To All the Little Black Girls With Big Names by Sha’Condria “iCon” Sibley (for Quvenzhane’ Wallis).
As book and poetry lovers know, words and names have power far beyond the syllables and sounds they seem to be. The way we use and value words and names says a lot about how we treat and value the things or people associated with them. To counteract the de-meaning (and demeaning) of black girls’ names, Tumblr user subconsciouscelebrity provided this list (and you can see how the conversation that followed the list here):
The meanings of a few names that people would typically think are ghetto and meaningless
LAKEISHA: a swahili name meaning “favorite one”
LATEEFAH: a north african name meaning “gentle and pleasant”
LATONIA: a latin name. latonia was the mother of diana in roman mythology
LATISHA: means “happiness”
TAKIYA: a north african name meaning “righteous”
ESHE. African Swahili name meaning “immortal”
KALISHA. Probably from the Galla word kalisha “sorcerer, wizard, witch doctor, magician”
LEENA (لينا). Another spelling of Arabic Lina (q.v.), meaning “softness.” In use in Africa.
MAKENA. African Kikuyu name meaning “the happy one.”
NIA. African Swahili name meaning “intention, life purpose, mind.”
MONIFA. African Yoruba name, meaning “I am luck,” from mo “I,” and ifa “profit, luck.”
NUBIA. Unisex. African. From the name of the country Nubia, meaning “land of gold,” from the Coptic word for gold.
AYANA : Ethiopian female name meaning “beautiful flower.”
SHANIKA. Unisex. African Bantu name, probably meaning “young one from the wilderness.”
SALINA. African. A name in use in Kenya. It may mean “merciful.”
TAMEKA. Another spelling of the African Congo name Tamika (q.v.), meaning “a twin,”
TAMELA. African Zulu name meaning “she who basks in the sun,”
AMARA. f. African. From the Swahili word amara, meaning “urgent business.”
Hindu. name meaning “immortal.”
African. Ethiopian. Amharic amari, meaning “agreeable, pleasing.”
CHICHI f Western African, Igbo
Diminutive of Igbo names beginning with the element Chi meaning “God”.
IMANI f & m Eastern African, Swahili, African American
Means “faith” in Swahili, ultimately of Arabic origin.
AZIZA f means “Respected. Darling.” Muslim,African, Egyptian, Arabic, Somali name meaning “gorgeous.
DALIA/DALILA f means “Gentle.”
African, Arabic, American, Egyptian, Spanish, African, Hebrew
BIBI : An East African female name meaning “daughter of a king.” Also a Kiswahili word meaning “lady” or “grandmother.”
ADA : Ibo of Nigeria name for firstborn females.
ZENA : Ethiopian name meaning “news” or “fame.”
JAMILAH f means “Beautiful.”
Arabic, Muslim, African
KALIFA f means “Chaste; holy.”
RASHIDI/RASHIDA f means
“Wise.” Egyptian African Swahili name meaning “righteous.”
TAJ means “Crown.”
FATUMA : Popular Swahili and Somali versions of the name Muslim name, FATIMA, meaning “weaned.”
NANA : Ghanaian name meaning “mother of the Earth.”
AJA : High Priestess of Mecca.
ADINA : Amharic of Ethiopia word sometimes used as a female name, meaning “she has saved.”
BALINDA : A Rutooro of Uganda name meaning “patience, endurance, fortitude.” (Balinda is also used as a male name in Uganda.)
FANTA : Guinea and Cote D’Ivoire name meaning “beautiful day.”
KAYA : Ghanaian name meaning “stay and don’t go back.”
LAYLA , LAILA , LEYLA , LEILA : Swahili and Muslim name meaning “born at night.”
SHANI : Swahili name meaning “marvelous.”
ANAYA : Ibo of Eastern Nigeria name meaning “look up to God.”
TANISHA , TANI : Hausa of W. Africa name meaning “born on Monday.”
ZAKIYA : Swahili name meaning “smart, intelligent.”
TITI : Nigerian name meaning “flower.”
SAFIA , SAFIYA , SAFIYEH , SAFIYYAH : Swahili and Arabic name meaning “pure and wise” or “lion’s share.”
LULU : Swahili and Muslim name meaning “pearl” or “precious.”
KADIJA , KHADIJA : Swahili name meaning “born prematurely.”
AMINA : Somali and Muslim female name meaning “trustful, honest” and referring to Muhammed’s mother. This name is popular with the Hausa of West Africa.
Paloma Noyola: The Face of Mexico’s Unleashed Potential
When a report emerged in September 2012 that a girl from one of Matamoros’ poorest neighborhoods had attained the highest math score in Mexico, some doubted its veracity. It must be fake, they said.
