Jordan Scruggs // Mobile Photography // Writer of Echoing Ida // Tennessee I shoot what I see. I write what I witness. My God looks & sounds like Maya Angelou. Let's talk.
Wow, what a laborious week for Christians who only talk for God when the lives of transgender youth playing sports and grown gay Black man creates musical content.
I've been queer and non-binary for my entire life. I only knew the words for it when I reached my late 20's. I played sports from elementary school all the way into high school. I sang in the choir on the high school theatre stage and in my car minding my own business.
My anxiety began not because of any stressors of who I was, but because of how people would react to who I was. It was never about me. It was about them. Which I think is a torturous thing to put a young adult through. Putting the needs, demands, and lives of others as more important in the forefront of their developing minds.
It's exhausting. It's painful.
It needs to end.
And it shouldn't be.
Cold bodies to warm bodies
Looking for answers
Looking for water
Where the hell is my water?
Where is the megaphone and the podium?
Reparations is a drop in a drain
Of forty acres and a mule.
People living in Jackson, Mississippi have been without water for nearly a month. A result of the severe Winter Storm, a storm that mostly was talked about in regards to Texas and little else, people in the capital of the state of Mississippi. It's a city filled with Black and Brown bodies and for some reason, it hasn't been in the media.
No one should have to live like this. It doesn't matter that their governor was a supporter of this county's previous President.
Mississippi, like many states in the South are rampant in forms of voter suppression, gerrymandering, and other ways of harming the voices of Americans.
Raise hell. Ask everyone you know. "Where is the water, Mississippi?"
Hey Google. Play "Back Down Memory Lane" by Minnie Riperton.
I stumbled upon this short not so short story that I wrote in high school. I still remember what led to it. A prompt from my teacher to use three of the twelve words given to us. I used all twelve.
This is unedited. A mess. And also an inspiration.
It feels familiar, yet not at the same time.
Ps. It's good to be back.
Chicken Casserole Surprise
The inspector walked up to the lonesome house, taking in the smell of the cold air. He walked along the cracked sidewalk, cursing at the cockeyed chickens that crossed his path. The woman had been missing for thirty-six hours. She hadn’t shown up for work for the first time in ten years. Very unheard of for a telemarketer. Usually, they quit within a week. The inspector stopped on the porch to take in his surroundings. A nearly barren porch containing only a dead fern and broken porch swing along with a single forgotten coffee mug left on the railing. The leaves in the yard had been raked and stacked in almost congruent piles. He brought his hand up to the door, knocking three times. Calling out police, he received no answers. He reached out and twisted the doorknob, finding it unlocked. He stepped inside the dark house, noticing the eerie sight of spider webs in almost every corner. He pulled out his flashlight and continued his journey through the house. His first stop was the kitchen.
Spotless was the only word to describe it. Clean would not have done it justice. Something however was out of place. The room was too clean. He went through every cabinet, searching for the answer to his curiosity. Finally, after finding nothing out of place, he turned his flashlight to the refrigerator. Slowly, he walked towards it, afraid of what he would find. His hand clutched his flashlight, the other trembling on the cold handle of the fridge. Taking a deep breath, he pulled the door almost off the hinges. A frown came upon his face as he took notice of what was inside. Casserole dishes, but not just a few. There were at least thirty chicken casserole dishes.
The chef in him wanted to taste the dish. For they did look appetizing. He could just taste the breaded crust that was covered with the three cheeses. He shook his head as he closed the door. He moved back down the hallway and stopped in shock as he noticed the doors that were present on the walls. Before entering the kitchen he had taken notice of the traditional family portraits on the wall. Against his better judgment, he walked to the first door and put his hand on the surprisingly hot knob. Maybe it was his nerves; maybe it was the knob he couldn’t tell. Was his mind playing tricks on him? Was the house playing tricks on him? He didn’t know which one was the truth as he stepped inside the room. Instead of trusting his flashlight, he flipped on the light switch, as he held his breath, fearing the worst. The light flickered on and revealed something he never expected.
