Friday, August 8, 2008

What's in a Name?

What’s in a name? We all were given our names for a reason—be it a family name, a name with a special meaning, or a name that was just made up by innovative parents. Whatever the reason, names often define who we are.

For hundreds of years black people in America have been called all sorts of names—slave, three-fifths, colored, Negro, nigger, black, Afro-American, African American, boy, George, gator bait, Ann, ape, Aunt Jemima, Buffie, coon, crow, gable, jigaboo, Jim Crow, jungle bunny, Leroy, Macaca, monkey, mosshead, mustard seed, nig-nog, nig-jig, nigra, powder burn, quashie, Sambo, smoked Irish, sooty, tar baby, thicklips, Uncle Tom, and host of other names that were used by America to try and define a “race” of people (go to wikipedia for a full list of ethnic slurs and their meanings). Black people have now been able to define for themselves what it means to be black in America. With the emergence of Hip Hop there has been much controversy surrounding the word nigger—who can say it, who can’t say it. Many of the names black people have been called over the years have been offensive at best and totally negate the sticks and stones malarkey we all grew up hearing. But I do believe in the wise words of many elders and Whoopi Goldberg when she says, “It’s not what you’re called, but what you answer to honey.”

So why ask the question what’s in a name now? Well, I have two reasons really. First the use of names in the current presidential race and second the younger generation’s attempt to relate through a total lack of respect. I know Hillary is no longer in the race, but I’m going to throw her up in the mix because this applies to her as well. Read the full article on Divine Caroline.


Christie Crowder said...

Very timely and so true! I am one of those who gets mad when someone calls me ma'am. One of these days I will come to grips with that I am in fact of "ma'am" age and need to get over it!! Great work as always and I await your next piece!!