I have heard so much about racism and how to be anti-racist recently. Statues have come down, buildings and streets renamed, and riots have taken place. Are we simply fueling the resentment of darker-skinned folks through our focus on the underlying white supremacy of everything? How will that resentment create a better society?
I have a simple suggestion to move the conversation and the focus race relations on a more positive track. I suggest that millions of dollars of the recently designated federal money be set aside to assist non-white folks to directly address racism by eliminating their “slave names.” The money would be used first to produce a DNA profile of anyone who claims membership of an oppressed group. Each person could opt for further research into their ancestry to better determine the places in the world their ancestors lived. After identifying their lineage, they can choose a new name to reflect who they really are, and the government would pay to have them changed. “Slave names” would no longer be used to identify people of African origin. Likewise, other non-white groups could de-Americanize their names to wipe out the “colonizing” of foreign names.
Of course, there are additional details to work out. Primarily, how will the new names be linked to the “colonial names” so that family histories and the names of historically significant figures would not be lost? Second, if the new name uses an alphabet not currently in use in the US, how will those names be translated? Or, is translation just another “whitewashing” and the elements of the native language would be preserved when creating a new name?
This is a problem for people who wish to adopt or reclaim their name if the person wishes to be known using the alphabet of their ancestors. The West African N’Ko alphabet and the Arabic scripts both read right to left, so how would they be accommodated in “western” forms and documents? How, then, should we address someone who “Americanized” their Chinese, Japanese, Thai or Korean name when their family emigrated? Should 命运为 be required to maintain her name as its Americanized “Destiny Cho” just so non-Chinese can identify her? Ivan Yankovsky, Иван Янковский cannot type his name on an Americanized keyboard. Are keyboards racist?
In conclusion, I must ask how far this country needs to go in order to rid itself of “white supremacy”. If we cannot rely on a common alphabet, can we come together over anything? Do we also need to jettison our Eurocentric calendar in favor of other cultures’ ways of counting the passage of time? Please, scholarly academics, show us the way!