I decided to believe in myself, and this series enough to make this a book of essays. Look for this book of the same name in May 2022. -JBH
I am a lover and a fighter. I am a silk hand in an iron glove. I am the same woman that can house love and fury, which do sometimes intersect in my linguistic acrobatics.
For that reason, I won’t give up on love. That emotion is too powerful to abandon, and love to great a reward to forsake. Yet, there are still so many things in the world that need to be changed, realized, and can be, will only be changed through love.
I am learning that love is three fold: power, acknowledgement and resolve. Love is never something weak, to be looked at as if it were something weak. Yet, even as it relates to writing, this is still a work of love. A record that someone in the world saw, lived, and left a record of someone whom strived to do better. To love a little better, a little wider, and to protect a little more. But, by heart–and I feel much like the Apostle Paul this way! The desire in me to change the world is so great, and also there are days where I want to leave the world to burn by the timber and fuel of its on ignorance! But I am reminded of my own heart, that ability to love, right?
In that own inner wisdom, I have said, “We fight, because we cannot afford to die.” This, too, is love.
There is a writer girlfriend of mine, Jessie Sandoval, who said this: “St. Louis will either make you a warrior, or a poet.” Being one whom is a native of this town, this is absolutely correct.
In being raised in a city that is blatantly racist, that operates in systemic oppression where #FergusonIsEverywhere, writing was always my outlet. It was always my weapon, my tool, and my way out. The fact that I happened to write a good love poem every now and then, didn’t mean that my desire to burn down every oppressive tool and idol in Missouri went away!
At this point in time, I realize that both portions of my creativity are needed. With the most essential thing being that my heart needs to stay soft. That is the most revolutionary thing that happens to activists, and it feels like a magic trick! You have to be prepared to fight, and at the same time, protect your heart enough to see what is wrong around you to not become cyclic or apathetic!
That is what I am doing, dear ones. I am sure you may have heard the term “the iron fist in the silk glove”. I believe this applies to me more than I thought it would! I am learning that I have to be soft enough to draw in the people I need to protect, to love, and to serve, and strong enough to protect them.
I know I won’t get it right all the time, but I can’t quit. There is entirely too much at stake. James Baldwin reminds all writers to do their work so that, “When I am needed, I will be there.” This iron fist in a silk glove is just part of that work.
Today, Love Day, and I looking at the books that I have to submit to Amazon, and the happiness I have there, and have found in this new relationship. In writing Next Lifetime Things, this was a book which was totally unexpected! It’s not like that I gave up on love–but I wasn’t looking for it. Trust, no one is as shocked as me–no one!
So this Valentine’s Day, I am in the presence of a man that adores me. He opens doors for me, and remembers just how I like coffee, complete with cheek kisses.
Yet, as I sit her, happy, caffeinated, and with my legs in his lap as we watch television, I am reminded of Breonna Taylor and how she was with her love when her life ended. I am thinking of all the Black men who didn’t come home to their wives. I think about how tired I am of writing about grief, abuses, and trauma!
Then, as I let the anger settle, something else rumbles from that.
It is hot, and simmering, and comes through the deftness of my fingers.
What does a warrior do on Valentine’s Day? Warriors still fight, still war, because they believe in love, in justice and peace. We may just eat chocolate first.
What I have learned in this Level 40 of being Black and woman my heart is both a liability and an asset. I am loyal to a fault, and when I am done with a person, I am completely finished. What I find interesting is when people hear or know that you are a ‘love poet’, they assume you have no other passions than love, lust or sex.
No, not at all.
Through my maturity, aging, and personal activism, my concept of love has done two things: strengthened my ability to love and be reminded that be being passionate means I need to be able to confront what I see around me that is wrong.
As one whom is Black and woman, my concerns for my community, my family, the world at large fuel my activism in a way that love makes one bold, vulnerable and strong. The trickiest thing I have to keep in mind as my healing of mind and heart continue, is to keep my heart soft.
Again–my heart is an asset. It is a liability. It is mine.
I love hard. I am not afraid of commitment. I am afraid of becoming impervious–unwilling to be vulnerable again, because there is no safety to be such. That warrior in me and the lover in me take counsel in the words of another warrior-scholar, “Remember to use your genius, soldier, when nobody is around.”
Last year, I was in a very different place than I am now. I can say that all of 2021 was more eye-opening that I thought it would be. As cliche as that is, it is true. Last year I was grieving the end of … Continue reading What Is Love?
I am a love poet. What does that mean, exactly: It means that the subject of most of my poetry (which you can find on Amazon–click here) is about love and relationships. I’m a love poet!
I accept that. I’m cool with that.
Then, there is that matter of wanting to change the world, fight injustice, dismantle white supremacy, protect Black women and girls, speak to the king in Black men and boys, and wants to see the world better by the time I leave it! Some of that requires me to put down love and pick up sword. But, that is the trick!
It is because of love that I am able to pick up the sword.
It is because of love that I speak truth to power.
It it is because of love, that I believe the world can be–should be!–better when I leave it.
Yet–I am aware that because love is a power source, I cannot be limited to it’s ‘softer’ more romantic nature. The world I know maneuver through, raise my daughters in, and work in, is at war! The wars are on multiple levels, on multiple fronts, with continued loss of life.
February is a month that I get to examine this, and maybe we can all get free together.
“My authenticity comes the street, whether I’ve been there or not.” -Toni Morrison
One of the things that I love about writing as a Black woman is that I am writing as a Black woman! I have an eye that few people in the world do, or could ever conceive of having. Yet, for that cause, I am often overlooked–either because of race, gender or both. Yet, I am encouraged by the words of Shonda Lynn Rhimes–if I am a writer, I have to write. There is no other way around that! And if there is no path set, I make it!
