In my family, my father constantly quoted Obi Wan Kinobi to my mother: “I have been waiting for you Obi Wan. And now the circle is complete! When we met … Continue reading For The Little Black Boys That Had To Wait To See Themselves As Superheroes…
Author Note: This piece is written in heteronormative terms. However, but I think some things and experiences are global. Love & Light, JBHarris Every couple has a history and a … Continue reading For All The Guys We Loved Before
Consider this my final plea. Hear my heart. It may save a life. -JBHarris I have mentioned my abuser only by a pseudonym. I have no idea where he is, … Continue reading Picking Out The Flowers: When All Else Fails, You Must Leave
This month has been like riding a roller coaster while on fire. In recording this through the theme of #MeToo, rape culture and toxic masculinity, September has forced me to … Continue reading The Messy #MeToo (1808)
It’s easy for a man to make a baby. Our part in the creation of a child only takes us three quick thrusts and a loud moan. For some … Continue reading The End Of The Matter: Men Must Do Better–Fathers, Baby Daddies & The Cycles Of Fatherhood
As the mother of black children, the wife of a black man whom is an educator, I cannot let the remainder of this month run out without speaking the young … Continue reading In The Betterment Of Sons
I never considered myself a Jay-Z fan.
I’ve been a fan of Nasir olu dara Jones since I was in middle school. There are a few songs by Jay I like, but it wasn’t enough for me to be called a fan. It just wasn’t. My ear was never circumcised to like him.
Again, fight me. #Ether
However, I like hip-hop enough to give Jay another shot. Like a ex-boyfriend that says let him “show you” how he’s changed. I downloaded Tidal on a whim, and on advice of a friend of mine that loves music.
Of course, Tidal is the brainchild of Jay-Z.
Cool. I can get with this.
Mogul. Black owned. Okay.
His new album was about to drop within days of me downloading it, so, I listened. I was not prepared for all the growth he had. I simply wasn’t ready, and I don’t think I coulda gotten ready.
This is the same dude that did Money, Cash, Hoes, man. I mean, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from him. As much as I love hip-hop and rap, I’m tired of my sex being referred to as garden tools or women beyond redemption. I can’t, bruh, I can’t.
I let the album just play during a lull at work. I damn near cried. All I could do was listen, and think, “He grew up. By God, he grew up.” He admitted there are bigger things in the world than how many women you can see naked, how much money you can spend, and how fresh the whip is. One of his lines off the track, The Story of OJ, is this:
“You know what’s better than making it rain at a strip club?”
I don’t even need to put a Jennifer stamp of approval on that, B.
I sat there and listened to his wife, our beloved, embattled, Beyonce, as she sang back up on Family Feud, and was amazed. They showed that this phantom-like being, the black family, does exist. That unity among a people can and will happen. Music is a motivator of that.
I heard him pour from places, I wished more black men would tap. I heard pain, regret and motivation to just be a better person, so he could be a better EVERYTHING to everyone else.
I talk to my husband a lot in what goes on the in world and pop culture. Him, being the solid dude that he is, indulges the writer that his wife is, and from those conversations, I get glimpses into what makes him tick. This conversation was no different.
I told him that the only difference between us and famous people is how many people see us when we mess up. I started to pull the pieces together, as writers often do.
I remembered the elevator with Solange. I remembered the standoffishness of him in pictures, even with Bee present.
I thought, and mulled over, and wondered exactly how long he had done whatever this was, with whomever this was, for however long it was.
And was it just this one dame or was it a team of them? But, that’s not mine to know.
The fact that he would be that transparent, and honest in Legacy and Marcy Me, let me exhale. This vulnerability and foresight that the world at large doesn’t believe most black men have at points, proved to be yet another propped up falsehood.
My favorite track is Smile. I legit kept listening to it, impressed and fascinated. Fascinated at that depth. Impressed at the openness he allowed.
I was blessed to have listened to it. Sometimes art is a the doorway to redemption.
Am I a fan of the man? Nah. That didn’t change.
