Kujichagulia: Self Determination – To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
My daughter has an unusual name. It is literally something her biological parents made up so she’d have the same initials as her older brother. She will never find a personalized mug with her name, and when she looks at baby name books she gets sad because her name is “meaningless.” I told her that SHE would give meaning to her name. The person she becomes will be how her name is remembered.
She liked this idea. Carefully watching her words and deeds, so as not to give bad meaning to her name. She started saving for college at 9. She’s decided on Harvard or Yale if she can get scholarships. If not, she’ll go to community college until she can transfer to a university. She wants her name to mean “smart and successful.”
This fall, she refused corn rows or extensions in her hair. She’s rockin’ a carefully managed Afro, adorned with bands and clips of her own design. Her choice of clothing is bright and sparkly and modest. She wants her name to mean “naturally beautiful lady.”
She tries very hard to be helpful and kind and considerate of others. She wants her name to mean “good.”
Then we looked up her name on Facebook. It seems quite a few parents made up the same name. I watched her face grow more determined as we looked through every profile. “So…apparently…right now my name means nasty stupid ghetto. I guess I’ve got a lotta work to do.” Ouch! Yeah…my 11-year-old is pretty confident.