Tag: family

Ghosts In The Talking Boards

Be content the great cloud of witnesses say.

All the mammies

Are dead

But they still speak

Reaching from ancestor

Planes, with burns

On their backs,

Limps, unwhole missing

Skin, Teeth and Limb

From the word no.

It is their strength

To survive they

Provide, while warning

Us of what it

Cost them to

say no–

And yes is better.

Yes to your will

Yes to your way

Yessa…Massa.

Warning us in dreams

Of the 2 faces of this

Life–peace and war.

Yet we war for peace,

And for our peace those

Who value nothing

War for everything!

Be danger of your

Fire because they

Liable to beat it outcha!

Cool yuh in the dark

Of the earth

Or make you new

Branches in juniper trees

Just do what they ask ya

Like they ask,

Yessuh, juss like that

Not everyone can

Run–

But not everyone

Can stay!

They died for our bravery

Bc no greater love

Has no man than this

To lay down his life

For his life for his friends–

Those whom

are alive and remain

And remain to be alive…

This bridge called

My back remembers

The lash,

And feet made flat

To go through grass

And swamp

As eyes water as the

Last memory held

Is being told not

To leave.

We have counted

The cost of fire

And bravery and

Bending the tongue

Of owners and masters

With the lips given

By The Word.

If He is always speaking–

Then so will we.

So will I.

-JBHarris, July 2022

In The Letting Go

For the sister I didn’t know I needed—Jahaira Balenciaga (DeAlto).

It took me a week to write this. It took that long to write this because I am still processing all of it. I am actively, equally outraged, heartbroken and in rolling disbelief. The woman I had watched on YouTube for the better part of a decade, who I connected with through the gift of social media–for the better part of a decade–was murdered in her house because she was helping a woman leave her husband.

I am devastated. And here is why.

I was introduced to Jahaira through the YouTube channel MuchLove From KY (Ms. Nina!) who I love like an Aunt also. I liked Jahaira because she was funny, smart, and she changed her hair like I did! I didn’t even know Jahaira was trans until disclosed that. Now, was I raised to be homophobic or transphobic? Not at all. So, Jahaira being trans, was a small part of who she was. What endeared Jahaira to me was her authenticity, her love for the people around her, and her steady committment to make the world a better place.

I followed her YouTube channel (JahairasMission) for years! I celebrated when she got her associates degree. I rejoice when she enrolled in Simmons University to finish her bachelors degree. I was so happy we won her award! She was doing so much good in the world and to have her life snuffed out like this? It is so unfair.

I am reminded of the statistic that she gave when excepting her MOVA award about 3 years ago now. She said that the average age that trans women get to especially transwomen of color get to, is only 35. At the time of her passing, Jahaira was 42,43 years old.

Foolishly, I thought that she was passed that danger point! I thought that she had made it over so to speak. And that all the good in the world that she was aiming to do, the children that she helped raise, the love and legacy that she left—she was going to be able to be one of those trans women they got to see old age and seen the reward of all her hard work. I wanted that for her…

It is being reported out of Dorchester, that The person that murdered her was actually staying with her! He’s now in custody, and I am enraged!

I have been watching her videos on YouTube for a week because my mind cannot wrap itself around the fact that this woman that I knew, who had gone through so much, who was destined to do so many good things is GONE!

It is being reported out of Dorchester, that she was murdered by the estranged husband of the woman she was trying to help to leave him. He wound up killing Jahaira and his estranged wife!

This ain’t right. This isn’t fair. And I don’t know how I’m coping. I can only imagine how her mother feels! Jahaira DeAlto is the 21st trans woman to be murdered this year. Yeah, even in all of my grief and anger, I’m choosing to do the very thing Jahaira reminded us all as her sub tastics told us do: LIVE.

And with that four letter word, let that be her legacy. She encouraged us all to live and live unapologetically. Owning every last piece of our truth, embracing every flaw that we have, and celebrating every victory!

See you one of the other side, Jah.

#BlackBlogsMatter Challenge-Week 5 (2021)

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:

Im 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.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020 Was The Scariest Night I Have Ever Lived Through.

I have never been so relieved to see the final version of a map in my life!

