People need not be subjected to name calling, stigma and prejudicial treatment.

People and their welfare is a favourite subject of Douglas who sits peacefully on his patio with his friend David. It is a quiet Saturday afternoon and the weather is fine; both men are off from work and relaxing while chatting in their usual friendly manner. Both men like thoughtful conversation and several topics are discussed by them this afternoon. During their conversation, Douglas raises a topic from a former conversation which is of particular interest to him, “Naming People”.

“Why are people given names?”, ask Douglas, as David is about to place the magazine through which he is browsing on the table before him. “I think people are given names so that they can be identified from among others.”, David answers. “In a world of only two persons neither one of them would need a name as there would be no chance of a mistaken identity.”, David remarks with a smile.

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“Are there any other reasons for which names are sometimes given to people?”, asks Douglas with a rather innocent look on his face. David answers after a short pause, “Yes, two such reasons come to mind.” David continues by saying that “The first reason has to do with an attempt to indicate one or more peculiarities of the bearer of the name.” David then says, “The second reason has to do with an attempt to stigmatize the bearer of the name (individually and or collectively) by giving them a name that is by nature derogatory and belittling.”

“Let us look at the first of these two other reasons for which names are sometimes given.”,  David suggests. Douglas agrees, and David continues by saying “This is not so much of another reason for giving a name to a baby but rather an attempt to give the baby a name which, not only identifies him but more specifically tells us something about one or more of his peculiarities.” David continues to say that, “In some cultures, names are selected for babies based on the meaning of the name and its relevance to some physical or other trait of the baby or an aspect of the baby’s life or circumstances.”

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David continues by reminding, “Remember that the following list of categories of baby names that is mentioned here and used in some cultures is not exhaustive.” David then states, “Some of the categories under which baby names are selected for a more specific indication of any of the baby’s personal or circumstantial traits are: body, birth, family background, circumstances, geography and the hopes and fears of the parents.” David continues, “Here also are some examples of names, with their meaning given after them, that are chosen for the relevance of their meaning to personal or circumstantial traits of the baby: Ham (black) Augustus (born in August) Moses (drawn from the water) Omar (first born) Muhammad (most praised one).”

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“Now let us look at the second of these two other reasons for which names are sometimes given.”, David remarks. He takes a sip of a glass of orange juice which he is served by Douglas. Douglas clears his throat and nods in agreement. David continues by saying, “This second reason for giving a name is not like the first reason in that it can sometimes be a bad reason. The reasons for giving names in this case are often to derogate and belittle the bearer of the name. Such derogatory and belittling names are given to groups and individuals in order to stigmatize them.”

David continues by saying that, “Names only identify a person, they do not shape or mold him. They do not determine how or what a person is; and they do not determine the choices a person makes or the outcome of those choices.” Pausing for a sip of orange juice, David then continues, “Derogatory names are no exception to this rule even though they sometimes succeed in stigmatizing the bearer of them.”

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Douglas shakes his head in agreement and softly taps the top of the table with his right index finger, before he says, “I could not agree with you more.” Douglas then pauses shortly before continuing to say, “Names do not make us, character does. Stigmatization gradually disappears when character appears. Stigmatized persons only need to show true character.” Douglas continues, “Where character has lapsed it must be revived. Where it never existed, it must be developed. Some of the basic areas of activity for practice of characterful development are: willingness to live with others harmoniously, honesty, truthfulness, forgiveness, empathy and general outgoing care and concern for others.” Douglas continues by saying, ” Setting worthwhile goals to be pursued is the next step that should be taken by the stigmatized person. It should also be noted that when persons of character work hard toward achieving lofty goals, they almost always achieve such goals.”

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Douglas pauses briefly after speaking, then gets up and clears the table of the remaining orange juice and the drinking glasses which were used earlier by both men; he takes them into the kitchen. In Douglas’ absence, David gets up and walks slowly toward the rear outer edge of the patio and surveys the surrounding area and the sky. Returning to the table on Douglas’ return from the kitchen, David says, “It is almost dusk. I shall stay for the evening news then I shall be going.” The evening news begins at seven o’ clock. After a short period of silence, both men join Douglas’ beautiful wife in the living room where she is sitting while awaiting the start of the evening news. The evening news ends an hour later and David departs for home after thanking Douglas for a good conversation and his friendly presence; and after thanking Douglas’ wife for welcoming him as their guest.

By Edward Fagan

  

Black lives have the God given right to exist free from the threat of racially based homicide. 

Black Lives Matter, as well as National Action Network and Concerned Student 1950, to name a few, share the same goals and objectives as that earlier segment of the black civil rights movement which was led with distinction by prominent activists such as Rosa Parks, Dr. King, Dr. Maya Angelou and others.

Antagonists of Black Lives Matter say that the movement should not use “Black” in its name but instead should use “All”. They also say that the movement should not place emphasis on black people in its messaging and activity.

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The Black Lives Matter movement, the antagonists further state, by its name, is suggesting that only black people’s lives matter. The word “Black” in the name, and the movement’s emphasis on black people in its messaging and activity are supposed to be the reasons for demanding the change of name of the movement and a change of emphasis of the movement’s messaging and activity. Could there be other reasons for demanding such a change of name of the movement and a change of emphasis of the movement’s messaging and activity? Who will benefit from a change of name of the movement and a change of emphasis of the movement’s messaging and activity? Will black people, the intended recipients of the outcome of the movement’s messaging and activity, continue to be such recipients following a change of name and a change of emphasis of messaging and activity.

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Who, other than blacks, needs the urgent intervention of Black Lives Matter and similar movements to act on their behalf? How dare Africans to even think that their lives matter and that they should view themselves as human and ask to be treated thus!

Some of those same anti civil rights reactionaries, who secretly or openly stand against the civil rights achievements which have resulted from Dr. King’s life, work and martyrdom are conveniently paying lip service to the cause for which he lived and died; and are even seeking his and his movement’s help from the grave in their battle against Black Lives Matter. They are saying that Dr. King and his message are so much more preferable to Black Lives Matter and what they have to say.

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Why should Black Lives Matter change their name to an ambiguous one, and pursue an equally ambiguous course of action or no course of action at all? Why should Black Lives Matter address itself to ill founded fears and imaginary problems of its enemies or to problems for which it was not created to solve; problems whose attempted solving by the movement will dissipate its time, energy, money and human resource; and render it unable to serve the blacks who so urgently need its help ? Why should Black Lives Matter abandon the purpose for which it was created, and cease addressing itself to the pervasive problems of police physical and other forms of brutality against, and senseless murder of, black people?

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In the United States, there is a reactionary element that fatally practises “black lives do not matter”; simultaneously, that reactionary element also practices “all other lives matter”. The Black Lives Matter movement is an urgent, natural and spontaneous response by black people, to the fatal practices of that reactionary element and seeks, by non-violent means, to bring about an end to those fatal practices against African-American people. This work is a continuation of the work of Rosa Parks, Dr. King, Dr. Maya Angelou and others; and the reactionaries need to understand that Dr. King’s movement and Black Lives Matter, as mentioned above, share the same goals and objectives and that one is the progeny of the other.

By Edward Fagan