If Ms. Rachel Robinson ever sees this, we remember. We remember, Ms. Rachel.
42 is my birthdate backwards just like it takes four minutes for a man to survive without oxygen just like you have two hands and one mouth so you’re supposed to listen twice as much as you speak and you have 2 feet and with the speed of the black panther played by a black panther, gave us the immortality that is number 42.
The husband of one woman, the father to his own to his own son, and the leader ship and dignity of a people on broad black shoulders— John Henry ain’t got nothing on Jack.
That Jack. That Ebony, black Jack Jack with the blue cap with the B on it because he knew he knew that the baddest ones always come from Brooklyn—
Be like the heart that Was in his chest that beat for us that lifesblood that came from every cut from every slide every name not his own from from every sling and arrow of outrageous fortune that he had to endure in baseball cleats.
Just like the hands that gripped bats, that gripped pens in order for him to graduate from UCLA in the 53 years that he was able to walk on 2 feet here Head held high like his mother Mallie told him—
looking like everything that we could wish and hope for.
it was the invisible wall that kept falling on him that sped the clock faster than his feet could that took him from us like wings of Eagles that Isaiah talked about
and now in the shadow of all things now, and yet to come, we remember, and we would also remember what took him we fight to not take us.
I know we are about 4 months from Halloween, but as the benevolent being I am, I wanted to announce this work soon to come starting September 12, 2022!
As a horror fan who desires more representation of the melaninated, this project will be a set of 50 short stories—one story per night for 50 nights. The 50th night ending on Halloween—as my writer girlfriend Tonia says is Goth Christmas.
For this project there will be vampires, Reapers, werewolves, witches and all matter of other mischief of my own making.
I will give you this teaser—you will need to follow every night, otherwise you will be lost! Remember, I wanted you.
I am excited to bring this work to you, I am so proud of it, and I believe you all will love it too!
“If you want to be in the history of the culture, you have to be in the fiction. If you don’t exist in the literature, your people don’t exist.” -Walter Mosley
One of my favorite people in the world is Walter Mosely. I could listen to him read the weather report and be fascinated (shameless plug: he is teaching a MasterClass on Novel writing–get it.) Yet, as I continue to commit myself to this gift, the assignment of thinking and writing, this matter of representation versus existence keeps popping up.
Now, while Miles Morales is no Ezekiel “Easy” Rollins, there are parallels. Like Mosely, whom focuses on Black male heroes in all his work, for the MCU while there are a plethora of Black male heroes–they are not often brought to the forefront; they are not seen in live action movies–stand alone movies–even less than. Before Black Panther there was…Blade. And before Blade–who?
But, there are always loopholes aren’t there?
Rather than give everything we the portion of the fandom that is Black also deserve, we get relegated to ink, paper and voice overs. It would seem that the existence of the non-White people in the greater vox populi known as The Fandom, don’t really like us that much. I mean, we are tolerated, but not really liked.
And when there is any clamor about how we are depicted or represented, the powers that be give us cartoons. Have you ever noticed that? We exist, but we have no existence in live action which rivals the non-Black fandom. Which is strange…and infuriating!
It would seem that animation is a pacifier–to placate us to complaining! To give something to assuage our demand for more representation: “Look, we’re inclusive, we started a cartoon! We gave you Into The Spider-verse! See, we did give you Miles!”
That is not enough.
With the MCU elevating the place of comic books and comic book lore in current pop culture, it is not sufficient to relegate those whom participate in this culture to solely animation. Moreover, since literature is not confined to a single medium, but is consumed and translated among several mediums (this is how it is integrated into culture), why cannot mediums be expanding and accepting of non-White characters from that literature?
I have a had a long-standing love affair with this character–this dichotomy of Peter Parker and his hero alter, Spider-Man. I mean, in following the timeline of my own life, I was dating the most horrible man when the first Sony Spider-Man starring Tobey Maguire was released in 2002. I was 21 then. At the time the third installment of Spider-Man was released, I was married, and pregnant with my first child. And what better way to bookend this love affair than with my teenage daughters, as a twice divorcee.
From Tobey. To Andrew. To Tom.
And Tobey is still a favorite–for obvious reasons.
As much as I loved Spider-Man: No Way Home, I still left much like an aunt looking for her nephew. I felt like a sister looking for her brother. And now–I feel like a mother looking for her son. That part roars because it is much less about me, and my desire for representation–it is for my children, grandchildren and other children whom still don’t see their faces on screen.
Representation still matters! Having one incredible Black-centered movie isn’t enough when cinema has only be around for about 100 years! I mean, as of next year the ‘prestigious’ academy is only 95 years old! And how many winners of those Academy Awards have not been White?
G’head! Google it! I’ll wait!
If there can be hashtags created in favor of Andrew Garfield being Spider-Man again for the Amazing Spider-Man 3 (I think the hashtag is #ASM3), where is the hashtag for Miles?! Where is Miles Morales?!
With this movie kicking open the door for the multiverse (clearly there are three Spideys!), and clearly the source material offers many other Peters (any BOY are there alot of them!), is making a Miles Morales movie a…risk?
There are a generation of children whom look like Miles, whom are waiting on Miles.
from how you touch our hair as if we are some foreigner animal and then tan to have skin like us, and call us dirty?
white women we see you
we see you on how you teach your sons to never to touch our daughters but yet your fathers have children who look just like us
white women we see you
we see how you go to voting booths and claim sisterhood and then vote for interest in power that mirror the power that you have been so accustomed to that you are afraid to be without because then that would make you not special-
we see you how you look at our sons
and then cry when they have done
nothing wrong except exist in a space that you thought a black child should not be in-
white women we see you
we see how you excuse your sons to take the rifles of their fathers and grandfathers and then exterminate people as if they are roaches in the kitchen.
White women, we see you.
and then you are mad because we are loud, and yielding in equality of both fought and promised, but you have contempt for us?
white women we see you
we see how you have disgrace the memory of our foremothers whos milk was in forefathers mouths miles as if she were some dumb cow-
White women, we see you.
you see, we have always seen you
we have always been taught of your monstrous natures and to be told or seen
You see this allyship that you want?
Is not easy—wounds generations deep and you all have banded together at every turn for the sake of your own power-
like your fathers and grandfathers and patriarchs before you too desire to write your face across everything that has color in it thinking by doing so do you indeed have conquered would they have not.
And in true fashion
and a true form
we see you
from from ancestral bloodlines
Over office cubicles
to the way you cry to HR when we don’t speak to you when we come in in the morning because you cannot conceive that life has not always been subject to you
white women, we see you
It was the mothers of our mothers who taught us her daughters—the real witches who survive being burned, who survive being lynched, skinned, sexed, sold, in and made to be wench and Mammie-to talk to smile while dying on the inside—the matches struck so the heat can pass through time and blood to the unnamed us whom where coming—and now here.
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.