Refined and Fly

Sunday, October 22, 2006

WHAT'S IN A NAME: SELF-DEFINITION






1:36 My name is W.F. Muhammad

Peace! The weekend of the first Show and Prove that I attended, I was still doing the knowledge to the culture (checking things out). I remember a conversation me and my god had in a New Jersey parking lot regarding two things that are imperative to our culture: wearing 3/4 and changing my name...2 things I was fairly resistant to. After embracing 3/4, I had to come to grips with choosing what we call, a righteous name. At the time, I just didn't see the importance of it. I thought it should be enough for people to recognize who I am through my deeds...the kind of person I am, how I interact with people, and my activities that positively impact others. I also thought of what seemed to be the inconvenience of having to tell everyone that I knew my chosen name and the reasons why, and some of the grey areas (what should I put on resumes and business cards, how do I sign important documents or checks, etc.). I didn't want to go through an entire dissertation with every single person I encountered about why I changed my name. After a good hour of a fairly heated exchange, the god simply stated,"This is a part our culture and you can either accept it or reject it."

"Accept it or reject it," I questioned in my mind. No compromises? No knowledging 120 and keeping my honorable name? No meeting me half way? I have to change my clothes and my name too? I know I cried at some point that evening. But eventually, I had to start questioning my attachment to it. Part of my unwillingness to let it go was due to how I was named. My father wanted to name me Samantha, but my mother rejected that due to her thinking people would call me Sam. So they decided to let two of my older brothers, Willie and Tony, name me. My brother Willie chose my first name, and Tony chose my middle name. They wanted a little sister so bad and they were very proud to be involved in naming me. I always thought that was special and I was proud of that as well. Nonetheless, I decided to accept the name change as part of the process, considering it a worthy sacrifice to make, and the understanding came later.

I soon understood how empowering it is to choose a name for yourself based on qualities you currently or strive to embody. I understood that throughout the process of our enslavement, that was a key aspect of our identity that was taken from us. Unfortunately, in 2006, the process of naming a child doesn't seem to have as much meaning. We may name a child something that just sounds good, a name where it won't be too hard for them to get a job, or after a relative (no disrespect), or hell, even after our favorite drinks (I helped mentor a girl named Tequila, named after her mother's favorite drink)! We give our children names without knowing the meaning of those words or their significance or lack thereof. I also began to see it as a great segway into conversation about the Nation of Gods and Earths, specfically Nation History, with a name like Medina. I would have short and long versions of the breakdown of my name and the Nation History to go with it, which provided teachable moments for people I interacted with who never heard of the Nation of Gods and Earths. I used it as an opportunity for a form of public relations, if you will, so that with me, my co-workers, children I work with, friends, whomever, can say they at least know one person in the Nation of Gods and Earths.

Through building and elevating, I began to see that your name gives you a legacy to live out. It helps chart our path, good or bad. It holds you accountable for being that which you claim to be and is a significant aspect of living out the reality of being God or Earth. If my name is I Medina Peaceful Earth, then I am held accountable to living out the reality of being a warrior, who brings balance and homeostasis, and creates an environment that fosters growth and development in others (this is the short version). That is a heavy responsibility.

Medina, was a name that had been with me for quite some time, prior to getting knowledge of self. While reading through the book, 'The Life and Times of Muhammad," on a sunny afternoon in Cali, I reached the chapter where it talked about the Hijra and Medina, and there was a beautiful picture of the mosque where the Prophet Muhammad was buried. I thought the name was so beautiful, and the story so significant, that if I had a daughter in the future, I would name her Medina. Years later, after building with the God, he thought that was a name that suited me, being a warrior for children and the land of understanding. I am a loyal person, so whatever I am a part of, once I really cee it, I advocate it and will fight for it. I also learned about the history of the nation in Medina (Brooklyn, NY) and went back to the names' origins in Islamic history (the City...the space where hubs of activity are taking place, productivity) While drawing up a name, I couldn't think of a name that suited me better. I added on "Peaceful" because that is a quality that is frequently assigned to me by others, and I've always been a fairly calm person who enjoys being in places and spaces of peace. I wanted to be a person who was able to bring peace to chaos, whether it was within self, friends, family on the street, children I work with, etc. I added on the "I" as a magnet to the qualities after it, self realization and definition, and to be bonded to my God and his universe.

After choosing my righteous name, I first told those in my local Power Born cipher, and then my close friends. They accepted it with open arms. Next came the gig...I had to tell my supervisors, my co-workers, and all of the children that I work with. It took a little getting used to, as there were many slip ups in staff meetings and at the water cooler, and some of the children stated, "I like your other name better!" However, they got used to it, and some of the children now proudly state my entire name when they are calling me. After I got that out of the way, it was time to make the call...my beloved Old Earth. I was dreading this cuz I knew this was about to be some shit. I had made her, my father and brothers fully aware of my transition into the Nation, but I knew she wasn't ready for this megaton bomb...

