All The Black Women Named Charlotte

When I was growing up, I wondered by my grandmother had named my mother Bessie. There was no other woman I knew named, Bessie. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I realized that name was short for Elizabeth. The only other Elizabeth I knew not in a Sweet Valley High book, was Queen Elizabeth II. My mother said that was whom she was named after. She believes it, so why not let her have it?

However, with the women my mother’s age the names I heard often where Esther, Estella, Dorothy, Elizabeth and Charlotte.

Charlotte.

My adopted mother’s name is Charlotte.

I always thought the name sounded–hard. I think it was mean sounding because of the hard Ch that started that name. But there are few women I knew with that name who were mean.

It was this year that I found out why that name had the toughness that it did. It’s regal. Charlotte, Charlottesville,— the very name Charlotte–is after the British monarch Queen Sophia Charlotte, wife of King George III. And she was what was called a Moor, we would just call her black.

Yes, black.

With all I knew, I considered myself to be well read until now. I literally found this out as concrete fact over the weekend! I had heard the historic rumors of her existence, but didn’t want to get my hopes up with research. But indeed this was fact! She was beautiful, multilingual, an abolitionist–and she discovered Morzart! Moreover, she was one of his early sponsors!

As I sat listening to News One, I absorbed this information in smooth waves. I searched Google for images of her. I needed to know what likeness there was of her. In seeing her, being able to associate name and face, I thought I would be able to further validate my own ambition. I wanted proof to be an ambitious, beautiful black woman was hereditary, not fluke. I needed the lingering parts of me settled about that. There was depiction of her I found where she looks like me or my mother when she was younger.

Names indeed have influence, prestige and lineage. Names let you hold you head up a little taller, especially if you know there’s a history behind them! Make no mistake, because you have the name you do, you already get to establish history and prowess with it. Need I remind you of  *Quvenzhane Wallis?

Nikki Giovanni said,”If the black woman wasn’t made, she would have to be invented.” So accurate. It indeed is marvelous to be young, gifted and black.

*She the actress in the movie Beasts Of The Southern Wild, and most recently, Annie. She is an author, and actress whom was the youngest nominated for an Academy Award. There is a quote that is ascribed to the pronunciation of her name that the author, says requires one have ‘full use of the tongue.’  That article  was in response to a Annie press interview Ms. Wallis did where the interviewer was having an issue saying her name, and wanted to shorten it. Quvenzhane said, “No, you can call me Quvenzhane.”

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My Dad And NAS

Sooner or later, we’ll all see who the prophet is…”

-Nas, Nas Is Like (Album:  I Am…)

The first time I heard Nasir olu dara Jones’s voice? I can’t even explain it. I remember I smiled on the inside. My household wasn’t terribly conservative, but my parents monitored the music choices of myself and siblings. And being born in the era where hip-hop was in its infancy, kept their ears to my Sony Walkman and my radio when it was on Majic 108 (yes, I’m old enough to remember listening to that station here in St. Louis).

I remember how my father really didn’t pay attention as closely to what I listened to like my mother did. My taste and love for music came from him. He listened to Muddy Waters, Clapton, Pop, Doo-Wop, Soul and Digital Underground. Yes, THAT Digital UNDERGROUND.

In the sea of hip-hop, of all the people I was listening to, I came back to Nas. I kept coming back to his lyrics, his voice, his–musical presence in my world. As I moved through middle school aged girlhood, I was shaped by these male voices in my world. Even with the discord which comes with being a teenager, my Dad was one still one of the loudest voices inhabiting my social world. It was my father that told me, “Why do you want to go to school to write? You can’t eat with an English degree?”

I know, right? That cracked my heart–I didn’t think he believed in me. But I kept at it.

This, I believe, is the reason why I loved (and still love) hip-hop so much: the words, the freedom, the creativity–I saw this music genre as an art form. 

For the first twelve years of my life, I wanted to be a physician. A healer. A wielder of heart and head, of logic and art. I wanted to be a doctor because my Dad was one and I, too, wanted to heal. But when I discovered this mastery of these letters? When I found another way to heal? I told my father, I no longer wanted to be a doctor.

