Tag: Black writers matter

Confidence Is A Superpower

Confidence is an intangible, invaluable tool for navigating this life as a woman. With all the uproar over Gabourey Sidibe and a dress she wore to the Golden Globes on Sunday night, there have been mean comments via Twitter, Facebook and countless comments riddled with venom, or what the glamorous refer to as “shade”. I sat, thought and wondered this…is this why we as women can’t unify? Is this why? We are still caught up on how someone LOOKS in something? Nevermind the fact of a woman being talented, driven and visible, operating in all facets of her talents regardless of station in life or situation she may find herself in.

We as women have to learn how to get OVER ourselves. We really do, and learn to celebrate each other, and be an ENCOURAGEMENT. Granted, it can be a struggle to shift focus from the exterior to the interior of a person, seeing that the exterior is the thing that is most of us are taught to dress up, doll up and play up with the latest fashion, or mascara. Whether it be Christian Louboutin’s she wears, Nine West slingbacks, Nikes or Payless flats she wears, why should it matter? If a woman is famous, infamous or anonymous there are some things that are synonymous to the human experience. As women, I believe with have this vision about our ideal selves, and what we wish to be or change. We confront insecurities, issues, and pains only the Lord knows of daily. Why make a day in the life of another woman harder than it must be? Each of us as a past written, present we live, and a future we are creating. Let us decide to do better. Not just for ourselves, but for those whose lives we effect. Let us teach our daughter to be better women, sisters and friends. So at the time when purpose and destiny intersect, the sons of the Most High may have better wives to assist with the changing of the world.

*-All of us, the writer included have been guilty of “sizing a woman up”, as if her worth is attached to what she wears to bare to the world. We have no idea what each of us has been divinely assigned to bare and conquer for the sake of our destiny. By design of the Creator, choice is the most incredible source of determination, compounded by the choice of words. Endurance in a choice. Confidence is a choice. Quitting is a choice. Running from what you have decided to do is a choice. To have your destiny stopped by what someone has told you is a choice. Being distracted is a choice. I am choosing to use my words to bless and edify. Let the weeding begin.

THINGS I PONDER:
(c) JPHarris, 2014

An Elegy For 88 Keys

My adopted brother, LeArthur Antonio Lee, died January 6. He was a brainstorming partner, my trusted friend, music, producer, confidant and all-around good dude.

I miss him. -JBHarris

Rest easy, Big Brother

God gave me a brother-

I forgot He was gonna need him back.

Someone to talk shop with

laugh with—

cry to, and be

reminded that everything

in me is neither fraud,

nor to be afraid of.

For all that burned in him,

finding peace between

Ebony and Ivory,

he gave pieces back

to the world which

had not given all

he demanded.

And now…

those fingers are still.

The keyboards dusty.

The songs unsung.

Melodies change into memories.

And we all don’t know what to do.

God gave me a brother—

I forgot He was gonna need him back.

-JBHarris, January 2023

Being A Granddaughter

Thinking:

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.

Good thing sanctification is a process.

-JBHarris, December 2013

Hell Is For Racist White People

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.

-JBHarris, December 2022

The Immovable Trinity

Day-jobbing and listening to MasterClass:

Never think that this gift I have is not demanding. I have leaned into this gift, succumbed to the demand of it.

It is the best restlessness.

It is the most intimate of imagining.

Yet, I am keenly aware, what I do—

Black woman writer
Writer, Black and woman
Woman whom is Black and writer. —

Is an immovable, immutable trinity.

For such designations, I write.

I persevere and preserve.
I remember and reckon.

I reimagine.

-JBHarris, December 2022

Read. Black & Woman.

This is the essay which will be in the anthology STORIES OF THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE to be published by the St. Louis County Public Library. -JBH

            I am a Black woman.

I am a Black woman whose grandparents were enslaved, sharecroppers, and whose parents are college educated.  The American Experience for me is based around words, narratives, and oral traditions—it is no wonder I am a writer.

            With this artistic designation, I am aware the thing which I am good at, have gotten accolades for, recognition regarding—would have gotten me murdered 159 years ago! For the desire of learning, for my natural inclination and proclivity for language, would have gotten me murdered.

            When I reconcile the American Experience with my cultural and personal history, I am forced to admit the same thing which has freed me, killed my ancestors. The dexterity of language, my verbal acrobatics, and my slick mouth would have made me a ‘woman most unruly’…if I was White. Since I have no hope of whiteness, as a Black woman, I would have been the mare needing to be broken under field work, whips, or tree limbs.

            I reconcile that history, that most American ancestry for the enslaved, and I determine to say everything that my grandparents could never say. I make it an effort put pen to paper, letters on screen for visibility.

Or spite. Either will do.

Nikki Giovanni says, “Rage is to writers what water is to fish.” Indeed, Nikki. It is that rage I seek to understand, to source, and which fuels the things which need to be said! I grab it, dig it up, and put fiction, prose, or poem to it.

