The Loud Girl

I’m used to noise. I’m used to laughter, swearing, and other voice-powered thought in the midst of conversation. When my husband met me, he said I was a loud girl.

Hmm.

The LOUD girl.

When I was little, I didn’t know what that was. I did know that the loud girl was. I know that my mother taught my younger sister to be diplomatic versus loud and abrasive. “There is no need to act like you have no couth about you.”

My mom didn’t get loud with customer service, snap off about wrong orders or missing fries, or get finger-pointing indignant in Target when she thought she was being overcharged for something. In a world that expects every black woman to be this angry, mendacious presence, she was an antidote for that.

Aside from my mother and grandmother, the most formidable woman I know is five foot tall. My Aunt Linda is the most boisterous woman of whom I am related. She meant what she said, said what she meant and had no qualms about letting ninjas have it if she was upset–and it was never at a whisper.

But in that dichotomy held my balance. That same balance I knew and saw that not every girl whom looked like my mother or aunt had.

I learned how to handle people. I learned that not everyone responds to class and charm. I also learned that demure and finesse work a lot better than screaming and cursing which lead to more attention than you wanted–but you keep going because there’s attention drawn.

I learned to mean what I say and back up what I said I would and could do. The secret weapon? Be meek as a dove and wise as a serpent. Be vigilant and unfuckwitable.

I’ve seen the women that look like me in less than favorable light and speech whom have totally snapped out and lost it. I, too, have been the one that was in a less than favorable light, snapped out and lost it, with the trifecta present: cuffs, police and a camera.

In writing, there are moments that make editors insane because the text they read is not akin to the speech they are used to, and they desire to change it. That could be no more correct than in the community I make my home.

There are women so acquainted with pain that all they can do is lash out because they have never been listened to and had to fight for all they had. Men included. There are some women whom never have had to experience that type of loss, abandonment or pain whom look down on the women whom have. The lack of life experience can make you callous or curious.

If we’re honest, we all have been the loud girl or have loved one. We’ve also pointed them out and warned our younger siblings not to be that.

The we’ve also been the girl that couldn’t take anymore, who had to fight and stand up for herself because no one else has or would. We’ve dressed this pain and awareness up with degrees and zipcodes and $30 lipstick. But TRUST, those lioness selves stay at the ready.

Black women are not a monolith. We need to stop seeing ourselves as that. There are levels and depths to our stories and speech that can’t be dismissed because a woman that looks like you thinks it’s uncouth.

Granted, not every woman needs to be popping off about fries or full sets–not everything needs to be handled with a level-10 response. And just because the woman quietly waiting behind the woman at Target whom is popping off about sheet set she just bought isn’t being just as silly does not mean she doesn’t have the capacity to take it there if need be.

We gotta do better y’all. We start that by accepting the Great Gatsby quote as gospel:

Just because she’s the loud girl doesn’t mean she’s less than, hear?

If you’re honest, you knew them fries were cold and just didn’t say nothing…

Advertisements

Englishes

I don’t know when it was that I was told I “talked like a white girl.” I have no idea still what that means. I know it made me feel less than and less black. I know, with my first name coupled with the fact I spoke well, made me in theory and application a white girl.

It was the oddest feeling, even now, to be told, because I have a knack for language and I’m linguistically fluid, my nationality does not match.

Hmph.

 

Amy Tan said words are her tools, and she spoke several Englishes.

ENGLISHES.

That was so accurate! I speak several languages. I learned that I needed to! They are tools of adaptation and negotiation!

My Englishes?

Hoodspeak.

Twang with Mississippi emphasis.

City-County (it’s a St. Louis thing).

Geek.

Blerd (A nerd who is black)

Academia.

*White Girl. This English is reserved for emergencies, phone interviews and in-person interviews.

Being a writer, it’s my job to stretch, play with and even create Englishes. I’m supposed to be able to record life and, at times, translate it. Life is messy and complicated, full of sounds and dialects. Speech is never supposed to sound the same in different parts of the world, because people aren’t the same.