But can I now really respect him as an artist? More than ever.
(I’m still a Nas girl through.)
Let’s give God some credit.
Men are awesome. I’m a fan of His handiwork. And from that, some if my favorite people in the world are male. Keeping with this June love theme, let me share and serve a little more love, and a little less bash.
If you’re honest, there’s a guy at your work right now that you think is pretty nice looking and whom always says nice things to you in passing. You like how he does his job, and interacts with people. He’s funny. He’s smart and he often makes the coffee in then break room. Work crushes are awesome! Why? They remind you that you’re still alive and remain. I have a couple at my work. As a married woman, would I act on them? No! But it’s nice to be admired and to enjoy the scenery.😇
When I was a teenager, I had more male friends than female friends. I don’t know how that happened, but it did. Probably because I really had nothing in common with the girls at my high school: they were rapt in the world it created and I was rapt in the idea of leaving.
There were Anthony, Brian and DJ and Zachary that made school bareable. We talked sports, leaving the city and college. I got to be more of myself and I’m forever grateful for that. Even *Alejandro was one of these people in my twenties.
There was even a teacher during my senior year I would talk to about “this whole writing thing” and he told me to go for it, that he knew I could do it. I even started calling him my “Big Brother Matt” during these times we could be common. Thank you Mr. Stephen Batchelor.
Now, work husbands are a new thing to me as far as the title, but not a new thing. I’ve had jobs where there was a guy whom I vibed with that would do extra things for me, and me for him and we’d each lunch together. I could and did talk to him about life and get his advice.
This was dope because it’s good to have people that support you and care for you without ulterior motive (mind you, I have a legal husband and I don’t have a work husband. He’s ENOUGH, trust me). It’s good to be cared for and looked out for.
Of course there are the men that vacillate out of your life as well. The bus drivers that let you off and on when you’re short, and make sure no one bothers you.
The maintenance guys that come by and fix things on top of what you ask of them. The mechanic that doesn’t fleece you AND answers your questions.
The guy that respects your mind in fields of academia, politics, as well as advocacy and activism. The men that grant you space as clergy, without the 2 Timothy sexism.
The men whom defend you when you are not in the room.
The men that indeed tell their sons that women are to be valued, protected and respected.
Indeed, these people of God’s creation are amazing. Perfect? Not by a long shot.
But some are just perfect enough for you.
Love on your guys today.
Titus 2:7 (ESV)-
Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity,
I’m not getting on this whole bandwagon of MEN ARE TRASH or the other of a similar phrases. I’m not one that gets on bandwagons anyway. However, this is not one that I would even consider.
It’s easy to say as other hurt women do, that “Men ain’t (bleep).” I have said that more than once about the men I was dating, and one I was married to, when something didn’t happen the way I thought it would or should.
There is a pattern I keep seeing in these type of trends. Everyone is happy about being hurt, bitter and alone. Everyone is trying to hurt everyone else before they can get hurt. *In this whole assertion and movement to dismantle patriarchy, we have to remember that men are human too.
There are some men that are raised to only show two emotions: anger and toughness. If they show tenderness, mercy or any sensitivity then they are seen as ‘soft’ or ‘gay.’ It is seen as manly to be disrespectful, arrogant and angry. None of those things make for lasting, healthy relationships.
The meshing of women and men in relationships aren’t a new thing. There is something to be said of voicing opinion and realizing what it is to be male and female. There is something to be said for appreciating the awesomeness of the male species.
The men that set the example for how you are supposed to be treated as a woman, as a girl, as a human being. The person that is the model of what to do for a boy. The person that allows you to be and do with no pretense. The person that gives you half of whom you are and shapes whom you will become.
These men in this position go beyond biological donation and blood relation. These are the men that come in and take this position from death, marriage or other life changes. They shouldn’t be discounted.
The young men in our lives that depend on our maturity and ability to adapt to change. Their mothers should not make their emasculation their mission. They should not be reared to handicap, and should not have the expectation to replace men that left their mothers, that hurt their mothers, and should be able to fulfill all the days of their lives. Every man was once someone’s son.