There were wanted posters, police reports, newspaper clippings, and all sorts of other official documents filling the room. There were stacks and stacks of newspaper filling the room. He went over to the first pile he met, curious as to what the papers’ headlines were. Missing Chicken Supply Never Recovered. He moved to the next stack. Chicken Truck Overturned; Chickens Nowhere to Be Found. The titles all resembled the other. He moved to the wall where the articles were tacked against a corkboard. He pulled his glasses out to read the fine print. Chicken Mogul Murdered. He looked at the rest of the articles and the pictures on the board. He moved to the back of the room and made a shocking discovery. There were multiple pictures of some of the government officials he had working under him. At this point he was at a loss for thoughts. What were they doing in this house? He looked at the documents underneath their pictures. Each one of them had filed lawsuits against someone. The suits were random, going from the results of a landscaping disaster to a retirement home for misconduct. He took one last look at the documents before walking away. Despite the evidence on his men, the room only told him one thing. He came to the conclusion that someone had been receiving illegal amounts of chicken.
He was just at the door when he heard a shattering sound from behind him. He turned quickly, drawing his gun, expecting an intruder. But when he turned around there was no one there, nothing even seemed out of place. With his gun still out, he walked back to where he had come from, looking at the ground, noticing for the first time how old the carpet really was. Spots and stains were void of the carpet, but there were wear marks. Almost as if someone spent a lot of time in this particular room. He put his gun away when he looked at the ground and found a chicken feather. He scanned the photos on the wall, trying to find his answer. He was about to give up when he noticed the final picture behind the door. It was shattered right in the middle. He walked over to it and looked at it closely. The photo contained two people. A little girl stood in the top right corner, alone. She seemed to be scowling, clearly very upset about something. The other person could only be identified as an older version of the child, except this woman was smiling broadly. But the most important detail in the photo was the overwhelming amount of chickens surrounding the woman.
Who were these people? Was this child his missing woman? Or was this child her mother? He thought only for a moment about the people, before turning towards the idea of how the frame shattered. There had been no one else in the room. Before his mind could send him into utter confusion, he left the room, closing the door behind him.
Without further thought, he moved on to the next door. This time his nervous mind told him not to even worry about what he would find. He quickly just thrust himself into the room. He started to slide his hands across the wall, looking for the light switch when he realized something. There was a light coming from the corner of the room already. He took his hand off the wall and walked towards the light in the corner, illuminating a side table. The light seemed to grow brighter as his feet continued to step closer to the light. When he finally got to the table, he found himself shielding his eyes from the brightness of the light. He looked down at the table to see if anything seemed out of place. He almost left the bright room, when he noticed a book on the floor. He kneeled down and picked up the weathered book. The book was old; he concluded as he flipped through and coughed on the dust coming from between the pages. He was about to close the book when something fell to the floor. He leaned down slowly, cautious of what the object would tell. He picked it up and blew the dust off, trying to figure out what the object was. A picture. He held the picture under the light to get a better view, not noticing the flickering of the light, as he squinted his eyes. It was a chicken, a single chicken standing on a bed, looking dead at the camera. The inspector couldn’t help the chill that went down his spine as he looked at the chicken. He looked away suddenly as if realizing the light for the first time. He placed the picture back in the book and looked at the cover. Murderous Chickens: What Happens When Enough is Enough. He quickly read the back of the book, hoping to understand what the book was about.
“A horrific tale about the world’s most belittled and unloved animal: the chicken. For far too long they have stayed semi-quiet, clucking in the background. They are tired of being sold for less than they are truly worth. To describe the uprising, that will happen in the future if they will have to endure their pain much longer, there are only five words: there will be no mercy.”
Suddenly there was the thunderous sound of scratching. Terrified the inspector dropped the book and slowly took in the once silent room. The light began to fade now, leaving the inspector with little light in the suffocating small room. The scratching continued. He searched for a sign from where the intruding noise could have come from, but he found none. There was only the door, no windows or any other hole. He quickly turned towards the door. He wondered if the source was outside that door. Then he realized something. He had left the door wide open. Now it was closed shut.
