I listen to more 1990’s rap and hip-hop than anything now! I am over the American Music Awards. Completely over.

In hearing this news, I cannot express to you how I had this thought, “How thee fuck is this possible?” But the 38-year-old Black woman, whom has a mother 30 years older answered. And she said, “These folk see what they want to see. Anything else is unseen.”

Was I surprised? No.

Was I shocked? No.

In hearing this news, I felt the same way I did when I saw Adele win Album of the Year for 25, and broke it in half to share it with her. That wasn’t sweet! That shit was insulting. Don’t you dare insult me by telling me you will share the an award with me. Especially, when I know my work is better than yours!

Yet, this is what it means to be Black, woman, and creative in a world that delegates you to other, sex object or unseen when ‘too powerful.’

All awards represent confirmations to the work you have put together. The hours of work, doubt, sweat and the sheer force of creative will. But trust me, I get it! This nation loves White women! They have to be protected, lusted, lorded and affirmed. Their sex and race together are touted as perfect! As if they created by God first and only! It is only right that you give a White girl this type of affirmation!

Now, let me be firm and summer sky clear.

This piece is not to bash Taylor Swift. I, personally, am not a fan of hers. I don’t listen to her. I don’t have an opinion about her one way or another. It is this system by which I am throwing haymakers at!

The system!

This system that is comfortable, so comfortable with the erasure of anything non-White, no matter how average, is suffocating!

Simply suffocating!

I understand systemic racism is more insidious than people imagine. I get that there are White folk that consider themselves ‘good’ and ‘non-racist’ or ‘having Black friends’ whom have no utter idea what it means to be looked over because of how you are socially classified; having work and efforts ignored because you don’t fit.

I get that the preservation of the White face of a nation founded in murder, usurpation and oppression will stop at nothing to bolster, root, cement power by any means necessary. That facade cannot be broken else the game is had!

I get it. And I am mad. And I am tired.

It is not wrong to want recognition for the work you do. It is not wrong to want an earnest look at your art, music or writing. It is not wrong! The thing that is disconcerting, damning even, is believing someone that is not of a dominant culture, has nothing to add to the overall culture.

Erasure is a natural resource of this nation. This is just the latest insult to those whom desire it not to be.

It is times like this, where I remember the rich conversations with my writer girlfriends. The doubts present. The hesitation that had to be assuaged. The support poured into those that needed to ‘create anyway.’ The affirmation that we give to one another, binding up the wounds made by the consistent erasure of a culture content to siphon from you–but never see you!

Yet, we do so anyway. We write anyway. We create anyway. We network and support anyway. We get into ‘Formation’ anyway.

If the believed-greater are so confident in their power, then they can withstand competition. The doors what we are not allowed into, we will break down or make our own!

Black is always seen, and nothing it touches can be unseen. I refuse to be unseen. Not anymore.

[image from Google]

 

 

 

 

 

SABEM-The Playlist

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At what seems like long last, I have compiled the list for the SABEM playlist!

See what I came up with below-

 Follow your girl on a streaming platform

-Apple Music: HisGirlFriday38

-Spotify: ShesAGirlFriday

HisGirlFriday is a play on the movie with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. The name: His Girl Friday.

My maternal aunt used to call me a “Girl Friday”, and I thought it was much cooler than being called a secretary.

Enjoy dearest ones!

I so love new music recommendations.

 

 

 

 

Words To Music Are Always Lyrics

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I have always been a fan of music, all kinds of music. And for this semester–if you have noticed–I’ve woven in lyrics and hip-hop lyrics into this series. So, in typical Jenn Harris fashion–I decided to create a playlist for this last semester of undergrad studies.

Look for that at Week 10.

It will be available on Spotify and Apple Music.

Title of the Playlist:

SABEM–How I Made It Over

 

From Nas to Duke Ellington, to Stevie Wonder. From G-Eazy to MTS and Hozier. Music helped me get through papers, study and even press my way through to get through these last weeks.

 

Enjoy!