These same sons need to see their fathers: good, ill or indifferent. They need to see the impossible is not so. They need to see their father’s as human, fallible and…redeemable. So when that same redemption is needed, they can give it to themselves first…not wait for the world to gift it.
My daughters have been blessed to have two extra uncles, non biological. These men have decided that the have loved me and my family enough to allow them to be a part of their lives.
They allow them them to be safe and protected. They support my husband in the awesome job he’s doing as a Dad. Uncles are glue in family life. They shouldn’t be overlooked.
My favorite uncle? Patrick. What made Patrick so dope? I felt safe around him.
Some of my closest friends have been male. These have been the guys I consider my anchors, that I can go to about anything, at any time and not feel judgement.
There have been times where I didn’t feel my female friends would really show me the strength (read: compassion) needed. But more than once, I found myself on a receiver in full meltdown and needed anchor in a good guy friend.
As women, as quiet as it’s kept (as my Nan would say), women lives their lives defined by men: maiden names, married names, the titles we keep (Miss vs Ms. vs Mrs.).
It’s normal to want to regain something of what is lost–that autonomy of destiny, being able to feel self-determined.
*That shouldn’t be done at the expense of other people, no matter the sex. There are some really good guys out there. You shouldn’t spend your life hating the many because of the few.
*-I will be the first to say that there is a problem with patriarchy, rape culture and the care and protection of women. How we treat women needs to change. The sexualizing of girls and women needs to change. That starts with how we treat and teach our sons. There is nothing wrong with men being able to voice opinion and emote and ask for help. This “Man-Up” insatiable nonsense needs to stop. Now, is there a level of strength in controlling emotions that men seem to have mastered? Yes. Is it needed? Yes. But that strength does not deny humanity. We gotta do better.
I have had a handful of favorite professors in my college experience. One was Dr. Kurt Schreyer for my ENG 4670: Shakespeare’s Tragedies & Comedies class. Even his name was hot!
(Anyway, I digress…)
He helped me to love Shaskespeare (Shax) again. He used Shax in casual conversation as I did, and low-key thought I was brilliant. He even wore a fedora in the winter!
But most of all, aside from him being in the US Navy in his last life, he swore. He was utterly dashing, brilliant, knew I was brilliant–and I liked Schreyer’s class because he did what most dashing men do. He made me…think!
He was able to treat me as a lowly nursing student, as a viable, intelligent English major: someone that used words as weapons of warfare or instruments of healing.
There was a time 8 years before that class that I thought such weaponry was gone from my arsenal. The gift, the talent, the instrument of my coping was gone. The cause? I had spent the better part of my 20s with a man with no prospects, goals or his own light.
For three years, I poured into him, his son and whatever life 20-22 year olds promise to make while having really good sex (or what I know know wasn’t as good as it could be… ).
But, between times of being naked and not naked, I decided that I was going to trust him, and love him and help him with all he needed. From money, to time with his son, to…all I had. In that taking, I conjured up all the strength, love and all the ancestral BGM (Black Girl Magic) I could think of.
Not for me, but for him!
Thinking, believing, hoping, he would put that back into me. I ran on fumes for the better half our relationship.
At the end of it, near the end of it, my mother made a stark observation. She told me to look at her.
She told me that I looked dead. She said my eyes had always shone, since I was a little girl, and they no longer were shining. She told me the relationship I was in was killing me.
And it was.
I knew it was. I knew it was, when I was sitting with pen and paper and NOTHING came out of mixture of time and space and energy.
Since I was 8, even earlier, the stories, the words, would just come–THEY WOULD JUST COME. There was nothing–nothing. I thought it was gone. I just new it was gone. I mourned for it. I missed it. I would get smattering of it every now and then, the ebb and flow of its power like I was pulling the sword from the stone or a disciple of Hecate from Macbeth.
