Intersectionality: How Our Names Give Us Identity

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Growing up in school, I’ve always overheard people say that they hated their names. That they wish they could change their name or they use only a portion of their names. I could never relate because I have always loved my name, that could be because my mother always told me how beautiful my name was which could have had an influence on my response to it. Often times we as individuals try to live up to our names.

Names are all intwined in our lives as way of identification. We marry into names, we change our names, we give nicknames, we love our names, we hate them too. In some cases we try to flee from them or even change them. Names can even have an effect on who will hire us and accept us into their schools. Be that as it may, our name is a significant factor in constructing up our sense of self, and along these lines drives you forward on different paths of life and profession. We had discussed this very topic in class after we read Nijeri’s “What is in a name?” (1989). Reading her story is what influenced me to further research this topic. This paper will focus on the many different way that our names can provide us a sense of self, a disconnection to self and observing the significance of names through an intersectional lens. I will be discussing this paper by first identifying what a name is, the history of the significance of what names are and then connecting the importance of names through intersectionality. According Oxford, a name is defined as “a word or set of words by which a person, animal, place, or thing is known, addressed, or referred to.” (2019). So, a name is a descriptive word that that identifies an object and connects those objects, people, places, and things. It was not until I grew older and more inquisitive that I began to question and understand the importance of names. Our self-concepts work a lot of like scripts that we carry on in our everyday contact with others. To put this thought another way, the manner in which we see ourselves acting is pretty much the manner in which we do carry on in some circumstance. As indicated by this line of reasoning, since names can affect self-concept, names can indirectly impact how we act. Nonetheless, research into the manners in which names influence individuals has revealed a connection.

The linkage demonstrates that our names, or possibly others’ responses to our names, impact the manner in which we carry ourselves directly. The process that gives our names their impact is what many would call a self-fulfilling prophecy. Briefly clarified, the inevitable outcome works along these lines. A woman acquaints herself as Ashley. Promptly, our unconscious mind gets down to business digging up every one of the pictures and affiliations we have with that name. Without acknowledging it, we build up a psychological picture, essentially a set of expectations, of what an Ashley resembles. This psychological picture causes changes in our own conduct that are unobtrusive to the point that we are unaware. However, Ashley becomes aware on the messages and signals that are being sent based on our conduct, and she makes unconscious improvements in her own particular manner of acting to fulfill what she thinks people around expect of her. As it were, we set up a circumstance which powers Ashley to carry on the manner in which we think Ashley’s should act (Jahoda).

When supplemented by the more objective and logical evidence from tests in psychological research, these naturalistic perceptions help clarify the significant impact names can have on the mental development of people. The most significant part of personality influenced by names is self-concept. A sense of self-concept develops as children grow and develop, and it is learned behavior from the verbal and non-verbal messages important individuals in children’s lives transmit to them. Guardians are the most significant message-senders, in any case, as kids develop and turn out to be increasingly independent, the messages of instructors, schoolmates, and others all add to their developing concepts of self. In many senses, self concept fills in as a script for the manner in which individuals act. If a child that has a picture of themselves as terrible or as not fit for doing academics in school, his conduct will likely mirror that picture. He will in general carry on the manner in which he thinks a ‘bad kid’ should act, or he will neglect to learn as he ought to despite the fact that he may be very smart. An individual’s name affects the steps of developing a self-conception because the name dictates the messages others transmit to the child. It has been argued through research that specific names are commonly viewed as desirable in our culture of life and have positive connotations associated with them. It is likewise argued that different names are viewed as being unwanted and convey negative affiliations. For instance, Richard, David, Anne, Jeff, Josh, and Linda are altogether viewed as desirable and positive, and Patricia, Edgar, Franklin, Mabel, Marvin, and Brenda all incite the contrary response. Along these lines, individuals unwittingly send positive and negative messages concerning positive and negative images.