I exhaled when President-Elect Joe Biden won. I had been holding it since November 8, 2016. I was at work when the election was called for Donald Trump four years ago and had not even realized I had been holding my breath. I had taken a sabbatical from social media in September, determined not to venture back into the quagmire of social media until after this election.

I was scared. I was more scared than I have ever been in my life. And I have been in some scary, crazy situations in my almost four decades. But this? This here?! No, this fear was ancestral, primal and I have never felt more helpless! But I am getting ahead of myself.

I gave in to curiosity and turned on my television on Election Night, after working the night before–I stayed up to go vote. I didn’t want to risk going home, sleeping, and shenanigans break out about my poll place. For reference:  I am in a red state (Missouri), governed by a COVIDidiot (Gov. Mike “I hate science” Parsons), and I am a Black woman. I had my voter registration purged, and had to re-register. So participating in this election I knew would be a fight! But, I had been ready for it. And I put myself in seclusion since before Halloween. I turned by notifications off. I didn’t check Facebook. I didn’t go on TikTok. I hunkered down.

I waited. I prayed.

When I peeked at my social media because of curiosity, I almost started screaming crying. I saw a sea of red–just like in 2016! I saw Joe Biden’s lead shrink, and I panicked. All I saw was red, and as I sat in my apartment by myself, I fought tears. I was on the phone with my love and he told me, “It is going to be okay.” That was a slap in the face! I told him he had no idea what that meant! I told him how scared I was! I was scared for my daughters. Scared for my mother and sister. Scared for my godmother, queer family, activist family and everyone attached to me. I was so scared I wanted my father–and he has been dead for almost 20 years. I wanted my father because that was the only man that I had ever known that would be able to protect me and my daughters. I could not breathe. I called my Godmother Vickie and panicked in her Facebook inbox. She told me not to panic–and that brought me down from a 20 on a scale of 1-10, to a  solid 10.

My chest was tight. My hands cold. I paced through my house, and fought tears. I thought where I could go with  my girls. I am divorced from my first husband (and father of my children), and he lives deep in Trump Country Missouri. Due to paperwork and wording of my divorce decree, I couldn’t move without his ‘permission’. I knew he would never give it, and he would never let me leave! I knew he wouldn’t understand, and would not protect the girls like they would need! I knew that he would deny my fear, say I was overreacting and say I was ‘trying to take his kids.’ It was the most obscene sort of auction block. I could not be assured the father of my children would be able to protect them–or have the desire to!–and he would do all in his power to make my life a nightmare, while I try to protect these children from the world, the flesh and the devil! With that knowledge, I realized just for a moment, what the ancestors felt while enslaved. I was in a land where the people in it wanted my death, my body or my complete erasure. And there was nothing I could do about it! NOTHING!

I got to bed after 2:00 AM that night. And it took all of my faith to pray, and pray to sleep.

My mother, my sister and I supported one another through this madness! My  mother and sister were watching CNN/MSNBC as recounts were happening, and when the mail-in ballots where added and the map began to change. We all watched and prayed. Prayed and watched, needed Nevada, Georgia, Arizona and Pennsylvania to certify their results and call this election.

It was my sister that texted me to let me know Saturday, November 7, 2020 at 10:41 AM CST this:  “Biden wins Pennsylvania, biden in the 46th president elect! “bout to lose ‘yo job!” Then, I exhaled. I know that President-Elect Biden is not White Savior. Yet, neither is he a incarnation of  Nero, starving for the blood of the poor, Black, Brown, Latinx, queer, Muslim, etc. There is still work to do, and now that I can breathe? I can fight again. Too much depends on the next four years to be silent!

Special thanks to my TikTok fam for getting me through the crazy of Election Night and the days that followed!  Namely Conscious Lee (@theconsciouslee); Quentin (@quentinjiles); Tommy (@my_doode); Jason (@bardude97);  Nicole (@nikkinoo813); Sunny (@_sunny_laluz) and Tiffany (@doubledeemuva). If you want to follow me, I am @whatjayesaid.