Our relationship deteriorated soon after.

In that space, that influencer power  of my father quieted. In that space, I crawled inside music and words and Nas in my junior year of high school. I would hear his voice and that lie that rooted in a mind and heart would shut up. It would shut up.

In a pen, I found peace.

In the pen I found healing, and I found that what he told me, was only true for him. It was only applicable to him, and what he wanted for me, he superimposed on me, rather than accepting me for who I was. I was not broken because I didn’t fulfill someone’s expectations.

I remember I began to preserve this gift the only way I knew how–blocking out the world, including him. I honed the craft, listened to my English teachers that told me what I could do. I I re-read their edits, asked questions about how they graded and what I could do better. I listened to my favorite emcees, memorized lyrics and at the release of I Am, confirmed what I wanted to do.

From that day to this one, I have made it mission to uproot that lie. In doing so,  I can be confident every time I publish a blog, freewrite,or edit a book, I burn a hole in each letter of that childhood false hood, and grin at their ashes around my feet.

Why?

I’m a linguistic acrobat. A wordsmith. A delicate, intricate raconteur.

I does these words.

Power & Prescence

You don’t know what you mean to the world. You don’t know you have the power to change all you touch, and touch all you change. Don’t be fooled by the world around you that wishes to lull you with lies as lullabies. Don’t believe the lie of the world that says, “It doesn’t matter and neither do you.”

Just because people command people or power doesn’t meant they are worthy of it. However, the mystery is everyone has power–it’s just the degree of access and wielding of it. Case in point: the P.T. Barnum circus  monkey  aka Cinnamon Hitler Voldemort known as the Puppet POTUS has one of the most powerful positions on planet Earth, and he has no idea what he is doing (The thing that keeps me up at night is at he has access to the Nuclear Triad and launch codes. And the United States military is composed of the very people he wants to excommunicate from the country.).

You are powerful.

You are worthy.

You are strong.

You matter.

In commanding this power, the first thing you must do is recognize yourself as a whole person, complete and worthy. What you think, what you believe, what you know is valuable and valid.

The second thing you need to know is you do have the power to change your life. You command the way you want your life to go, even if you make no decision, that’s a decision. There are people that can influence your life, but you are the chief influencer of your life.  You have the power  to suffer or soar. There is never situation that is hopeless, you are responsible for your success or failure. Do not be dismayed by what you see around you–be swayed by what is in you.

The last thing you need to know is you owe no one nothing. Nothing. You owe yourself the permission to live your life, and do it as you see fit. You must remember that when you incorporate the first two elements of self in your life, you activate destiny. Where you go, what you say, what you do matters more than ever. Your absence can show favor, and your absence can be stand or support.

The key to not getting lost is to always know where you are.

Know where you are.

RUNITBACK FRIDAY- Part II

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Ready? Set? Go!

#LockHimUP #Impeach #45 #SammyTheBull #Flip #MichaelFlynn

They are going to get Gotti.

45 wants to pretend to be Gotti. I think we have a Sammy The Bull waiting on him. I cannot say I didn’t call this. No one involved in this madness is built to withstand prison. Not one of them. This is all fueled by money–all of it. And Tillerson’s neck is next. My dark soul is rejoicing.

#NorthKorea

This is just getting frightening. I pray for the US Armed forces. More about this on 12/4. I cannot imagine the morale of the solider populace being at the whim of a defector and liar. 45 must be stopped.

#MeTOO #Liars #WashingtonPost #ConservativeTerrorism

Did you hear about this madness in Alabama? Did you hear there was a woman that tried to scam The Washington Post, by saying she was a victim of Roy Moore when she was 15, had gotten pregnant, and had an abortion? She was part of a ‘conservative group’ who makes sport out of attempting to con the mainstream media. The Washington Post did their due diligence (as Rachel Maddow would put it), and found her out to be a lie.

I have nothing for this. Nothing.

There are women assaulted and harassed all over the nation, raped and accosted all over the world, and this group decided to play red herring to the most serious act of dehumanization in the world, developed or undeveloped. But then again…this is the nation sane people must inhabit. This is world we have to teach our daughters to navigate and  warn our sons not to be prey to toxic masculinity. Yet, on the planet of the state of Alabama–it is better to believe the lie than be offended by truth. Read last week’s take here.

