What’s in a name? …in a word: #everything.


“If you don’t mind me asking, why tamia rashima and not Tamia Rashima?”…

…I’m surprised I don’t this question more often but I love it when I do because I get to tell my origin story. …or at least one of them.

Well I finally got this question this week at work. Actually it wasn’t specifically about me. I just chose to make it about me. ;) In sending text to our Communications department I’d included a colleague’s name as lowercase first and last name. When the poster proof came back to me her name was uppercase. So I asked again and was asked to explain the request.

My response to this question follows:

Hi name redacted -

“Thanks for asking. I’d prefer for redacted to speak for herself, but I believe it is fair for me to share that her political, philosophical, and social justice values align with bell hooks. hooks, who I also adore, often says ‘it’s not about me, it’s about the message’ and for that reason she writes here name lowercase. I found an online excerpt that speaks to hooks’ rationale (below).

I also have written my name in lowercase for many years but for different reasons. Mine are to do with my father never having a birth certificate. He was born in Mississippi in a poor community and was delivered by a white midwife. A common story of the time is that the white midwives would often fail to file birth certificates for little Black babies. This has been an ongoing struggle in my father’s life. It’s actually impacted me as well. Until I was 10 my last name was spelled incorrectly on my birth certificate as “redacted.” Without a birth certificate for my father, it took my mother years to have that corrected. When it finally was it was on my father’s birthday in 1988 so my official birth certificate reads “amended February 17, 1988.”

What’s funny is that now since I’ve been doing lower so long, when I see my name in uppercase I don’t immediately recognize it as me and it makes me uncomfortable.

Again thanks for asking! I love when people ask.


‘bell hooks’ is written in lower case to try to convey how “it is the substance of my books, not who is writing them, that is important” (Williams 1996, np) and, she has said, first writing under this name allowed her to speak “most directly to black women [with a] the voice I felt to be most truly mine – it was then that my voice was daring, courageous” (LeBlanc 1994, nd). http://writingcollaboration.wordpress.com/1-introduction/1a-bell-hooks/

So there you go folks. Let me know if you have any questions.


Written while listening to my music the Winans Spotify playlist.

The Midwife by Monicka Hasan of My Best Self Art and Graphic Design