Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I Changed My Name

There are times when we just want to change our name. Maybe people have just been calling it too much, and we want silence or a vacation. Maybe people butcher our name and we get tired of the bone sawing sound, or of making corrections like a broken record. Maybe we're so happy to have a partner,confirmed by law or extralegal ritual,we want to add their name, or delete the one we got from our daddies. Note, this only applies to women. It occurs to me to wonder what it would be like if partners of same or different genders each added the name of the other. And sometimes, we just find that another name represents more fully who we are or hope to be.

That brings me to the new name of my blog, Darker than Blue. I think it captures more clearly the focus here. I took Darker than Blue from the Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions song We People Who Are Darker Than Blue, which speaks to the need of Black people to "tell the whole story," to deal with the self-destructive actions that persist even as "we've come a long way." I loved Curtis' music,his butter smooth voice, the messages he had for us, and the jamming, sometimes slow jamming band.

Names are symbolic magic. They are a product of creation and they create in turn. You can often tell an African-American name because there is so much creativity in it. Before people began choosing African names for their children, parents would often take parts of the name of a famous president, like Franklin Delano Jones. Sometimes we'd laugh at this, but we understood what was going on. His parents were imbuing him with the power to do grand things, and we could feel the love. We have instinctively known that names matter -- they can empower, reflect our sparkle,and even carry us -- and they can cut us down.

When we call something dark in the English language, and once you pay attention to it you realize how frequently it's done, the meaning is usually a variant of evil, dirty, death, bad guy, painful, or tragic. I do not see how we can release racism from the cellular level of internalization while continuing to associate and symbolize darkness, the absence of light or a shade of pigment, in this way.

And so, Darker than Blue, celebrates the shade, the People, the time of day --night, as deep, rich with vibrancy and possibilities to be explored.

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