There is something evil about lying about being raped. There is something wrong when the man that prosecuted the KKK in the Deep South and convicted them having to contend with a man that Matthew McConaughey’s  character from  Dazed & Confused is based on. There is something insidious about hiding this behavior and cosigning it behind God, believing He stands with you in it. I guess the new term for racist, or domestic terrorist or predator is conservative. 

The last time there was a conservative  movement in a nation, six million people died–and there were people whom said they knew God whom sang in the churches Sunday mornings as trains passed them going to Auschwitz.

RUNITBACK FRIDAY (12/02/2017)-Part I

#Libya #SlaveTrade #Slaves #HumanTrafficking

Slavery is allowed under the 13th Amendment. Don’t believe me?

Watch the wording. And watch 13TH by Ava Duvernay. In this county, to be born black, post-1865, is to be born free. You have no owner. You have no plantation to be attached. You are person not property.

In Libya, with the death of Kaadafi, chaos has broken out–as chaos does with the death of a dictator or leadership change. In that vacuum, has reared this familiar dragon of slavery–telling people they are chattel. Selling people as if they are prized farm animals.

In seeing this happening to my ocean-spread kin is Alice passing through the looking glass. It is scary, horrific and entirely possible to happen here again. Seeing people I may never see in the same space, sobbing, scared and pleading gave living memory to what I have only read of happening.

My heart wept, is weeping for what is going on. I cannot look away, I will not look away. The world cannot look away. Too often concerning people of color we look away, this time, for once, don’t look away. Don’t be complicit. The time of living peacefully among warfare is over.

#PrinceHarry #MeghanMarkle #Wedding #RoyalWedding #May2018 #DuchessMeghan

I don’t wrap my life around what the British Royal family does. I have kept my ear to the ground regarding the history and lineage because it is fascinating. I remember Princess Diana, the birth of her sons, her death and the marriage of Prince William to Kate Middleton in 2011.

Now, Prince Harry has found someone whom makes him smile. He looks at her like she is all he wants. Marvelous.

And of course the trolling racist army unleashed vitriol about it.

Meghan is black.

She should be a mistress, not a wife.

How dare he marry a black girl?

This is…sigh. Meghan is an African-American woman whom is college educated at Northwestern. She is an actress an activist and not a bed wench. She is beautiful, smart and like most women of the modern age (me included) divorced.

One thing that pissed me off was this:

Yes, and I meant every word. All the faux outrage is rooted in stupidity and likes living there. The answer for this is Mrs. Bessie Wallis Simpson the married woman King Edward VIII fell in love with and abdicated the throne–this is Queen Elizabeth II’s uncle.

Then there’s the matter of Queen Sophia Charlotte. The Invisible Queendetails her extraordinary life, legacy and her marriage to King George III and how her portraits are lightened so she doesn’t look so much like a Moor.

This argument, this fear of spreading ‘infectious’ blackness is nothing new and is just as silly then as it is now. The backhanded compliments, the shade about her having a diamond ring, the nonsense about her being a mistress–they can all die mad.

The world hates to see black women in places of power, viability and influence. It was fine for a black woman to be in the White House, as long as she was quiet, cleaning and tending massa’s chill’un.

It was fine until all this talk of demanding equality, persondom, freedom wrapped up in autonomy became law. So, yes these shrews and toads are most upset about a black girl, a gal, a bed wench, a uppity nigra, on one of the most glamorous stages and desired by a Prince that is white?!

Ooh, chile…these folk are pressed to death, hear me?

Meghan Markle is a happy woman. She deserves to be happy. Black women do not own the cast lot of only knowing pain and suffering and loss. Our hearts are not born broken and our fates out of our control set adrift. We are deserving of all good things and work our asses off to get them.

She found her happy ending.

Now, y’all who don’t like it can go find some business.

I. Breathe. Fire.

I’m a writer.

A word alchemist.

I am well-read, with a hungering curiosity and the desire to continue to master this craft with these 26 letters. Make no mistake, I am fiercely protective of my gift, and don’t make that secret.

