I, like most adults, am on social media. I have been in Facebook about a decade, Twitter for about 5 years, Instagram for a few years (I forget out about it often), and at the urging of my best friend, am on TikTok. In October, I will be on TikTok for a calendar year.
And what a year!
In the last 90 days, I have been banned on TikTok four to five times. With this last ban, I was banned for about a week (6 days). When I actually got access to my main account (I’ll explain that shortly), it took 2 hours after the allotted time to get access to it. When I did, I was greeted with this:
Oh, yes! Your eyes are not deceiving you!
When I saw this, I laughed. I cackled, actually! As I sat and posted content on my main account, I thought about this. In this digital age, in the age of Black people and people of color being targets of oppression, hate speech, public murder and other social abuses, what do most minority people do in order to bring light to these things? They take to social media! What do most people do whom dislike this type of activism do? They block or mass report a particular account to the powers that be.
Which brings me to the tool of main accounts, backup account, and this practice of social media lynching.
Main account. Lots of people on social media have these, it’s not new. This is the account you most frequent, that you use most often, and where people are most likely to find your content. My main account on TikTok is @whatjayesaid.
Backup account. These are the accounts that people have due to careers, family or hobbies. These aren’t often used, but they are used in case you don’t have access to your main account. My backup account on TikTok is @jayesaidwhat. I made my backup account in preparation that I might need it.
Now, let me define what this idea of Social Media Lynching is (this is seen on TikTok alot!):
Social Media Lynching is the practice of suppressing the content/voices of minority people (especially African-American people) whom actively use their voices, or position, to fight racism, discrimination, erasure on a social platform only to be banned (silenced) or have their content suppressed, accounts taken, or platform sanctioned.”
Jennifer Bush-Harris, 9.3.2021
This lead me to this iconic quote from Ida B. Wells Barnett:
If they cannot get us with nooses, they mass report creators whom are ‘problematic’ or ‘violate community guidelines.’ We are punished in this public way, on a public forum, on a free app, because we as Black/African-American people, dare to speak about the issues that effect us individually or a whole!
In putting this warning label on my main account (which as of this posting is over 30,000 followers), is indicative of why most African-American people on TikTok have multiple accounts. Much like those of the Civil Rights Movement had code names, and why in activism circles the rule of thumb is ‘trust, but verify’.
In keeping us quiet, the goal is to punish us, shame us, or scare us into not speaking out anymore!
The strange fruit isn’t just in Southern breezes and trees! It is attached to phone plans and homescreens; updated and integrated into daily life! There are those such as myself with multiple accounts that they use for professional reasons, and the fear of the ‘permanent ban’ is always looming because this happens most often to Black content creators! The fear of having what you worked for, what you built, taken from you because there are White people that don’t like what you say, what you fight against, disliked the information revealed to empower—having that power being taken from you is present!
The lynch mobs have hoods and smart phones!
Through mass reporting, the catalyst of the process of silencing you begins! And once you have been reported on an app (in this case TikTok), even old content being reviewed can to reported, and the bans become more frequent!
Again, my last ban before the one which ended on 9/4/21 (after 6 days), was 6-weeks before, and that was for 3-4 days! And we won’t talk about shadowbanning!
This is not by accident, though. It never is! Silencing African-American people in public ways, threatening space, livelihood, bodily harm (can’t forget the death threats via Direct Messaging!), is not new–social media is new! Like our ancestors before us, grandparents after them, we aren’t going to be stopped by who didn’t like what we have to say. We won’t be stopped by whom trolls, reports, cries or comments because they are emboldened by their racism–thinking it is equivalent to/better than any lived experience they have not lived, or education they cannot hope or desire!
I have a great many opinions–and even write some of them down. Besides, they wouldn’t try to silence me, if I didn’t have something to say.
Note: I am not a nurse, a doctor or a scientist. I am woman, a mother, a Black women whom is a mother, who desires you all to be safe and prosper. These are only my thoughts. Thank you. -JBHarris
I am a retired CNA. A Certified Nurse’s Assistant, with the plantar fasciitis, tender left hip, and sore shoulder to prove it. I have seen people die, seen people recover, seen people give up, and seen nurses do all they can to preserve life. My last year of being a CNA was during the initial COVID-19 wave. I started this year with a dying marriage, two children, in a global pandemic. I remember calling my mother–whom had been nurse when AIDS was being called GRID–to ask what to do. I believe it was her knowledge, common sense, and God that kept me through that entire year.
Was I apprehensive about the vaccine? Yes. I will not lie to you. I wasn’t going to take it! I thought the creation of it was too quick (viruses mutate and there wasn’t enough information about any mutations at that point), and I am aware of the history of medical experimentation of Black/Brown/Indigenous people in this nation. I wanted to wait. When talked to my mother, she told me, “Pray, take the shot, and keep going.” This is literally what I did. I monitored my symptoms on TikTok when I got the first vaccine in December 2020. There were thousands of people in my comments of that video whom said that I was crazy, I had been microchipped and there were magnets in it (the same things that are being said now).
