From the Crates: 2014-Confidence

I love this picture of me. This was last year. Stepping into this writer-voice role. Get into this melanin!

Confidence is an intangible, invaluable tool for navigating this life as a woman. With all the uproar over Gabourey Sidibe and a dress she wore to the Golden Globes on Sunday night, there have been mean comments via Twitter, Facebook and countless comments riddled with venom, or what the glamorous refer to as “shade”.

I sat, thought and wondered this…is this why we as women can’t unify? Is this why? We are still caught up on how someone LOOKS in something? Nevermind the fact of a woman being talented, driven and visible, operating in all facets of her talents regardless of station in life or situation she may find herself in. We as women have to learn how to get OVER ourselves. We really do, and learn to celebrate each other, and be an ENCOURAGEMENT. Granted, it can be a struggle to shift focus from the exterior to the interior of a person, seeing that the exterior is the thing that is most of us are taught to dress up, doll up and play up with the latest fashion, or mascara.

Whether it be Christian Louboutin’s she wears, Nine West slingbacks, Nikes or Payless flats she wears, why should it matter? If a woman is famous, infamous or anonymous there are some things that are synonymous to the human experience. As women, I believe with have this vision about our ideal selves, and what we wish to be or change. We confront insecurities, issues, and pains only the Lord knows of daily. Why make a day in the life of another woman harder than it must be? Each of us as a past written, present we live, and a future we are creating. Let us decide to do better.

Not just for ourselves, but for those whose lives we effect. Let us teach our daughter to be better women, sisters and friends. So at the time when purpose and destiny intersect, the sons of the Most High may have better wives to assist with the changing of the world.*-All of us, the writer included have been guilty of “sizing a woman up”, as if her worth is attached to what she wears to bare to the world. We have no idea what each of us has been divinely assigned to bare and conquer for the sake of our destiny. By design of the Creator, choice is the most incredible source of determination, compounded by the choice of words. Endurance in a choice. Confidence is a choice. Quitting is a choice. Running from what you have decided to do is a choice. To have your destiny stopped by what someone has told you is a choice. Being distracted is a choice. I am choosing to use my words to bless and edify.

Let the weeding begin.

THINGS I PONDER:(c) JPHarris, 2014

[Our] Famous Black Aunties Matter

If you didn’t see the Verzuz last night, you missed a whole treat. That is it. That is all!

Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight Set for Verzuz Faceoff This Weekend -  Variety

Lemme tell you a secret.

I have loved Patti Labelle since I heard “Lady Marmalade”. I loved Patti Labelle like I loved Dihann Carroll, Dorothy Dandridge and Phylicia Rashad. There is an easy glamour to them which I believe inspired Beyonce to say, “I woke up like this.” So, when I heard that she would doing a Verzuz with Gladys Knight? I thought it was a dream!

You have to understand one thing: I am the oldest child of Baby Boomers. I had the parents that looked over everything I would listen to! I had a Vanilla Ice cassette tape and they insisted on listening to it. I knew they would take it because he cursed in it. You have to understand how hard Tipper Gore made every child’s life after her Parental Advisory campaign! So, I grew up listening to NWA (at my cousin’s house–duh!), Elvis, Stevie Wonder and Duke Ellington (my mama’s favorites). I remember listening to KLOU, the local oldies station on Sunday nights with my father. When I heard Aretha Louise Franklin and Patricia Louise Holte?

THAT WAS IT!

I was happy to have the rasp to my voice, and happy about my alto! And I adopted them both as my imaginary aunties. And I loved Patti Labelle the moment I heard Lady Marmalade. And still do!

This Verzuz was like being in the room when grown folk were talking. I watched it with my sister, Tawanna, and it seemed that every time Patti sang–it hit different. When Gladys sang? It hit different. This is why music is so transcending. When I heard If Only You Knew at 11, it doesn’t sound (read: feel) the same as it does at 39…with some for real life under me.

Soul legends Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight to face off in 'Ultimate Verzuz'  battle | GMA
These millennium children could NEVER!