But it wasn’t fake. Her name is Paloma Noyola, and what most reports failed to mention is that almost all of her classmates also scored very high on the national math test. 10 scored in the 99.99% percentile.
Paloma and her classmates also scored in the top percentile in language. Something special was happening at José Urbina López primary school in Matamoros, and Wired went to take a look.
The high test scores turned out to be the work of a young teacher who also came from humble beginnings. Sergio Juárez Correa was tired of the monotony of teaching out of a book and wanted to try something new to help engage his students when he came across the work of Sugata Mitra, a UK university professor who had innovated a new pedagogy he called SOLE, or self organized learning environments. The new approach paid off.
Although SOLE usually relies on unfettered Internet access for research, Juárez and his students had very limited access. Somehow, he still found a way to apply Mitra’s teachings and unleash their potential.
From the beginning, Paloma’s exceptional abilities were evident:
One day Juárez Correa went to his whiteboard and wrote “1 = 1.00.” Normally, at this point, he would start explaining the concept of fractions and decimals. Instead he just wrote “½ = ?” and “¼ = ?”
“Think about that for a second,” he said, and walked out of the room.
While the kids murmured, Juárez went to the school cafeteria, where children could buy breakfast and lunch for small change. He borrowed about 10 pesos in coins, worth about 75 cents, and walked back to his classroom, where he distributed a peso’s worth of coins to each table. He noticed that Paloma had already written .50 and .25 on a piece of paper.
As Mr. Juárez implemented more of Mitra’s teachings in his classroom, Paloma continued to stand out as an exceptionally gifted student:
Juárez Correa was impressed. But he was even more intrigued by Paloma. During these experiments, he noticed that she almost always came up with the answer immediately. Sometimes she explained things to her tablemates, other times she kept the answer to herself. Nobody had told him that she had an unusual gift. Yet even when he gave the class difficult questions, she quickly jotted down the answers. To test her limits, he challenged the class with a problem he was sure would stump her. He told the story of Carl Friedrich Gauss, the famous German mathematician, who was born in 1777.
When Gauss was a schoolboy, one of his teachers asked the class to add up every number between 1 and 100. It was supposed to take an hour, but Gauss had the answer almost instantly.
“Does anyone know how he did this?” Juárez Correa asked.
A few students started trying to add up the numbers and soon realized it would take a long time. Paloma, working with her group, carefully wrote out a few sequences and looked at them for a moment. Then she raised her hand.
“The answer is 5,050,” she said. “There are 50 pairs of 101.”
Juárez Correa felt a chill. He’d never encountered a student with so much innate ability. He squatted next to her and asked why she hadn’t expressed much interest in math in the past, since she was clearly good at it.
“Because no one made it this interesting,” she said.
Although this Wired piece focuses mostly on Sugata Mitra, it does once again highlight the story of Paloma Noyola. Unfortunately, after a brief spurt of media attention, little on Paloma was ever mentioned and, as was pointed out by Wired, nothing was ever said of Mr. Juárez.
As with most stories in the Mexican press — and those popular with the middle-class — things suddenly become very important once it’s featured in a gringo publication. Which is a very sad commentary. We hope, however, that this story pushes those in the press, state and federal government to look not to the United States for validation but to Mexicans like Sergio Juárez doing good work in places like Matamoros.
The clear message in this story is that there are thousands of Paloma Noyolas going to school in Mexico who, just like her at one time, are not being challenged and therefore aren’t very interested in school. This story can, if we want it to, raise enough awareness to shift the discussion from poverty to opportunity.
Paloma truly personifies both Mexico’s challenges and unleashed potential.
Read the entire Wired story here: How a Radical New Teaching Method Could Unleash a Generation of Geniuses
Editor’s note: As an addendum, Wired provided information on helping support Sugata Mitra and his School in the Clouds project, and although they donated school supplies and equipment to José Urbina López School, we’re interested in seeing if we can help set up a similar fund for Sergio Juárez, the teacher featured in this story.
Also, $9,300 was raised to help fund Paloma’s education last year. We’re going to follow up with the economist who led the fundraising campaign to see how she’s doing. Stay tuned for the updates.
Quinoa may deliver a complete protein—all of the amino acids you require—in a compact package, but rice and beans together actually do better. And like goji berries, blueberries and strawberries are packed with phytochemicals. The only problem is that lacking an exotic back story, food marketers can’t wring as exorbitant a markup from these staples: The domestic blueberry, for example, is periodically (and justifiably) marketed as a superfood, and in 2012, products featuring blueberries as a primary ingredient saw their sales nearly quadruple. But they only raked in $3.5 million—less than 2 percent of açaí-based product sales.
