Manuscripts

for Harriet…

Imagine me, writing. Conjuring the spirits of the ancestors to bring forth amazing stories of equal parts whimsy and intellect. Fingers pressing keys with the determination of stories begging to be told!!!! Ok…I’m lying…I wrote about 230 words of a short story and then got distracted by the internet.

In that distraction I saw some troubling things bobbing out there in the ocean of 2020 sewage. Now, *Obama Voice* let me be clear. There are MANY things that I’m tired of in 2020:

  1. My glasses fogging up when I wear my mask
  2. Thinking my allergies are symptoms of Covid-19
  3. Teaching my kids math

But there is one thing that is irking me far above the rest. Twerking on the last of the nerves that my Lord has bestowed upon me! And it’s men…Black celebrity men in particular, and their relentless attempts to destabilize the fabric of Black women in every way possible.

Now, when I first wrote that sentence above, I didn’t have the word celebrity in there, but I went back in added it because I want to be really specific and fair here. I am married to an amazing black man, and aside from him leaving socks on the floor for me to break my neck on, he has not actively tried to destroy my being. And he’s not alone. Black men be out here loving Black women y’all and it’s a beautiful thing that fills up my spirit. Loving us through childbirth, entrepreneurship, and entanglements! Unfortunately, these black men don’t often have massive social media followings and millions of dollars that fund a soapbox for them to speak from. Three men in particular, in the last week, made me shake my damn head.

Exotic Women

The first offender is Sir Jackson of Jamaica Queens. 50 Cent has never been a… how do you say?…role model. Like, ever. I never held him in high regard. He lives in messiness. Bathes in it daily before he takes a sip of some liquor no one drinks but he keeps hash tagging. He recently did an interview with Lil’ Wayne (shame on him as well) where he spoke about his hankering for what he referred to as “exotic women” who look like they came “fresh off the boat”. Excuse me guys…

…I’m back, sorry, had some objectification stuck in my throat. This term “exotic” has been thrown around for a long time. And I suspect most black women get peeved off because rolled up in this desire for exotic women seems to be the assertion that they are better, in some way, than Black women. They’re pretty much saying, “Black women? Ya basic!”.

But were we basic when we were buying you a MetroCard, putting money in your commissary, or letting you eat at our tables when you were hungry? Where was this aspiration for the exotic then? Huh? Why aren’t dudes in majority black neighborhoods abstaining from all the black women around them and crowd funding planes tickets to Brazil? Or Japan? Huh? Huh? This desire for the exotic doesn’t seem to crop up until their bank accounts get fatter. It reeks of “Now that I can get better, I will.” And because they’re rich and famous other people get that message loud and clear as well. It’s harmful. It perpetuates a view that Black women are simply a starter kit instead of the total package.

So, Black women are upset. We are hurt. It is a warranted response after being left behind when it was our hands that pushed you forward. Why can’t our unmatched strength, support, love, resilience, and intimacy be exotic enough for you?

Shots Fired

Then there’s this little child named Torey Lanez who, in the most surprising story of July, has allegedly shot chart topping rapper Meg the Stallion in the foot after they attended a party together. I am flabbergasted. I mean, what in the actual 7th ring of hell?

What worries me in Sir Lanez’s debacle is this: What in this boy’s experience with women, gave him the inkling that brandishing a gun and shooting a beloved and award-winning recording artist was an option? ALLEGEDLY. What cues were sent to him that assured him that his anger or whatever he was feeling in the moment was worth this woman’s physical safety and that he wouldn’t have to answer abundantly for the alleged harm he caused her ALLEGEDLY. I’m afraid that he thought that since this was a black woman it was not only warranted but excusable. And the response! This man is out on bail right now. I hate to play the what if game but we’re going to…if he had ALLEGEDLY shot a white woman or some foreign video girl, he would be under the jail right now.

He must have believed that he could shoot this woman and return to the recording booth to croon about bedding exotic women in no time.

Harriet

And then there was Kanye Aloysius West. Now, let me preface this by saying that I am completely aware that Kanye West is living with mental health issues and that many of his statements were likely made in the midst of manic episode. The issue is that because of who he is, his statements, related to mania or not, are seen and heard by millions of people who may take his statements as fact. Recently he stated that Harriet Tubman did not actually free any slaves but rather gave them from one white family to another. This is wrong. Whole statement is false. Mrs. Tubman led hundreds of slaves through swamps, woods, and valiantly threaded them through the needles of slave catchers to experience new life in North. To have this man, on a national platform, deny her sacrifice and contributions was a spear through the heart of this Black women.

He is obsessed with spewing rhetoric that aims to diminish the grit and bravery of Black people. As with most things, I wonder “why?”. What does undermining the fight of Black people do for his ego, for his sense of self? Is he realizing that they have endured far worse than him, far better than he ever could? Does he, in realizing the dreams of a slave, feel inadequate? Unworthy? Incapable of fully stepping into it and leading a movement like they did with half his resources? Or…is he just sick?

For all these men, Kanye West included…a simple thank you would be enough. So, I’ll do it for him. I miss when Kanye made good music. So, I thought of a rhyme that old Kanye may have written. This is

for Harriet:

If it weren’t for you
he wouldn’t be able to
Smack that ass in Calabasas
Without being strung from a tree
Drip blood mixed with molasses

Sell $75 shoes
That look like diseased hooves
At a store he would be cleaning
If it weren’t for you moving black bodies while singing

Be a college drop out
Roll with Jay and pop out
wouldn’t even have allowed him in the freshman class
If that Black woman didn’t risk her ass

Or even fake reach for the ballot
Lord, they wouldn’t have allowed it
But because of the tracks she laid
We get to listen to him rally and talk out his face

Or hop up on stage and snatch a mic
Or make it in Forbes without a fight
Or claim he was Jesus to the masses
Or come back to the same people he embarrassed

I mean…’thank you’ would suffice. Now, let me go try and finish this short story.

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