The Power of a Name
Welcome or welcome back to Discussions with Dede! I will never stop thanking you guys for always reading and subscribing. I am truly grateful for our community! So, Valentine’s Day was last weekend and y’all looked cute, all boo'ed up or whateva. Listen, I ain’t mad at it, love in the time of corona is a beautiful and weird thing. I love seeing love, especially black love. You guys want to know what I did. Well, I’m gonna tell you anyways. I put on my 90’s black love playlist, ate some good food, watched some of my favorite black rom-coms and called it a day. Idc if that's boring, I very much enjoyed that thank you very much. I saw some of y’all met your #Clubhousebae, thats cute girl. Listen if you like it, I love it thats all imma say. Just stay safe that's all.
In honor of Black History month, I want to talk about the power of a name. Let me give you some context, my name is Osamede ( oh- sah- meh- day) and it comes from Nigeria. It is a Edo name, which is a tribe in Nigeria, that means “ God is greater than the crown”. For as long as I can remember, I have always been called Dede, everybody calls me that. Now, I have always known my full name is Osamede but I was never called that unless I was in trouble or something. At school, my government name was on the attendance list but in parentheses was Dede, so some people were a little confused by that. I remember I used to be so embarrassed when I heard that little pause in the attendance list because I knew my name was next and that my teacher was going to butcher it. When I was a kid, I never really used to correct people on how to say my name. I felt like it was very inconveniencing for them. I did not want to embarrass them by correcting them because I thought they would not like me if I did. It’s weird I know, but we move. I was always a shy kid, so saying “here” for attendance was a nightmare. Now, imagine having a “foreign” name. I used to correct them sometimes, but usually I would let them say my name wrong to avoid having to speak up. I have heard every wrong pronunciation for my name Dede. I get Dee- dee the most, which is super annoying. For Osamede, I’ve gotten Osameed, Osama, even Obama ( which is super ignorant).
Even through all the cringing of the pronunciations, I rarely corrected them. Tbh, I was embarrassed to have a “ complicated” name that people struggled to pronounce. I started to lower myself in order to benefit the white people. I went by what they called me to make THEM comfortable. I was definitely not comfortable, but I hated being different so I let them say whatever they wanted. There was even a time I almost went by my English middle name, Daniella, in order to conform. Obviously, now,I know better but back then I did not.
The thing is, I never denied that I was Nigerian, I have always been very proud of being Nigerian. I was just insecure, if that makes sense. You guys should not lie now, it was not always cool to be African ok. The fufu jokes, the Kunta Kente remarks, the stupid mock “African’’ dances and accents; I have heard and seen it all. So yes, I did not draw any more attention to myself.
Being African just started being cool pretty recently, especially when Black Panther came out. I am super happy for African kids because they finally get to see some good representation of what it actually means to be African. I go on Tiktok, and there are so many African trends, and I get so happy for the next generation because I never got that. I love that it is cool to be African, but the thing is, it has always been cool. Beyonce’s Black is King and Black Panther have highlighted the beauty and diversity of Africa and brown skin.
I remember watching the “Brown Skin Girl” video, and I was almost to tears. I (almost) cried because the next generation of girls will never have to go through what I went through. There were all shades of black in there, and that was so empowering especially for the little dark skin girls out there. I watched Black is King, I have watched that film so many times, and I am definitely gonna watch it more during our final days of Black History Month. Y’all don;t understand because Beyonce did that! I do not understand how people believe that she is “overhyped”; she deserves all the hype and more! Society always feels like they have to “ humble’’ black women, and that's sick to me! She has already done the impossible and she should be uplifted, not told to come down. So stay tuned because this topic could be a blog post in the near future *wink,wink*.
Anyways, Black Panther was also a beautiful representation for young black people. I feel like in the past when Africa was shown, it was a monolith and very “Kunta- Kinte”ish. For example, Coming to America was a very stereotypical image in the 80s of what people thought of Africa. Obviously,(some) people knew Africa has a lot of wealth but the accents were not accurate at all. But, Black Panther signified the diversity of ethnic groups and accents. The fact that they also used a combination of languages from all over the continent( yes I said continent) of Africa to make the Wakandan language was amazing and special to me. I love that movie (RIP Chadwick Boseman). Don’t get me started on the Dora Milaje being an all female army that protected the king and the country. I loved how the women were protecting the whole nation, and no one dared to question that. I love that the main character’s love interest was a dark skin woman and I love that it was Lupita Nyong'o (You are missing out if you do not know her). She never needed T’Challa because she could protect herself, but it was just nice to have him around. In other movies, the woman is useless (sorry) and always needs to be saved. I'm sick of that, like it's so played out. She did not care if he was there, but she still knew that he would have her back if she called him. That’s my type of love; let me tend to my own wounds but give me the band-aid if I need you to.
As for the name thing, I have learned that I can not lower myself for anyone else. My name is not only a reflection of myself and my family, it is also a reflection of my culture. I cannot be calling myself a “Bini or Edo Babe’’ and then have people come and pronounce my name wrong, ok. My name is powerful and it has a very beautiful meaning, so who cares what anyone thinks? I think no name is impossible to pronounce if you try hard. I think what gets me so tight is that I often say the way my name is pronounced, and I am met with the “ I think I was close enough” or the “ that's… different’’, like what?!! Who are you to say that to me! That's such entitlement. I am learning how to put my foot down and say “ no, that's not how you say my name.” I do not think people know how small that can make a person like me feel, it makes me want to shrink. Nah, no more. I’m tired of shrinking to make others feel larger. Ah- ahn, am I an ant?
For all the people with the “difficult’’ names, make them say it. Do not shrink for anyone else; your name is a representation of your heritage. Be proud of where you come from! Listen, Uzo Aduba had this phenomenal video about the power in the name. She went through the same thing as me, and wanted to be called by her more white-friendly name. Her mother said “ If they can learn to say Tchaikovsky… they can learn to say Uzoamaka.’’ And I have carried that with me ever since I saw that video because it's true. The teachers would never try to shorten the white children’s name, but they would sigh when they got to mine. Keep on sighing, abeg, the name will still be there waiting for you. So now, I’m walking into my name. I will no longer let my name be butchered or mispronounced because my name is powerful. Osamede: “God is greater than the crown”
Thank you everybody, once again for everything. I want to continue these discussions, so I’m gonna continue to ask questions so we can talk in the comments. I love our little community, and please know you can even DM me if you want a more private conversation. I like to talk, so please don’t be shy.
Ok, question for the comments: What’s your name and what’s the story behind your name? Sorry if that's a lot of questions, I'm just so excited and I want to get to know y’all. See ya next time:)