Author Archives: Shannon Barber

About Shannon Barber

I am a strange little woman who likes pie.

Yeah Write #228 Entry- This Morning Needs Yelling another Billy Remix

This Morning Needs Yelling- another Billy Remix

By

Shannon Barber

In the beginning, Billy was only another loud mouthed baby. Unlike his sister and brother, Billy was no fast flyer. He was last out of the nest and wailed as he flapped his little wings. He was not brave and he was not a good hunter.

The one thing that made poor Billy special was his voice. Billy screamed the loudest when he was still piebald and pink and blind, all the birds could hear him cry.

“Mama, Daddy, hungry. Food. Food. Food! Food!”

The Corvidae and hawks, the sparrows and humming birds, even the penguins all learned of Billy and his legendary voice.

In the beginning, one could only hear the voices of the birds late in the mornings. Deep into bright primordial bird mornings they twittered and fluttered softly in the trees, gently waking up and feeding peeping chicks, easing themselves into a world very full of things that were not birds.

Until Billy.

Billy looked around his lush world and burst with bird pride. His feathered friends were all so lovely in their ways, he loved the strutting peacocks and the gabbling chickens. He loved the tiny hummingbirds and their whistling snores. He loved the smart starlings and screaming cockatoos.

Bird kind.

His kind made him feel things he could not quite articulate. The other birds tolerated Billy. He was a runt and loud and irritating, but among bird kin, he was the beloved misfit.

One morning while watching the sky turn from steel gray to soft, violent pink and orange and then finally pale yellow, Billy wanted to do something. He saw the other animals doing things, some of them trundling off to bed, others shaking off the morning dew and greeting the new day. Billy brooded.

“Billy, what are you brooding about?”

Billy tucked his head, the big raven was so pretty he could barely whisper in response. She was talking to him, of all birds she spoke to him.

“I dunno. Things.”

The big raven chucked him under his beak gently and turn to fly off chuckling to herself.

“Silly little pip.”

Billy knew the other birds laughed at him, but he didn’t care. He knew he had a gift, if only he could figure it out.

Another migration, another few weeks of poor Billy flapping his little heart out, but finding himself at the rear of the flock staring at birdy ass for hundreds of miles. Given the monotony of the view Billy had time to think and plan. He remembered from last winter that the place they spent those months was warm and had a light unlike any other he’d ever seen at dawn.

After resting for the night in a grove of pretty trees with rattly wide green leaves Billy knew what he had to do.

At the barest glimmer of deep pewter dawn Billy woke and stretched his wings, he looked around at his brethren sleeping hither and thither in the glorious trees. He found a good view and watched the light incrementally lighten until the golden moment and Billy did what Billy was born to do.

“I LOVE THIS MORNING! THIS MORNING IS FUCKING AWESOME! WE’RE BIRDS! WE LOVE MORNING! WAKE UP! TELL EVERYONE! I LOVE ALL BIRD KIND! WAKE UP, TELL THE WHOLE WORLD!”

Billy stood as tall as he could screaming into the sweet dawn light.  As Billy shouted the others woke up, ruffling their feathers, squawking and making a ruckus.

Below them, something else happened.

For a moment the other animals were still and then the birds heard the chorus of disgruntled land anchored creatures.

“Shut the fuck up Billy.”

“Billy god damn it, shut up.”

The other birds soon joined Billy’s chorus. From the rooks to the ravens, the hummingbirds and finches, cockatoos and even the cranky old geese chimed in.

“WAKE UP MOTHER FUCKERS THIS IS A GLORIOUS MORNING TO BE A BIRD”

From then on, the other birds never laughed at Billy again. Every morning they rose and let their voices go. Great squawkings and peepings. Screamings and wailings from tree to tree horizon to horizon.

And so it is even this morning.

We only have mother fucking Billy to blame.

###


Another day, more racism.

Earlier this morning I read yet another spectacularly racist piece of literature. Published by a magazine I’ve read on occasion. I have read how the editors responded and frankly, maybe I’m just too jaded, but I have so many questions.

The editors have said on tweeter that they had no intention of causing harm.

However.

I have questions.

At some point, there was editorial discretion. There was intent. This is not magical. I want to know what part of the editorial process made it so that this could happen yet again?

Why is it gringpo constantly thinks that the White voice is always the right voice? Want to show the horrors of racism or extremism? Ask White people.

If the intent is to in this instance put a spotlight on the horrors of ISIS, why use what boils down to an Islamaphobic rant? Why not ask you know an actual Muslim person?

Don’t answer, I know why.

The White Voice is the Right Voice.

