Hey, I’m Isis—and before we go any further, I love my name. I am still trying to figure out how my name can be found offensive to people, but enghhh we are in the age of Donald Trump—anything is possible.
Growing up on the West Coast, I never had issues with my name. It made me memorable on top of my gift of gab and my pretty black skin. I grew up in a very diverse area and always had a number of ethnic friends with “different” names, as many people call it in hopes of not being offensive—even though the shit is still pretty offensive. If you’re going to add an adjective to my name, add “beautiful” or “unique” or “powerful,” but miss me with that “different” shit.
When I started applying for jobs, I don’t think the interviewer ever really knew what I’d look like based on my name on paper, but for many of us black people, that isn’t the case. We have always faced prejudgment based on the pronunciations and spellings of our names. Although I hadn’t quite experienced it when I was younger, I’m definitely going through it now.
This is how it usually starts:
Them: [Comes in for a handshake.] “Hey, I’m [insert generic name here].”
Me: [Reaches for hand.] “Nice to meet you, Generic Name. I’m Isis.”
Them: [Quickly pulls hand back and looks at you like you just grew a third boob while they simultaneously wait on you to change your answer.]
So at that point I’m already offended and respond with one of two phrases to refrain from cursing and “lighten the mood”:
“Isis like the goddess, not the group” or “Yes, Isis—just as powerful, but not as dangerous.”
Both of which will only wipe that ridiculous look off their face if they have a sense of humor. We’re not even going to talk about where the conversation could go if they don’t.
Simply put, it’s probably easier to be named Jesus in this day and age. Here’s what it’s really like being named Isis in 2017.
To those who wonder if I’m named after the terrorist group, you need to read more. How could I be named after a terrorist group that was formed years after I was born? For the precious babies that were blessed with this powerful name over the last decade, I mean, seriously—what kind of parents do you have to have, to name you after a group that carries out such horrendous acts? Grow TF up.
To the person who says, “Oh wow, growing up with that name must have been terrible”—no, it wasn’t. It was actually pretty fantastic. I was pretty much always remembered wherever I went because people weren’t used to the name. I never worried about being “Jessica H.” or “Ashley G.” throughout grade school because I was the only Isis at every school I ever attended, and that was just one of the ways I was unique enough to never be forgotten.
To the asshole who continues to mispronounce a name that has been written in history since pretty much the beginning of time—fuck you, dude. Like, seriously. If you can’t pronounce “Isis” by now, I should hit you with one of the hundred books you could have read to learn how. True story: My 12th-grade English teacher called me “Iris” clean up until the last day of class, when I lashed out at her about it.
What I don’t understand is how people can say and sometimes even spell the majority of all these damn French designers they can’t afford but can’t read Shemaiah, Yvette or Dontavius to save their life. Like, seriously?
For the inconsiderate bastard who says, “I bet your parents regret naming you Isis now,” no, they don’t. As a parent, there are several thoughts behind what you choose to name your child. Isis is a very powerful name. Not only did my parents put a great deal of thought into a name that would indefinitely give me something to live up to—there was actually an educational and historical aspect behind their choice as well, dumbass.
I was named after the Egyptian goddess Isis, who, to me, is the epitome of women but especially the black woman. She is the goddess of beauty, fertility and womanhood, to keep things short. Before you attribute all that my parents put into naming me to a damn terrorist group, read up on the goddess I was named after.
I know the language was a little strong, but I want to make it a point to identify how completely arrogant and rude it is to question the origin of my name—of all of our names. It is truly offensive. I mean, no one questioned it when Kim Kardashian named her son Saint West or when Beyoncé named her son Sir Carter. That’s not offensive, right? I was taught that my name was my strength. I was taught that my name is powerful. I was taught that my name represents me and all that I will be. I was taught that my name holds my legacy. Don’t ever make light of my name.
A word of advice: The next time you meet someone named Isis, refrain from any references to the terrorist group. Our name is Isis, not ISIS—and in the words of Birdman ... “you need to put some respeck on my name.”