If it’s really that big of a deal to you..

…you should be able to put up with the ramifications of the deal you make it out to be. Tami Winfrey Harris of Clutch Magazine recently gave an opinion piece regarding women and hyphenated surnames. I find this topic to be a frequent one, especially in blogs/magazines that cater to female audiences. Winfrey Harris particularly laments in this piece about others “inconveniences” on behalf of married ladies with hyphenated last names.

This post immediately reminded me of an earlier Clutch read with a similar feel entitled “Will You Take This Man – And His Last Name?” And like how I entertained this idea with that article, I tried to look for a sound reason in this piece why hyphenating my last name is necessary – outside of a feminist-inspired sentiment to prove my “identity.” Instead, I found the following:

“And after becoming immersed in researching my family history, I am even more convinced that the decision to keep my name was the right one, because I am witness to how women who give up their names can be erased from history. But also because I am the product of the parents who raised me and of all my ancestors’ struggles and triumphs. My last name embodies that. I can’t imagine giving it away. Also, I had established myself in my career with my maiden name and was loathe to damage my reputation by changing my identity.”

I don’t really consider my ancestors’ struggles and triumphs as a source of pride, for me. Just rich history. My grands growing up in the Jim Crow-era Carolinas, moving “up North,” marrying and raising a family to love themselves and others still baffles me sometimes. Yet I look to the hills from which comes my help and I don’t really have to wonder – I just say thank You. Thank You for delivering my grands through the best and the worst so my father and myself can be here. Same goes for people my mom’s side. I can’t really credit my ancestors’ fortune or misfortune, or even their whole identity to their name (which came from slave owners anyway). I look to Him to whom our absolute identity is in.

Now for the throwback to the earlier Clutch piece..

“There is no level-headed reason why a woman should have to abandon her family’s last name in order to prove her fidelity and allegiance to her man. None whatsoever. The concept is as archaic and patriarchal as, oh I don’t know, forgoing your dreams to be an apron-sporting housewife a la June Cleaver or pretending to be an airhead to appease your guy’s fragile ego.”

Oh the ever-oppressive patriarchy.

I’ve come to believe oppression is always in your mind, with your ego.

Here’s my real grist for the mill. My name is Dara-Lynn Baker. Dara-Lynn is my whole first name, not “Dara”. I do have a middle name, but that middle name is not “Lynn.” Despite the many people that can pronounce it and spell it with ease now, my first name has tripped everyone who’s met me ever since I can remember. My name is one of the ways I put people in their place, and me in mine –  not to be confused, abused or disrespected. So I can kinda get where Winfrey Harris’ frustration from others’ frustration with hyphenated names come from. Yet it’s the name my mother gave me. And as I grew to love it in all of its character I immediately praised those that didn’t phuck it up in their mouths got my name right the first time. I don’t do that anymore, no. But let’s just say I plan to give my baby girl a name unique enough that keeps everyone on their toes a bit. It’s so much fun!

Point in question, doesn’t most individuals’ (if not every individuals’) first name given by their mother? And if so, I only see having a father’s last name as complementary of the family that the individual was born and added into.

**Another question, unless you’re of Spanish descent, doesn’t all of our surnames come from a man anyway? I can’t feel that strongly about switching from a name that was never mine to begin with. God did give man dominion to name everything. Truth. Something I always embrace.**

My parents weren’t married in ’89, so “Baker” is my legal surname. Yet I managed to accumulate 16 years of school, medical and other records with my father’s last name, “Henderson.”

(I was also a military child floating to whichever next station called us, if that makes any difference.)

I didn’t actually discover this fact until I enrolled in a South Carolina high school my senior year. My mother and I explained that Henderson was the name I’d carried, and the administrators basically told us that since Baker was on my birth certificate and social security card, Baker would be the name I enrolled with. Amazingly, I introduced myself to anyone and everyone with ease in no time. And I’ll continue to do this post-nuptials, when I’m Mrs. Dara-Lynn (insert). Not because I acquiesce to being “property,” not because I’m insecure about my identity, and not because family history doesn’t matter to me. Quite the contrary.

I’m adding to it. To our family, our legacy, our life.


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