SABEM The Wrap Up- Feeling Like ‘Endgame’

img_2741-3

“Part of the journey is the end.”

-Anthony Edward ‘Tony’ Stark aka Iron-Man (Robert Downey, Jr.)

 

The Bible says, “Better is the end of a thing, than the beginning.” Here, I am inclined to agree. This part of my journey took twenty years. The guesstimation for a generation is about 20 years–18 is still considered and adult, legal and sentient. This portion of my life is over. I am now a dual-degreed and making my own way in the world. Radically believing in myself.

I had to fight the voices that come up with such celebration, wondering what other people would think of say. I had to remind myself these people do not matter! They will always have something to say. Partly because it’s me, the other part is people need something to talk about. Always. But I am in process of forgiving my own doubt, my own hesitations, or believing other people’s dream for my life rather than my own.

I understand what I am building, what I desire to do, will require tenacity, patience and care. I realize that there is a portion of me which will be out of step with the world around me; I will always have a tendency to see beyond what other people do. I had to become okay with a strange type of duality. I had to be okay with doing the practical and the magical!

The practical has the day job, pays bills, and is a bomb partner and spouse. The magical still dreams of making art, writing books, and sacrifices sleep to build the things she sees! The magical is so incredible that you will  chase after it–it is the pot of goal at the end of the rainbow. I am chasing the rainbow…and have caught one.

It is easy to go ahead and be angry, be mad, and lament for time lost. But, chose not to do that. I am choosing to celebrate today. I am choosing to make this a point of light and transition today. I am choosing to breathe deep and go forward. I will not entertain the madness of people who have no aspirations of their own. I will not feed in to the ideology of “You can’t eat with this degree.” I have found the thing my heart has longed to do, continues to do and needs to do.

The next stop, the next leg of the writer-teacher-scholar journey is graduate school. I am blessed to have started by professional network. I have a main mentor, whom looks like me. I have access to women whom can answer my questions, and point me towards organizations that I need to join or be aware of. I have been given opportunities to do what I have been graced to do–know to do. There is a power I have gleaned now which now allows me, frees me, to be both Alpha Femme, and a lady. This thing, this degree, is a polish. An addition to the uncovering of that which it is I want, and desire to do.

This is the end of a part, not the whole. The whole is still being revealed, still being shone, still processing–in sharper focus than it was before. The feeling of the insistent now, the restless now, is ebbing. It doesn’t gnaw as it did before. The bites aren’t as hard, my flesh not as fulfilling to the fears housed there. I am more the woman I was supposed be than I ever was. And now, right now, I can breathe deep. And wait for what’s next.

Something is already next.

I am a mother.

I am a writer.

I am a wife.

I am a creator.

I am a scholar.

I am an activist.

I am an oracle.

I am a teacher.

I am a warrior.

I am a survivor.

I am the mother of dragons–and I breathe fire.

English Majors Over Fall Break-Road To MFA (Week 15)

img_2741-2

“Becoming requires equal parts patience and rigor.”

-Michelle Obama, former First Lady of The United States of America (from her book-BECOMING)

 

Fall Break has been a time of the deepest reflection. It has been a time of examination, hurt, and exhilaration. I slept in, binged on YouTube true crime channels, and talked to my Mama.

Always a good thing. 

I talked to my best friend. I dreamed. I wrote. I declared. I slept some more. I even found a new job! But, with the new job on the horizon, I understand that writing is still going to be what feeds me. And I am okay with this…

But the one thing that I know is this:  I am good at this. I am good writing. I am a good writer. I am choosing love this part of myself and embracing it. There are portions of this writing journey, of this transitioning, that has challenged me. It is requiring me to believe in me–in parts of me that I had only believed in before.

Before.

Before. 

Before I knew what I wanted to write, how I wanted to write and even the school I wanted to go to. I knew that writing was what I wanted. The world of The Arts was what I wanted. What I needed. I knew all this…before.

Before. 