But in came the one I mentioned in the dedication of my book, *The Love Songs Of The Unrequited, Volume 1. The words came back, slowly, crawling and then with dam breaking speed.
That portion of me, that portion of self I thought my malevolent ex had stolen from me along with everything else, was coming back. I was me again. How can you not love someone that gave you back what you thought was gone?
Someone whom helped you regain the hope in you?
I shared worked with him, like a shy child and favorite teacher. At every positive acknowledging, every tear-born word, he heard, he accepted and told me that I was unlike any woman he had ever known.
He told me that I was talented and to keep writing.
He told me to keep going.
That was like breathing again after being underwater. It was glorious to see the light again, it was that dark for me without being able to write. I had a muse…he was it.
I wrote when I was happy. I wrote when I was sad. I wrote to deal without having him nearby. I wrote when I couldn’t talk to him. I wrote when I couldn’t sleep. I memorized his accent, his inflection, his voice, I locked him away in my heart–incomparable to anything before or since. There was *Alejandro and then everyone else.
With him being out of state, all I had to hang onto him was his voice, letters, cards and calls. I smiled again, jumped rope again (yes, OLD SKOOL ROPE!), stayed on the phone with him three hours a night, after working second shift (he worked first shift) and did we did stupid teenage things.
Oh, like what? Like this:
Me: “No, I love you.”
Him: “I love you too.”
(Same conversation after doing kissy-faces to the phone receiver)
Him: “You hang up, I have to go to work in the morning. I feel like crap when I can’t wake up.”
Me: “Welp, gimme 5 more minutes and I’ll let you go. Por favor, mi amor? Para mi?
(An hour later, same conversation)
Me: *Alejandro, it’s (however stupid late in the morning it is).
Him: (breathing in the phone, clearly asleep)
Me: (closing eyes, listening to him breathe. Hangs up the phone only when dial tone wakes me up. (I fell asleep like this more than I will admit here.))
Oh, yeah. We did that at…all in love and not giving a damn.
At 23, I was 16 again.
It was lovely. It was new, it was healthy. He loved me, and I knew to my depth of marrow that he did.
Oh, you wanna know how Shax fits into all this, you ask? Welp, anyone whom is close to me will eventually get a name from literature. Whether that be from a comic or a centuries old play, or a TV show I’m hooked on.
He was my Romeo, my Antony, my County Paris and my Hamlet…and My Dean (you gotta be a fangirl to know #SPN).
He, too, was my Peter Parker. All mild-mannered, dorky, intelligent, strong and sweet.
He called me his MJ.
(I don’t care! I LOVE TOBEY AS SPIDER-MAN!)
Mary Jane Watson.
You would have to be a geek, or love one, to get how deep that is, and how sweet that is, and how I could not want the forever after with Parker.
Every time I would move beyond his grasp in the time we occupied–I would be dating, he would be dating (but we still spoke on a fairly consistent basis), but I would think about him, him about me, and somehow come back together again.
The weirder thing?
He knew when I was ‘far’ from him, and he from me. We knew when the closeness wasn’t there or quite right.
I was getting back to me.
My Able Unshakeable was a reminder that knights still do exist.
They still fight in wars, have armor and still find damsels in distress.
They still hold love and honor as virtues not punchlines.
They still find the broken in the beautiful ones.
They still are willing to tell the Queens of the realms, they can cry again–that strength and beauty she is clothed in, but it is not destiny always to rule alone.
There is one, will be one, to see tears behind smiles, childlike joy in laughter that reaches your toes and thinks your eyes hold light even when they are shut.
These chosen of your heart are able to see you as no one else. If the Fate of God be merciful, you get to spend your life with them.
As for me?
Maybe next lifetime.
I have this one to live out with a man that is able to do that…and he found me while I was yet hiding. How blessed am I?
I love you, Phillip**.
*-For sanity and anonymity, his legal name will not be mentioned here. He does know the work exists, and even the dedication. He has moved on with his life, and I wish him nothing but happiness and joy. He has earned it.
**-Yes, that is my real husband’s real name.
[images from Google]