Waiting On ‘Candyman’

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the retelling of ‘Candyman’ will be in theatres on September 25–pushed back from its original June 2020 release date.

I saw this new trailer through my Facebook feed early this morning, and had to watch it twice. Despite (and perhaps this is too my detriment) never having hear of Nia DiCosta before directing ‘Candyman’, this short film–this new trailer–has me more hype than I was before to see this movie. And if you look carefully, you will see snippets of other Black history/horror stories in it as well. Within 2 minutes, I am that much more of a fan of hers. The short is intelligent, complex and telling. It reminds me of something that should have been included in the SHUDDER documentary, Horror Noire (Please cop this book! Please watch this documentary!).

The thing that is awesome about this teaser, about this retelling is found in the tweet of the director: “…the symbols we turn them into and the monsters they must have been.” This goes into the controlling of narrative, the controlling/ownership of language, and how minority people will always suffer from the retelling of their own stories by people who don’t look like them! This dovetails into the quote by Tananarive Due: “Black people have always loved horror–horror hasn’t always loved us.” And my favorite quote by her being, “Black history IS Black horror.”

Perhaps the issue remain in the fact that this story was originally written as a short story by Clive Owen. From that story, was the film. From that film, with its premise, allowing pain, anguish, revenge and autonomy through the vehicle of this angry spirit, I believe, is one of the reasons relegating Black people to tokens, magical/sacrificial Negroes or the ‘other’ is comforting to White audiences!

There is a shift vibrating through Black art right now–through all its medium. Besides, if there can be literally 10 movies featuring Jason Voorhees, the world will deal with the angry vengeful spirit of a Black artist whose hand and life were taken because he dared be who is was–and loved who he did! Jordan Peele said it best when he voiced the White male lead horror protag has been done—to death. Now, in this age where freedom is continueally paid for with time, I am anxious to see what else Nia DiCosta is allowed to create. This has to be–must be!–only the beginning.

Why James Baldwin Was Right… About Everything

Author note:  I will be mentioning the N-word in conjunction to my own deciphering of James Baldwin’s words.


Here lately, I thought (read: meditated, studied, ruminated) on every quote, and damn near everything I have ever known or read about James Arthur Baldwin. I find myself referring to him as I do along with my favorite scriptures. I find myself in my dark, artistic places thinking “What would my Father Oracle say?” I find myself thinking in matters of social change, marcolevel crazy, and crippling self-doubt repeating that question.

In this era of COVID-19, neo-fascism disguised as conservative Christianity, and the utter, rampant erasure of anything Black, I have begun to be a more adamant student of Baldwin. His work having a new power, necessary in the time we live in. The thing I feel more adamant about as I have looked at his work is the concept of White American ‘needing a nigger.’  Now, if you are familiar with Baldwin, even on a casual basis or knowledge, you know how he has felt about this word, as well as it’s application to his life. Don’t believe me? Look at this quote (from brooklynrail.org):

“Another important record of Baldwin on film, a particular scene in Hammer is singular in its emotional and metaphysical clarity: Baldwin, seated, dressed in white, a kerchief tied carefully around his neck, considers the existential roots “of something in this country called the nigger.” He continues that he had to know early in life that what was being described had nothing to do with him. He knew, he insists, despite all that had been done to him, that “what you were describing was not me.” If it is true, as Baldwin began, that “what you say about me reveals you,” and since “you” had invented this figure and felt the need to invest black people with all those sedimented associations then, Baldwin argues, you are in fact the nigger…”


Think about this!


This word, which has been used to dehumanize, murder, oppress and dispossess an entire race of people–because it is a social construct! A construct needed by a certain class of people whom have no other power to change their lives, take responsibility for problems they have causes, and believe that to oppress another person–making them the consistent scapegoat–is needed. This is how white supremacy continues to reproduce–powered by this lie!

