Before I introduce my new guest blogger, I’d like to give a roundabout introduction to her, if I may. So please be patient.
I was talking to my good friend Crystal Wilkinson this morning about one of our favorite writers, Toni Morrison, and her novel, Sula. I used to think Sula was an annoying, incomprehensible novel, but just a few days ago, I finally got it.
Sula and Nell, the two main characters in that book, are really two halves of the same woman. Sula is the bad girl. She’s erotic and doesn’t care about her community’s standards. Nell is the good girl, who always does what she’s supposed to. I’m strongly suspecting that those two halves—Sula and Nell—exist in a lot of women. I know they exist in me.
There are two sides to me. One side is my public side. Reasonably well-behaved (at least these days), spiritual, scholarly, and successful. That person is the writer, “Honorée Fanonne Jeffers.” The other side of me is foul-mouthed, erotic, passionate, and impulsive. That person is “Big Country,” the nickname my writer friends used to call me back in the day, when I didn’t have one publication on my curriculum vita.
A long time ago, I used to be myself. My whole self. My messy, contradictory self. I was a young, neurotic girl and I would follow my usually horrible impulses from one extreme to the other. That got me into a lot of trouble, not to mention a bad credit rating.
So I changed. I started thinking things through, never living by my impulses, and things improved. And thinking was a good thing. I got a really good job, improved my credit, bought a little house (that’s not fancy, but I love it.) I became a published writer and earned respect in my field.
But what happened is, I cut off one part of myself completely, because I didn’t want to be punished. Yes, punished.
It’s one thing to be “a good girl” in one’s professional life, although I’ve taken some risks. I started this blog, for one, and it’s not a “how to be a writer” blog, but a place where I became a cultural critic. But I follow the rules in my career. But at the age of forty-four going on forty-five, I’ve discovered that, as successful as I am in my professional life, I still felt as if I didn’t have a lot of power in my personal life—unless I wanted to be alone.
I was punished for being myself in my heterosexual relationships with men, and as I looked around at the lives of the heterosexual women I knew and as I read these so-called Black dating books and saw the way Black women were framed in this American society, I saw that Black women were being told to act a particular way in order to be loved romantically, or sometimes just sexually. But though we played the game, the game didn’t work for us.
These were very strange, counterintuitive messages. I started feeling powerless, which honestly, is one of the reasons I started blogging. I just felt I was keeping a lot corked and I wanted—needed—to let it out.
Then, this past weekend as I was cowering in my walk-in closet during a series of tornado warnings. Five people died a few towns over from me. It was very scary. And suddenly, I was like, “[Insert expletive carnal verb] this! I could die tomorrow. I’m tired of playing these damned games to get something I never get in the first place. I want to run with scissors. I want to be who I am.”
I realized that I didn’t want to be a good girl all the time, and I wanted to write about this process. But just as I’m two different women inside, I’m also two different writers—perhaps several different writers. I might seem to be a “straight no chaser” blogger, but if you look back, you don’t see a lot of discussion on sex and dating.
That’s because every time I tried to write those posts, I was afraid someone would know too much about me. That I might be a bad girl. And bad girls are always punished, at least in the Black community. There’s very little room for a respectable Black woman to be erotic and talk openly about it. But I’d like to do that.
And what does all this have to do with my new guest blogger? Well, y’all, my new guest blogger is me.
I decided to do this because Crystal has been urging me to get more “raw” on this blog, to talk about the things Black women need to hear but rarely do. To talk about the things I need to say. But I’m hoping that my non-female, non-Black readers can find something interesting and necessary in these “guest” blogs, too.
I’ve chosen a pseudonym, B. C. Flippin. The first two initials stand for “Big Country,” and the last name is that of my great-great-grandfather, George Flippin, a doctor who went against social convention in the early 20th century and married a White woman. He wasn’t a very nice man. He cheated on his Black wife, my great-great grandmother with this White woman, and his Black wife left him. He wasn’t a nice man, but he was certainly fascinating.
These guests blogs may be rare occurrences, because, frankly, I might have to get my courage up to keep it really real. (I’m talking below the waist, y’all, and super naughty things.)
And from time to time, Honorée might show herself in B.C.’s blog posts. For example, though I absolutely love to curse around the people I love and trust, I’ve seen a discussion between relative strangers go downhill toward cruelty, or just plain stupidity, once profanity enters the room. So, I’m still going to use “inserts” for curse words. But I am going to talk very directly about how race and gender have intersected my romantic and sexual life.
And just like her ancestor, B.C. Flippin might not always nice. She’s not a good girl and she’s proud of that, but I hope you’ll find her compelling. Because—finally—I find her very compelling. And very lovable, too.