What's In A Name?

Brad Boswell

         The first gift we receive at birth is our name Names reveal your sex, ethnicity, family origin, linguistics, cultural and religious background. A lot of interesting pertinent information can be gleaned from a name. Names are the embodiment of your very spirit. You make your name what it becomes and sometimes our name's break us. Names are the trumpet signaling our introduction. It sounds like a call of reverence or, may, unfortunately for others, ring a hollow thud. A name can be a billboard of ads for the being or thing it is representing, it let's you stand out, or makes you not as easy to notice initially.  Without a name you don't exist, you are nowhere and nobody.
Some top characteristics of a good name are:
1. It's pronounced easily, short and sweet.
2. It embraces personality.  
3. It's linguistically clean.
4. Its uniqueness. 
      On the other hand some people spend their whole lives trying to distance themselves from the name chosen for them.  A stark and tragic example of this is the American slave trade. Those slave traders routinely took the kidnapped masses and renamed them which was a form of branding. The mini series" Roots" from 1977 was based on Alex Haley's novel of his family ancestry.  It follows the Kinte family from Africa to America in enslavement. A powerful moment takes place when Kunta Kinte, who refuses to relinquish his birthright, received many lashes from a whip nearly killing him by the slavers. This was a common practice which was applied to force Kunta, to accept the name '' Toby''. 
On January 17,1942 in Louisville, KY a baby boy was born to Cassius Marcellus and Odessa Clay. Named "Cassius", when someone stole his bike he decided to learn to box, so he could find and whip the culprit.  Well he didn't retrieve that bicycle, but he would eventually become the best fighter in his weight class in the US. Cassius would go to the Olympics, where he would take on and beat the best in the world to win a gold medal. 
     Soon after winning he embarked on a pro career that he took all the way to the Heavyweight championship. Against the odds, as a huge underdog, he claimed the title and changed his name from "Cassius Clay" to "Muhammad Ali". He said "Cassius" was his slave name, and "Muhammad" means ''Most High''.  His new name eventually spawned another ...''The Greatest''. By his death in June 2016, he was easily one of the most beloved Philanthropists ,Social activists, global citizens, and incredible boxers to ever grace the planet.
      Another incredible individual was born May 19,1925 in Omaha, Nebraska and named Malcom Little. He grew and fell in with the wrong crowd and eventually got into serious trouble. In 1946 he was sentenced to 8-10 years for robbery where he discovered and converted his religion to Islam. Malcom then changed his name to El-Hajj Malik El Shabazz. Shabazz became a forceful outspoken opponent of the racism and the Jim Crow system openly accepted in American culture. He further recreated his name in 1953, changing it to "Malcom X", the "X" representing the unknown name of his ancestors and their culture lost during slavery.
         Around this same time period the 1970's, we saw the rise of the "Black Panther" created by African Americans to promote their status and well being in American society. On the 16th of June 1971 while in police custody, a member of the party gave birth to a boy born Lesane Parish Crooks. It would be changed to "Tupac Amura Shakur", origin of the name is of an Inca leader who led a rebellion. Tupac is quoted as saying ''The name his mother gave him liberated him, set him free"
A name's perspective and passion denotes full value and meaning. It can magnetize us by pulling us into its allure, history and frequency, or it can repel us dramatically away from the individual or thing attached. Some in historically repressed cultures of the American fabric have embraced eccentricity in naming children, I believe much of this is an effort to create their own unique resonation with soul and essence. For me it's their expression of self love, thereby rejecting and offsetting the government names imposed on their ancestors.
In our own society, and the world at large, we come to know much from a name. It can conjure all manner of emotions transforming while taking us on a roller-coaster ride of highs and lows. For example, notoriety and fear come to mind if we hear Isis, Hitler, Cancer, name a few. Then others bring thought of fame curiosity, eccentricities, success, power, all manner of imagination. The Pyramids, Stonehenge ,UFO,  Elvis... to name a few.
There are music royalty names like Beatles, Madonna, Prince, Liberace, and many others.  Power makes us think Oprah, Gates, Trump, Google, and  Zuckerberg. Then Hollywood celebrity names... For instance Moon Zappa, Apple, North West, and Blue Ivy.  Names are truly priceless. Proverbs 22.1 ''A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches and favor is better than Silver and Gold.''
It has been said that ''The clothes don't make the man, the man makes the clothes". I actually believe the truth of this statement is found somewhere in between. So when it comes to a name and it's bearer, sometimes the fit is odd, but that to creates an aura of rarity. Ultimately it's the essence of the person or thing that makes the name, that doesn't need to be claimed or made because it's already owned. 

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