He was making his way over to the door when suddenly the light went out. Panic coursed through his veins and his heartbeat in his ears. He reached into his pocket for his flashlight. He pulled it out and twisted the top to turn it on. Nothing happened. His breath began to shorten, as he fiddled with his flashlight. The scratching noise became louder, cause the room to vibrate from the noise. He thought his head would explode from the noise. He dropped his flashlight as he screamed into the air, covering his ears, begging for the noise to stop. Silence filled the air. He couldn’t believe the noise had stopped. He got down on his hands and knees looking for his flashlight. He had just found it when something hit him in the face, a rope. He didn’t know where the rope came from. But he knew he needed light and he needed to get out of this room; out of this house. He pulled the rope slightly and discovered it came from the ceiling. He pulled it again, noticing that light filled the room for just a moment. He pondered the situation for a moment. He knew if he pulled the rope hard enough he would get light. He also knew that he didn’t know where the mystery rope came from.
He decided to chance it and pulled the rope as hard as he could. He closed his eyes however when he did it, afraid of what would happen when he pulled the rope. He opened his eyes and lost his breath at the sight before him. He was surrounded by chickens. They were all looking at him, blinking their eyes in that creepy fashion that they always do. He could feel the sweat dripping down his back as he stood there petrified. He took in a deep breath afraid of what they were going to do to him. He decided that he needed to get control of the situation. First, he had to get control of himself. He thought back to happier times in his life. Thoughts of going fishing with his father in the riverbed behind his first home flooded his mind. His son’s first trip to the zoo entered his mind also.
He opened his eyes after a few moments. He felt his blood racing once again at the sight before him. The chickens were gone. They had managed to vanish within seconds. The only thing left in was located in the middle of the room. There was another feather. But this time there was a piece of paper underneath it. He looked at the paper scanning the information. A much-known artist in town had been summoned by the court for fake documents, more specifically, certificates that told the authenticity of the art pieces he would sometimes sell. This man was going to be very unlucky when he found this out. The inspector thought for a moment about the files he had found in the house. The information on his men, the luckless artist, the newspapers. How did they all tie together? What did they have in common?
The inspector’s mind was like an oblivious person at a busted traffic light, stuck. He did know one thing, however; he needed to get out of this house. He went to the door and looked out in the hallway. He was exiting the only door that was in the hallway. He went through the house quickly, passing the kitchen without even a nod in that direction. His hand was on the doorknob when he heard his new fear behind him, a cluck. He turned, reluctantly, to find a single chicken behind him, only a few feet away. Neither of the two moved for moments. They seemed like an eternity to the inspector, he was terrified of the animal before him.
He reached behind his back and slowly twisted the doorknob, beginning his release. He never took his eyes off the chicken as he swung the door open and jumped outside. He nearly panicked at the sight of the chickens that were still running amuck outside, like before. He dashed to his car and as he was getting in he noticed right away that his car was lower than usual. He popped his head back outside curious as to what was going on. He looked at his tires and cried out at the sight of two flat tires. They looked as though they had been punctured multiple times with a small tool. A loud cluck brought him out of his trance. Maybe they weren’t tools. Maybe his tires had been punctured by something no man had. Small and not man-made combined only meant one conclusion. The chickens had done it. The chickens wanted him to stay here.
But he couldn’t stay any longer. He reached inside his coat and pulled out his phone to call for help. A light was flashing on his phone, usually, that meant a missed phone call. He opened up his phone to read who had called him when his phone became blazing hot. He dropped the phone, his only line of communication, to the ground. The phone hit the ground and shattered into a million pieces. He had lost those phone calls. He had lost his only way to get help from anyone.
He realized something. Once you come to this house you can’t get out. He hesitantly went back up the cracked sidewalk and passed the cockeyed chickens. This time when he knocked, his missing woman answered the door.
