Shakespeare may have said “Love is but a madness”, but I believe that love is powerful and takes many forms.
From the romantic, erotic, the nostalgic, whimsical, powerful, and hopeful–the poets contributing to February’s month long Spoken Word event ventures to remind you all that love is still shield, comfort, pleasure and power.
Thank you, Chanel.
Thank you, Tiffany.
Thank you, Mike.
Love is still a poet’s first work.
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My grandmother was the indomitable presence, she could restore familial order with a look or a sound. She had the strength, and wit I envied. I aspired to master, not emulate. I wanted this essence she had. I figured if I had it, that wit would allow me to maneuver with ease through this life. Now, that same woman, granted mortality to teach us her descendants how to run, I learn was only mortal, perhaps more mortal than me. I now learn only a fraction more her after her passing. The regality of aging is not lost on me. I want to be able to retain a measure of grace and charm that will not make me stone, but won’t make a fool or trifled with either.
Morrison said race is a distraction; looks crazy, feels crazy—stops you from doing your work. In a nation concerned with the color of Christ, than His character or cause, use history as eraser and bludgeon, powered by a theology by which will always see us as other as less outside of the God of the universe and His love—binding Him to White men whom need to hobble or brainwash anyone who does not find them to be the Almighty.
In pursuit of bravery and freedom, I leave the lazy descendents of slaveholders; grandsons of murderers; daughters of rape accusers and their defenders; daughters of all Confederates, to the god of their making, for the Hell they made for me and those who look like me.
This place devoid of privilege and power, where only suffering answers them. Gnashing on tongues they cut out or silenced out of Black people: remembering just how at that our of their death the plot twist most unimaginable! They see Mother Mary, her Son, and His Father are all Black.
If you mention the phrase follow all backups the appropriate answer is, ‘Drop them in the comments!’
On TikTok, this is common. In the 12 years I have been on social media (among 4 platforms–in March 2023 I will have been on Twitter a DECADE!), I have seen how racism, white supremacy, and misogynoir converge to rip down platforms for anyone whom may want the world to be better.
The idea of having a backup page occurred to me after my first few bans and video reporting became more prevalent. From COVID-19, to racism, to sexism–how could a cis-het Black woman writer be unscathed?
It is common to have backup pages; pages to go to live from; pages to comment or spy. With the algorithm determined or deterred by racism, backup pages are necessary!
Yet, I forgot one thing.
Before the first inneration of whatjayesaid was banned, I had gotten my page kidnapped.
I would be banned 3 days, 5 days and 7 days–but access would take a day or more to return to me. I remember one ban took another week to release back to me despite emails and contacting the app directly!
It was at the knowledge of knowing my account could be kidnapped (as well as mass reported!), I made it my mission to stay on the app…for spite.
Yeah, spite. I’m not above it.
At this posting there are 3 back ups: @shesgottapen2.5, @theecaramelgriot, and @stillwhatjayesaid.
I refuse to let an app that will ban me (a cishet Black woman) and praise real Nazi’s, silence me.
White people want to fight for the reputation of America. Hence why they have an issue with Colin Kaepernick kneeling, why they have a problem with us “ungrateful Negroes”.
After all, it’s their ancestors who lynched people, sexually assaulted people, murdered people—“It’s not us!”
What belies this pseudo dialogue are questions which greater White establishment only want obedient an obedient answer to:
Shouldn’t you be happy with what we gave you?
If you’re happy with that, I [as a White person] still remain to be good.
By this logic, whiteness can continually, inherently ‘be good.’ Even though James Baldwin said, “As long as you believe you are white, there is no hope for you.”
The Great Undoing is erasure: hiding history. In doing so, you [as White establishment] preserve the idea of whiteness so much so even the immigrant, non-White peoples whom come to this nation from all over the world, aspire to whiteness! To the point they will disavow cultural knowledge, knowledge of self, to be accepted, preferred by White people!
The majority of White people don’t want to relinquish the which allows them to control the greater narrative, individuality, the ability to claim both group authority and individualism! However, greater white culture desires to strip individuality from non-White people! In doing so, autonomy–freedom!–is limited to and for White people.
Which means we (as non-White people) again are fighting over the right to add to or correct the greater, more palatable narrative. When White people screech, “Who is they?“
They know exactly who they are!