I mean, my background for the social media was a tweet from her about “writers being lured” and her refuting that. Shonda said, “I am the candy.” And, I live and direct my writing life by that quote. I understand, uniquely even, that when I say something, three things will happen:
1.) It will be held as aggressive.
2.) I will be seen as complaining.
3.) I will be asking for attention I perhaps didn’t ask for.
As a Black woman that writes, I have had to develop a level of toughness backed by the acronym ISWIS: I Said What I Said. I have given myself the permission to “have the audacity” to say exactly what I said, like I said, when I said it. This does not mean that what I express is meant to wound, or vitriol and venom is all that I have to give to a situation. No, not at all! What I do know is when I say what I say, I need to mean it, while measuring my words if needed.
The Black community has a serious incel problem. It is a pervasive, scary, visible incel problem. For reference, let is us get some terminology together first. An incel is defined as a member of an online subculture of people who define themselves as unable to get a romantic or sexual partner despite desiring one.
The thing is, this definition, in my opinion white washes; as if this definition is only is only applicable to White or non-Black men. What is crucial to know is that you have to examine this definition and pull it towards the treatment of Black women and girls. My greatest issue with this definition is that it is the assumption that this subculture is limited to online.
My biggest issue with this Red Pill/Incel army is how sweeping this definition is! While it does not exclude any man, it does not include all men with incel behavior. I need not to look no further than social media or the news! The attacks against Black women and girls are so pervasive, so common that there cannot be enough light shown upon them!
Black women murdered by Black men because they told them “No.” Because they didn’t want to give a phone number, followed home and almost attacked in their houses, guns pulled on them because the didn’t want to go out with Black men. Black men that see sex as a right, women as a possession, and any Black man that protects Black women is called a ‘simp’. It it is no different from calling a Black woman a bitch because she turned you down! A lot of this is based in rejection–believing just because you are a man, you have a right to every woman. This makes some Black men no different than Elliot Rodger!
You being a man doesn’t entitle you to every woman! Being concerned about the welfare of women doesn’t make you a simp! But yet, there are Black men whom know whom their friends are problematic, and will not speak up on behalf of the women their behavior harms! Why? Wouldn’t that make you as simp?! Like, what are the rules to this?!
I, as a Black woman, whom is a fan of the success of Black men–I cannot help but remember the words of Nella Larsen in Passing . Irene and Claire are in this inexplicably complex position, and for the want of protection, or unity or comfort, Irene cannot divorce herself from her. Yet, she demands that some sort of accountability be taken on the part of Claire because she knows the situation she is in! It is not up to Claire to save her from her stupidity, but to remind her of it! That is just how I feel with this sect of Black men!
You all know what is wrong, but you refuse to confront what causes it and who suffers from it! Why? It is for your own comfort. Which is infuriating and sad. And the type of womanhood you want to benefit from would be at the expense of every Black woman you know! We would have to be okay with every part of us that is bleeding, upset, wounded or demands change! We would have to be okay with you all being our oppressors in addition to white supremacy!
No. I refuse to shrink in order to die.
And for the record? No Black woman whom is secure in herself cares, if you date non-Black women. We have other things to worry about.
The Red Pill Army is an infestation to the house known as masculinity.
I don’t know why it is that men really feel that the mistreatment of women is really how you keep a woman! Let me say it this way…if you don’t want it done to your Mama, don’t do it to no one else’s daughter. Simple, right?
I mean, at my age, in my 23 years of dating, dealing with dating partners and relationships, I have never the rash and rush of rapacious, trifling men happy to be known as trifling! And when you get to that point where you are happy to be trifling?! Chile, I do not understand.
These Red Pills identify themselves as ‘alpha males’! They aren’t ‘simps’, they demand sex, see women as lesser or as property, assert that all things masculine devour all things feminine–but are MYSTIFIED that no healthy, sentient, independent women, would want them! Mystified!
Mystified that the women they want–don’t want them!
Just like we as women know who our crazy friends are (and choose to deal with them or not to deal with them–which is a whole other conversation), but it is something altogether different for men, I think. In a world that won’t allow men to be human (outside of sex and rage), that some men will endure all matter of company to not be lonely. They will deal with the roaches to not be lonely, rather than clean their area to make space for anything else!
Which makes me think this crisis is male-driven, and only men can fix it–it almost makes me a grateful I don’t have a son.
This picture was taken from Nikole Hannah-Jones’s Twitter account. I am using it as a reminder to be bold, be present, and fear no word I utter. If you aren’t following her already–you need to be. -JBH
Sometimes you just need a reminder of you own power.
For the past three months, I have wrestled with believing that I could come back to this space like I wanted, and knew that I needed to. There is a certain something about being a writer–the strength that you need to keep going, you will inevitably find!
There are still 3-4 projects that I need to do that is going to require strength and research, and then I got my second wind from new Howard University instructor, NYT journalist, creator of The 1619 Project (and the woman whom I am convinced is the real Jean “Phoenix” Grey-Summers), Nikole Hannah-Jones.
One of the things that is crucial to this space is the fact that I pride myself on writing without a filter.
Pen with no cap.
Liquor no chaser.
Don’t nothing move but these pages!
One of those reasons for that renewed strength is…Nikole. There is a boldness in her that I do see in myself. And as the walls of the cares of the world fell on me, I feared being attacked for what I said. I got scared of being banned from a platform I was building! I didn’t think that I really could BE this writer with all these ‘things’ haunting me. Then I remembered Nikole.
I remembered…who I was, and that I refuse to fear what I would have to say. That is ridiculous.
Read it again: I remembered who I was, and that I refuse to fear what I would have to say.
Whew! This 3 months of silence has me locked and loaded. Torch has been relit. But, I got my fight back. I rested. I ruminated. I cried. I prayed. I doubted. And I’m back.