So…what to tell the little girl that “sounds white”? Nah, son. You just speak more Englishes.

RUNITBACK FRIDAY (11/10/17)

Welcome to RUNITBACK FRIDAY! Here, all the things that were on my mind all week but I couldn’t speak about or blog about will be here for your tea sippage. Get a snack.

#LEADERSHIP

For my local Firestarters, Prop P. This was the proposition to pay for more officers in the St. Louis Metropolitan area. The thinking being, “More police, more safety.” Or, “More money will keep the good officers.

Yeah.

This measure passed–yet no police reform is taking place. The Mayor of St. Louis, Lyin Lyda Krewson, said in January ’17 if elected mayor she would fire the corrupt leader of the police union, Jeff Rooda. He’s still there. She shook his hand earlier this month. And Jason Stockley murdered Anthony Lamar Smith with a blue wall backing with brick by Rooda.

Thoughts?

You cannot throw money at this issue. Police abolishing must happen or reform. The current state and permutation of law enforcement is terroristic in nature and cannot co-exist with the continued safety of the people they are paid to serve.

#iPhoneX

This phone is like $1000. It’s a Louis Vuitton bag. It’s half the price of the Givenchy Antigone bag. It’s a small child you can keep in your bag. And the letter I is malfunctioning? Nall, son. I can’t. 🤦🏾‍♀️ Y’all can have it.

#TheEmperorIsNaked I really want Mike Flynn to be the Sammy Gravano of this situation. I want him to tell Bob Mueller 45’s shoe size! I want him to realize he’s been set up. I want Ivanka’s pappy to do a perp walk. This madness is not sustainable. It isn’t. We know there is a man behind the curtain, and he has a half-trillion dollar motive not to give a damn about anyone on the West side of the Atlantic. Don’t be fooled! The revolution is yet happening, and resistance is on deck. And they caught his son too? Oh, yeah. Give it time. That’s all Sammy needed.

#RoyMoore The GOP doesn’t give a f— about women. Or families. This woman, these women whom have come forward are not believed because of who the man is. The Alabama state auditor likened this situation to Mary and Joseph. Yes, THAT MARY and THAT JOSEPH. This is how rape culture explains itself while men aren’t held accountable, and it roots in the social psyche. If you are a woman and a Republican…you are stupid. More stupid if you voted for 45 after he admitted he grabs pussy.

We’re a year into this insanity. In the words of Kendrick Lamar, though, “we gon’ be alright.” RESIST.

They Called Me One Too


They called me a whore.

They called me an empty barrel.



It took me a full two weeks to get calm enough to form thoughts which did not involve epithets which were outwardly prejudiced in speech or so vile in rage.
I won’t rehash what happened to Congresswoman Wilson of Florida. I will not give this devil’s mascarade pretending to be an administration any extra verbage. But, it was her boldness and truth-telling that made her a target for hate speech and on my radar this month for defense.

In my assertion, in my experience and observation, I offer this, “They called me one too.”

What this incident boils down to is this:  The country is upset that a black woman dared to call a white man a lie–and not apologize.

No more.

No less.


Congresswoman Wilson is old enough to be my mother. As a woman, as a black woman, I felt this disrespect on a visceral level. They might as well have spit on her. This radio host just this week apologizing for calling a sitting congresswoman a loose, ill-moral person is of no use. He still said it. He still meant it.
Yet…this nation loves black women until it has to hear from us. Until we demand instead of cower when we confront lie rather than placate. Until our footsteps match the volume of our voices.

So, no, black women are used to opposition and people assuming the worst in us and undercutting us by societal value placed on us. The society at large likes us as nannies, mammies, the sassy friends or the tokens among the pool of those white friends.

Congresswoman Wilson kept her poise, back straight, and stood on what she meant and refused to be intimidated. It is this element of magic we house in speech that the world hates about black women–the incredibly hewn tenacity–that a roar hides in our throats.

