Tag Archives: names

Let’s Talk About Names: Ali, hooks, Lee Boggs

By Guest Contributor Sarah J. Jackson; originally published at Are Women Human?

Naming and Politics

Prof. Sarah J. Jackson

In February 1964, Cassius Clay became the heavyweight champion of the world. A month later, he changed his name to Muhammad Ali. For months–in some cases years–journalists, members of the boxing establishment, and occasionally his competitors refused to call Ali by his new name. Grant Farred (2003) contends that Ali’s name change was “simultaneously an act of negation (denial of his slave name) and self-construction (adoption of his Islamic name), both…the acquisition of an unprecedented ideological agency.” (28)

The controversy that erupted over Ali’s name then hinged largely on the perceived ideological danger of a black man in America refusing “safe” narratives of black masculinity and politics. Ali’s choice to rename himself, alongside his conversion to Islam, and later refusal to serve in Vietnam were treated as anti-American, threatening, and unstable. The social and economic consequences were years of denigration in the press, alongside a formal ban from boxing in the United States.

In what can only be described as a combination of social and political progress and severe historical amnesia, Ali is now commonly lauded as an American hero with little acknowledgement from the media of the ways he was socially disciplined for his decisions. Contemporary constructions of Ali rarely discuss in any detail the anti-colonial politics that lead to his dissent around Vietnam or the domestic racial politics that lead to his identification with the Nation of Islam and name change. Ali’s identity then continues to be shaped by forces outside of himself, but the necessary negotiations around it have left a lasting mark on the way our country understands sports, politics, and race.

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Meanwhile, On TumblR: The Quvenzhané Wallis Edition

By Andrea Plaid

Quvenzhané Wallis. Photo: Koury Angelo for milkmade.com.

Quvenzhané Wallis. Photo: Koury Angelo for milkmade.com.

After Hollywood and the press unapologetically–and The Onion apologetically–showed their asses to actor Quvenzhané Wallis on her big night at the Oscars, even more people showed their love and support for the young one. PostBourgie’s Brokey McPoverty says this about Hollywood’s refusal to even pronounce Wallis’ name:

Refusing to learn how to pronounce Quvenzhané’s name says, pointedly, you are not worth the effort. The problem is not that she has an unpronounceable name, because she doesn’t. The problem is that white Hollywood, from Ryan Seacrest and his homies to the AP reporter who decided to call her “Annie” rather than her real name, doesn’t deem her as important as, say, Renee Zellwegger, or Zach Galifinakis, or Arnold Schwarzenegger, all of whom have names that are difficult to pronounce–but they manage. The message sent is this: you, young, black, female child, are not worth the time and energy it will take me to learn to spell and pronounce your name. You will be who and what I want you to be; you be be who and what makes me more comfortable. I will allow you to exist and acknowledge that existence, but only on my terms.

 

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What’s in a Name? Your Job!

by Guest Contributor Sobia, originally published at Muslim Lookout

CTV News recently reported on a BC based study in which it was found that Canadians with English names have a better chance of getting a job than do people with non-English, specifically Chinese, Pakistani, or Indian, names. CTV News reports

In fact, after sending out thousands of resumés, the study found those with an English name like Jill Wilson and John Martin received 40 per cent more interview callbacks than the identical resumés with names like Sana Khan or Lei Li.

“If employers are engaging in name-based discrimination, they may be contravening the Human Rights Act,” said the study’s author, Philip Oreopoulos, economics professor at the University of B.C. “They may also be missing out on hiring the best person for the job.”

The study also found that the only way the applicants could improve their chances of a callback was to state they had Canadian or British experience.

And before one thinks this may have something to do with acculturation or language issues some new immigrants may have, the study’s author suspects that even second and third generation immigrants are at a “significant disadvantage” if they have a Chinese, Indian or Pakistani name (great – I guess my Pakistani name is going to be trouble for me after all). However, not as much as their parents or grandparents may be. I guess, it’s all in the name. Continue reading

Representative Betty Brown Doesn’t “Want to Learn Chinese” to Say Your Name

by Latoya Peterson

Representative Betty Brown of Texas made waves yesterday by requesting that Asian voters “adopt a name we could deal with” when voting and filling out identification forms. The “we” specifically means meant Americans – but obviously, in Brown’s world, there are no Americans of Asian decent.

The Houston Chronicle notes
:

“Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese — I understand it’s a rather difficult language — do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?” Brown said.

Brown later told Ko: “Can’t you see that this is something that would make it a lot easier for you and the people who are poll workers if you could adopt a name just for identification purposes that’s easier for Americans to deal with?”

In reading over this article, three things jumped to mind:

Issue One: Problem was, most of these people were already using two names:

Ko told the committee that people of Chinese, Japanese and Korean descent often have problems voting and other forms of identification because they may have a legal transliterated name and then a common English name that is used on their driver’s license on school registrations.


Issue Two:
Ko, brought up people of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean descent. They all got lumped into “Chinese” when she gave her answer.

Issue Three:
There is already a problem with Asian American voters being disenfranchised for various reasons. This comment may actually work out to be something positive for Asian American voters as Brown’s ignorant remarks brought attention to a measure that would have normally flown under the radar.

UPDATE: Readers PPR Scribe and Sukjong note that there is a fourth issue at play.

Issue Four: Brown’s comments help to reinforce the common stereotype that Asian-Americans are perpetual foreigners, that these citizens who are trying to exercise their right to vote are not “real Americans.”

Obviously, Brown denies any racism in her comment. Her spokesman Jordan Berry notes:

Berry said Democrats are trying to blow Brown’s comments out of proportion because polls show most voters support requiring identification for voting. Berry said the Democrats are using racial rhetoric to inflame partisan feelings against the bill.

“They want this to just be about race,” Berry said.

Typical.

Feel free to let Betty Brown’s office know what you think (politely people, make sure you say something that can go into an official record):

Email: betty.brown@house.state.tx.us
Office #s:
(512) 463-0458
(903) 675-9500


(Thanks to readers Kameelah, Cherrie, McKeeKee, and Brinstar for the tip!)


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