This is Alfie. About 12 hours old. Just like every expectant parent, I agonised over his name. I had the usual problems: finding names that *flowed*, finding names that weren’t common, names that weren’t of people who i didn’t like or were too heavy. Originally I wanted him to have an interesting name: something *different* but then it became a chore once the realisation of what his name meant fully hit me.
See I knew that I had to give him a name, much like mine, which was ethnically ambiguous. I’m reading @candicebrathwaite’s book, “I Am Not Your Baby Mama” and she speaks openly about the struggle she also had.
It’s known amongst the black community, that we are judged heavily *on paper* purely based on our names. The name “VonQueesha Jackson” conjures up a different set of thoughts to “Rachel Jones”. I knew that a time would come where he would be judged, not for his talent or ability, but for his name. At 12 hours old he was just a squishy little bundle of human that everyone would fawn over. At 1 year old he was a chunky little boy who was loved for his bread roll arms and legs. At 2 years old he was the tall little boy who’s golden curls took breaths away. At 3 years old he is the cute little guy who’s smile can light up a room.
But what about at 10? And at 16? And 21? As his body grows and his face changes and the puppy fat disappears from his cheeks. As his frame widens and his muscles become more prominent. As his voice deepens and demeanour changes.
When does he stop being a cute innocent little boy, when does society start to see him as someone to be feared. When does society forget that he was once this innocent child born to parents who love him. When does society forget that he is just a boy, who is going to grow into a man, who just wants to live.
I used to have dreams that he would one day grow to find friends, love; happiness. I used to dream that one day I would be standing at his wedding. I used to dream that one day I would be chasing around after his children trying not to pop my back.
Now I have nightmares. Nightmares that one day I’ll get that phone call that tells me he isn’t coming home because society silenced him for good.