John Kelly isn’t the last white man to call a black woman a name or a lie. What may be different is there are women whom look like her daughters, because she looks like our mother, who ain’t about to have our elder disrespected in our face, and we not say something.

Black women, we ALWAYS have something to say. And we don’t shut up for comfort.

Virtued Presence:  The Unsaid 

My grandmother was the first person to teach me the power of the unsaid. One of my first memories of her is in her kitchen cooking, no music, no television.

As powerful a presence as my Nana was, she said very little. She would have tells, like Poker players do, which let us know what she wanted. At the time I thought she was so mean and standoffish. I wanted my grandma to be more open and talk more. I wanted more from her.

In that pain, especially not hearing her voice for 4 years, I remember the minutiae of her: how she smelled, what her bedroom looked like,  the color of her kitchen, and what her garden grew.

…and I remember what she didn’t say.

I didn’t hear her talk about her childhood, being married, or raising children. I didn’t hear her talk about what she went through doing all of those things in the racist nexus of Mississippi and Missouri.


It would be, and is, easy to dwell on what is she left with, but it’s amazing to think of what she gave.

What my grandmother, my last loving and living grandmother, gave to me is stability. The ability to present and acknowledge. She showed me how, when I spoke, to measure my words. In measuring my words, I can be a presence not just a body.

I could go to her and know it would be okay, much like when the children of Israel saw the veil over Moses’s face—even when he wouldn’t have the time with God that would grant him the evidence he had indeed been with Him, the people he cared for knew there was still a God to know. From that, they too could know this God and know He existed.

My grandmother showed me that God still existed. Her voice was thunder:  distinct and commanding. Exactly what writers can be.

Thank you, Nana.

The sepia color photo is from my new book, WriteLife, to be released in December 2017. It is a picture of my grandmother Aeceal Williams’s front porch in my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. She was an anchor person in my life, and, in the writing of this book, I did remember how influential she was. 

In Self-Defense

(These were taken from my Facebook timeline on Tuesday 10/31/2017. They can all die mad.)

I’m not about to apologize to make people comfortable. I’m not about to sweeten the narrative to  make people in my city (read:  St. Louis) think it’s more palatable to support a lie.

I’m not about to shut up because people are tired.  No one is more tired than the women whose young sons occupy the graves of old men. No one is more tired than the women whom bear sons and watch and pray for them to return every day. 


Damn that.

Speech, resistance and  money are the only thing  oppression understands and notices. The facts remain thus:

The current permutation of law enforcement is corrupt and either untrained or oblivious to deescalation. It is not acceptable for law enforcement to be murderous when it comes to the lives of African-American people. The protesting is not for the comfort or maintenance of the status quo. No one cares if other scary, bothered white people are upset. Our blood and pain is not for sport or profit.  They can all die mad about it.


There will never be a good time to speak up. Justice comes at the cost of convenience and inconvenience of self. We, those who are alive and remain to record, fight, organize, heal and remain, won’t be good Negroes.
They kill them too.

Ache


The sleeping hours are
As mornings,

Quick and unexpected.

Here in the fullness

Of time together,

No rhyme or reason

But heat as one would

Expect as the temperature

Of the blood that rushes

When you touch me.
Ooh, when you touch me…
Fire answers you.

Mouths sweet and volcanic…

Drowning in the under of you.
Time stands still, willing my sleeping self

Awake and willing for you.

Those hungry, slick and open spaces.

Those spaces that when I wake

Won’t be stretched or open or

Have the remainder of your love there.
The sun greets me as your eyes should

Gentle and subtle, warm and knowing

What I held inside…
I shut my eyes and remember the us,

The warmth I belonged to when I was yours

And you all mine…
Love too small a word,

And lust cheapens it.

I am yours…even when light comes.
(c)JBHarris, 11.4.2017