Tuesday, May 13, 2014



One day, I got angry. One of my younger cousins posted a picture of her boyfriend on Facebook.

That wasn't why I got angry. It was a cute picture and the guy reminded me of her dad, my first cousin. We often are attracted to men with certain traits like our fathers. That was not my concern.

My concern were all of these likes from family members who do not know this man from Adam. Some of the same baseless likes that my cousin got when she talked about how much she loved the man who, unbeknownst to much of the family, was beating her bloody.

Oh, because that's "black love."

I'm not hating on the entity, "black love." It's never something I specifically aspired to myself, pero bueno...

I was angry because I knew I couldn't post a similar picture of my SO without flack, hate, and promises of being disowned.

Because this isn't black love. This is interracial.

I hate the term swirling, so this is the last time you'll see me write it.

One of my cousins, in person, already asked me, "Why do you post all those pictures on your Facebook with all of those white people?"

I answered, "They are my co-workers." That satisfied him for a moment, but implicit in that question was probably...how about that one guy you seem to be standing close to in a lot of your pictures?

Taking pictures with all of those white people, indeed.

I could hear it now. "What's wrong with a black man?" "Oh, why are you with a *****." I don't even want to imagine the permutations.

And then, I probably scrolled down to another picture of someone with their loving in-laws, and I thought about how my SO was impressed that his mother behaved herself around me, though she's always worried about what people in the Old Country will think of her son being with a black woman.

And I just got angry. Angry then quickly tired.

I wish I could introduce this man to my family without drama. I wish they would welcome him like they welcomed my black cousins-in-law with open arms, call him cousin. I wish I could introduce him to my grandparents without at least one of those grandparents being pained. I wish I could include him in my family.

...that my father already doesn't like him is almost requisite, regardless of his race, hehe.

But I wish...man, I wish...

And I never aspired to black love, but I never aspired to be with a white man, either, precisely because of my family's racism and otherwise baggage that we have with our Nation of Islam roots. I figured if I were with another non-African brown person, they would be too confused to be racist. I'd still get off comments about I obviously haven't been with a black man, blah blah blah, but it'd be more tolerable. Maybe that one uncle wouldn't disown me.

But really...there are too many men in my family who will see it as somehow a personal affront if I don't end up with a black man. Like I'm making a commentary on their worth. No, I make no commentary. My relationship the living manifestation of exactly who desired to marry me. He who did not is not standing next to me right now.

So there.

So my SO won't be called cousin. We may not even have a wedding we can invite the rest of my family to. That makes me angry, but oh well. I love my family enough to recognize there's no changing them.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Dissociative Moment


I just had a dissociative moment. I looked at my full name, first and last, on facebook and didn't recognize it as my name for a moment.

Because Nigerian names are so unfamiliar to most in the NW, and penned by my residency classmates, I've started going by Chi or sometimes Dr. Chi. Which is cute on several levels, yes, but that's not my name. My name is Chinyere. Everyone in medical school called me Chinyere, except the West Africans and my Romanian friend called me ChiChi on occasion.

Chinyere, ChiChi--those are my names. I refuse to use ChiChi in the professional standpoint, but I'm Chinyere.

Then, my SO's friends call me by my middle name because that's how he's introduced me for months before they met me, because he doesn't want them to butcher my name, but that's also disorienting...and then his mother calls me my middle name in Albanian...

And at the end of the day, I've been called other than Chinyere the entire time that I barely feel like Chinyere anymore.

And that's a weird feeling.

I call home, and my mother is more likely to call me one of my many nicknames with her (including, but not limited to Missy, Missy Moosey, Lucy, Lucinda, etc.). I can count on one hand the number of times my mother has actually called me Chinyere (well...maybe if I don't count Chinyere-bee-baby...for those who don't know how to pronounce my name, re-bee rhymes with baby).

My father...almost never calls me by my name unless he's locating me in the house or commanding me to do something. So the only correct way I know how to pronounce my name (because I even mispronounce my name to make it easier for English speakers) is in the context of a shout.


I think the rest of the time, he calls me Nne Nne...or nothing.

Oh yeah, more nicknames from my mother - Chich (pron. Cheech...she never calls me ChiChi), Chichmeister...

Yeah, I guess my father doesn't have a ton of nicknames for me. I'm Nne Nne, my brother is Nna. Or Nne Nne Le and Nna Le. Or Nna Nka.

I really regret that I don't know Igbo.

So I spent a lot of my life either being called out of my name or having my name butchered by those around me. My friends always knew how to pronounce my name, though.

But after a full day of being called Chi and Dr. Chi (occasionally actually hearing my last name)...it's a weird, dissociative feeling. I feel like I used to be Chinyere, but now, I'm Chi.

That's it. I'm going to start using my full name again. No more, "Red team, this is Chi." It's back to, "Red team, this is Chinyere," when I'm on service.

Because I love my name, and I feel the most me with it.