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More often than not these messages are unobtrusive, however once in a while they appear as jokes, teasing, and even disparagement, particularly inside the child’s social group. Best case scenario, the kidding and prodding can make children unsure about their names and hesitant to have any contact with other kids out of fear of being picked on. Best case scenario, particularly when insensitive grown-ups think the jokes and monikers are entertaining and really use them as well, it can undermine what may some way or another be solid characters. Aside from our names giving individuals a sense of self concept, It also solidifies ones sense of self, our history, and our cultures. Names have been a part of our identities for as long as we have been using them. Names, especially last names, can tell you where a person is from or ethnicity without even knowing them personally. Names have also been especially important to African Americans as a whole. While being taken from our home lands and forced into slavery, slave masters would change their property’s name as a way to disconnect them from their roots, from their families and from themselves. As mentioned prior, some names propel strength and endurance to the ones that have them. To control their slaves they stripped them of who they were, which is why many African American’s today are unable to trace back their lineage or history.

Intersectionality is the theatrical framework for understanding how aspects of ones political and social life combine or intersect to create unique modes of discrimination. People in society are discriminated against, consciously and unconsciously because of their names all over the world. People with stereotypical black names or even people from different countries with more ethnic names, will change their names to make It easier for other people to accept and to get a job. In Njeri’s reading she mentioned how many people would ask her if her name was actually her name and if she had a nickname for herself that was not so ethnic. An example of this is found in a study I found on Arab names through the hiring process. According to Widner & Chicoine (2011), Since September 11, 2001, Arab Americans confronted expanded discrimination that saturated pretty much every part of their lives. Past research has reported the negative connotations toward Arab Americans after 9/11 and the impact it has had on their community. In any case, less research has concentrated on discrimination against Arab Americans during the process of securing work in the United States. To address the hole in the present literature, researchers directed a correspondence study in which they arbitrarily appointed an average white‐sounding name or a normal Arab‐sounding name to two comparable imaginary list of resumes. Two Hundred-sixty five jobs received resumes over a 15‐month period. We found that an Arab male candidate needed to send two resumes to each one resume sent by a white male candidate to get a callback. Their discoveries propose that the distinction in callbacks might be the consequence of discrimination against the apparent race/ethnicity of the candidate by the hiring official.

Implicit racial bias against prospective minority employees shapes opportunity for individuals not only on a social level but an institutional level as well when applying for jobs and education. Implicit bias is a preference or prejudice against a person or group of people. These bias are internalized and run contrary to our stated beliefs. These biases are also triggered through rapid association of people/groups/projects and our attitudes and stereotypes about them. According to Quillian et al., Since 1989 whites receive on average 36% more call backs than African Americans, and 24% more callbacks than Latinos. Research shows white managers hire minorities that weakly identify with their race. Contrary, whites interact negatively with those with stronger racial identities. Perceptions of identity based on names by employer affected a racial minority’s prospects as a job applicant (2017). Additionally, many job seekers remove race related activities on their resumes which is also known as racial whitening. Many minorities do this to increase their chances of employment from the job they’re seeking. Some minorities change their names or use their middle names, omit experiences that might signal minority status or might be associated with negative stereotypes. Some even emphasize experiences that signal whiteness or assimilation into “white culture”. Racial microaggressions impact minorities from getting jobs and education and mediate qualities associated with stereotypical identities. In light of our radicalized society I think that affirmative action could play a major role in hiring minorities and lessening the discrimination against ethnic names (Quillian et al., 2017)

The best analogies are straightforward. Take ‘intersectionality,’ the term for an undeniably well known system for activism, which says in order to comprehend social and political phenomena, individuals must consider different human identities like race, gender, education, religion, names, ethnicity, age, and even legal status not as isolated, yet as parts of a complexly tangled web. The outcomes point toward the requirement for solid authorization of anti discrimination legislation and give a method of reasoning to continuing compensatory arrangements like affirmative action regarding minorities in society to improve equality of opportunity. Discrimination proceeds, and we discover little proof with respect to minorities that it is vanishing or even step by step reducing. Rather, It has been discovered that the tirelessness of discrimination is at a distressingly uniform rate (Quillian, 2017).

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Intersectionality: How Our Names Give Us Identity [Internet]. WritingBros. 2020 Dec 28 [cited 2022 Nov 29]. Available from: https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/intersectionality-how-our-names-give-us-identity/
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