I remember when I protested with my mother about taking the vaccine, she told me, “Jennifer, some protection is better than no protection.” I don’t know why that statement made everything click (she is my mother!), but it did. I am a Black woman, raising children in an anti-Black world, and don’t want to leave them unprotected. Then, there was my best friend whom is autoimmune. And her daughter that has respiratory issues. And my daughters whom are best friends with them. Immunity was important not just for me–but for my kids.
My kids. My heartbeat in two places.
I chose to get my children vaccinated because it is my job to protect them. As best as I can, as long as I am able. The week that my daughters got their second shot–completing their immunity cycle–there were 12 children in an ICU in Mississippi. Where my family is from…where my grandmother left when my mother was not even 8 years old. Everything in me shattered!
I came home from their vaccination appointment and my life converged into one point. The million little decisions that brought me to this point–some decisions I made, some I didn’t. This is what I thought: If my grandmother hadn’t left, my family may still be in Mississippi. Had my mother not become a nurse in Missouri, whom married the man that was my father, I would have never grown up respecting science. Had I not respected science, seen it work, I would not have listened to my mother. Had I not listened to her, believed God and her, I wouldn’t have vaccinated my children. These things all connect, dear ones. They all connect!
With the looming onslaught of the Delta variant, I urge you all to be careful. Think deeply,. carefully, about how you are going to move in the world around this. The first wave of this was terrible, and scary. I fear that this second wave may be the same…with far more grave consequences.
in 2021, some white women are still doing what their lesser ancestor predecessors did—trying to make the world move by their tears. Once again on this free clock app, Becky Sue JaneDoes and all her little friends have decided to start this trend where they basically cry on queue and cut it off just as fast! Forgetting the Black bodies and blood both attached to said tears!
The cognitive dissonance on this app as a superpower!
When I first saw this trend earlier this week, I was taken aback. But not shocked.
And to be honest with you, even now, I can’t even say why I wasn’t shocked. Perhaps it’s because I’m well aware of my history—personal, national, and global. Simply put? Lying white women who cry are murderers: history was both dictated and recorded that.
History is deeper than my opinion.
I am no longer in a place of my own self discovery and acceptance by which White women calling me name can move me from my point! As I’ve said before, it is one thing to be an accomplice, it is another to be a performative ally!
This group of White women don’t even know what they started! They don’t even understand, neither can we conceive, but they just admitted to! And how tough their role is well which they now have to hoe! The fact of being in this tone deaf, and this ensconced in defending it? That’s a learned behavior.
Dressing up this up this trend as an acting as an exercise, “Black people are taking it too serious”, and they are not racist – – but those of us on this side? We see it differently. And it is that vision, powered by history, that is on our side! White women’s tears have been weapons to kill people, disenfranchise larger groups of minority people, rob opportunities, and generally make everybody else’s life hard!
I write this part as a cis-het, Christian, woman whom is a mother, and hope hustler (minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ).
With that established, let’s get it!
1.) You cannot tell me that this young man is not hurt and isn’t lashing out. I have heard the hellfire sermons as it relates to homosexuality. They have never sat well with me. This is the only ‘sin’ there is no grace given to or for. The gospel of Christ is a hammer, yes—but it was never meant to massacre! Imagine being told as you live your life, the source of all things will turn His back on you. That is a nightmare! People forget that love draws, hate divides! Guess which was the last thing Christ told us to do? I’ll wait.
2.) This video was meant to be divisive. The vibe I got watching this video was to make people mad. He fully embraced this identity as a pariah. Completely and utterly outcast from society as Black, gay man—the video celebrates everything in his reality that will ostracize him elsewhere! He is celebrating the fact that “all gay people go to Hell” and pole dancing the whole way there! That is a boldness without equal. Then to simulate sex with Satan, only to murder him(!) and take He’ll over?! Like Crowley on SUPERNATURAL?! Fam!
I don’t think y’all get that: He. Just. Trolled. God. That is a different kind of hubris, I don’t have—or could ever want. His arms are too short for that smoke.
3.) There is an artistry to this video that is undeniable. It’s a pretty video! Very avant-garde! And the creativity that went into it is amazing.
4.) The ownership of your complete self is a process—and when done well? It is incredible!Since Lil Nas X came out, he has made it his mission to accept himself—regardless of who said what! With the state of the nation being what it is, he fact he has been able to do this, done this work to ricochet outinto the world? You gotta admire that.
5.) It is a middle finger to heteronormativity. As the transactivist Diamond Stylz says, “It’s gay as fuck.” This video was a treat for the eye, with no video vixen in sight! His self-love, acceptance, with no need to compromise. Bruh.
6.) The video is a demonstrative of the cost to of living the life you want! This young man is a successful, openly, gay Black rapper. I cannot imagine the smoke that came from just that! And peep the double entendre: call me by your name! Basically, call me what you want—it doesn’t matter! Whew!
