Reclamation, remembrance and self-determination
March 31, 2022 10:56 AM   Subscribe

They communicate that we know ourselves, that we know the country, that we have long memories and that we will not shut up. What’s in a Black name? 400 years of context.
posted by youarenothere (4 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Great article, thanks for sharing!
posted by flamk at 12:09 PM on March 31

To rejoice in one's own name is a foundation of strength and joy.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 3:59 PM on March 31

I love all the people who found great names for themselves.
posted by blueberry monster at 8:50 AM on April 1

This is so good and goes to all the places I hoped it would. Engaging with not just slavery, but Black queerness and transness, the intersection between Islamaphobia and anti-Blackness, women's liberation (<3 Tina), and so much more.

I've always been fascinated by this. My family's name almost certainly comes from former owners, and I've always been intrigued by those who chose to go another way. I think there's a power in (re-)claiming a name, but there's also power in selecting a new one. I'm proud of my name because it represents all the family I love and who raised me. But also, I'm a "IV"; as in I have the same name as my three previous male ancestors on the patrilineal side. The nickname by which I've always been referred to (also the same shortening of "Nathaniel" to "Nat") is also commonly used by women (shortening Natalie, Natasha, etc.). But it's also got a history with Black men specifically (Turner, King Cole). It's also my initials! I've enjoyed engaging with it on all these levels, but also…

When I was a high school freshman way back in 1993, my science and technology magnet school gave us access to AutoCAD, where I learned that the "@" symbol was an "at" (we got access to email for the first time, through the school, soon after that). From that moment on, I have only ever really referred to myself internally by the mononym "N@", which has become my own single and singular identifier ever since. It's uniquely* who I am, and gender neutral (elements of Prince, who was also biracial like me), while still honoring the history of the name/my family and maintaining the connections to all those things. Pity it's not a valid username on 99.9% of the Internet (or maybe that's for the best?).

It's been a multi-decade journey of self-identification and exploration of what an identity means, and I wish all my fellows the same level of delight in self-actualization. Having a name that means who you are is a powerful thing in a world that is constantly undermining you through marginalization, microaggressions, and macroaggressions. It is a means through which to acquire the power to simply Be.

* Yes, there are other N@s, even on this site. I welcome them! But also, in my mind, I'll always be the first and the most wholehearted to embrace it. =P
posted by Eideteker at 10:08 AM on April 1 [4 favorites]

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