Is this magic? Where does editorial discretion come in? At what point can some editor, any editor rather than apologize and state their intent, say, well I read this line and thought hot damn this is exactly what we want to say. And take responsibility beyond trying to mop up afterward?

I ask these questions knowing the answers already.

Whiteness is always given the benefit of the doubt.

We meant no harm…

We’re trying…

I’m not racist…

Always.

Regardless of how deep the fuck up or offense, those of us outside of Whiteness who are harmed by it at most and at the least benefit from it, we know.

I know.

And y’all, right now I’m just so tired. I’m tired of feeling the need to investigate beyond aesthetics anywhere I submit. I’m tired of watching editors say really racist shit under their own names then “openly” call for minority submissions.

I’m tired of saying, not yelling or begging, of just saying, hey, this is pretty fucked up and watching people just like me get called names and attacked on the basis of our bodies, of work (well you’re not getting published because maybe you aren’t good enough) to how we choose to speak (maybe if you were nice about it..) and then FINALLY someone White says, hey them mean ass Brown folks really mean “can you pretty please listen to use Mista, we just wants a chance to shine” and suddenly, everything makes sense.

I’m tired.

I’m tired of professional organizations showing their Anti Blackness.

I’m tired of literary magazines that are full of The Right Voice.

Gringpo, I’m tired of you.

I don’t even literally talk to these publications or these editors. I’m too tired. I’m exhausted.

I just want…shit I don’t even know at this point.

The only thing I can say for sure is I don’t want to keep up my guard against this sort of thing. I don’t want to keep adding publications to my do not submit list because I don’t want to deal with their anti Blackness, their Whiteness etc.

I don’t want to see more writers I’ve liked and supported suddenly lose respect because POC spoke up.

This is not the literary world, I want to live in.

But it is the one I live in and I have to deal with that.

So I’ll be tired. I’ll write more. I’ll watch. I’ll add to my verboten list.

And I guess that’s really all I can do.

 

 


My Book is about to be born.

Do you hear that noise?

The rumbling in the distance is the sound of my guts churning because my book is almost born.

Now you may be wondering, “but Shannon I’m a fucking adult what more do I need to know?”

Well, in Self Care Like A Boss we talk about a lot of stuff. For instance, we talk about disability and thinking about it when we’re able bodied. I give some able bodied to able bodied folks some advice. As in, if someone doesn’t ask you, don’t mess with their wheelchairs or other things.

We talk about what to do when you’re sick and nobody is there to take care of you, dealing with gender and pronouns, pooping, beauty for everyone of whatever gender.

This is not just adulting, we’re talking about thriving and basic survival in a society where a lot of us get the not so subtle message that it doesn’t matter how we live.

We talk about bodies and moving.

SO darlings.

My homies.

Now here is where I’m looking for your help.

If you are willing, here’s how you can help:

  1. Help me get the word out. Tweet, fb, share on various social media the link to my book.
  2. Have a blog? Feel free to snag the image and/or link to put up.
  3. Have a book coming out too? Drop me a link and I’ll post it up.
  4. Have questions? Ask away in the comments.

Now here is the cover:

SELFCARECOVER

Here is the link.

Link to my newsletter.

 

 


Yeah Write #226 entry- Mother Fuckin Billy the Spider Remix

 

Mother Fuckin’ Billy- the spider remix. CW: this is about spiders.

by

Shannon Barber

“Hey girl hey.”

The small brown peacock spider sat next to another, their limbs comfortably touching.

“Hey, Marisol how are you? I saw your web, great work boo.”

The other spider wriggled with pleasure, her web was in fact spectacular.

“Thanks, you’re a sweetheart. Whatcha doing?”

Linda pointed one leg at a limb and the bright blue faced male spider stretching and looking serious.

“Mother fuckin’ Billy is trying it again.”

Marisol rolled six of her eyes.

“Poor Billy. Let’s watch.”

The two female spiders nestled closer together while Billy got his shit together. He kicked a leaf out of his way and started his dance. Billy pointed one leg at the ladies and waggled his plump abdomen.

“Ladies, I hope you’re ready for- The THUNDA.”

Marisol and Linda both managed not to cover their faces with their forelegs as Billy hollered and began waving his forelegs and trying to warble his song of seduction. He closed two pairs of his eyes and moved to his own music, he cheered himself out loud without realizing it.

“Yeah, yeah baby you love it. You want it. You want this in your nuptial web. Yeah, you wanna see my spinnerette, look at it.”

Billy turned his hind end toward the ladies and rotated it slowly. Marisol and Linda looked at each other confused.