While reliving childhood memories and hitting that one IF in the chorus of If Only You Knew, and shrieking when she Auntie Patti kicked off her shoes, all I could do was smile. When Auntie Gladys starting singing On & On, I was transported! But the thing that I loved the most about this event was the love that was there. It wasn’t about who won! Although, I told my sister that Auntie Patti was going to win because she was going to be give me everything that I needed! Everything! From the hair, the bougie glass, her blonde bombshell persona and the rack of shoes! Auntie Gladys was regal, and warm and it felt like I was in a front room again. You remember that scene in When Beale Street Could Talk when Tish had to tell Fonnie’s people she was pregnant? Remember all the love, shade and music in that room? Oh, yes! That is what I group up with, it is that love that I try to recreate when I write, or tell a story aloud.

This Verzuz was a hug. This Verzuz was your favorite aunt wiping your eyes and telling you it’ll be okay. It was your Mom or your Dad sharing playlists with your or their vinyl. It was Black Girl Magic becoming the reminder of those who were watching that we come from a stock that can’t help but see us, gotta see us, because they can’t ever be us. The women on that Verzuz have been giving us memories for a combined 130 years! The beautiful thing is how affirming they were to one another. They called to the Queen in one another, reminding each other they would be friends still, and always. This is the gift and jewel of seeing Black women aging while maintaining friendships.

Everything about this was beautiful. And lovely. And I was here for it.

Iggy Azalea will never.

‘Stop Taming Us.’

 

Viola Davis, in December 2018, at Women in Entertainment Event hosted by Hollywood Reporter Event

I am 37. I am young, gifted and Black. I have also been told that I am descended from a family ‘too’s.’

I’m too smart.

I’m too loud.

I’m too driven.

I’m too ambitious.

Which is why when I heard Viola Davis say the phrase “Stop taming us?” I felt the same way I felt when saw Captain Marvel basically go hypersonic, and tear up that enemy spaceship to protect Earth!

I felt that I had been seen, understood and affirmed.

What I have learned in my almost 4 decades on planet Earth, is that people love classifications.

They love categories.

They like to be able to group, change and identify things (or people) they feel are interesting or strange. Ambitious women, especially ambitious minority women, are just that. Black women, especially, suffer from this systemic identification. There was a quote from the glory of the internet that says:

“Black women will always be too loud of a world never intent on listening to them.”

I agree.

For all my prowess and intelligence, I still have people that I know love me that wish I would ‘do a little less.’ That I shouldn’t want to own the platforms I post on. That I shouldn’t have the vision that I do. I ‘should just write and not worry about anything else right now.’ That I should pace myself.

Yeah, about that? Fuck that.

I work at the clip that I do because there was  time where the words wouldn’t come because I was shattered. There was a time where the words were alien, and bitter and were enigmas.

Once my heart was healed, the words overtook. My vision restored and by God, I was not going to be dictated to by people who were not and will not be doing half of what I’m doing!

So, no I’m not going to ease up!

No, I’m not going to listen to nay sayers, haters and the trolls, crows, cows or chickens that desire to stop me. Seeing since they cant’t out pace me.

I refuse to be tamed, because I have taken too long to burn! When I was 23, I got a tattoo on Black of the Japanese kanji for Phoenix. This was a nod to my sister, Ashley:  whom I admire more than she thinks I do; and whom I am not truly worthy to call a little sister. Octavia Estelle Butler, herself  ‘a rare bird’, says that in order for a Phoenix to live, it first must burn.

I have come too far, to have someone tell me to stop.

I write for the Oracles in West Africa whom I will never meet. For the Kings and Queens of whom I am daughter, benefactor and granddaughter:  whom forged courses with whit and faith. I create for the conjure women I am descended from whom could not read. For my enslaved foreparents whom had the stories beat out of them. Or were killed for daring to say what was a lie!

I breathe fire because my great-great-great grandparents and my beloved father and mother, walked through fire to get me here!

I know women like me and my ilk scare you. I know we’re loud. I know the drive frightens you. The fact we curse, say ‘No’, and make our own spaces and taketh no isht makes you clutch your pearls.

But saddle up buttercup. We ain’t going no where.

We are coming for everything they said we couldn’t get, with the mantra of:

If you don’t let me in the front door, I’ll do around back. If that’s locked, I’ll buss a window and jump in.