Call me by MY name
Recently I referred to an offhand comment made (in the workplace) to a friend about her last name as ‘charming racism’. My statement being that it’s really not that charming -_- I jokingly told her not to punch anyone in the face, and she laughingly agreed that not committing assault because of a passing comment is a sane thing to do. We shared a ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ and a digital sigh over social media; because what else can you do sometimes? End of story, until the next time right?
We were told (via social media) that we “chicks need to take up kickboxing or something to work out (our) anger issues.” . . . Really? Who was angry? Those of us on the receiving end of a constant barrage of micro-agressions can’t afford to be angry. It’s too exhausting. We’re just tired. This gentleman also asked “why is this about racism?”.I’ll tell you why, because my friend and I are both beautiful brown gals with very European last names. O_O Are you not shocked? Good for you! You’re a decent human being who understands how the Melting Pot of America works! We should hang out.
Howeverrrrrrrrr, there is a rather large percentage of humans, whose brains simply cannot reconcile non-white skin with a last name that ends in a vowel or starts with Fitz, Mc, or D’. Being inquisitive creatures, humans want to know just how this came to be. So they ask. No, they don’t ask, they demand. Not realizing that we are people, not objects in a museum to be Google-d; Jeopardy rules don’t apply, and nothing is phrased in the form of a question.
Questions become accusations. You must be married. Coleen huh? Nice Irish name! >>followed by expectant waiting for me to explain my existence<< That’s your married name right? How’d you wind up with that name heh heh heh? And my personal favourite: Really?
I don’t know everything. But I know my fucking name.
It’s not always malicious, 98% of the time the person simply finds it interesting. Kind of like when you see a set of pink powertools. It’s not something you come across every day and because everyone thinks they star in their own reality show, they need to comment on it.
Right around the 6,437th time you have to explain “no, that’s the name I was born with” it wears on your soul. No one believes you about something as simple as your name. They discount you as a person. As if your identity can’t possibly be yours, or you are somehow undeserving of it. Even the innocuous comments feel aggressive and invasive.
My name becomes an expensive purse that strangers on the street perpetually investigate: WHERE’D YOU GET THAT?! IS IT YOURS?? >>implied side eye<<
In this, as in all matters of interpersonal communication, if you have a question, ask. But speak to me, to all of us, to each other, like human beings. If you want to know if I’m part Irish, ask: Coleen? Great Irish name. Are you part Irish or mom just liked the name? If I, or the human you are speaking to doesn’t feel like elaborating, accept it. I’m not Alexa, I’m flesh and blood. You can’t just scream WHERE DO YOU COME FROM? in my face and expect a detailed answer. Though I am a fine work of art, (translation: beautful disaster) every person I meet is not entitled to my provenance.