Tag: Reflections

Left. Right. Front. Center.

“My authenticity comes the street, whether I’ve been there or not.” -Toni Morrison

One of the things that I love about writing as a Black woman is that I am writing as a Black woman! I have an eye that few people in the world do, or could ever conceive of having. Yet, for that cause, I am often overlooked–either because of race, gender or both. Yet, I am encouraged by the words of Shonda Lynn Rhimes–if I am a writer, I have to write. There is no other way around that! And if there is no path set, I make it!

I mean, my background for the social media was a tweet from her about “writers being lured” and her refuting that. Shonda said, “I am the candy.” And, I live and direct my writing life by that quote. I understand, uniquely even, that when I say something, three things will happen:

1.) It will be held as aggressive.

2.) I will be seen as complaining.

3.) I will be asking for attention I perhaps didn’t ask for.

As a Black woman that writes, I have had to develop a level of toughness backed by the acronym ISWIS: I Said What I Said. I have given myself the permission to “have the audacity” to say exactly what I said, like I said, when I said it. This does not mean that what I express is meant to wound, or vitriol and venom is all that I have to give to a situation. No, not at all! What I do know is when I say what I say, I need to mean it, while measuring my words if needed.

Yet, I write.

Yet, I hold space.

Yet, I will not be silent.

Yet, I STILL said what I said.

Book Project: TRADITIONAL WOMEN

If you haven’t already, follow @whatjayesaid2.0 on TikTok.

Whew! This book here!

In the year that I have been on TikTok, I have been a part of this social justice, pro-Black, womanism, and anti-racism.

I love it here. Sometimes.

But, it was when I got embroiled in relationship/Pick Me TikTok? Oh, baby! The talk of how bad women are, how we (as women) don’t love men, and how we (as women) need to be more ‘traditional’.

Hmph. Then, I thought of what exactly is a traditional woman. Why? I didn’t know any! From that conversation, came stories like this:

Oh, this is a mild one! Trust!

WHOA!

If anything, stories like this remind me that (1) the idea of a traditional women is steeped in white supremacy and (2) women are completely incredible! There is nothing traditional about women.

From that, came the LOVE OR WAR series on my page. It is 130 stories…and growing! Stories from or about women from all walks of life—told by the children, grandchildren or even great-grandchildren of those same women!

As of December 31, this book will be compiled into an ebook available on Kindle!

In doing this, I believe I am honoring their maternal ancestors. Besides, some of these stories are too good not to share.

Godmothers

I will summon

The queens of my blood

And the Father who made

Them strong—

And I will not fail.

-JBHarris, December 2021

Mood Forever: #IAmABlackWriter

Language is legacy.” -JBHarris


This is my mood forever.

My call, my job, my power, as a writer—a writer whom is Black—is to create in a place that does not wish to see me. Does not wish to see me rise, and thrives on me defaulting.

I will not be robbed of my pen, my power, because the mediocrity of whiteness cannot suffer the power and color blackness provides. I do not need whiteness to confirm my blackness!

I need my blackness to be seen just as readily, with just as much ease as whiteness. I will not bow to be seen by what is determined to erase me.

Stand As Ten-Thousand

white women we see you

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

Heavenly windows

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.

Fend for yourselves.

-JBHarris, 9.5.2021

Feeling Like Ida B.: SOCIAL MEDIA LYNCHING

Note: This will be a longer essay on my Patreon.

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:

James Baldwin had a federal file too.

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.

‘Black Widow’ Versus The World-Part 2: Representation Matters

Three things:

This series is for every woman, and for every girl that still doesn’t see herself represented enough in mainstream media and film. This piece is for every Black girl, whom is now a Black woman, whom still doesn’t see enough of herself to be full. This piece is for my Best Friend, Marissa–the founder of The Awakenings Project.

If you have not read Part 1, click here.

I am a dedicated Blerd.

I was reading by 4, drawing by 6, writing by 8 and writing poetry by 10. I had a father that could quote Star Wars, loved science fiction, and taught me the world was bigger than Missouri. I had parents who never hid the fact that I was Black, whom never taught me that being Black was a bad thing.

