"A family name
A family with names as intricate as our stories
Navigating what to respond to
Choosing our names like good jeans
Which name will i wear today.
Identity stolen from us. By us.
“Father whose name was traded in for a business to call his own
But what is nameless ownership
Let them know the satisfaction the food on their plate brings them
comes from the skillfulness passed thru generation
Hands strong enough to wage Judos war
Fingers precise for tetas pinches of spice
From ahmed to khalil
From naame to khalil
But instead u tell them your name is kelly because it rolls off their tongue
Figured as long as they taste ur lineage
They can choke on ur name
And u can stomach the pain
Mother whose name changes as frequently as she does
molds to cater to the men who offer a namesake
You struggle to preserve the dignity of your first, last name
As if the men who continue to claim u did not strip you of your naivety
Calling you only when using you and then forgetting both name and value once you learned to say no.
You struggle to preserve your second, last name.
Hoping this one fits you better.
This new name is big. In letters. In sounds. In responsibilities.
You must train your throat to make these sounds.
And To stop making other sounds
U shrink and grow
make ur big heart fit whatever they have offered of their own
Searching to leave the name that used its letters as a collar around your neck
Brother whose name i envy.
I am sorry you have been taught to surrender
Do not allow them to rename you.
U have confused their laziness with inability
Friends, teachers, bosses and now lovers.
Those unwilling to learn your name
Are undeserving of your stories.
Demand they say it. Ahmed.
Remind them of the difficulty your grandfather endured for the country where his wife and him had planted 10 seeds
You carry the name said to have blessed our entire family.”
And for myself.
Sometimes i convince myself that i am lucky. That being easily swallowed is sweet
Dropping my hyphen because i have already been given one too many hyphens
to try and make identifying me any more complicated. Mixed-race. Jordanian-American. Sarena-lyn.
Sacrificing the part of me dedicated to my maternal grandmother
Forgetting that she climbs on her roof at age 76
she says "i didn’t need a man to help me through labour or to travel the country so i don’t need a man to cut a damn tree"
Carried a gun in her purse from age 18 and hasn’t let bullshit cross her path since
I am sorry that i have failed to hold that strength with me
That i have abandoned a part of my name that connects us
The proof of our similarity when our appearances couldn’t be more different
We are a family with enough names to fill the ocean.
Learning who we are
And what to call ourself
We Will manipulate it.
And so will others.
A name is the beginning and the end.
And the bond between."