Guest Bloomer: Aja Denise

Photo credit: Sarah-Ji Rhee

On the eve of tomorrow's new moon and partial solar eclipse, I was feeling like #sheBLOOMSblack needed another sisterly installment of a guest bloomer's response to: "As a Womon/Black how do you make yourself visible in the world?" Here's what educator & PhD-candidate extraordinaire, Aja Denise, had to say...

I am a 5’10 big Black woman, so I do not necessarily worry if people can see me with their eyes, but that I try to make sure my presence is genuine. I work towards showing up for me first each morning, by forcing me to be real and raw about how I see myself. I affirm myself so I am not dependent on others thoughts about me. Over the last three years, buying myself flowers have stood in as the material manifestation of my self-love and celebration. Although the poem is an ode to the actress Quevanzhane, at the same time it expresses my same desire for getting others to say my name right. It represents my resistance to the world’s perception or expectations for me, and it’s about me accepting the ways God has set me apart from others even though I don’t understand it some times.

Inspired by:

“give your daughters difficult names. give your daughters names that command the full use of tongue. my name makes you want to tell me the truth. my name doesn’t allow me to trust anyone that cannot pronounce it right.”

  • warsan shire.

But My Name is… Quevanzhane

My name came from my parents’ dreams of the little girl I would be,

Beautiful, black and unique.

So they gave me a name that spoke those words,

That screamed that I was unlike the other girls in this world.

It’s full of letters, vowels and consonants,

Some silent and others reimagined.

In many ways it is resilient to the “King’s” language,

Forcing you to use parts of your mouth you have forgotten existed,

Retraining your eyes to adjust what they thought they read,

And leaving you to practice all the ways my name could be said.

You’ll laugh and call my parents ridiculous for dancing outside of the margins,

Call me unprofessional before reading my astonishing resume,

Add, Subtract or rename me to make yourself more knowledgeable,

And despite how many times you try and invalidate my name,

I will correct you.

Stop you mid sentence as you gloss over my name incorrectly as if it is un-important,

Redirect you to the name I wish to be called each time you discover what you want me to answer to.

You can no longer give me names like during slave days.

I own my name, and it is Quevanzhane.

Feature by Aja Denise


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