Success, with Style

Posts tagged “Trans*

What to do when you have a “ghetto” name

Posted on October 6, 2015

It wasn’t until law school that someone told me to my face that my name, Takeia, was considered “ghetto.” Until that point, all I knew was my name and that I required people to pronounce it correctly if they were going to talk to me. Five-year-old Takeia held lessons in classrooms and on playgrounds on how to pronounce my name: Ta-kee-uh. When I was younger, I don’t think I knew why I demanded that recognition, but now I know: your name is often the first glimpse into your identity that people have.



As the poet says in the video, I demanded that people pronounce my name correctly or not say it at all.


In law school, when professors would call on me, they would say my first name. They almost always got it wrong the first time. I corrected them, and would not allow them to move on to whatever question they had until they got my name right.


Yes, I had the audacity to require recognition before I proceeded in any relationship with you, even if that relationship was for three fleeting minutes in which I presented the facts, issue(s), holding and reasoning of a case. For those that persisted in incorrectly pronouncing my name, I let them know they have the option of calling me Ms. Johnson instead.


Although I have a decidedly Black-sounding name, I have still achieved numerous goals. I can’t say, however, what levels of success I might have reached or what opportunities were foreclosed to me, simply because of my name. Even though I can’t identify where I have been denied access and opportunity because of racism, research shows that people with ethnic-, and in particular, Black-sounding names are treated differently and ultimately less favorably, because of the race and ethnicity attributed to their names.  See, e.g., “Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination.”


We live in a world in which the politics of identity means that there are social forces always working to ignore, deny, and denigrate individuals and groups based solely on their identities – whether it is based on race/ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, or any number of other identifiers.


Marlo Stanfield said it so succinctly on The Wire: my name is my name. It is the world’s first entry into my identity and I demand recognition.


Social Justice Sophisticate

Posted on August 9, 2014

Sometimes the work of serving others is heart-wrenching, fatigue-inducing, and soul-stripping.  Global Act crashed Chicago and changed the tenor of the work of LGBT activism in an unforgettable way this Wednesday, August 6, 2014, when the organization descended upon Ignite Glass Studios and hosted the most baller activist event I have ever attended.  I was not able to attend the ideation session during the day, in which 150 activists met to discuss, analyze, and plan solutions to problems facing six charities serving Chicago’s gay community, including the non-profit social justice organization that I proudly and humbly serve:  Affinity Community Services.  Unfortunately, I’m almost out of PTO at the gig, so I couldn’t take the day.  But!  I arrived and was immediately wooed by the rooftop dinner, storyteller session, and then MTV Unplugged-esque acoustic concert by Fun.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Fun., bro.  Fun.  Check out my amazing night, in photos.  Click an image for the full gallery.

Here are some of my favorite looks of the amazingly simple, classic, yet modern and kind of sexy style of Fun.

Hope you had as successful and stylish a week as I was blessed to have.






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