The inspector walked into the newly brightened room. A soft voice carried through the air. She was telling him that she tried to warn him to get out. She sent the doors to scare him away but it hadn’t work. She sent the scratching. He wasn’t supposed to scream. It woke them up. It woke up the chickens. And once they are awake, there is no way to return to their former lives again.
She had simply come to check up on her mother’s house. She wanted to make some casserole for her dinner. She didn’t know it wasn’t allowed. The investigator understood. The chickens did it all. The chickens were in charge in this home. They decided what was just and they decided what happened to the people inside the house. He was no longer in control. Then a thought crossed his mind. Was he ever really in control? Why was he assigned to the only missing person’s case? He realized he would never really know. He sat down in one of the chairs oblivious to the leaves covering his car. He poured himself some tea and added his cream as the leaves blew away along with his car, leaving him.
Leaving him to live the rest of his life in the house with thirty chicken casserole dishes.
Everything is familiar.
Yet nothing is where it should be.
People reaching out confirming existence.
Grasping at skin.
Pulling me in.
I still drift away.
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In 2017, I've made the decision that I will be creating, mostly writing, every single day. I've been inspired by the awesome actions of my person (Shontay) took in 2016 where they just...shared their existence every day. So that's what I'm going to do.
But here's the trick.
Each post will be made on my blog here.
But when I expand and go more in depth it will be posted here on Scratchbang.
But only for subscribers.
Choose any donation you want and you'll be able to get more out of each piece I create. Everything from 2016 will remain available for everyone to read and see the amazing pictures. But the new things will mostly be available only for subscribers.
Stay tuned for more,
It's going to be an awesome ride.
1. Jump to Amazon.
2. Be more realistic jump to Forever 21.com.
3. Be really realistic and jump to Rue21.com.
4. Start stressing because nothing looks like the right color of Beyonce Lemon.
5. Pause Searching to watch “Sorry” on YouTube.
6. Up your Lemonade Outfit Budget by $5 because Sorry made you feel some kind of way...
7. Think of getting a middle finger shirt.
8. Calm down and realize that will blow your budget by $20.
9. REALIZE IT’S A BEYONCE CONCERT AND YOU CAN DO WHAT YOU WANT.
10. Calm down after getting phone bill notification.
11. *watches Partition and forgets what was happening in the first place*
12. TOOK 45 MINUTES TO GET ALL DRESSED UP
13. Remembers body is affected with asthmatic lungs and calms down again.
14. Goes to Twitter to get inspiration.
15. Realize I’m going to become a magician to pull off this level of Black Excellence on my budget.
16. BOOM. FLOWER CROWN.
17. BOOM. GLITTER SHOES.
18. BOOM. CELEBRATORY GLASS OF WINE.
19. Boom. Get back and make a shopping list of the things you need for the flower crown and shoes.
20. Realize as soon as you finish typing out 19 you still have no idea what shirt you’re going to wear.
21. Say crap 5 times.
22. Play Bootylicious and feel better.
23. Realize you’ve got three really good unapologetically Black shirts and have options.
24. Dance to 7/11.
25. Pass out singing a mashup of Destiny's Child and Whitney Houston.
I love Whitney Houston. Not loved. I love her. Today, tomorrow, forever; I love Whitney Houston.
Now I have some confessions to make about Whitney Houston.
1. I never watch any video of a child or person singing a Whitney Houston song.
Stop sending them to me. I look at the cover shot/image of the video and keep it moving after I roll my eyes.
2. I rank National Anthems on a scale of 1-10 Whitney Houston's.
Whitney took your songs and made them her own (thanks, Dolly) and that includes the National Anthem. Lady Gaga got a 7 at the Superbowl. Marvin Gaye got a 9. Jimi Hendrix is a 6 because he didn't sing a one gosh darn note so be glad I gave him that much.
3. I'm still angry that Spotify has not changed the original "I'm Your Baby Tonight" track from the I'm Your Baby Tonight album.