My way has been paid for me, through time and sorrow. There is a need in me now to express, critique, submit and record. From there, I am a dragon of my own making; my Phoenix tattoo substantiates that. So, indeed let the rage be the fuel.

 

I breathe fire. I will leave a mark. I must! The generation coming depends on it.

-JBHarris, September 2022

Bonus Piece: Fast Girl Epilogue (NSFW)

While this piece was not included in this printed work, it was too good not to share. -JBH

When I asked you

to be my first,

I meant that

first—

last

The everything

first time

my legs would shake

on your shoulders.

The first time

I will ever feel a

spread in my hips

to the point every chakra

would realign to

ruin me for

any other man

that would dare

look at me

knowing that I was yours

deeper than senses

longer than love

quicker than Lightning flashes –

that kind of belonging

you can’t buy…

that kind of power—

you can’t mimic

when I asked you

into my body

to be the first

to explore

to awaken

to erupt everything in me

that was meant for you

I meant that.

I meant that,

like God is real

admitting all I held

for you—

would belong to you,

which means there

was a lock on the inside

of me with

your name on it—

If you thought my

mouth was slick,

You’ll find out

What else already is

A lock that

no one could find

but you—

Just like they put

names on hollow point

bullets so that the soul

will be captured,

I wanted to be

captured—

to be held

to be found

by you and none but you.

Knowing the caliber of love

and love making,

Relentless exploration

that the kids call fucking

you would give to me

—and only me —

because I asked

it of you.

when I asked you

to be my first

I meant for you

to be the last

because how often

do you get to

touch the sun

and live to tell about it?

-JBHarris, October 2022

My Mom Texted Me At 5 AM To Go Vote

My mother doesn’t sleep—

and now with her being

the proud owner

of an empty nest,

she makes her rounds

every morning to make sure

all baby eaglets

with nest of their own

are fine—

but with the approaching

wildfire season, she touched

her wing to the head of her

Oldest Babybird

to remind her

it is her turn to go save the world.

-JBHarris, November 2022 (US Midterms 2022)

Elegy For A Dean Girl

His voice sounds
like how whiskey tastes
dark and hot
making you forget
all your problems
with one look
or one sip
should you be
gracious enough
to handle what comes
with no chaser—
what girl wouldn’t
want the guy
who was able to
chase the monsters away,
being able to see
what fear looks like
and towards it
in something that
is all American muscle
because as we know:

“Driver picks the music
passenger shuts his cakehole…”

Brother.
Father.
Lover.
Demon.

the embodiment of
wishes and dreams,
In leather jackets
And glass green eyes
Hiding more
Than the mouth will
Ever say

given to us
over and over again
through John and Mary,
big brother to Sam, Cass, Jack & Adam
And the vessel of the
most fearsome Michael—
it is to him that we
owe restless nights
and quiet mornings
and to know that
whatever is in the closet
under the bed
Or watching
From outside
he’s got to go
through him first.

Rest well Dean.

-JBHarris, October 2022

The Death & Burial Of Kanye West-II

If,
from the combination of all things, knowing and Black comes this abomination of what we knew of him
whose very name,
translates to “Only One”.

how befitting it is
the Only One be unrecognizable— indistinguishable
apart from the oppressor.

with the same palm
which gave rhythm
and popped collars
now recruits fingers
to make hand
punch out and down
everyone else who he thinks
opposes him
and his pursuit of whiteness—

The Only One asks
Why we will not come with him?
Why we will not rejoice with him?

Why we will not betray
all that we know
and follow into the Sunken Place
with him when Chris had
his own friend
who was Black and male
to rescue him
because he had to GET OUT.

In this gospel
told by Jordan Peele
we find ourselves
In flashing lights hoping
What was there before
he fell, could be found
again—
to find nothing but carcass.

A house swept clean
Which the Only One
had the only, one key
And had the
One One’s had vision
wide enough
deep enough to keep
the Chicago River blue—
To keep the eyes of Black
and Brown children sparkly
because he looked like them…

now we have a relic
of what it means
to be both free and Black
but neither Black nor free!

and yet we are
to dispatch the angels
of our present warfare
to fight on his behalf?

No.

For the extremism
he is embraces
Before us all
draped in White Lives Matter
With his Balenciaga Binky
wanting power, comfortable
and luxury custom to him
By his own mouth.

Are we are supposed
ignore this…
because his mother is already dead.

But yet he spits
in the face of all our dead mothers
dead forefathers,
who fought for the right
for him to be the Only One
to walk in the spaces
do what he does best—

And here we are here
and here we will remain
be the evidence of
things spoken
those things hoped
for the evidence
of things not seen—
seeing him,
and all his glory,
because this is who he is now.

No longer an urban prophet,
but an urban myth,
and like all myths—
they must be disproven

-JBHarris