7.) The game is afoot, Watson. Understand (again) that this young man is playing a role. Understand this is about money, clout and marketing! The more pressed you are, the angrier you are, the more he cashes checks! I refused to be pressed about this because I know the agenda! The world said/says he is a demon destined to go to Hell? Bet! And made a sneaker line to boot? Chile! You better understand what the real issue is and how to handleit! Not sure what the issue is? Re-read Part 1, and all these pieces again.
It is a hellified thing to go to work everyday knowing your managers think your existence is an issue!
At my current day job, I have actually heard the following phrases:
“I’m so sick of these protests.” My nurse manager said this. This woman hires and fires people.
“I’m tired of hearing about Black Lives Matter.” A nurse I work with said this.
Now, understand this. I am a proud Black woman, working in a White space, with White people whom have no idea what it is like to be either Black or female. They have no idea that when I get in my car to either drive to or from work, I am hyperaware of police. They have no idea the true reason why I don’t friend co-workers on social media!
The work answer: “I’m really not on social media like that.”
The real answer: “There is no way in God’s creation I will give you people they kind of access to me when I KNOW how you feel about my Blackness! You just want to spy on me!”
Look, I have children. I have rent. Car payments. And it is a global pandemic! I need my job…and yet I have to navigate these spaces as Black, woman and activist. I realize that my activism is a deterrent and target in spaces where I don’t have agency. Right now? I don’t have agency.
But, there’s a work around for that. I keep the Activist Self and Employed Self separate. Employed Jenn can’t say/do what Employed Jenn can! And I’m learning that. I can be both, do both…and still block everyone I work with on social media.
The world loves to tell Black women and girls what they can and cannot do! It loves to define Black women and girls for what they believe they should be. I am not a should-be Black girl. I am not a should-be Black woman! I own all that I have gone through, all I have done, and I want all that I dream of being!
I own me on a level I couldn’t dream of before! I suppose inching towards 40 which has settled me in a way that I didn’t think I would reach yet. Yet, in the intersection of aging, motherhood and adulthood, I find myself confronting the need to hold my own space. There is a need to protect that space, and every footstep that goes into owning that. The lie that I break daily is that I “do too much” or “it doesn’t take all that.” But, it does! It does take all that–it takes every bit of THAT which makes me Black and woman and walking through the world!
There is a different level of moxie, chutzpah and bravado to be a Black girl in a world that either wants to be you, erase you or kill you! It take every bit of your THAT to walk through the world and not be overtaken by it! What is THAT you ask? THAT can be a myriad of things, but here are the three things that I have deduced THAT is: Voice. Style. Presence.
Voice. There is a power, a magic, that Black women have. There is a natural authority and sway we have. When we open our mouths at certain points, God will come out! And in that space, from that place of authority, people who don’t want to see or hear Black women–silence us. We get removed from rooms. We get ‘rescheduled.’ We get delegated. We get told that we ‘too loud.’ We are ‘too aggressive’. And then those accusations are met with rebuttal? Oh, then we are called ‘bitches’. As if that will make the roar soften because you call me a name! No. I’m too told to be stopped by that.
Style. The poet Nikki Giovanni talks about how divine this thing called style that Black folk have. The poet herself even said, “If the Black woman wasn’t born, she would have to be invented.” There is a power in this! There is something to Black women, whom bear Black girls who, too, will become Black women have that is indicative of self-expression. In a world which is bent toward erasure of anything it considers and aberration, Black women still are noticed–we can’t help but to be noticed! From hair, our nails, make up and shoes–to how will pull ourselves together for dinners, weddings or a night out–Black women have shaped, reinvented, and owned style from the first time we discovered color. This was before chattel slavery, dear ones.
Presence. I have been a tall girl my entire life. In quoting my aunt about the state of my body, she says it this way: “All you had all your life was legs and ass!” That’s a direct quote. Now, I stand 5 feet, 10 inches tall, and about 200 lbs. With the right outfit and shoes I am over 6 feet tall–you notice when I walk in a room. My mother tells me that a lady always has presence about her. It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s until I realized what that meant. Presence is owning your life, experiences and all that your body is–stretch marks, muffin top, eyeglasses–whatever. The world doesn’t know what to do with a woman they are supposed to be ignore (let’s not forget we aren’t to be lusted after!), and it wants to erase! What do you do with a woman that you can’t help but see?
So yes, dear ones, it takes all of THAT. This life takes you owning your space. Amplifying your voice. It takes knowing who you are, and having your life not be defined by what other people can look or conceptualize you as! You make the boxes and draw outside of them!
Never let the world which can only take you in sips demand you give them a chaser! No! You have every right to be in this world–so be in it. Be. In. It.
As writer, sometimes the best fodder for your imagination are the things you have gone through. Nothing could be more accurate than what my own life is at present. With me facing a second divorce in 7 years, I had to reckon with this concept … Continue reading Book Announcement #2