They are the White people who perpetuated some of the most horrible atrocities in human history that you were descended from!
Make no mistake we know the root of the Transatlantic Slave Trade start in Europe; Bishop Bartolomé de las Casas in 1515 said Black people didn’t have souls. Ergo, we are not human. If we are not human, then it is easier to brutalize us.
Even in death we are not safe.
For The Great Undoing, why should Black people be mad, right? One of the tenants of White Supremacy is the expectation of comfort! Being granted the right to never be confronted, accountable, plausible responsibility to anything whiteness cannot profit from.
Why should we as Black people want to rock the boat? Why talk about these things? Why bring it up? The answer to
Y’all have a good here! You’re free now! You’re not mad anymore are you?
Toni Morrison said racism is a distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. This is where us as writers an artist come in! We have the power to go in and out amongst people, in and out of rooms, to make these observations, declarations which other people may be scared to say, or don’t know how to say.
Which is why they still want Black people whose ancestors were enslaved to a land by which they don’t know their original language or names to pledge allegiance.
My best friend told me getting on TikTok would be a good idea. Why, you ask? “You have so much to say!”
And I do.
Yet when I joined TikTok in September-October 2020 (at the first wave of COVID-19), right before the 2020 Presidential Election, I found my niche in social justice (Social Justice Tok), and there I remain 4 accounts later.
Reported videos begat bans, begat trolls, begat mass reporting and that pulling down of a platform I built within a year.
It took my breath away when I logged in my account and it was…gone! I felt like my voice had been ripped from me.
It felt like a digital launching.
From that realization, and being the student of history, I came up with the phrase social media lynching. I define it as:
(c) September 2021, JBHarris
The practice of suppressing the content/voices of minority people (especially African-American people) who 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.
I wasn’t shocked. I was not mad. I got real focused and made a backup plan. And backup pages.
I looked for a pattern to my banned videos and the patterns to bans to other accounts I followed. I saw these 4 things:
1.) Problematic comments filled with whatever a la carte -phobia or -ism.
2.) You check the comment; arguments ensure in the comments.
3.) These comments persist for days and someone reports the video or comment–or both.
4.) All other like videos are flagged (reported).
If you make enough noise, you get this on your account:
I do not agree with the accusation of the assailant of the Shanquella being labeled as a ‘man in a wig.’ Or immediately being classified as a Black transwoman.
So often Black women are classified as masculine! Our bodies are ridiculed, only to be mimicked. Black women have meet incredible standards to even be considered feminine, or the ever elusive ‘pretty’. In the forefront of this tragedy is this burgeoning transphobia, and anti-trans sentiment!
No. No, we are not about to do this!
The fact is Shanquella is dead, and the people who she traveled with are responsible! Yet, homophobia is never late! It is never late, never failing to be out of place! What needs to be added in this conversation is how easy sometimes Black women will not examine their own inner circles, but will always seek out ‘the other’ to determine who/where the enemy is.
It can’t be the women in my circle whom are capable of this, but a transwoman would because they are not real women!
No. Not here. Not ever. Not never ever.
Let me say this: I am a cis-het Black woman. I have never looked in the mirror and thought, ‘None of this [heart, body, mind, spirit] is right! I can lend sympathy and empathy to transpeople. And as a woman, I can respect women (cis/trans), and only ask for that respect in return.
This situation has nothing to do with transwomen.
Transwomen are not the enemy. I repeat: transwomen are not the enemy, and should not be the focus in this discussion! The focus needs to remain on Shanquella, and why her ‘friends’ got her in another country, (allegedly) murdered her, and lied to her mother about her cause of death!
If anything, this situation forces us as Black women to look at our own circles! We have to examine who is there and why people are there. Then, be brave enough to make them leave!
There are Black women who say this situation is not, should not be compared to what happened to Kenneka Jenkins. But, I offer to you that it can.
Both young women trusted people whom could not keep them safe, look out for them, or even had the base level care most Black women have been taught to have for one another. And for that misplacement of trust, they are dead.
The remaining questions I have is:
Who really looks for Black women and girls except other Black women and girls?
If Black women have no trust among each other, then were can Black women have it