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What’s In a Name?

Soundtrack: Rihanna “What’s My Name”

cat self talk


My name is Nyeusi Jami (yay- OO – see  Jah – mee)

You may know me by something else. Whatever name you met me by, I am requesting that you refer to me as Nyeusi from now on. Why am I doing this?

The last year or so has been rough for me. I have grieved over the loss of many loved ones, either by death or otherwise. This time has caused me to do some deep reflection on my life. I am re-evaluating everything about my life. Everything. What do I believe in? Who do I want to be? Who do I want to have relationships with?

One of the major conclusions I have reached is that none of the names I have been previously known by properly reflect the person who I choose to be going forward. I won’t get into why I have been a man of many names. Another subject for another time. I also won’t get into the meaning of Nyeusi Jami and why that name is a proper reflection of the person who I choose to be. What I will get into is this…

The names and descriptions that you choose to answer to say a whole lot about you. Do you desire to be called sir or ma’am, doctor or esquire, gay or fag, god or dog or nigga or bitch or master or slave or whatever the case may be…

If someone calls you by a name or title that doesn’t properly represent you, you’ll usually correct them. “I am Ms., not Mrs.,” or “I am the Third, not Junior,” or “Who you calling a bitch??” or whatever whatever. The name that you answer to is a reflection of your self-identity and your internal dialogue. Your personal “I am” determines how you carry yourself in the world.

“I am a Muslim.”

“I am a philanthropist.”

“I am a hustler.”

All that you are and all that you can be is encompassed in what you tell yourself about yourself. You can only achieve in life what you truly believe that you are capable of and worthy of. You won’t even attempt to get something that you don’t truly believe you should have. If your internal dialogue is “I ain’t shit and I ain’t never gonna be shit” then you will most definitely not be a person who strives to earn a PhD or become an executive director. If your internal dialogue is that “I am a ruler and I come from a long line of rulers” then you will most definitely not tolerate someone trying to treat you like a peasant. Everything within your being will resist that kind of treatment.

This principle is profoundly connected to my life’s work. I believe in Freedom, Justice, and Equality. I aim to contribute toward freedom for those who have been denied of it, as individuals and as groups. An unfortunate reality of being denied freedom is that often it leads to internalizing the idea that you don’t deserve freedom. It leads to an internal dialogue that seeks to justify why you really shouldn’t be free. “I’m just a sinner” or “I’m just a Negro” or some other self-defeating foolishness.

I aim for all persons and all peoples to self-identify in a way that affirms their right to freedom. That is why I refer to the Black people in America as New Afrikans, because it is a term that affirms my people as a Nation of people, deserving of land and sovereignty just like all other nations. And I participate in work that is contributing toward our eventual attainment of that land and sovereignty. By the same token, I desire for all of my people, on an individual basis, to live a life of freedom. That starts with the Self-Determination of deciding what names and titles we will answer to.

We have to give the slavemaster back his name. If you identify yourself as Black and your family goes by the name Johnson or Smith or White or any other name that you know good and damn well didn’t come from Africa, it’s time to give the slavemaster back his name. His name always has and always will signify you as his property. He didn’t give you HIS name because you had a lovely and caring relationship with him. He gave you his name because you belonged to him. And perhaps you still do belong to him, if you are comfortable with carrying his name. It’s time to give it back.

But apart from the name we carry, I implore each and every one of us to examine our internal dialogue. What are you telling yourself about yourself? When you get quiet, are you telling yourself how wonderful and talented and beautiful you are? Or are you telling yourself how inadequate and unqualified and unattractive you are? Is your internal dialogue helping you get to where you wanna go? If it isn’t, you can change that.

I’ll have to get into the subjects of meditation and auto-suggestion and such at another time. For now, please remember that my name is Nyeusi. What’s yours?

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