It was one of the hardest conversations I have ever had.

I cried, and she sounded like she was on the verge of tears. She boldly told me, " I just don't see my self calling you that...you will always be my little "Honorable Name Goes Here" to me. Well, I'll let you tell your father." Even as I cried, the loving mother that she is, told me that I was going to have to be strong and stand on my principles, and I couldn't be afraid or apprehensive of telling anyone where I stand and why...not even her. It was at that point that I realized her hardship. My name is associated with my identity. She still sees me as a certain person, but since we live in different states, she has not been able to fully see my transformation and how much I am embraced. She doesn't see that every other person I interact with calls me by my righteous name, so she still sees me as her little girl. I'm sympathetic and have a certain level of understanding.

However, there is an issue when family members, friends or just people who have known you for a while refuse to call you by your righteous name. It is oppressive! I know you've heard those conversations..."He says his name is Malik, but I'ma still call him Joe Johnson! That's what his mama named him!" Shoot, I've even done it so I know how it is. They are trying to maintain their image of you when you've changed and accepted yourself. It goes against the natural flow of a person's growth and development by trying to hold them in that space. And although they may love that person, it only makes things harder for them.

Ultimately, what happens is that a person will get annoyed by hearing their honorable name over and over again (any time I attend family functions in Cali) to the point where it's hard for them to be there. So, would you rather have the person's presence with their new name, or stick with the old name and identity, but gradually see the person less and less due to your lack of acceptance of said person's chosen identity and self-definition? And most times in these situations, it is the people who are closest to you (your physical fam) who oppress you the most and outright refuse to accept you. Even with international figures such as El Hajj Malik Shabazz...most people still insist on refering to him as Malcolm X, but throughout his growth and development he took on a new identity, and with that came a new name, which was the name he had when he returned to the essence. He should be more widely acknowledged as that, because that is how he saw himself in the last phase of his life.

Now, with that said, if you want to be taken seriously by others, then you have to live your name out. Everything starts with self. You can't be contradictory. For example, if your name is Peaceful Serenity, you shouldn't be out at the bar fighting every weekend. Every time I encounter situations where I am afraid, I remember my name, and know that I have to face whatever challenge lies before me, and build to be victorious.

These days and times, my mother gets an A for effort for at least trying to refer to me as Medina. When she writes letters, she'll write my honorable name/ my righteous name/ my rap name (AngelEye). It's kind of funny. But she is at least trying to come to an understanding.


PEACE

I Medina Peaceful Earth, reflecting the light of I Majestic Allah

4 Comments:

  • At 12:32 PM, Blogger Divine Culture Allah said…

    Earth, outstanding. Thank you dearly for this article--it is highly appreciated:

    1.) I can relate in a way that I can't even verbarate (my history). In fact, your God, my bruva, took me throught IT about the dynamic naming aspect of our nation!!!!

    2.) It is an excellent teaching tool I can use for a couple of students I have.

    Understanding definitely comes in time.

    Build beautiful,

    Yo bruva...44 Allah

     
  • At 1:47 PM, Blogger I Majestic said…

    Peace,

    Very insightful post about how we live this out. A person's name is central to our identity; look no further than Black people in America for evidence of the confusion that can emerge when what you are named gives no direction to your conduct/mission in life.

    I'm already shining & looking like new money, b.u.t. I gotta say that you show the Power of what we live through your Wisdom & Understanding! Keep spinning & glowing!

    I Majestic Allah

     
  • At 10:07 AM, Blogger Kathe X said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 10:10 AM, Blogger Kathe X said…

    Peace!

    I want to say that I had dwelled on the naming of my child for at least three months. I was looking for a meaningful name for a boy... Tahj Reinald!

    BUT...I had a beautiful little princess...meaning her dad wanted to name her. He told me many months in advance that he would like to name her AAliyah. I researched the name because I did not want to simply name her that for the sake of naming her after the artist.

    I found the meaning to be one that I would embrace...AAliyah - to ascend or go up. A quality that I would want her to uphold. Mya - of God was a name I chose. Which she truly was, because until I realized she was growing inside me I was not living righteously at all. She help transform me and still is... (Smile!)

    As I read your blog, I realized, that I too deserve to have a righteous name. I, like you had, have an undeniable attachment to my name. I have a twin sister and our names rhyme. She was born first, I was a surprise (my mother did not know she was having twins). So I got the rhymed name. I know that this name was not one that was carefully thought out specifically for me. It's not as bad as the naming a child after a favorite alcholic beverage, but not carefully chosen as I had done with my own princess.

    At this point, I do not have a clue as to my perfect righteous name, but I know as I become more in tune with my oneness with God, it will come to me. Your article has helped me embrace this idea.

    Thanks!
    Peace and Blessings
    Kathe X

     

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