There is power in a name. Would you ever jauntily walk up to Queen Elizabeth and greet her as a “cracker b*tch”? No. You’re going to courtesy and refer to Britain’s royal monarch as “Her Highness”. You are going to respect her title and her rank. Think about next time you give someone dap and holler “Whuddup, NIGGA!” What are you saying about that person?
By now you’ve probably heard of Lu Anne Ballew’s decision to change a 7 month old baby boy’s name from “Messiah” to “Martin”. (If not, tadaa!: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57598088/tenn-judge-changes-infants-name-from-messiah/) Ballew is a child support magistrate in rural Tennessee. Baby Messiah’s parents were in court to determine his last name as part of a child support order, and upon seeing that the boy’s name bore the same title as that conferred upon Jesus by early Christians, she ordered his first name be changed as well saying:
“The word Messiah is a title and it’s a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ.”
This, ladies and gentlemen, is why America is failing. America’s court system is being run by baboons in magistrate’s clothing. And as you well know, baboons do not read; they merely react to their surroundings.
The problem with Christians and Christianity today is that the vast majority of us do not read and certainly have no comprehension of our Christian history. For Blacks in America, we simply had Christianity thrust upon us as it was the religion of our oppressor. Part of that oppression was in stripping us of our identities, starting with our names and what we named our children. One of the first things slavers would is change the names of their captured human cargo from their African monikers to European designations before bringing them into the Americas for sale. One of the most famous of these is Joseph Cinque, who led the revolt aboard the Spanish slave ship the Amistad.
The practice naming a child is a carefully orchestrated event among people of African descent. We have naming ceremonies and consult elders and friends when choosing our babies names. A child’s name carries weight, and is believed to determine his or her future, and in some cases their longevity. I have a friend whose grandfather was named Samori and marked at birth with a blade to his cheek. Why? Because his great-grandmother had three babies die in succession, and the elders in their family came to conclusion that if they named the baby after someone so hated and reviled by their community, the ancestors would stop claiming her babies and calling them into the afterlife to be with them. Samori, for those of you who do not know, was a notorious slave raider from the Akuapim region who captured and sold members of his own clan. Obviously, there was some merit to the act. My friend is here to tell the tale.
Stripping an individual of their name is the genesis of robbing them of their identity and their freedom as a freely functioning, sentient being. Early African slaves tried to circumvent these restrictions creatively. And so they named their children “Quincy” for “Kwasi” or “Anna” for “Ama”. All names had to be approved by the master, of course. But by making their children’s name appear more Anglophone in their roots, they were still secretly able to keep some sense of home and appease their overbearing masters.
And while we may scoff at the appellations that many parents confer upon their children (Apple Martin and North West come readily to mind), it is still their right to do so. Because we live in a free country, that child also earns the right to change his/her name when they come of age.
Let’s take a moment to consider the names of the children I just mentioned: Apple and North. These are children of celebrities, who by virtue of their celebrity are shielded often from the long, invasive arm of the government. I can’t imagine a judge daring to call Gwyneth Paltrow into court with an order to change Apple Martin’s name for the sake of “sparing the child hardship because of the uniqueness of her name” as Magistrate Ballew did. The repercussions for the judge would be most unpleasant. Money and power protect you oppression – and that’s precisely what this judge is doing: oppressing a young mother’s right because she economically and socially disadvantaged.
Forcing one’s religion and culture upon another group in order to dominate them is not a phenomenon that Blacks alone have had to endure in this country. It is well documented that Polish and Italian immigrants had to adopt more Anglophone names in order to gain employment. People with Jewish names routinely discriminated against and subject to public derision. Individuals of Irish descent were often singled out for particular jobs in the service sector, because that’s all they were “fit for”. In short, if you were not Anglo Saxon and Protestant in America, you were more likely to be disenfranchised. The good news for all these groups is that discrimination against them is virtually non-existent today, because they all fall under the ubiquitous category of “White”. Are there categories for Irish/Jewish/Spanish on our census forms? No, of course not. You’re either White or not… and Black folk ain’t White.
The thing that is so irksome about this case is the crime that the judge herself is guilty of – which in my opinion is stupidity of the most felonious kind. She objected to the child being named ‘Messiah’ because only one person has earned that title: Jesus Christ.
Ah. Foolish woman.
Even the most barely literate Christian knows that a “messiah” is a savior, not THE savior. There have been several messiahs mentioned in the Torah/Hebrew Bible. A messiah is a deliverer. Moses, for example, was a messiah. Furthermore, the very culture who conjured the word messiah do not universally agree that Jesus was the messiah the Hebrew nation was waiting for!
It makes you wonder: what is this judge going to do the next time a Hispanic child called Jesus DeSantos comes into her court? Is she going to change the name of every boy-child that goes by the name of Jesus? The idea would be absurd for several reasons, one of those being that Jesus ain’t even really “Jesus’” name. There is no “j” in the Hebrew alphabet. There is “yud”. The guy we know as Jesus was actually born Yeshua (or Joshua). Are judges of particular religious leanings or beliefs then going to force all Joshes to change their names as well? Emmanuel means “God with us”. Should all Emmanuels be ordered to change their names as well?
You see folks, this is what happens when Christians in power don’t read and understand the roots of their Christianity. Just like the stain of slavery, an institution with such despicable acts that they boggle the mind all done in the name of Christ, the stain of stupidity ruins the reputation of those who willfully call themselves Christian today. Islam is not immune to this either. For the wicked actions of a few, the entire Muslim collective is vilified in the entire Western world.
I have no doubt that Jaleesa Martin, Messiah’s mother, will have her case taken pro bono by some activist group from California now that she has decided to appeal the judge’s ridiculous ruling, which is a good thing. Given that things rarely change for the better for poor people in impoverished and rural American society, it’s going to take a good deal of external pressure to overturn this decision. But the damage has been done – yet again, the message and deeds of God, Holy Spirit and Christ Jesus have been made a footnote in the public’s consciousness as the focus turns to one silly individual who suffers from hubris and ignorance. And as we all know, those two paired together form a cocktail of disaster that takes generations to recover from. Of all the things for her to make a mockery of Christianity for, this has to be one of the most useless.
What do you think Reader? Did the judge get it right? Should we be able to name children whatever we want? We have heard of several cases where people have named their children ‘Satan’, ‘Lucifer’ and ‘Hitler’. Surely calling your child “savior” is not the worst thing you could do to him/her – hedonistic perhaps – but not awful.
Where is the line?