And now my before is now my past, and now to be found again. I had to fight to become the woman that I am now. I have had to remember the things I am doing now, the things that need to be done now, are being done. There is a strength that has come to me, through me, for me, that I can only affirm is divine. It is formidable.

I am becoming formidable. 

____________________________________

Graduate school is on the horizon.  And still fighting momentary or lasting Impostor Syndrome. It is transient–but the thing is? I remember to breathe in, own my space, and realize that what I desire to do–I can do.

I. Can. Do.

One of my girlfriends in my writing world is Hannah Drake. She reminded me (and everyone else that reads her work!) is to handle yourself like ‘a mediocre White man.’ The Grande Dame herself–my personal Shero!–Shonda Rimes, said that if you are doing something, never call yourself aspiring.

If you are doing something, never call yourself aspiring. 

When I thought of that, when I mulled that over, it freed me. I can’t explain to you why it is–but it did. It allowed, has allowed me to embrace my creative force–and not be ashamed. This thing I do with 26 letters in unique and powerful. I own that. I embrace it. And–I harness it.

This week reminded me not to be mediocre. Not be scared. To see–really see–what it is I want; without being ashamed to go after it. I get that being bold, woman and Black is threatening to some people. But that is the world’s problem–not mine. Not anymore.

The cocoon is broken. I am earning my butterfly wings.  I shall be free.

 

 

 

 

 

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]

Tyler Perry Presents: The Elements Of ‘The Blackprint’

Image result for tyler perry walk of fame

I am in awe.

It has taken me three days to get to the point where I can put thought and excitement in the same space.

Tyler Perry has created the first Black-owned (and owned outright!) movie studio in this modern era. As a woman, as a Black woman, as a Black woman writer, I am in awe. I am overjoyed. I am overwhelmed…

And I am writing. Like mad.  Like. Mad.

Tyler Perry has said that Hollywood obeys the ‘Golden Rule.’

Whomever has the gold, makes the rules.

In the middle of the eras of #OscarsSoWhite, Malignant Racism, diet fascism, and  the otherworldly shenangians of Orange Thanos, Tyler Perry, born as a little boy named Emmitt Perry, Jr., has made space where there could be none–in front of a world Ralph Ellison revealed in his novel Invisible Man is determined to not see anyone Black.

To control how Blackness is perceived.  Or depicted. Or control.

In the creation of this studio, this legacy, you see that the hustle–when done consistently–is lucrative. It is sustainable–and there is something to work for and towards!

TylerPerry

Tyler Perry just proved the thing that I have wanted to do, knew I could do, have wanted to do, for the better part of a decade is not a waste of time. That the talents that I house, the stories I tell, the observations that I have are rich. They are worthy. They will be seen.

I know there are detractors who made fun of this better than six-foot tall Black man with wide shoulders in a dress, playing up the most common stereotypes of Black women: a mammy (mammie). I remember the Black professor from USC, Dr. Todd Boyd, speaking about this as well as the historical significance of Stepin Fetchet  (born Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry).

However, I want to challenge Dr. Boyd.

Those tropes still exist in modern cinema. They exist, they are propagated, and perpetuated not just by Black actors. There are White actors, especially in certain genres (namely horror) Black actors and actors were only seen as either magical or sacrificial. American cinema has a century head start on how Black people and other minorities are depicted. With that said, this achievement cannot be taken from him–even from people that look like him.

You can hate this move if you want to! But if you do, I pray that you never encounter an artist.

Matter of fact: yes, I do.

I hope you fall in love with a writer, a musician or a photographer. I hope that you fall in  love with a person that sees what you don’t see, and begins to build it like Noah. I hope that you fall in love with a person that daydreams–and says they want to start production companies.

Or music conservatories.

Or that they want to travel the world playing trumpet or violin.

I hope you fall in love with someone that refuses to get the safe job to make you feel happy. Then you will see what it means to build something, dedicate time and skill to something that you–and maybe only you for a duration–will ever get to see.

Helen Keller said the saddest thing is not to be blind, but to have no vision.