Listen I get that you're a big corporation and that you have had a lot of struggles with getting certain tracks after you lost T-Swizzle and Prince to Tidal. I get it. But you have the original track on her "Greatest Hits" album. So I am befuddled and miffed. I even tweeted you this mistake and you told me you would look into it, and yet it remains the wrong track. The correct track is right there....it is right there.
4. Speaking of Spotify...I'm mad I can't listen to the "Cinderella" soundtrack.
Who do we have to talk to to get that in your collection? Whitney Houston was 50% of that movie and Brandy was the other 50%. We know we have her support behind this because she loves her some Whitney. Children these days have to sit through a Cinderella remake and be told it's amazing. We that were blessed with Disney movies of the 90's know this to be a lie for certainty because we had Whitney Houston as our Fair Godmother. Get it together. Figure it out. MAKE IT HAPPEN.
5. I hate it when people act like drugs are all that she was.
You know what....lemme just say this. She was betrayed by someone she trusted and loved who turned out to not be Bobby Brown (BIGGEST PLOT TWIST OF MY LIFE, BTW.) but her brother. Led her to drugs. But guess what? She was still the single most awarded female artist of all time. So get out my face with that. Byyyyyeeeee. ALSO I hate talking about and critiquing women's bodies as it is...BUT...Y'all act like she didn't start her career out as a model for Seventeen magazine. Y'all act as if she wasn't skinny before, during and after she gave birth. Remember the "I'm Every Woman" video? Didn't know she was pregnant until the camera panned down to her stomach at the end.
6. I love her adorkable inability to dance.
Whitney was an OG when it came to non-dancing dancing. My girl had a shoulder shrug and a two step that would put your uncle at the family reunion picnic dancing to Frankie Beverly and Maze to shame. She couldn't dance worth a damn and she didn't have to. She tried during the "I'm Your Baby Tonight" period and then said ,"Nah." and never looked back. The difference between her and Mary J. Blidge is ain't no one told Mary to stop. Whitney told herself, "Nah, Nippy." That shoulder shrug and neck bob/jab/jerk to the side was born and I was blessed.
7. I distrust people who can't name at least three Whitney Houston tracks.
I don't care if it's rude. I don't care if it's ridiculous. It's life. She had a musical career that spanned over three decades. Get on board. If you tell me you love music and can't name three Whitney tracks, you can't be trusted. Them's the facts, folks.
8. I dislike (on the cusp of hate) people who start sentences with "Whitney was good but_______could be competition if..."
No. Nope. Nada. Zilch. Don't even. They could never. You wish they could. They wish they could. But they cannot. She was called "The Voice" for a reason. Don't delude or knock down your favorite that you stan for because you like to ignore the obvious. Don't put them on a pedestal that doesn't exist. Because in the words of Whitney herself it's "Impossible."
9. If there is a Whitney Houston video on the Internet webs, I have already seen it...and downloaded it.
Y'all sure do love making sure I've seen Whitney Houston videos. In fact, I encourage it because it usually leads to me going on a Whitney Houston video/music binge where I can blackout life and be absorbed in her everything. BUT....don't ask me if I've seen it. Because I have. And I saved it and backed it up on my devices. I actually bought extra Google Drive space and an external hard drive to store the videos and the tracks. So yes, I've seen it. I've heard it.
10. I haven't listened to "I Will Always Love You" all the way through since she passed away.
I can't. It's a lot to handle. I loved The Bodyguard. It hurts. It hurts to hear the voice that changed a song so drastically and transformed it into something so powerful. I've listened to almost every other track. But...it was the first track I heard on the radio when they announced she was found and my world collapsed. Ask my parents, because I'm sure they remember me crying through an entire state as they drove me back home from DC. I certainly know they remember me gasping and bursting into tears. I know they remember having to pull over at a gas station to buy overpriced headphones because mine were packed somewhere and I was inconsolable. I feel it all over again as soon as it gets to the second verse and I swiftly cut that thing off. NOPE. NOT TODAY EMOTIONAL SATAN.
So there you have it.
I love her. I always will. I'm working on another, way more lengthy and personal, Whitney Houston piece. But today is her birthday and y'all are going to get these feelings.
