Tag: freedom

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

SOCIAL MEDIA LYNCHING (Part 1): This Is Really Happening

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:

Then, you’re a cool kid.

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

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)

The Death & Burial Of Kanye West-III

III.

Is going to be slow-singing
and flower bringing
If My burglar alarm starts ringing
is what the Notorious BIG said
and protecting his space
and all those in it
clocking these dollars
and not worrying about
who hollers—
at the same time
now we must celebrate
the death of the Only One.

the death of his blackness
the death of his heart,
his vision,
and what we celebrated
in him…
has now died.

because it is now died
there is no need for repass.

We saw this coming.

There is no need to mourn,
because even Mary and Martha,
when they fell at the feet
of the Master were
told that on the last day
that their brother
who had died,
Christ would raise!

They had faith. We do not.

the same God of the universe
who gave alphabets, dialects,
and dreams, muses and music
with visions of the ability
to count all the stars in the sky—

We close the casket.
We lower hope and faith
Into the earth so that
Blackness is all he will know.

But we go on because
there is work to do
work to be undone.

The betrayal most complete in death walking around, as if nothing is wrong.
all things Black, boy, and joy
being erased in favor
of the lies the Only One
and his fellow betrayers
have swallowed because
scraps from the masters’
table you deem better
than feasts in their own
houses warm with dark faces
Which open and grant peace,
….And yet his mother is dead.

The one who believed
in him first the
one who believed him last
in it is fitting that the last people
that believe in him
are both Black and woman.

did the space
with free thought
exist in the same plane
As whiteness?
Where your Blackness goes to die,
Surrendered to by
Those who only know
Lies and thievery?

We commit the Only One
To his mother, Donda—
Let her open her arms to
The Only One.

There is no room for mourning
for this is celebrated!
because now you have
gotten what you want—
And there is no way back.

No one to open doors,
wipe tears and
pour back into you
what the world strips.

The Jesus you walked with doesn’t know you.

That old song
says ‘diamonds are forever’
but yet with this
one now returned
to earth?

It was always coal.

Will be turning our eyes to the East,
lifting our heads up from which
Comes our help—
there is no morning for Mr. West.

-JBHarris

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

The Death & Burial Of Kanye West-I

The opening of that
classic song says
‘nothing‘s ever promised tomorrow today’ that same energy
that kept us afloat
is now a millstone
around our her neck—
beckoning us to look
this way in that,
even though it hurts
our whole body
to do so.

looking at what
promise, privilege and power
does when at the core
the soul which was Black
is now White—
not by the washing of the Word
Or of the Blood,
but by the seeking of
validation of those who only know subjugation as power.

how ironic that villains of
This world whom prey on
The hungry desperate of power
Devoid of peace
seduce a prophet from
the midpoint of this
of these disjointed United States
to join into that dance
that is, and will always
call you nigg3r.

How befitting
he betrayed all that
he is all and he was—
with his mother already be dead?

how fitting it is
His father,
who he did say
he loved him so
can no longer be found
when he is in the throes
of what it means to be
Black and man
seeming to reject both!

at this time
in this space
and in this very place
at the time where 45
has been deep-sixed
that we may live again
to see 46
that he at age 45
be stuck between boy and man.

Wanting us all to follow him—
This Pied Piper forgetting
We know how that story ends;
betraying all that he is
all that his mother told him
all that the streets gave him—
drying tears opening doors,
to bestow title of genius!

Yet…we who demand accountability
who are alive and remain
to demand the better,
now we are now the problem…

and yet he wants us to not clap at his downfall

We already know the Chi town‘s finest ain’t always found on the mile.

-JBHarris

This Pen

A girlfriend of mine
said that my pen
gave her life—

I took it to mean
Life was in my pen,
which means that
there is Legacy
attached to my name,
and the words
I write have to
be indeed in cursive
so people see
what I’m saying.

it is to this pen
I have dedicated
life and love
the luxury of time
and lack of sleep
heartbreak
and philosophy
that make Black girls
Black girls even
when they are Black women.

Due to this philosophy
to this ink-inspired divinity
I have given my all to,
strive to give my all to—
bending of language
breaking of rules
to give myself
the freedom my ancestors died over.

The ability to
tell my own story
like I want
when I want
whenever I want
Being light, heat and matches.

To this pen
I bequeath everything in me—
Give everything in me
push everything in me
So what is in me
May come out of me.

I mean you only go across
this grass one time
so I want to make sure that
I stomp all the way to
the grave leaving a paper trail
as long as the linen Hatshepsut
was wrapped in,
Legacy wrapped in story.

You can’t spell immortality without I.

-JBHarris, October 2022

Racism Killed Jackie Robinson

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.

Racism killed Jackie Robinson.

-JBHarris, September 2022

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