It is the lie of superiority of white folk over everything which needs a ‘nigger’ to feel powerful. To feel righteous, and worthy. Just like Coretta Scott King said freedom has be won in every generation, white supremacy must be retaught and reinforced with every generation! As Baldwin said often through his life that he was a man–never a ‘nigger’! What a powerful think to understand! What a powerful thing to reveal! What a think to remember!

You have to know that what Baldwin spoke about in the movie I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO, is/was a foreshadowing of what you are seeing now! This country needs ‘niggers’ because it thrives on power and usurpation! It needs a vulnerable, non-human subclass to subjugate in order to feel superior! In order consolidate resources and wealth! This is not a new tacti, Oracles! To name something is to control it, is to rule it is to declare authority over it! Why do you think now is when we see this resurgence of behavior our grandparents saw!  Niggers are not entitled to equality, fairness or the pursuit of happiness.

Niggers are not people. Catch that. Ergo, as a person, you are entitled to all of these things! And those whom subscribe to white supremacy and the romantic notion of power, need to feel superior to someone else–because they have no other power to assert or wield! And therein lies the struggle.

When I ruminate on this, I have to remember that I, too, am not a nigger! Neither are my children. Neither are any of the beautiful Black folk I know. And to have the words of Baldwin shore me up, reminding of my value, my power and need to be in the world? I can go on.

In the face of COVID-19, the protesting of folk whom don’t wanna stay inside, incompetent leadership, and trolls believing in themselves so tough they carry guns to state capitals, who spit that name at me as if I will break about it? Nah, son. I say, with my hoop earrings, mask and afro, and say, “You’re the nigger baby, not me!”


























QUARANTINE BOOK LIST

In the middle of being hard at work building my own imaginary people and universes, I am taking time to catch up on my own reading. Since reading is one of the chief reasons I became a writer, I thought I would share my (quarantine) reading list. This is by NO MEANS the extensive TBR list! But this is something to keep your mind occupied!

Read and write!

You can do it!

-JBHarris

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Since you are already in, you might as well read something.

1.) Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

2.) Kindred by Octavia Butler

3.) The Color Line by Tiffany Richardson

4.) The Well-Read by Glory Edim

5.) Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

6.) Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland

7.) Wild Seed by Octavia Butler

8.) Fledgling by Octaiva Butler

9.) The Mother Of Black Hollywood by Jenifer Lewis

10.) For Colored Girls by Ngtoske Shange

11.) The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by Anne Rice

12.) Beloved by Toni Morrison

13.) The Good House by Tananarive Due

14.) Eloquent Rage by Dr. Brittney Cooper

15.) If Beale Street by James Baldwin

16.) Between The World And Me by Tah-Nihsi Coates

The Launch Into The Deep: YouTube

In my TS Madison voice: “IS IT ON?!”

So…I did it. I started a YouTube Channel! It is the most nerve-racking thing I have ever done. On this channel will be all the dope things you all love me for! The newest thing I saved only for YouTube is:

This is where I expound on an idea for about 10 minutes–just things that are on my mind, come across my desk or may just bother me in general. The One Minute Words which are on my professional Instagram will be there as well! There will even be a mentorship videos as well!

I am stoked. I am excited. There are already videos up! Follow and join the tribe. I even have cool name for the people that follow me: Oracles.

READY OR NOT! I FINISHED YEAR ONE!

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This week, I got the reminder from WordPress that I started this corner of the internet universe one year ago last week!

That indeed is something to celebrate!

With that, I am strutting into Year 2 a little more confident, a little more confident and a little more brash–not that I need help with that.

Thank you all for your love, support, and ever present readership.

Tell a friend so you can breathe fire, too.

Love Always,

JBHarris

SABEM The Wrap Up- Feeling Like ‘Endgame’

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“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)

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“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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Week 8- Get In Where You Fit In

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“I’m just trying to be me…”

-Lil Kim

 

This week was hard, loves.

When I started this week? There was all matter of dopeness! And as the week ends? I almost have a panic attack.

Why?

Money.

It always, always, always comes down to money.