“I don’t think he understands how this works Linda. I mean, look at him. He’s pitiful. I almost feel sorry for him.”

Marisol rolled four pairs of her eyes.

“He knows he just thinks he’s special. I mean, have you seen Jorge over there in those rose bushes? He dances around thorns Linda, he took on the aphids and won. Billy is on a naked branch, dancing with no rhythm.”

Linda trembled, trying not to fall over in mirth.

“You think he knows what happens if his dance doesn’t work?”

“Probably not.”

Linda took a breath.

“You gonna eat him later, or nah?”

Marisol watched Billy gyrating his abdomen, then rearing up on his hind legs, waving at them.

“Yeah, I’m eating the fuck out that dude he gets on my nerves.”

Billy danced for his life and lost. As Marisol pinned him down and began chewing on him, he looked up at her at gasped out a few last words.

“I’m still, mother fuckin Billy.”

###


Self Promotion Post of all the posts.

august 2015

Portland, on Weds I’m going to be all up in you reading with this group of amazing WOC. Come on out, we might bite and we’re going to light up the night.

Now hopefully I’ll be able to get good video. I’m gonna try to work with my technology to make it work.

Next up, right before Self Care Like A Boss is unleashed on the world, I’ll be reading at Left Bank Books here in Seattle on the 29th. I don’t have all the details yet so stay tuned for that.

Speaking of Self Care Like a Boss our first tee shirt campaign was a success! YEAH. Now if y’all missed it and still want a shirt here’s the deal. We need to snag 10 orders of each style to go to print with them. If you want one, please for real go here and click the I still want one button and share widely.

As we’re running up on the release of the E-book here’s how to keep up. If you tweeter, follow my publisher here. For info on how to pre-order head right here and contact Milcah.

If you are more interested in my fiction, good news. If you have a couple of bucks you can head over to my Etsy store here and get some fiction! When I get home from Portland I’ll be adding some extra goodies for y’all.

Want to do more? I am currently 6$ away from a monthly goal at Patreon of having an extra 9$ a month to tuck into my savings account. Want info? Head over here.

Here’s the thing.

If you’re poor, you can help me out too. I am all in for signal boosts, spread the link to this entry or any of the others listed above. Put my name all over social media if you are so inclined.

Y’all have been so great and I’m so excited about what I’m doing. I cannot wait to have even more good news to share.

Now the author must feed herself before she has a toddler level meltdown.

Thanks again, from the bottom of my heart. I appreciate all of you who’ve been reading and coming along with me for the ride.


It Just Hurts So Bad.

So yesterday I talked about the inherent hypocrisy of White feminists who demand my time and energy, who are also very into #givewomenyourmoney except when it comes to WOC. Read that here.

Today I want to talk the emotional impact of this behavior.

Some of y’all might not know, but I started out blogging and learning to write non fiction by being a Fat Acceptance/body politics blogger. See my archive here. There is an adult content warning, but that was due to me saying fuck a lot and having fat hating trolls.

I promise I’ll talk about blogging to teach yourself non fiction writing some other time.

Now, I was very into doing this. I have studied body politics and fat acceptance since I was about 20.

During the years I spent blogging there, once I reached a certain threshold of audience size I started finding my words and my work lifted. I found it in other blogs, quoted, etc never with attribution. I chalked that up to writing on the internet, but then in the last say 3-4 years of me blogging there, I saw some folks getting book deals (remember when that was the thing?) and I didn’t want that so I ignored it.

Until I started finding my work used in books that people got paid to write, without proper attribution. I found more than one book both academic and not where a bunch of fatty bloggers were named and attributed, except me. The ONE Black writer/blogger quoted (quite heavily in some instances) without my name. No one asked my permission. No one paid me.

During this time was when I started to see and understand the depth and breadth of this type of intellectual felony theft. I saw it go down with big name White feminists who not only made money off the backs of Black women bloggers, but who then gaslight them, and turned their fans on them etc.

At the time all I could do was talk about it and witness.

Now fast forward to me being a kinda established writer.

Well established enough that people I don’t know to this day will send me notes about seeing my work used, my voice co-opted etc.

People get angry on my behalf. My best friend gets more angry when this happens then I see her over most anything.

And frankly most days I can’t even get mad anymore because I KNOW damn well that the people who think it’s okay to use my work to help sell their body image workshops, or to bolster their whatever don’t give a fuck.

They ALL identify as staunch feminists.

However, not when it comes to one Black woman.

My voice is good enough to be used, cited and stolen, but not good enough to say my name.

Now real talk.