Red Table Talk: Part 2- Jada’s ‘Entanglements’

Facebook Renews Jada Pinkett Smith's 'Red Table Talk' Through 2022

I have been a fan of Jada Pinkett since she was Lena crushing on Dwayne Wayne on A Different World (SN: I so need A Different World to be on HULU!)! I always thought she was short and loud, and reminded me a little bit of my Aunt Linda–never a bad thing. I remember her being pregnant. I remember her marrying will–I mean she is besties with Tom Cruise at one time! Like she was the reason I wanted to keep my hair short! Her legacy and impact (for me) has always been bigger than her being Stony in Set It Off!

I know that she is the daughter of an addict. I know she and her father are either estranged and or never got along. The most infamous part of her public life has to be her relationship with Tupac Shakur, son of Afeni Shakur. If you want to make an insecure man mad, mention the connection between Jada and Tupac! Every time there needs to be a documentary about him, someone go gets Jada. I mean, the synergy she had with him–that is nothing but Twin Flame energy!

With following her career, and her journey in being a mother to her son and daughter, I thought this thing with August Alsina was a stunt. And I still do! So imagine how crazy I felt when this manchild produced all these receipts about their relationship! And yet with all this dirt thrown on her, I only have observations and a radical empathy. It is that radical empathy that made me hesitate in weighing in about this! I have been Jada. I have been Will! I have been August! And for that reason–radical empathy.

In that radical empathy, there is a dose of truth. Multiple doses. And if you are a woman past, 35–you already know where this is about to go! I am going to base this on what Jada said in this Red Table Talk–which was DEMONSTRABLY SHORTER than any other Red Table Talk. But I get it!

Women of a certain age don’t like to talk about the things they believe are embarrassing or painful!

I really believe 2 things about this situation: (1) August is mad and (2) this is a stunt at all cost.

But the semantics, Jada! The word play! That told me everything I needed to know. Will said, “We were on a break.” Jada said, “No we were over.”

RIGHT THERE.

And Will’s face was a mixture of “I can’t believe she did this” with a dash of “I have to relieve this again!” It is always most interesting to watch a man’s reaction to a woman’s indiscretions. Yet, that isn’t the buzzword is it? Ah, yes. Entanglements.

When speaking about this ‘indiscretion’ they couldn’t get the definition of what she had actually done. She called this an situation an ‘entanglement’. Will called it a ‘relationship.’ And he laughed when she called it an ‘entanglement.’

THAT’S TWO.

I know Will is hurt by this! But what I got from Jada looking at this was, “I was tired of feeling bad. I was tired of doing for everyone else. And no one looks out for me!” I get it. She was tired. She was angry. She was wanting to feel something else. This is the language of a woman that has tried to be some many things for so many people. It is the language I have said myself when admitting that the situation I found myself in demands more than what I have! I have BEEN Jada!

Yet. What I find more interesting other than semantics, is the reaction from Will! I mean when he said, “Really, Jada?!” I felt like I got a peek into the fight that happened when all this was revealed. It truly feels like there is more to the story than what we are seeing! But, as I watched I saw Jada in the space of “This is the truth, but this aint nunna y’all business!” Oh, Jada! You have been in the public eye for more than 20 years! You know that people will always have something to say–but we we see now is that there is some DEEP stuff going on.

Jada wanted something for herself, and is used to fixing people! It is deeper than this woman being ‘friends’ with her son’s friend! It is! I mean, think about this! She was in a relationship with a man/manchild that was SICK when she met him! That’s codependency at it’s finest! But in that space of being a support to this young man, she may have felt needed. Wanted, even!

As my mother says often, “You aren’t the first woman to be tricked!” And this is no different! She thought she would feel young again, more desired, ‘more like herself’ in the arms of someone else. I mean, I have been there! Conversely, she put the thing down, flipped and reversed it! I THINK when either she said, “I’m going back to my husband.” or “I don’t to see you anymore.” And Lil Aug couldn’t cope! It was a Stella Got Her Groove Back Moment. He wasn’t supposed to catch feelings!

Now look at him! Aired all this information, spilled all this tea, and people still don’t know who he is! And the corner conspiracy theories of the internet are saying she is still in love with Tupac (maybe, maybe not). That might be so. With that, Jada will have to reckon with that. And there is no Red Table Talk when you have to look at yourself in the mirror.

With An Heir (Narmon)-#3

I had her.