These past 8 weeks have been something serious! I mean it truly has. When my husband told me to go back to school while I’m on this hiatus from work, I said why not. But in the ‘why not’ I knew that my financial aid was sketchy at worst and iffy at best! There were things that I needed to do–still haven’t done!–but this whole semester has been based in faith.

Let me tell you something. This how all this came to be.

I took a nursing exam for a LPN program and passed. Awesome! But, there are multiple hoops I had to jump through before I could ever start! One of them is I had to go through three interviews before I could even be let in! On top of paperwork, immunizations and other academic scrutiny. I was so frustrated. And I cried.

My husband, seeing me cry, offered that I should go back to school. Finish the English degree. In the course of a Saturday afternoon this happened–

I got a degree audit. I was able to reapply to my program. I only needed 9 hours, not the 12. This meant I could graduate in December. In reapplying, I got to start in Fall 2019, not Spring 2020. I started class that Tuesday. 

I believe that God was tired of me fearing what it is I was supposed to do:  I am a writer, not a scientist.

I am a healer of a different source…and that is okay.

 

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The dope thing that happened this week:

My professor, Dr. Welch, put me up on game. She asked me after turning in my second reflection paper, she asked if I was an undergrad student or graduate student (I’m an undergrad–last semester). Then she said this:

“I don’t know what your life journey includes, but you should consider grad school.”

You have to know what this means. A Black professor, of English, saw a Black student–and her promise–and told her to dream. Bruh! Not even dream, but prepare to take over! She told me that there is a way to complete my Master’s degree, and get paid to finish my doctorate. As a Black woman, in doing being in halls of academia–like a college–that would allow me to be in a space of influence that just being a freelance writer cannot touch.

Besides, the goal of the artist is to disturb the peace. What better way to do that than by degree at a time?

 

Week 7-See You When I Get There

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“Big sh-t, poppin, little sh-t stoppin’ “

-Clifford “T.I.” Harris

 

This week? Mane. You remember the paper I told you about that I got a whole 60 on? Well, when I resubmitted it, I got a 92. A 92/100. Bruh. I shouted! I really did! I am now at a 83.5 in Prof. Welch’s class (this is a B-). And this week we started If Beale Street Could Talk? And we have to write a reflection on this? And I love Baldwin?

I am now in a sweet spot for this semester–at least for this week.

In my 4700 class (yes, with Dr. Wall!) we are discussing the poet/writer Tess Gallagher. And with any English class, there will be paper writing. We have a paper that is due in about two weeks. The cool thing is if we do this right, this paper can be used as a basis towards our final paper.

This paper has to be 5 pages. The final paper has to be conference length.  This means it has to be ten pages:  nine full length pages, with the tenth being for citation. I decided to do my paper on Lucille Clifton.

Dr. Wall had us to write a thesis and be prepared to discuss it in class this week. My thesis? Glad you asked:

“The relevance of Lucile Clifton is demonstrated in the canon of American writers because, in the words of Toni Morrison, she helps to decolonize the canon.”

I know, I know. It’s lit.

Not only did Dr. Wall validate my thesis, not only did she champion it, not only did she see how excited I was to write it, she helped to develop my thesis! She helped all of us develop my thesis! This middle-aged White woman, whom is a fan of African-American literature, told me–an African-American undergrad–to write this paper. Like lean into it an write it! She also gave our class this other tidbit.

Dr. Wall reminded us to keep all of our papers. In the case of Lucille Clifton, there has not been enough critically written about her. This just means there has not been enough people whom have engaged her work. There haven’t been enough people that thought enough about her work to ask questions about it.

Trust, I am already thinking about this final paper. I am already thinking about my analysis. I am already thinking about the contrast I want. I am already thinking about where I could send it if Dr. Wall gives her blessing that the work is good enough.

At this point? I’m counting the weeks. I am about 8 weeks out of completing my undergrad. And I get to wear the stole of my father’s fraternity (Kappa Alpha Psi)? I can’t help but think that Daddy would still have to smile at all this.

As long as it took–I still did it. I did it.