Tom Philpott, "Are Quinoa, Chia Seeds, and other ‘Superfoods’ a Scam?" (from Mother Jones)
Also worth highlighting is this section:
“Worse than superfoods’ origin myths, though, are their effects on the people in their native regions. In 2009, at the height of the açaí berry hype, Bloomberg News reported that the fruit’s wholesale price had jumped 60-fold since the early 2000s, pricing the Amazonian villagers who rely on it out of the market. In the Andes, where quinoa has been cultivated since the time of the Incas, price spikes have turned a one-time staple into a luxury, and quinoa monocrops are crowding out the more sustainable traditional methods.” (emphasis mine)
So not only are the markets for “superfoods” putting the foods out of reach of the people who relied on them as a dietary staple, but there are foods easily accessible to us that deliver all the nutrition at a fraction of the cost, both to our grocery bill and to the social/environmental toll.
I watched a really great tv show on this as well. I cannot remember what it was called but it basically said most of the research surrounding “superfoods” was dodgy.
Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Djibouti. Those are the countries. It will be drought-resistant species, mostly acacias. And this is a fucking brilliant idea you have no idea oh my Christ
This will create so many jobs and regenerate so many communities and aaaaaahhhhhhh
more info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Green_Wall
it’s already happening, and already having positive effects. this is wonderful, why have i not heard of this before? i’m so happy!
Oh yes, acacia trees.
They fix nitrogen and improve soil quality.
And, to make things fun, the species they’re using practices “reverse leaf phenology.” The trees go dormant in the rainy season and then grow their leaves again in the dry season. This means you can plant crops under the trees, in that nitrogen-rich soil, and the trees don’t compete for light because they don’t have any leaves on.
And then in the dry season, you harvest the leaves and feed them to your cows.
Crops grown under acacia trees have better yield than those grown without them. Considerably better.
So, this isn’t just about stopping the advancement of the Sahara - it’s also about improving food security for the entire sub-Saharan belt and possibly reclaiming some of the desert as productive land.
Of course, before the “green revolution,” the farmers knew to plant acacia trees - it’s a traditional practice that they were convinced to abandon in favor of “more reliable” artificial fertilizers (that caused soil degradation, soil erosion, etc).
This is why you listen to the people who, you know, have lived with and on land for centuries.
“I just did eight and a half years in federal prison.”
“What was the worst thing about it?”
“The racial tension.”
“What else was really bad?”
“The guards. They hate prisoners. If you hate children, would you work at a kindergarten? If you hate animals, would you work at a zoo? Why work in prison if you hate prisoners?”
“What do they do?”
“They mess with your mind, try to break you down: cold room, one blanket.”
“You think they do it on purpose?”
“Why else would they do it? They know you’ll be cold. They know it will mess with your head. That’s just one small example—there’re many other things. If you don’t find a way to keep yourself sane, you’re going to re-enter society as a nutjob, a weirdo, messed up—all of the above. It’s called a correctional institution, but their goal is to mess you up: the guards, the system, they want you back.”
“What do you do to stay normal?”
“You think about your family—but some guys don’t have families.”
the thing about chemical weapons and war contaminants—including tear gas—is that their use is always deliberate. they have their immediate effects—killing and injuring people—but the long term effects are even more insidious. chemical weapons (and I use this term deliberately) can cause long term disability and illness in people immediately exposed to them—think cancer, chemical injury, nerve damage, pulmonary and respiratory illnesses, etc.
but even more distressing than that, is research that demonstrates the long term impact of these chemical agents on environments and communities. this shit stays in the air, the soil, the water. exposure causes not only injury and illness to people immediately in the line of fire, it can cause birth anomalies long after the conflict has ceased. add in the fact that these kinds of weapons are deployed against marginalized populations whose access to healthcare is restricted, and you have effectively suppressed and marginalized not only the current generation, but future ones as well.
There is not a lot of research on this, because these weapons are deployed against people the state wants dead anyway— in our current context, Black people in the US and Palestinians in Gaza. let me be real clear about this: chemical weapons are being deployed against Black people by police; this is directed chemical warfare motivated by racism.
So with tear gas, you get this funny thing where police are praised for using “less lethal” measures, when in fact the long term consequences are pretty damn lethal, but all of that gets covered up by time and distance and “lack of research”.
There is a pattern here of dumping toxic shit on people, either through outright violence or through industrial environmental degradation (or both!), and then shrugging when a host of ongoing health problems emerge. In particular, use of chemical weapons constitutes an ongoing act of violence designed to disable and surpress populations. Tear gas is different in degree, not in kind.
Some links on this below the cut: