Thursday, October 12, 2006

About African-Americans and the "Motherland"

Part One: The following is my opinion of how I have perceived things in the past and now in the present:

It should be noted that this post is not meant to offend anyone or any race -- it is just my perception of how I viewed this subject as I grew up.

Last week I overheard someone on the radio ask why African Americans name their babies such names as: Tyshika, Nakeisha, Deiondre, Tanisha, LaTisha and so on. I was unable to listen long enough to hear a response to that.

Therefore, here is my response, or opinion. Years ago, the Black community accepted the fact that their ancestors are from Africa. I would say that there was probably a time that we were not too proud of that. Whenever there were films shown about the African people, especially in school, they were poorly dressed, the females running around half naked, people living in huts, giving us the impression of an uncivilized place of uncivilized people who wore what looked like large wooden ear-rings in their noses and circular or oval pieces of wood in their lips or they just plain had big lips. The impressions of the African people we saw back in our days were embarrassing. We did not have the privilege of seeing the part of Africa where there are offices, schools, homes and where the country looks like any other part of the world and is beautiful.

At that time, the "negro" or "black" population did not realize that our ancestors were from Africa, thus making us have African blood running through our veins. I can remember when we became aware of the fact, that we were decedents of Africa and became proud of it. Therefore, it became our privilege to learn of that part of our heritage, and this became publicly known around the country. As a part of becoming proud of our ancestry, we became "African-Americans" instead of "negros" and decided it was time to take on names that were similar to African names. This was a part of our pride, again, our acceptance of our heritage; we belonged to a group of people. The African people are beautiful, intellegent,suffocated; a proud people. Actually the names are beautiful; they may be hard to spell and pronounce but those names represent us as a black African race of people. We need to be accepting of those names because they identify us as a people.

Unrelated circumstance: Speaking of senior moments: I generally call my phone at home or at work to remind myself not to forget to do this or that. This past week, I called my phone mail twice to leave a message not to forget something but forgot was I was going to remind myself to do.


Blogger David Cho said...

Good post.

I am from a fiercely nationalistic country, but after having lived here for years, I have come to conclude that one's nationality is nothing really to be proud of.

I didn't do anything to "earn" my nationality, so why should I be proud of it?

And it is nothing to be ashamed of either. Again, I didn't do anything to born into an ethnic group which some may look down on, so why should I be ashamed of it.

It is a delicate balancing act, I think. As to people giving their kids African names, I think it's fine. It just makes their names difficult to remember for one thing.

The tipping point for me is when it fosters the us-against-them mindset which is always counter-productive. Nobody wins. Not us or them. Nobody.

12:00 PM  
Blogger The Gig said...

An interesting comment indeed. You were born into a nationality that you should be proud of because you are you and no matter what your race or creed, I believe it's really important how you, yourself represent your people. Thanks Cho, Cho

3:05 PM  
Blogger David Cho said...

Well, I don't know if I am representing my people. I only speak for myself, and everything that I do is a reflection of me, not others.

At least that is the way I try to look at it. If I represent my people, then they are in deep trouble.

1:11 AM  
Blogger The Gig said...

I understand what you are saying. I don't think your people are in deep trouble; you seem to be a very pleasant and I know a religious young man.

What I meant about "representing your people" is just how we represent Christ. Some people think bad of all Christians by what one or a few others do. Jesus wants us to live our lives so that people can see him in us.

6:38 AM  
Blogger Rose said...

This is a great post. As African Americans I think that we should be able to name our babies anything we want. I only get offended when we name them after a street drug or something dehumanizing. When African Americans name their children that is something that express how proud they are of their cultures. I just hate that it is another way that white American has figured out how to use these names to screen out people from getting jobs. Another form of discrimination.

2:18 PM  
Blogger The Gig said...

Wow Rose, I was unaware that our names have been used to screen out people from getting jobs. Also I was unaware that people are naming their kids after street drug, etc. You comment is quite informational.

4:03 PM  
Blogger Oricon Ailin said...

Well, I agree to a certain degree. You see, the way I see things is, we are American first and foremost.

Unless we were born in Africa, Korea, Spain, Mexico, Germany, etc...then we truly can't call ourselves "African-American", "Spanish-American", "Korean-American", etc. If we were born here, then we are AMERICAN...plain and simple.

Now, it is always a good thing to remember your heritage and traditions. But, we should not use those things for anything else other than to remember our ancestors.

Now, on the side of discrimination, I am speaking from the "white" persuasion. I was rejected many scholarships and sponsorships for college because I had a "white" name. Umm, excuse me, but my parents were just as poor as anyone else.