She was still mine, so close and supple. I knew that the Elders would know she was imprinted wrongly to my brother.  I knew with the death of the Alpha, there would be no one aged enough with the discernment to oppose this. Tzipporah, as an amshun could only be with an Alpha. I am the oldest. I was the stronger of the four of my brothers.  I had been here with mother, and father. I had fetched water, listened to stories and learned how to lead. I knew of the legends of our people, of the land we were birthed out and from.

I knew that there would only one Alpha. Father had been grooming me for this for a century and more. There was an affliction that come over both he and his brother. There was this virus that had killed his brother, my uncle. No one knew what it was, where it had come. I felt kisses along my shoulders. I looked at my walnut brown face in the mirror.  “Lana, please.” I heard a low chuckle along my shoulder. “You always tell me that, I didn’t think you would be so distracted now.” I turned to face her, her ebony skin and dreadlocked hair enticing me all over again. I kissed her, bold and slow. Tasting the inside of her mouth my tongue. I needed the distraction. I needed her. I need not to think. My thoughts kept swimming with thoughts of Tzipporah and how to win her heart again. The fact we were still connected meant I had a chance. No matter now minute, there was still a chance.

I moved Lana against the wall, cupping her breasts as I moved my mouth from hers. Lana moaned as she had nights before. She wanted  not to think as well. Lana had let me read her thoughts, hear them as Tzipporah would never let me. I growled in her ear as she moaned name as I marked her once more. I bit into her neck, licking the wound so it would heal. She yelped as she moved my hand between the wetness of her thighs. Lana grinded into my wrist and I held her against the wall by her left shoulder.

Farron had marked Tzipporah, weakening the bond we had. He was erasing me from her memory, I could feel it. I fought it. I still called to her when she called to me in the vulnerable moments. She would be home soon. She would be mine. Farron would not take her from me again. I scooped her in my arms, kissed her on the way back to my bed, and make the stars witness the ache within me I had to subdue. I lay Lana on the cream colored sheets and she squirmed as I scratched at her thigh. “Please, Narmon. Make the ache stop.” I crawled on top of her, sliding my length inside as she kissed me. “Make the ache stop, love.” I pulled myself from her mouth, and nipped at her bite. I felt her body open and the climax ripple from her ears. Indeed, the ache would be sated for now.

*******

I watched Lana breathe, with her back towards me. I traced her spine with my finger, watched her body recoil. I thought about speaking to the Council about Lana. I knew she was a hybrid. Her mother was human. It was a miracle she had survived as long as she had. When I met her years before, she was betroved to the second son of an Alpha in Zaire. She had run away and been dehydrated when my father, The Second, found her. The Council wanted to kill her because she was a hybrid. I defended her. I loved her then. I had taken her as a Chosen as soon as she was healed. Lana was the closest thing to a true love that I had. This was one of the reasons why I needed to have Tzipporah. My mother had told me there was a way to break the bond. “Dangerous, yes. Impossible, no.” But I needed an Alpha to do that! They were strong enough to channel and shield the energies that would manifest from the breaking.

By right, I was supposed to be the Third. Not Farron. He did not hold father’s hand, his Alpha’s hand as he died. What right did the Council have to usurp millennia of succession and ritual! I was supposed to be the Third, the Alpha. Not the Beta. I was the first born. Tradition said I should be next.

I leaned over and kissed Lana’s shoulder. Her warmth settled me. I closed my eyes, hoping Tzipporah wouldn’t be there again.

Snippet: The Mourning Cry (Part 8)

img_0113-1

Fall 1881-Natchez, Mississippi

I took me a whole three days to get back. Three days on back of the Tallow man’s horse and his cart fulla thangs no one wanted. He didn’t even ask me what happened. When he saw me standin in that do’ on the po’ch looking like a han’t was after me? He looked at me. And I looked back at him. “I’m ready.” He smiled, and I got my tow sack, a pillow case with my thangs in it. I ran to his cart, hid under the blanket and held my chest. I took the pistol with me.

We rode at night. I couldn’t think of that child’s name then. I had hoped I had done enough to make sure she would stay out her Pap’s room. I listened to the horse trot, and alla could do was cry. I took the tow sack to me, feeling the pistol in the tow sack. My room in Mister Benjamin’s house? I threw everything down, put another thunderclap through the pillow, and put the pig’s blood I kept hid 3 days ago over the bed. Over the pillow, the mattress, and prayed to Sister Anne.

