Thursday, May 13, 2010

What's in a name?

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet." - Juliet Montague

OK. so if you know me, then you know I like Shakespeare. And if you had Mrs. Kohl as your English teacher for 4 years, then you would understand why. If you really really know me, then you would know that my oldest daughter, Portia, was named for the heroine in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice. and not after the motor vehicle.


A few weeks ago she informed me that I would have to give her an African name during the "Ceremony of the Drums" as she completed her course work for a degree in African American studies at Temple University. I was so excited. As I began my research, I came upon the name Chinedu, which means "God leads". I said, that fits my Porty Pooh.

Portia started out majoring in Early childhood Education with an emphasis on bi-lingual (Spanish) studies. This decision lead her on a journey to Spain and Costa Rica. During that time, I emphasized to her that she is black, and while she can go traveling and galavanting around the world, her responsibility should be to her own community because to whom much is given much is required. One thing I can tell you about all my daughters is that once they make up their mind to do something, that's it. Pretty much like their mom. So for the most part I didn't try to talk them out of anything, but I just "say my piece" and let it sink in. However there are times, even now that they are "grown" when I just have to say "no, you're not doing that". Period. Parenting is a never ending job.

Le me add that once Portia came back from her adventure, she went right back to SANKOFA at Canaan Baptist Church...where I had planted her in the first place...to work with the childen in her community. I had just helped Cannan re-establish the afterschool program there and all the time in the back of my mind, I had Portia in mind. Because she was majoring in early childhood education, I thought this was a perfect fit.

Last year, during her junior year, when she informed me that she changed her major to African American studies, I just said "OK". But in my mind I was thinking "what the hell?" What kinda job is she gonna get with a degree in that?" But, she was excited and enjoyed the course. I would say things from time to time like "Hospitality and Tourism are gonna be big and you love planning events" hint hint. She would just let me know, in a very diplomatic and respectful manner, that she had her mind made up and she knew what she was doing.

Proved it last night.

Last night, as we participated in the "Ceremony of the Drums" I felt a sense of pride that I've never known.

The funniest thing was when the keynote speaker, Dr. Anthony Monteiro said that these students were courageous and he understood, because his parents and siblings asked him "Why he was majoring in "that"? He said, they couldn't even say "African American Studies" they just said "that". So he began to break it down and even went into the gentrification process taking place in the neighborhood of that very University.

So, my oldest daughter, "Chinedu" - God Leads...transitions into a new chapter of her life and I, her biggest cheerleader will continue to be on the sidelines cheering. Even when I don't fully understand what she is doing or why she is doing it, I will rest in the knowledge that God is leading her.

Peace and Love.

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