I am also a Black woman, whom was once a Black girl, born in 1981. I remember what Disney was like before Princess Jasmine and Princess Tiana! I remember what it was like to not see anyone that looked like me–Black and girl–on television. I remember what it was like before the MCU was a thing, before the cultural event of Black Panther, and before the only goddess a Black girl saw was Ororo Monroe! I remember, and that wasn’t so long ago. With that said, and I say this with love–and the boldness that love gives: Marvel, especially the MCU, has an issue with powerful women. On, and off screen.

It is no secret that most of the female led movies Marvel has produced (before Black Widow) have not done that well. On of them in recent history is Dark Phoenix. In the comic, Jean Grey is an Omega level mutant (Google that), with rich backstory! And they took all that power and hallowed her out–in X-Men 3 and in her standalone movie! Do you know how frustrating it is to be a female Marvel fan and see this? And see it happen continually?! Yet, this plays into the other theme that is apparent in this movie as well–the world will continually try to assert itself among women and girls, telling them–us!–whom we should be.

Through the lens of Natasha Romanov we see exactly what it means to be under estimated, overlooked and ignored. When a girl becomes a woman and does not see herself in the world, how can she know what to become? Even in conversations with other male comic fans, I have heard them say this movie was ‘a throw away movie’ or ‘they should have told this story sooner’. Yeah. About that: PANDEMIC.

Nevermind the fact that Black Widow fits in right after/during Avengers: Civil War. Nevermind the fact that she is one of the more well known Avengers (even though Wasp is integral in forming of this group)! Nevermind there are little girls all over the world that made Nat at part of their girlhoods! You cannot take that from them! In the fallout of the inevitable greed that surrounds these superhero movies and their demand for ROI, we see that Scarlett Johannson is being seen as the villian for wanting her fair share of money from the Avengers franchise? Barring COVID-19, why can’t they pay Scarlett, but you take a WHOLE risk on Robert Downey, Jr? Oh, okay. Separate issue.

Yet, the MCU is now in Phase 4. And the people that should be sticking up for her aren’t–shocker there! However, to me this one of the reason why Marvel will not create/produce more female-lead movies! As diverse as the Marvel Universe (from Marvel Comics, the true source material for all of this!)is, it can be seen and assumed that misogyny is still in the room–right along with racism. These two things are always the enemy of representation!

There is no need to put forward what they do not believe will be profitable!

What can be done? Well, the writing rooms need to be more diverse. There need to be more female directors, producers, storyboard artists, and female characters cannot be ornamental until they are functional for the appeasing for the male plot! We are ornamental with out bodies being the focus, and not the talent (check the evolution of Nat’s outfits).

I want more back story about the Red Room; I want to know where the Black Widow came from. Whom was the first? These are things that I need to know, and are reminiscent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the show was so much better than that halfway good movie with Luke Perry)! Again, another conversation. Should this be a show? Maybe. But people need to remember the words of Queen B: “Who run the world? Girls.”

So, what do we need to do to run it? Write ourselves in it!

Vaccinations, Reservations, and Innervations

Note: I am not a nurse, a doctor or a scientist. I am woman, a mother, a Black women whom is a mother, who desires you all to be safe and prosper. These are only my thoughts. Thank you. -JBHarris

I am a retired CNA. A Certified Nurse’s Assistant, with the plantar fasciitis, tender left hip, and sore shoulder to prove it. I have seen people die, seen people recover, seen people give up, and seen nurses do all they can to preserve life. My last year of being a CNA was during the initial COVID-19 wave. I started this year with a dying marriage, two children, in a global pandemic. I remember calling my mother–whom had been nurse when AIDS was being called GRID–to ask what to do. I believe it was her knowledge, common sense, and God that kept me through that entire year.

Was I apprehensive about the vaccine? Yes. I will not lie to you. I wasn’t going to take it! I thought the creation of it was too quick (viruses mutate and there wasn’t enough information about any mutations at that point), and I am aware of the history of medical experimentation of Black/Brown/Indigenous people in this nation. I wanted to wait. When talked to my mother, she told me, “Pray, take the shot, and keep going.” This is literally what I did. I monitored my symptoms on TikTok when I got the first vaccine in December 2020. There were thousands of people in my comments of that video whom said that I was crazy, I had been microchipped and there were magnets in it (the same things that are being said now).