This above all other things, I’m talking being trolled, being threatened, being told how much I suck and how fun it is to hate read my work, how terrible of a person I am etc doesn’t even touch how this theft makes me feel.

It is a toxic mix of powerlessness and just desperate sadness.

I am not famous. I’m not wealthy and most of the time all I want to know is WHY am I good enough to be used but not granted solidarity? How is my work good enough to merit, academic reference, but not my name?

Like it just hurts so bad in a way that I can’t even identify completely.

It hurts me on a level that most of the time I’m afraid to even go near because it burns.

Every time it happens all I can think about are the times when I’ve not had lunch money, I’ve not been able to pay for my partner’s medication. I think about the fact that my non winter weight coat is fleece and falling apart, but I’m afraid to spend the money for a new one.

I think of the fact that only two pairs of my pants fit and Fall is coming.

The worst is this.

Beyond the money that someone might as well have taken out of my purse, I think about this.

I have a book coming out this month.

It is the first book from MotherBlazing and a huge leap of faith in me and my voice and my work.

……

Shit, I hate to even admit this but here we go.

I’m afraid nobody (except for a few beloved long time readers) will buy my book because, well, my work is good enough to steal but not good enough to pay for.

I feel that way often, but the continual theft makes it worse.

It makes it worse that when I act on the boundaries I set for me and my work (something I had to fight for) I get bothered. I get White women telling me I’m a racist, that I personally am responsible for racism. That I am fucking up feminism.

And it never matters what I say or how I say it so keep the respectability politics in your own yard.

I can say hey, can you please not do this thing?

I can say, hey fuck you don’t do the fucking thing.

And it fucks me up.

It fucks me up bad enough that sometimes I feel frozen in place. I have SO much to say, but I’m hesitant because what if I have to get Google alerts to tell me it’s stolen? Do I want to keep feeling like I’m not even worth a fucking THANK YOU?

Rationally, I know I am worth it. My work is pretty fucking good. I do what I need to do.

But it’s in there.

And I hate it.

So this is why I stopped blogging other than here. This is why I do not like engaging with or generally dealing with White feminists at all.

I am not a big crying person.

But this, this whole thing all of it is what makes me cry.

This is what puts fear into my writing.

This is what I feel like fetters me in ways I am not entirely equipped to say.

SO next time you want to tell a WOC that we’re the problem, maybe think of me. I know for a fact that I am not the only one to have this happen time and time again.

I will continue to try and not let this hold me down.

I have a wonderful book coming out and working with my publisher has been amazing.

I am fucking reading at a Big. Fucking. Deal events because people enjoy my work.

I had my first uh, writing related business meeting in person and it was fucking awesome.

That’s all I can do right now.

I hope it’s enough to get me through.


On #giveyourmoneytowomen and hypocrisy.

I’m not using names because I don’t roll that way, but here’s what spurred this post.

Last week I had several White women decide that I owed it to them to provide a 101 anti racism education. Specifically, here are some of the things they did not understand:

  • The acronyms WOC and POC
  • No
  • Google this phrase “what does WOC mean”
  • No
  • Please stop talking to me.
  • I don’t want to deal with you right now.

Rather than posting their questions in the discussion out in the open, they took it to pm’s on facebook and spent a good hour trying to make me “teach” them.

Now I have done a bit of snooping and both of these women were all over the hashtag #giveyourmoneytowomen. Essentially, this hashtag was about women getting paid for their labor, including their emotional labor etc. Great thing. It’s important.

Now my experience with these two demanding ladies, TDL for the rest of this entry is something that happens 99% of the time when I engage with White women and race comes up.

Like most of these conversations, my “using esoteric terms” (anything in quotes is direct from what was said to me) was considered to be “aggressive, condescending and exclusionary”.

First things first.

If you are American and claim any level of social justice cred and you don’t know what WOC or POC means, you are not doing your job. If you claim anti-racism, but doesn’t know that WOC and POC are actual things, you’re a liar.

Second thing.

The real problem is not the proclamations of innocent ignorance and inability to look up an acronym on google. Those are just symptoms of a larger issue I have in mainly feminist type spaces.

The presumption that the White woman’s proclaimed innocent ignorance is pitted against the Angry Black Woman’s (me) refusal to teach and do the emotional heavy lifting for White women because presumably the White woman is too fragile, too busy fighting the patriarchy to either learn for herself because it’s just too hard to do, or to actually listen to the Angry Black Woman when she’s speaking. The presumption is that the White woman is too important to do the work by herself.

In any other instance, if I told any feminist that she’s too delicate, too ignorant to learn something for herself things would go real bad real quick. The very notion that any woman is incapable of learning or doing for herself is poisonous to feminist leanings.