I think that my grades and achievements should have been what they were looking for. Not just someone to meet their quota.

5:19 PM  
Blogger Brotha Buck said...

I've read where studies show that children with off the wall names aren't as successful. And, I understand why. I visit schools often, so I come across some of the sillest, intentionally misspelled names. I remember one kid, when I asked him his name, said it was Charles. All through my presentation, I referred to him as Charles. A teacher pulls me aside and told me this poor child's name. I can't remember it, and couldn't spell it if I wanted to. This child will have to go through life with some silly, made up, misspelled name. He'll have to write it on job applications and so forth. I understand trying to be...I don't know...ethnic, or whatever. But people should at least do some research into the names that they are going to hang on a child for the rest of their lives. I recently met a young lady at a business conference. When she told me her name, I couldn't help but laugh. She had no idea what I was laughing about. Can you imagine how many people don't take this lady seriously with a name that she has to practically spit on you to pronounce?

6:16 PM  
Blogger African girl, American world said...

My name is not made up but it is african with a meaning and therfore different. It is not a child's fault and laughing at one's name no matter how ridiculous we may think it is, is not helping anyone.

It saddens me that even now almost 2007, there are many African-Americans who are still embarrased by Africans.

Bottom line, embrace your name and culture.

7:28 AM  
Blogger Brotha Buck said...

African girl: Your case is a bit different. Your name is African, and I'm willing to bet behind the name is something meaningful.And, it's probably spelled correctly in whatever language it pertains to. I'm talking about something completely different. I have a relative who wanted to give her child a name with five syllables, a hyphen and an accent mark. That was her first name; she thought it was cute. Thankfully we talked her out of it, though she still chose to spell it...creatively.

7:59 PM  
Blogger The Gig said...

Oricon: Yes, we are American, but just like some Indians, they call themselves "American Indians." Years ago when our ancestors were slaves, they had to take on the names of their masters; therefore, not really knowing who they are. Therefore some years ago, we accepted the fact that we had ancestors from Africa and became African-AMERICANS.

Gosh, Ori - it seems as though I may have hit a nerve with you, which I definitely didn't mean to do with anyone. Sorry if I offended you.

8:13 PM  
Blogger African girl, American world said...

Buck. I knew what you were saying. I've seen such names and of course the Lexus' and Escalades' of the world are not far behind which is sad BUT I feel sorry for these kids who had nothing to do with it and still have to go through life with said name.

8:11 AM  
Blogger The Gig said...

But... look at names in other cultures. They are equally as hard to spell and pronounce, and they must live with their names too. I just see us moving forward with identifying who we are.

2:54 PM  
Blogger Oricon Ailin said...

Oh no, Mz. Gig, you have nothing to apologize for. You didn't hit a nerve with me at all. No worries at all. I promise.

It was hard for me to type what I was trying to say. I don't mind people being proud of their's just that I consider us ALL Americans if we live here in the USA. We are a melting pot of various heritages and cultures. *smiles*

I wish I knew how to put it into words, the things I was thinking on this topic. I just mean to say that we should have to distinguish our "nationality". We should just be proud to call ourselves "American." Plain and simple.

Trust me, Mz. didn't offend me at all. In fact, I think many of the African names are beautiful, some are a bit strange, but beautiful in their own right.

12:47 PM  
Blogger Oricon Ailin said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:50 PM  
Blogger Oricon Ailin said...

I meant to say:

"we shouldn't have to distinguish our 'nationality'..."

I'm sorry about the typo. *smiles*

12:50 PM  
Blogger The Gig said...

Thanks Ori -- you are fine. I understand what you were saying. God Bless you. *hugs*

9:51 PM  
Blogger Lauren said...

Senior moments....Chris does that all the time (call his phone to remind himself to do something). He actually carries on conversations with himself too on the's actually kind of scary!

On the note of names....I believe names can really show someone's heritage & I believe that a name is matter the circumstance. So I agree with you, Gig. I hope you're doing well.


6:21 AM  
Blogger The Gig said...

Lauren -- it is so good to hear from you. I have been missing you and Chris. Thanks for the comment.

1:28 PM  
Blogger Friar Tuck said...

If you want to read about name discrimination with jobs, the research is in the book FREAKONOMICS.

Did you know I had dinner with David a week or two ago. It was a lot of fun.

I think you should ask David if David was his given name, or a name he chose to go by since he immigrated to America.

3:28 PM  

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