This blackout poetry piece comes from a friend that I met during a CoreAlign Art Moves session. It was powerful to me. I was drawn into the way he breathed the words to life.
The frustration, fears, concerns with living in a society where Black lives fear for the lives of their children before they even exist.
What kind of image is the country sending to Black America where we have people with a high level of anxiety and distrust for the people and the community that's supposed to protect and raise them?
The wrong kind.
We have to do better.
We must do better.
I called Donald Trump a middle schooler the other day on Twitter and I stand by that statement.
Here’s the reason behind that.
I’ve worked with all ages of children for over ten years. That’s ten years of tantrums, ten years of fits, ten years of fibs and ten years of small kids doing whatever it takes to be the big kids.
I love kids but they are the most frustrating age to watch over. Logic does not apply to them. They believe they know as much as the high school kids because they’re no longer the elementary school kids. They have the beginnings of independent thought and none of the brain power to make the logical steps that follow independent thought.
Basically you can’t trust pre-teens on their own. Period.
Middle school kids are when hormones come into play and they’re just testosterone and estrogen messes. They’re not used to them
Pre-teens are the ones that think they’re rich because their parents give them over $20 for their birthday. They think they’ve made it once they get a hover board or a new iPhone.
They’re allowed to be happy by nonessential things and moments in their life because adults around them know they’ll have bigger responsibilities and bigger things to deal with when they’re high schoolers.
It’s cute when people ask tiny kids what they want to be when they grow up. No one really asks what kids want to be when they grow up again until they get into high school.
You know why?
Because middle school kids aren’t ready for anything. If they can’t handle pre-algebra why would anyone trust them with job and career options?
They know too little and barely enough of everything around them.
Middle school kids can barely write a five-page paragraph, let alone make important choices that are going to impact their lives.
Pause. Let’s take a flashback to the end of my 5th grade/beginning of my 6th grade year.
Guess what 19/24 of the kids in my private school class went to the Principle’s office for?
Who was whose best friend.
There was name calling. There was finger pointing. There was pouting. There was tantrums. There was, “You’re not my friend anymore.” and “I’m telling on you.” being thrown left and right.
BECAUSE MY CLASSMATES WERE DRAMATIC MIDDLE SCHOOL AGED KIDS AND WHOEVER WAS PAYING THEM THE MOST ATTENTION WAS THEIR BEST FRIEND AT THE MOMENT.
Just like the only important thing to Donald Trump is who likes him.
He is arrogant. He is selfish. He is sexist. He is racist. He is the embodiment of rape culture. He is the definition of what a President should not be.
He is awful.
Let me break it down partnering with middle school mentality.
He has no policies. He has bullying. He has no plans. He has click-bait phrases of ridicule and hatred that go against the very core of what it is to be an American. He has no loyalties. He has financial ties to people who give him their money.
Donald Trump is unfit to President of The United States because he only cares about himself and who wants to give him attention at the moment.
People talk about high school regrets because of bad haircuts and styles.
No one talks about middle school memories and habits because we can all agree that we didn’t know enough of anything to make important decisions.
We were all embarrassments for a majority of our time during that time period.
Just like the amount of time Donald Trump has committed to the 2016 Presidential Election.
Ps. I did not go to the Principle’s office.
Greetings friends, family and overall supporters of my work!
I'm super excited to bring to you a quick way to support the work I do, while also getting the creative content that I make daily. I'm often writing on the go and I'm capturing things in my community of Chattanooga. I have a history of writing about culture, music, food, and politics. I currently write with Echoing Ida. Sometimes my work isn't for the Echoing Ida field. Which is why I've come to Scratchbang to share my work!
On this platform, I will bring the mobile photography, poetry, and other written works that I want to share.
Stay tuned for more posts coming up!
Jordan. Tennessee born and raised. Black & Queer. Advocate for equality and activist since birth.
(This bio is in the middle of getting a major update.)
Stay tuned for daily updates and in between pieces of work.