That's Not My Name

I’m sorry! I didn’t catch your name!

The year was 1987 and our beloved Denise Huxtable was embarking on her sophomore year at Hillman College (Her parent’s alma mater). The season opens with Denise requesting a room change from the newly divorced, a little seasoned, meticulous, freshmen roommate, Jaleesa Vinson and Maggie, one of the few Caucasian students on Hillman’s campus.

            Though we find out later that college wasn’t the move for Denise; we get the opportunity to watch Jaleesa grow, excel in her academics, get married, and have a child. Maybe my mother knew what she was doing by naming me after the fictional character. I often laugh because we are so much alike (she can have the divorce part though). Check out the full Cosby spinoff on Netflix ; )

            However, this Jaleesa has not always been “proud” of her name. Father (Jimmie) + Mother (Lisa)= Jalisa. After seeing the spelling of the Different World character my name went from Jalisa to Jaleesa. I felt like people would stereotype me because of my name. I have introduced myself and have been met with, “Ohhhh, that’s different” or my favorite, “It’s uuummmm ethnic”. One lady said, “You must have to repeat yourself all the time”. I considered going by J.R. Smith for a long time. You wouldn’t know if I were black, white, male, or female. I had never seen a successful Jaleesa before.

I didn’t want to be counted out before I even started! Then I came to my senses. Jaleesa has the Career Studies Certificate, Bachelors, Masters, and soon PH.D. Jaleesa is the blogger, dancer, leader, and speaker. Jaleesa is the mentor, daughter, and friend. If someone decides my name is too ethnic for their roster, they don’t deserve me…. good thing I work for myself ;-)

My friend Chatocwa McWhorter went through the same thing. It wasn’t until she put Ms. McWhorter on her application that she got callbacks. Let me share a part of her impressive resume’. This young, beautiful, black sista graduated Magna Cum Laude from Fordham University and holds a Juris Doctorate from Liberty University (yes, she’s a lawyer). Served as an Assistant Public Defender, Program Manager, and Legal Intern but was skipped over, not because of her work, but her name.

What do we share with the next generations of LaQuanna’s, Jaquisha’s, Shaniqua’s, and JaKiesha’s? Just do you baby. Prove the doubters wrong and don’t let your name or the lack of understanding of your name keep you from greatness. Maybe your name is not ghetto but just not traditional. Remember this: The world’s greatest entertainer’s name is Beyonce’, Your current President: Barack, One of the most successful women: Oprah. 66th Secretary of State: Condoleezza. And the blog you’re reading: Coach Jaleesa Roche’…you’re in good company.

Media and the Black Woman

Being Mary Jane, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, Housewives of Atlanta, Love and Hip Hop…what do they have in common? Black shows…female leads. What’s my issue? The way we are depicted. Yes, Olivia is gladiator and she wears her white hat (by the way, I stopped watching Scandal seasons ago so none of my references will be new). But as beautiful, fashionable, and smart as Olivia is why does she have to be a part of an affair with a married man. Beautiful, accomplished and a home wrecker…

As “rich and successful” as Kandi, Nene, Cynthia, and Kenya are why do they slander, fight, and gossip. Beautiful, successful, and messy.

Mary Jane Paul, Beautiful, Successful, and all of the above.

Where are the Claire Huxtable’s, the Tia and Tamera Mowry’s, the Harriett Winslow’s, Moesha’s and Florida Evans’. We have settled for the image that media has given us. We get mad when people clump us together as ignorant, loud mouthed, neck snapping, angry women yet we support the very things that portray us that way.

Anywayyyyyyy, I’m going to save the natural hair talk for another day because after talking to a few people they thought I should do a poll first. So I’m signing off for now *starts singing, India Arie’s “I Am Not My Hair” *. Shout out to all my Ethnic name girls who’s first syllable is La, who may have a “Qui” somewhere in there, or who has unnecessary silent letters…be great boo, you are the real MVP! Lol

Questions, Concerns, Comments: Email Use subject: That’s Not My Name or comment below. See you next week.

Coach Jaleesa