I remember when I protested with my mother about taking the vaccine, she told me, “Jennifer, some protection is better than no protection.” I don’t know why that statement made everything click (she is my mother!), but it did. I am a Black woman, raising children in an anti-Black world, and don’t want to leave them unprotected. Then, there was my best friend whom is autoimmune. And her daughter that has respiratory issues. And my daughters whom are best friends with them. Immunity was important not just for me–but for my kids.

My kids. My heartbeat in two places.

I chose to get my children vaccinated because it is my job to protect them. As best as I can, as long as I am able. The week that my daughters got their second shot–completing their immunity cycle–there were 12 children in an ICU in Mississippi. Where my family is from…where my grandmother left when my mother was not even 8 years old. Everything in me shattered!

I came home from their vaccination appointment and my life converged into one point. The million little decisions that brought me to this point–some decisions I made, some I didn’t. This is what I thought: If my grandmother hadn’t left, my family may still be in Mississippi. Had my mother not become a nurse in Missouri, whom married the man that was my father, I would have never grown up respecting science. Had I not respected science, seen it work, I would not have listened to my mother. Had I not listened to her, believed God and her, I wouldn’t have vaccinated my children. These things all connect, dear ones. They all connect!

With the looming onslaught of the Delta variant, I urge you all to be careful. Think deeply,. carefully, about how you are going to move in the world around this. The first wave of this was terrible, and scary. I fear that this second wave may be the same…with far more grave consequences.

Be safe out there.

The End Of An Era

Please pick up a copy of THOUGHTS IN A PANDEMIC on Amazon. Click here to grab it.

Grimy shoes, warn out badge and a global pandemic. But I made it. TGBTG.

I am the daughter and goddaughter of nurses. I am a writer with a day job as a CNA. I am a mother who is a writer, whose day job was a CNA. My last day as a CNA was May 26, 2021. My last position was at a local hospital, and I started there at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. I can tell you this–I have worked in Level 1 Trauma Hospitals and Medicaid facilities. I can tell you this was something I never would have believed had I not been thought it in these cranberry colored scrubs.

When I started, I thought I wouldn’t survive it. Honestly, I was scared. I had children that needed me, and a marriage that was ending. All I could do was call my mother–whom was as nurse when AIDS hit. I was meticulous about my house cleaning, laundry, and wearing my masks at work and when I left work. I even thought about nursing school again! I even got accepted.

Then, the aches started. The pains were more insistent. There was no staff on my floor. There was management that didn’t care, and I heard management talk about how they ‘were tired of all these protests’ , and ‘I’m tired of hearing about Black Lives Matter.’ Then, my heart flutters started. Again. And the stress of this job was getting to me. Being the supergirl at work was making me tired–and making me ill!

I wasn’t here for my kids, and for the want of money–I was going to try to do nursing again. For them.

My final nights at work…whoo whee.

My best friend has been trying to get me off the floor for the past 5 years, as of this month, I have been a CNA for 7 years. And through her tenacity, and my education, I started a new gig.

At a desk.

During daylight hours.

And my kids see me when I am awake and aware! In moving into this side of healthcare, I am humbled. I am scared. I am now at a place where I can work on my writing and have a life as well. I can say now, with confidence, I am a retired CNA. I am a retired CNA.

This profession–and it is a profession!–has taught me more than people think it would! I have seen people at their worse, them dying, and at their absolute worst–and still have to care for them. It’s thankless, back-breaking, and we are not paid enough. Not nearly enough. For what it is I want to do, nursing can’t hold that. It cannot, and will not!

I am thankful for the new position. I am thankful for the new opportunities, and I am thankful that the Lord has freed me up in this manner to do what I need, what I must. Besides, I had ‘office hours’ for the hours between 10p-4p anyway! And now? I can have a writing schedule…like normal people.

Besides, there’s a story in this. Sure is!

The Underside Of Safe

Be safe he says

To me

Believing that

Love is all I will need.

However,

In this body

Grown, fed and

Shaped to be

Woman who

Drapes power in

Black skin—

Where can I be safe?

-JBHarris, April 2021