Monday, February 25, 2013

Kwah - ven - zha - nay: It's not that hard to say. Really, it's not.

Gosh, I love fearless little girls. 

Leave that baby alone!!! Enough with the name bashing and name calling.  I'm so disgusted, I'm not going to link to any of the articles that have taken over my Twitter timeline.

I know what it feels like to be judged according to how your parents chose to name you before people actually meet you. I think about my name being at the top of any paper that I write and how I will perceived before people read my thoughts and ideas.  My name isn't long or difficult to say, but it does cue you in that a brown girl is in the mix.  My name is decidedly "ethnic," born out of 1970's pseudo-Afrocentrism, and it's alright with me.

I purposely give my research participants "ethnic" names.  I cringe when people ask folks with hard to pronounce names, "Can I just call you, X?" I think it can be lazy and disrespectful. I do my damnedest to say people's names, even when my southern dialect fails me.  People deserve the effort.  As a former teacher, I learned my share of interesting names - some passed down through cultural tradition, others invented in the minds of creative parents.  I've seen students' eyes light up when I've sounded out difficult names and gotten them right.  They knew that I saw them. They felt acknowledged.  I only used nicknames when students asked.  Everyone deserves to be called what they want to be called. You don't get the right to shorten folks names if they didn't ask you to do so.  I'm glad Quevenzhane' gets people together.  Make them learn your name, baby, whether they like it or not.

Here's to the Quevenzhanes of the world.  If folks can get Les Miserables right and can accept people naming their children Apple, I'll be damned if we can't sound out her name and say it and ACCEPT it.  Hell, she created a video to help us.

Until next time. . . get her name right! May she rock on with her little flexed biceps and puppy purses!

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