Which makes what happened to me all the more–infuriating.

In keeping with the theme this month about speech, words and voice, I would be dishonest not to share this. The situation has been rectified as of this posting, but I think it bares confronting for further edification of other writers and artists.

I was asked to write poem for The Awakenings Project , cycle 1 (A1) and I agreed. I wrote the first poem as favor to the artist,Marissa Southards. with the reception of that piece, which yielded the mantra for project: I Am She, She Are We, found in the poem First, Awakenings. It was most excellent to have my work well received. I am still in awe.

With the reception of that work, and the quoting of my work, I was elated. From that popularity, I got the invitation to write another piece for this project, this time for the second cycle, A2. I wrote a piece called *HOW I CAME TO BE, and read it at a celebratory gathering for A2. This piece was written from a hetero-normative, Judeo-Christian vision:  seeing as the author identifies as a Christ-believing cis-gender heterosexual woman.

Now, did I need to preface that? Nah.

But I did because I respected all those that were in attendance to the project, regardless of orientation or belief system.

During the reading, I was fine. The poem sounded just like I wanted. In the aftermath, however, there was coup brewing. There was participant, Marcia, whom identified herself as a queer atheist. Okay, fine. She told the creator  of the project, and I quote “she was a fan of my work, but she felt that my poem did not represent her, and she didn’t like how I used her word–Amazon.”

By now, y’all know that I am black woman.

Marcia is not.

She wanted me to change  my work, and she wanted to see the revision going forward.

Yes, I’m deadass serious.

She didn’t any make effort to speak to me personally, but the artist–whom is a dear friend whom happens to be white. Before I explain the resolution, let me tell you why this is a problem.

No one, and not NO ONE, takes my voice from me. If you take issue with what I said, or how I wrote something, come see me. I don’t need a handler, and I ain’t never been a mammy.

She pulled her white privilege on me, and circumvented me–with the same erasure that she perecieved she had been given. Marcia, I can only persume,  thought by doing that I would change my work, or be manipulated to change it. The worse thing? She said she was a fan of my work.

Really?

Aight.

Backhanded compliments do not work. I remember I was insulted and beyond pissed. I felt as if someone had watched me open my mouth to reach in and snatched my voice from my throat. With shock and rage, I called my husband and told him what happened with my immediate thought and quote  being:

Who does this bitch think she is?!”

 

I come from a people where everything we have and had is fought for–even the right to tell our own truth. So, I was comfortable in telling the artist, and I quote, “I am not changing a damn word of it. I can write something else, but I am not changing a word of that.” Some indignities go beyond, “How dare you!” This was one of them.

I was ready to fight!

As long as I have been reading–since 4, writing–since 8, you don’t get to dictate my imagination. You don’t get to pull offense as rank over something I wrote. I have fought too hard to get back to this gift to be punked to change anything.

I thought about that episode of Good Times, where Thelma won the contest but the contest sponsor wanted her to change the phrase black woman, and she wouldn’t. And because she wouldn’t change it, she lost.

I thought about how Phyllis Wheatley. I thought about how brilliant, versed, and enslaved existence– and how she died penniless when given freedom. I thought about Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, Sallie Hennings, my grandmothers (Mollie and Arceal)  and my beloved Oracle Grandmother, Maya Angelou.

I thought about the women and men of and from whom I am descended and how they may or may not have even known how to spell their names. I would not change a word. It was my work. I made the decision to not be dictated regarding my work. Nall.

Resolution?

The artist sided with me. She put Marcia in her place (before I had to). As a result, Marcia pulled her photo from the project, and my work stayed in tact.

Marcia didn’t apologize to me, and neither did I. I expected what I got–nothing.

I snatched my voice from being stolen.

For my sake, and the ancestors.

*The poems listed are featured in a compliation book for The Awakenings Project–click here to order.

How I Came To Be

The Aged asked the Ancient of Days,

The Great I Am, why He created man.

He answered by showing man’s

Nature to subdue, dominate-

To be Provider and to protector.