This is my graduation gift to you all.

 

Love you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of Course ‘They’ Snubbed Beyonce! And Here Is Why.

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Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter is becoming a force of nature, with her Sara Baartman hips. From a pretty young woman with this power in her throat and heart, to this dynamic, sentient, vibrant, and culturally aware and present Black woman. Isn’t this what an icon is supposed to be –and become?

I have watched her progression from Destiny’s Child to her own grown woman. While not signing on or applying to the Beyhive, but I do work PRN for it. I have cheered her, been a Stan of hers–officially–after the release of Lemonade. After the experience of listening to Lemonade.

There was a pure pride I carried for her. Not a worship, not a reverence. But a pride. The same pride I felt when I learned that Cleopatra was Black. That Queen Nzinga was not a figure of my imagination. That Queen Hatshepsut became a Pharaoh due to sheer wit and brilliance. It was a sense of knowing there is a woman who looked like me–not bound by narrow societal imagination.

Although she wears the privilege granted to the beautiful, the cis-het and wealthy, Beyoncé is still a Black woman in an industry dominated by White men. The people that create award shows like the Emmys and Academy Awards, do not resemble the men that look like Beyoncé’s father.

For all her achievements, all her influence, for as far as her reach, she is still a Black woman. Playing a rich, White man’s game–laced with avarice and malice. Which chokes out love.

Knowing this, I am not surprised she was snubbed for an Emmy this hear. I am not, was not, shocked when she lost the Grammy for album of the year to Adele!

For all her power, the industry fears her. Those she inspires behind her. They fear her.

This light-skinned, country-talking, beautiful Black woman, descended from slaves, Texas plantation soil and Louisiana Creoles–is one of the most influential Black women in history.

In. History.

And money has not taken her Blackness. It has not refined her speech, vision or daily reminder that she is both Black and woman.

Why would the owners of the master narrative acknowledge such an accomplishment? The fierce representation and preservation of culture!

Why would the master acknowledge the slave?

The worlds and spheres Beyoncé’s inhabits, that she orbits, she spins, are still determined to remind her of limitations. Her weaknesses. How Black everything about her is, and how detrimental Black motherhood and mogul persists are!

How acknowledgment is equivalent achievement. That should be good enough.

Separate, but equal.

In the face of that, Beyoncé still creates. She still makes space. She now Mama and Nala and the creative power of The Gift. This is the resilience of Black women. The wisdom of the artist is what James Baldwin admonishes: “The goal of the artist is to disturb the peace.”

The wealth and worth of an artist is, nor will ever be, measured by people to whom they differ. The value of their work will not be held on the high esteem of people–haters and critics–insistent on ignoring it.

The wealth and worth of artists is most often awarded through the grace of time. The earnest nature of creativity. Through harsh critique becoming acknowledgement. As it was said by John Wilmot, the brilliant (and debauched) Second Earl Of Rochester in the movie The Libertine (portrayed by Johnny Depp):

“Your critics will come in two forms. The stupid and the envious. The stupid will love you in five years. The envious never will.”

Let time factor which we all will become.

[images from Netflix, Apple Music and Pinterest]

Week 4-Do It Expeditiously

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“Engage the text.”

-Professor Kimberly Welch

 

This week left the kid reeling. Like for real, reeling! I failed a quiz because there was a day I was so outta focus that I could not focus enough to read. And the book?

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison.

Bruh.

I mean, I am a fan of Ellison! When I put just my name on that paper to take my quiz and nothing else? Humbling as loose drawls. I vowed right thing, RHETTHEN(!!!), I would not fail not nam nother quiz. But I had a check moment. When I saw that quiz, on the screen, and new I hadn’t read? I couldn’t stand my prof. The same woman I just quoted. The woman, a Black woman, whom has my dream job.

I had to sit with that. I thought she was too hard, thought she didn’t like me, and who did she thinks she was! But, dear ones, Prof. Welch is the first Black English professor I have had this institution! I had to respect her drive, respect for the subject matter, and had to respect her for demanding that a broad keep up! I had to think about what it was like for her, teaching a class where there are only two other Black women–and maybe six Black men.