Unless of course it means doing the real hard work not to be racist.

These women are the latest in a decades long list of White women who decide that their time and energy are too precious to do even the basics to learn about how to not be a racist.

Now when I say no I don’t have time to do this the respectful thing to do would be to say, hey, if you get time can you shoot me some links please? Or, okay do you have time to suggest some stuff? Or just shut the fuck up and leave me alone and go use the internet to learn a thing.

It is the epitome of disrespect and anti-intersectional feminism to me that this keeps happening.

What I’ve learned is that regardless of why (I’m exhausted, I’m busy at work, I have writing to do or I just don’t feel like it) if I the Angry Black Woman (make no mistake, it doesn’t matter what I say or how I say it, I am the Angry Scary Black Lady) say no in any form, it’s a problem

In the context of White women who are so into the idea of women getting paid for their work, unless it is a Black woman who has the nerve to speak in/on a public thing, it’s a problem.

The attitudes that ALL women of color must make time and space to gently lead White women by the hand into the promised land of not being racists anymore, is antithetical to #giveyourmoneytowomen.

It is typical of this sort of movement to on the front end have women raising their fists and getting excited. Until it means that they have to make room for WOC or 1 on 1 decide that no, it’s unreasonable for the Angry Black Woman to give a rate for private instruction.

The private instruction thing is my canned response to demands that do the work of pulling resources, putting together readings lists and talking White women through their knee jerk I’M NOT A RACIST YOU’RE A RACIST to OMG I HAVE PRIVILEGE BUT I CAN’T HAVE PRIVILEGE OMG NO YOU’RE A RACIST WHY ARE YOU SO SCARY BLACK LADY HOW DARE YOU TELL ME NO-type meltdowns.

WELL I GUESS I’LL READ WHAT YOU WROTE BUT I’M GOING TO ARGUE WITH YOU BECAUSE I DON’T LIKE HOW YOU PHRASED A TEN WORD SENTANCE OUT OF 1500 WORS.

YOU ARE SO ANGRY AND AGGRESSIVE I CAN’T DEAL WITH YOU BECAUSE YOU TRIGGER ME SO YOUR ARGUMENT IS INVALID.

All based on shit actually said to me when I’ve tried to do the 101 education for free.

For years I gritted my teeth and waded in. I fully believed that if I just withstood the initial bullshit, I could in fact lead White women to the promised land where we’d hold hands and sing Old Negro Spirituals together and then BOOM we’d have solidarity etc.

Many experiences, especially in groups where I have been one of few WOC speaking have taught me differently.

I have learned to value my own time and my own sanity and peace of mind. I have learned that my voice has value.

Do y’all have any idea how hard of a thing that was to realize?

So now, I have my own shit to do.

I have a book coming out at the end of the month.

I have readings to get ready for.

I have food to eat.

What I don’t have are the spoons to be anybody’s gentle Mammy on demand.

To that end, here is what I quote.

25$ will net you links to my own work about racism, some commentary and some basic definitions. No conversation.

50$ You get the above, plus five minutes of conversation on the internet.

80$ You get the above and can ask me ten questions.

That’s it.

Now, shockingly, once I’ve quoted my prices I get told things like:

  • You’re anti woman.
  • You’re anti white.
  • You’re the problem.
  • You’re selfish.
  • You’re why racism still exists.
  • You’re a racist.

Blablabla add in some random ad hominem attacks, some being shaded in comments on other things and there you have the magical reasons why I will not engage whenever White women demand it.

Years of trying to do everything to help women like this got me headaches and zero thanks. It got my work stolen from. It has meant I watch the women who demand my time, emotional and literary labor for free, put quotes like that one about be nice because you don’t know what type of day someone is having, they quote Audre Lorde, bell hooks and Angela Davis but this is how they treat me.

So here’s the thing.

Officially if you do this, I see you. I understand what you’re doing and why and I know that your feminism and your #giveyourmoneytowomen is fucking bullshit.

The only thing I have left to say is this.

Check yourself and your fucking attitude before you come for me.

Now in related news.

My book is coming and we’re working hard on some promotion. You have TEN DAYS to get your awesome paws on one of our Self Care Like A Boss shirts. Check em out here!

Next thing HEY Portland lovers. Check this out. I’m reading with a SUPER BAD ASS group of women for Unchaste. No seriously look!

august 2015

Click the photo to look at the facebooks page.

Now I’m off to go write stuff.

Tomorrow, I’m gonna talk more about the new book and do some more promoting.

 


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