He showed the Aged the deft of

Skill that went to make his body,

The strength of his hands,

And the greatness of his eyesight

And his capacity for vision, and

Artistic prowess.

However, as the Ancient of Days

Looked out over what He had created,

Watching man, this creation He now called

Human, He saw all He had equipped

And endowed man to do.

However, with life shut up in man,

There must be a way, a form,

To be created that would allow

Man to release all that he held inside of

Him as well.

The Aged then asked what more

Could be done to help this creation

They know knew as man.

What could be given to man

That would help him.

Clearly all that the Ancient of Days

Had charged man to do,

Could not be done alone.

The Ancient of Days poised in power,

Explained to the Aged that He would

Make one suitable for him.

Strong enough to withstand the mortal

And the divine happenings around and about

His creation.

Being sensitive enough, with such a

Discernment to what lies different

Between them.

The Ancient of Days said,

“I will make something that will

Display all my creative nature.”

“What I will create, no manifest, will show the

Connection I have to man.

It will show that I am and share a oneness with him

Because the ability to reproduce life and like

Will be held in its center.”

“I will mark my creation with my spark,” and

The Ancient of Days smiled as he continued

Thinking exactly what he would call

This nuanced human.

“She will embody the rainbow.

The Aged asked what would the creation be called.

“What majestic thing of man shall this be?” they asked.

Still, the Ancient of Days smiled as he reached

Towards man, putting him to sleep,

before the Aged,

Needed that which was rooted

In the earth He made to

Reengage man, to not just root, but anchor him.

In taking his rib,

Man yielded to the complete

Control of His Master once more.

“This is my last creation, none shall be like this.” He said.

Through intuition, the Ancient of Days

Evolved man to its unprecedented form.

“I will call this creation—woman.”

“She shall be alive as man is,

Able to carry the power of rebirth

Inside her as man does, as well as stamina and joy.”

As the Ancient of Days fashioned her

From bone, and flesh and dust,

He told the Aged of what she housed.

“I will make her with the eyes of

Fire and hope, being able to see

What is and shall be—she shall have empathy.”

“I will give her the nature of life, in three places.

She will be the only created being

Capable of evolving.”

“Through these same eyes,

She will bring and give light.

The ability to shine-

Fierce and resilient

To what may come.”

“She will need this as she is

Partnered with man, and others like her.”

The Ancient of Days fashioned

Her face, while the aged watched

As He molded her features,

Diligent towards her beauty,

Crafting worthy wonder in the face

Of the Aged.

“In here, her spine, I will place My resilience.

Making her flexible and tender when it is

Called upon her to be so. She will be

Both tenacious and steadfast.”

“There will be times when man is weak,

And her strength may be seen as different

Or weaker, but it is really an intuitivecharisma.”

He smiled again as He continued the steady work

Of woman, saying, “I will not only make her

Able, but brave.”

The Ancient of Days returned to her mouth,

Creating her tongue, throat and teeth.

“With her mouth, I give her the first place to give life.

She will be able to tell of love, be loved, and to master

What we know as language. For you see, I will have her

All over the world, no part of it shall exclude her.

Where there is man, there will be woman.”

“I will give her power and position to rise resilient

In the face of what has come to resist her. Her tongue

Shall be as a warrior.  Being able to convey the knowledge of

A nurturer, to be persistent and interfere when nihilist discourse

Is found.”

“You see she is incapable of not caring, for I have made her

Free of such weight that apathy would bring.”

He closed her mouth,

gave her lips and said,

“Life is within her, all that is her

Is empath, her life would be a testimony to those that follow her

And will learn from her as students.”

The Aged asked, “Ancient of Days, you said

She will have life in three places, and we

Have seen but one. Surely, she is not as you have

Said—she is imperfect. Not as sovereign and

Dauntless as man.”

The Ancient of Days only smiled,

Irrepressible to His task and

Needs of His creation. “She is a changeling,

Her ability to be humble is in her need to adapt.”

“You see her freedom is in her forgiveness.” He

Said while fashioning woman’s hands and feet.

“Her hands shall give peace, facilitate liberation,

And her feet will show

What it is to be valiant.