I had to examine what made her seem to be an enemy, and not an ally. What I came up with? I wasn’t ready, and expected the rules to change for me–because she looked like me. The Black girl space, in that space, this space, excludes manipulation. I had to realize this grade is going to require all of me, and I ain’t scared of that.

But I carved out the Black girl space with a Black girl named, Bianca.  Seeing a girl that looked like me, just as brilliant, in Prof. Welch’s class? This Black woman providing this space to discuss this text (Invisible Man) gave us this chance to deep breath. The cooler thing? We were in this group discussing this text with a girl that was not Black, but when we started crafting this space? She pulled back–she didn’t force her way in.

She pulled a curtain for us. I cannot tell you how dope that is.

There is space in this place, this realm for me–for us. I am charged to not just make space for me–but for those after.

The words are bigger than me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Memorium: To The Dudes That Saw There First Pretty Black Girl In JET, & All The Black Girls That Wanted To Be On The Cover of EBONY

 

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I remember my mother subscribing to EBONY and  ESSENCE Magazine when I was a girl. I remember I would pour over these magazines before I would give them back to my mother. I would even carry a copy of either or both of these magazines in my backpack or purse. They would be devoured at lunch, after classwork or waiting to be picked up by my parents after school from 6th-8th grade.

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EBONY was a part of my middle school girlhood. I was a part of the ritual of going to beauty salon with my Mama. It was part of knowing who was doing what, and how many people we could identify! I remember what it meant to pick that up, see it in my house, and even in my classrooms at Yeatman Middle School on the Northside of St. Louis, Missouri in the St. Louis Public School District. I even remember some of the guys in my classes sneaking looks the JET Beauty of the Week!

That is how far back it goes. And this was only the mid-1990’s, fam!

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And this week? I find out that EBONY and JET are firing freelancers, getting rid of other staff and these historic portions of Black media are…going away. These publications are one of the reasons I wanted to be a writer. Why I wanted to be a journalist. Why I was a fierce reader. These publications, shaped my Black girlness and emerging womaness, while collecting my collective ethnic, cultural history.

To know that this is being erased, taken from collective Blackness is the resurgence of all things melaninated, dope and from and in front of Black Jesus?! This ain’t fair!

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THIS IS NOT FAIR!

Roland M. Martin was talking about this on his YouTube Channel today. We know the Johnson Publishing Company, the family company that owns EBONY and JET, has had financial issues for past few years. This is no secret. But! The news that is being unveiled  now suggests that the company which has a 70-plus year history, is about to fold! Like how can this be happening!

Roland Martin was saying that there are a lot of Black media groups that have not made the adjustment to podcasting; consolidating with other media groups; valuing the building over the product the building produced. But, there is a truth to this. But the fact is we need our histories too! We need our legacies preserved too! We need to adjust with the times, too!

Twenty-five years ago? I snuck these magazines in my backpack! Now, download this from the site and follow 9 other podcasts just like it! On my iPhone! Does that mean I don’t like the physical copy? No. I still by physical magazines! But it’s the convenience, dear ones.

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Just like this blog is for you right now.

But, my heart, dear ones, is grieved. I am so grieved! First the HBCU’s and now this. First the GoFund Me’s and Crowdfunding for Bennett College, and there’s about to be no more EBONY or JET in same year Blackness is about to be supernova?! This is a hellafied Faustian baragain, y’all.

Bruh, I am looking forward to being on the cover of a magazine of and because of these 26 letters I whip together all the time! I wanted my face, my staff’s face on the cover of EBONY! That is the one magazine everybody Black still reads and their grandmother and ‘nem keep in the curio cabinet! That is cultural history, beloveds.

 

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I don’t know how we come back from this one. But, I don’t want any more Black creatives or creative outlets to take unnecessary losses, dear ones. We keep saying what we do for the culture–then let’s start preserving it.