Why Come We Gotsta Be So Mean?
Note: This baby don't look nut-ting like the childrens I'm fixin'a talk about but rock wit' me.
Forgive me as I have a TMI moment but we’re all friends in here & friends keep it 1 hunnid…right? So, I think I’ve mentioned it but I’ve developed a work allergy that seems to only affect my gastrointestinal tract. Every morning I’m uncertain just how the idea of going to the place of my employment will cause my body to respond. Usually, just as I’m approaching the door to leave I’m struck by the BG’s (see your Dave Chappelle manual) & have to go racing back to the restroom. Mind you, on days that are NOT related to work—ie weekends, summertime, mental health days or vacation days—my body works just fine as it always has. You do the math.
Inteeways…as I was going about my general routine this morning, purely unrelated to work allergies, I remembered a story about a student who was emotional because students were clowning her name & turning it into something that actually does occur in bathrooms—assuming you can make it. Let ya mind run free. Needless to say, that got me to wondering WHY do summa us give our childrens such ridiculous names?
Depending on who you are, you could make the assumption that my name is ridiculous. All 4, yes I said FO’, of my names are of African origin. & while they may not be easy to pronounce, they do have MEANING. They are not a random wheel spinning or dart throwing on letters & playing Soul Train Scramble Board to come up with somethin’ mo’ uniquer than what yo name is. That ain’t how it went down. I was named with purpose & intention. Even with all that thought put into it, my name was still mispronounced by my PUBLIC SCHOOL teachers all the time. My name became the world’s largest & most populous continent. Which led me, as I showered, to another thought. Summa the stuff we as colo’d folks do is as a result of being displaced people. This concept becomes most apparent to me during the World Cup when a lot of brown people in the U.S. don’t have the slightest idea who to root for because there’s no country we can actually claim a true sense of belonging. You don’t know pride til you see the Italians riding around the city, taking over bars, in the name of Italy on the field. & most of ‘em have never been. Still, they have that sense of pride. We ain’t got it.
What do we do, in search of a sense of home? We name our children after places we’ve either never been or the only place we’ve ever been. How many girls with military parents are out there named Korea? Have you ever met an Asian woman name Asia? Any takers on a little Mexican girl name Mexica? Run across any Russian women named Russia? EN. OH. How many little brown girls are there named after the entire continents of Asia & Africa? We name our daughters London & Paris. Thank you, self, for the perfect segue-way to the other insane thing we do. Shata’Naylédaziä ain’t French just cuz you tossed around some accent marks and apostrophes like bacon bits on a salad. We OD on accent marks. Parlez vu Francais? NO!! So stop it!! & just in case you were unclear, an apostrophe & an accent mark ARE NOT THE SAME, & you use both incorrectly. Choosing actual ethnic names tends to be OK but the sounds used to spell them are typically phonetic, except for the occasions you run into things like “dz” sounding like a “j.” These things, however, are a rare occurrence. What’s wrong with choosing from the plethora of names already in the rotation, assigned meanings in other cultures, & that meet the rules of the language you speak?
Come on people. Work with us. As a teacher, I can’t pronounce the names without assistance because they follow NO PHONETIC rules for the language we speak. I can’t protect your child from children teasing her about her name sounding like a function of the body…in the bathroom…when it’s what I came up with as I tried to sound it out. I cannot assist in building confidence & pride in something that has already caused me to give you, the name-giver, the kind of side-eye that eventually leads to them crossing.
Even with ethnic names that have meaning it can be difficult. The up side is that when you are eventually old enough to understand how it relates to the person you are & are becoming, there is a sense of pride (& purpose) that you can identify with that allows you to say your name with head held high & voice unwavering. There is no such possibility with a name that’s reminiscent of the mud butts (again…consult your Dave Chappelle manual).
Can we love folks enough not to assign them such hateful names that they must carry their whole lives until their old enough to race down to a courthouse & change that mess to something that makes even a lil’ bit of sense? Spread love, not war.
Watch me move.