What Tyler Perry just did–What he encouraged every Black artist to do?–is incalculable. The journey towards greater visibility is ongoing, it will not, cannot end with Tyler Perry Studios. Now, let us all go forward. Encourage one another. Writers. Painters. Musicians. Photographers. Directors. Set Designers.

Edify. Support. Encourage.

There is a power in the Put-On. Why? For the grace of God, go US.

 

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

img_1367

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]

For My Daughters-Lesson 3: Ambition & Dreaming

 

 Dearest Darlings:

I want you to remember one thing, if nothing else:

If you believe you can, it will be so.

Most innovation and change in the world has come from someone dreaming. It is that energy, to build what only you may see which fuels ambition!

They go hand in hand, loves.

I want you to be bold about what you want from this life! If you do not see it, build it! I want you to take every gift, talent and skill and master them. Push them. Explore them!

Do not be persuaded or dissuaded by the opinions of stagnant, dreamless, vapid people. Do not fear the outcome of something before it begins! Don’t fear failing or falling! It is okay to be anxious, dear ones. It is even okay to be scared. Life is sometimes scary–especially, when you are embarking on something the surrounding world thinks you shouldn’t be doing; or succeeding in a field women, Black women, shouldn’t be in!

I am raising you to Torches!

This means your power is in three parts:

Light. Heat. Strength.

From your light you can, do and will inspire. You will lead a groups, movements and a generation! You will be all God has asked.

From the heat of your Torch, you will be able expose injustice, as well as provide compassion! You will be able to be strong when it is easier to quit. You will be able to care for those who can’t, and speak when others may not be able.

Torches provide strength, even when they stand still. They are a beacon–a place of hope. This is the flame of ambition. This is the power of dreaming! Strength is power put to use! You can do, will do, so much! And even being able to light the way for someone else is just as crucial.

Go forth and do good, dearest ones! I am already proud of you.

The Value Of The Put-On: Reflection On ‘Tiffany Haddish Presents: They Ready.’

Image result for tiffany haddish presents they ready

 

*the put-on:  Noun

This is cultural colloquialism which means to give someone you know a chance or opportunity; in a field you are familiar with or currently working.

 

I am a fan of Tiffany Haddish!

I love that she is loud, so Black and hood in white AF in white spaces. I am familiar with her story. I know that she was almost functionally illiterate. I know she was living in her car. I know she was doing comedy, when Kevin Hart talked to her. I know that he gave her $300 to get a hotel for the week. But what I also know is he put her on.

He saw her talent. He spoke to it. And he gave her an opportunity.

That is beauty of the put-on.

In watching this series on Netflix, what I heard so often was, “Tiffany came and got me.”

“Tiffany and I had  pact that whoever went first, they would throw the rope back. And she through it back.”

There is a power in maintaining space, but it is a totally unique power to create it! What Tiffany did is not forget the people that grinded with her, laughed with her, cried with her–and hustled together. It made me so happy to see!

A Black woman, whom is making and solidifying her own career, made a space for other women, especially those that look like her! This is the power of a put-on!

Let me explain this a little further.

 

Image result for tiffany haddish presents they ready

 

THE POWER OF THE PUT-ON

My best friend and I call this ‘putting someone in the room.’ But I like to use ‘the put-on’! This means that you know someone with skills, talents and abilities that someone needs to see. It means you have decided to build as you climb! The goal of it is visibility by an means necessary. The glorious thing, the beautiful thing? The put-on is a ripple in a pond. It provides a space for talent to be discovered and seen by more than just the person that put you on!

But what is the most important thing about the put-on is being able to give shine to people whom may not have it before. Or giving unique opportunities to those whom may never have had them otherwise (classic example:  the Wayans)!

The put-on is a best kept secret, and a card not often played. Why? The fear of other people’s greatness and competition. The put-on nullifies that! It grants presence to people whom need it the most! Or, sadly, may not have ever had it.

The beautiful thing about the put-on, is you don’t have to do anything but open a door. Or drop a card. Or a name. Even, in the case of Tiffany Haddish, go back to where it started–and some folk that people need to see.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[images from whatsnewonnetflix.com]