Family, I must tell you that I know I have to catch things up. Bare with me while I do! There are pieces I scheduled and didn’t complete, poetry I have to post, and things I have to do for sanity and business sake.
The inundating of posted work and think pieces is coming.
As great as social media is it is incredibly problematic! Don’t get me wrong, one of reasons that some of you even know who I am is because of social media (with that follow me on IG/Twitter (@authorjbharris) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/thephoenixalsorises))! Yet, these are the 5 things that I see are problematic on this invention known as social media:
1.) Illusions become reality. In the social media reality that can be sculpted with filters and hashtags, it is easy to think less of your life and more of someone else’s. It is becoming harder and harder to figure out what is real and what isn’t!
2.) Knee-jerk friendship ending. Social media has made ending friendships way too easy; manipulating communication and weaponizing language in such a way that friendships which took years to make, can be ended with keystrokes. That is disturbing to me.
3.) Cowardice is viral! Social media has made it way too easy to create a sock puppet account and accost other people rather than saying what you need to say, or want to say, feel bold enough to say without any ramifications.
4.) The oversharing! Social media is not the place for your heart to bleed, or all to blow up in your face. The dark urges of humanity feed on suffering.
5.) Apps make us selfish. Social media is addictive because it allows us to focus just on us…for as long as we want. This is to the detriment of all things around us which need our attention! Being that focused on us, just us, will have us develop a type of narcissism that thrives on just we want–and life doesn’t work or accommodate to just us!
As great as social media is, remember that the world outside your phone still exists.
This is a book that I didn’t think I would ever write. I promise you that I didn’t! But let me back up a little.
I have been in on TikTok (Be a cool kid and follow me–@whatjayesaid2.0) for over a year, and from me getting involved in this debacle of dating, being the right kind of Black woman, and falling into the hands of the Red Pill Army, and that fire Audre Lorde told me I had was the only way I could free myself!
From that, began the storytelling. In this book, there are over 100 stories!
These stories are from women (and some men) whom all walks of life!
From a woman whose great-grandmother ‘shot up the house of the side chick’ and stole her groceries, to a grandma who set her husband on fire, and a grandmother who emptied a clip into a coffin of her dead husband after dragging his side chick for crying too loud in church!
These stories are not an endorsement of violence, by no means! It is proof that these ‘traditional women’ this Red Pill Army wants–don’t exist. And they never did.
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.
*Written in response to White women demanding solidarity with this abortion issue (the Heartbeat Bill) in Texas in September 2021. This is dedicated to all the Black women whom keep saving the world from people determined to not have us (Black women) move in it. -JBH
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.