Run like a demon gotcha!

I knocked shelves over, an unlit lamp. I look out at the window, put my eyes on the moon–big as a sun. I had to get outta there. I took the money I found out his formal study. I used all that steam I had to push over the desk. I tore papers, kicked over what stood in my way. I took plants to the flo’. I took jewelry and put the front door open like a barn door. The tallow man be by for the moon went tuh bed. I had only to wait. I was gettin good at it.

___________________

Tallow man was Ira’s brother. How I not know? Why he ain’t eva say?

I sat in Ira’s cabin, frontuh a small stove. I ate the biscuit he gave me. Him and Isabelle had stopped the cart, looking at me like the dead. Miss Victoria was gone again! Him and his Tallow brother got to talking while Isabelle went ‘side the house. Ira looked at me, back tuh him. I looked into the fire, just lookin’. The coals was coolin, I could tell. I drank the water, the honey fresh on the biscuit.

I didn’t care I shot the pistol. I didn’t care Rebecca, Mister Benjamin’s only daughter, was gon’ wake up to a house wit no soul in it. Ira went over to me, touched the toppa my head. I looked up at him. I didn’t say nothing. Looking at his eyes lookin into mine. He grinned at me. “We gotta get you North.” I went back to lookin into the dyin fire. I thought about if that is what Hell looked like right ‘fore you went in.

Miss Victoria was gone he said. Orpah was tending her Nan. Ms. Victoria back by week end. She was gon see her brother after she rested, he said. “We need to get Tally as fah as we can get her!” Herman, the Tallow man, sounded sour about me leavin. They was over there talkin bout me like I wassint here! From the porch, not carin it that white girl wit her half-breed baby heard me. “I ain’t leavin till I do what I come here for!” I, still in them three day old clothes, no bath and hair lookin like a sheep. “That woman, Victoria, her Pap killed my father!” I heard the snake venom come out my throat. “This land aint big enough fo’ us both to live on! If I gotta go see the devil, she bout to knock on that damn do’ first!” They looked at me. Justa lookin at me. “She lied on my Pap, tellin her Pap he touched her. He aint never seen her!” Ira and Herman looked at me, readin me.

“They took my Daddy, snatched them through my Gram’s house, lies on they lips, and made my Daddy a hog!” I felt that same heat when I pulled that thunder to take Mister Benjamin from the world. The night was too quiet, I was breathin hard and listening for crickets. “She took my Daddy from me. She can’t get away wit’it!” Herman walked over to me, then Ira after him. They wrapped they big arms ’round me, and I just howled.

Snippet: The Mourning Cry (Part 1)

 Natchez, Mississippi-Fall 1878

I  remember the day I heard my Mama say she was leaving, that she would be back for me and my siblings. I never saw her along the Mississippi Delta again. I remember when she ran, how the men came out our cabin to find my Daddy. How they drug him from the arms of his Mama and down the stairs that his own Daddy made. They hung him over a lie the wife of my Mama’s master told.

We still lived on this land, only 2 families out of not being free. That mean man that owned my Mama, and her Mama was dead and his wife hated God for not letting her die with him. She had let these men kill my Daddy over a lie. This evil white woman, whom I just knew as Miss Victoria, said my Daddy had been ‘indescent’ with her. “This all smell like Hell-baked lie!” My grandmother said. “Malathe, they killed yo Pap on a lie!” I remember she looked at my Daddy, her son, swing from that big ol’ elm tree in front of her house ‘neath the blanket of stars. “Over a lie!” she said, knocking over her candle into the dying grass.

She hated Victoria until she died, four winters later. “I don’t care if I don’t see God, ” she said, the fever making her mind slip, “I just won’t to see that harpy wherever the Lord lay me!” I was sixteen. That mob of white men killed my Daddy over a lie. And that lie killed my grandmother. After the war, my brothers went North to find our Mother. The last anyone hear she might have been a washerwoman in St. Louis or Chicago. I decided to stay home in Natchez. I wasn’t about to be run off.

I was gon fix Miss Victoria and her daughter, Isabelle. Just like she took from me. I was going to take from them!

[image from fhwa.dot.gov]