Her passionate nature

Made genuine as she will be demanded of many

Things of those she will be made guardian over.”

“These hands, as man’s can turn to fists, as anything

That is how to hold or sustain and protect life

Must be able to be a fighter.

That is a requirement.”

“From those same fists, she is able to let go

Of what no longer suits her. With hands open,

She is able to give hope to the oppressed,

Ambition to those that desire growing and space

To the explorer.”

It is at her feet where she will

Be able to learn, become empowered

By all the innocent and seeking in her and of her.

She will possess a saged wisdom.”

As the Ancient Of Days, put more muscle

And bone within her, tethering her together

With arteries, ligaments and tendons, He spoke

Again to the watching Aged.

“I have made the skin thick on her

Hands and feet, to provide and anchor

To stand, to pray, and seek Me.

In times of hardship,

This thickened skin, such as mans, but softer

Will allow her to continue, this grit that will

Not deter her, even if it momentarily stops her.

This toughness will be done compassionately within her.

The Aged spoke again, saying, “Indeed she is remarkable,

And beautiful, but where else shall she have life? We still see only

Two places. “

Again they wondered, “ We see nowhere else You can

Fit any more into her.”

The Ancient of Days then smiled as He included

What He called her womb.

“She will house what those of other humans would

Call genuine magic, Mystic (mystjk) starstuff, “the Ancient

Of Days mused.

But here I will give her the capacity as I do,

To hold and create life, both male and female,

Using the life I have shut up within man.”

“Here, on the very inside of her, she will be able

To create community, perfectly determined

By her own will. This is her second point of created life.”

The Ancient of Days attached the womb into

Woman, creating pathways from it, and below it

To where life would come from. “She is every bit

the total being that man is. Her center of gravity is

housed within her, right here, because life is secured

within me. I must make sure all

she houses will be protected.

Her body will be as a temple,

More sacred than man’s even. ”

“She must be created to be as

I have made her, to bring forth

The revolutionary, evolutionary, and the

Enchanted.”

In closing up what the Ancient of Days called

Woman, He crafted her heart before the Aged.

“Here, look. Just as man’s, but this is the last

Place she shall be able to give life.”

Holding it before them, He squeezed it

And it began to beat.

“She will hold the hearts of Kings, Princes, servants,

Silly-seekers wishing to know better. She shall hold

Her children here, both living and unknown, and

Those whom I bring to her for love and tenderness.”

“I have set it above her womb so that the life

She hold, does not challenge the life that she lives,

And I have charged her to care for. She almost must

Take care of herself.”

In closing the woman, perfecting His creation,

This woman, He spoke to her in the very

Ears He had made for man.

He spoke to the mind He had given her,

With connections specific to the mind

He had given her.

“I have made you excellent.” He began.

“Able to speak blessings of what you will know as

Being candide (candid) and in times of deepest

Sorrow and change, I will give you grace

To share the nature of hope. I will make

You a l’Optimisme (an optimist).”

At His voice, her eyes opened,

Aware, and sharp.

She turned her head to the Ancient

Of Days whom still spoke to her.

Looking His own divinity wrapped

In flesh in the face he crafted.

“I will endow you with what

You will know as child like faith,

A wonder of Me worthy that will

Ease fears and will allow you

To trust Me.”

He smiled at her again

Smoothing her hair,

“I will give you the peace that comes

With Hakuna Matata—no worries.

I have made a harmony in you that will

Sync your essence with moon and tide.

See, there will be nothing that

You cannot overcome when I am present

Or when I give you to man.

You are

A force of nature, with space to heal,

And an agent of change.”

“I have made you tall and strong

As the myths of Amazon women

Are noted to have been.”

“There shall be no others like you,

But all life shall be given and gotten

Through you.”

“You are a gift to man,

Needed by him, at his request.

Man will need your clarity.

He will need your intuition.

The world I send you to

Will need a persistent believer

In its evolution towards all things good.

Trust that all I have given you,

You will in turn give back to the world.”

From that, woman was given to man.

-JBHarris, September 2017

Featured in the compilation book, The Awakenings Project Writings, available on Amazon. To purchase, click here.

For more about The Awakenings Project click here.