What Is In A Name?

We’re here at Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Promenade, whatever you wanna call it.

I remember, years ago, I was doing a lot of soul searching here.

I remember years ago, there wasn’t a lot of people here. It wasn’t this many people

Blame it on gentrification. Blame it on whatever you want.

But I’m glad I was able to discover this spot, many years ago.

If I didn’t, it probably wouldn’t have saved my life.

If a name is an identity of who I am.

Then, can locations be an identity on who I am?

Who knows.

To see the name, Naquan Malik Harrison-Holland, for what it is in the present day, one would have to consider what that name meant for me in the past. At best, an individual is born with a first and a last name. At worst, a middle name is included. I’m probably at the absolute worst end of the spectrum it would seem. The two last names I carry, would out me as a “bastard child” so to speak. I seldom use my entire government name because there are too many words, too many letters.

In The House on Mango Street, Esperanza said a similar sentiment. She addressed that her name in English meant hope, but in Spanish it meant “too many letters.” At that age, I, too, felt as if my name was too cumbersome when it came to my identity, and even to this day I feel embarrassed to wear this name. My full name means I truly don’t belong anywhere. I’m from different distinct backgrounds. My soul is in New York, yet a huge chunk of my heart resides in Louisville, rested in the arms of my lover where several hundred miles separate us.

My identity is defined by the places I’ve been, the people I have met, the friendships I have kindled. My name, defined none of that. It is a label I wear. Know me by who I am, the next time you struggle with pronouncing my name. Know me by who I am, before you assume who I am due to my name. Far too many times I hear “I am not the same type of person as I look.” Or “I am not the same time of person as my name suggests.” Quit that. Where I’ve been to get me where I am today, is what defines me. Not a first, middle, last, or even a nickname.

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