Food for Our Grandmothers: Writings by Arab-American and Arab-Canadian Feminists

By Joanna Kadi | Go to book overview
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What's Not in a Name

MARILYNN RASHID


Arab-American

*Although I am married, I call myself Marilynn Rashid, "to keep my own name," I say. But, of course, it's only my father's name, so this partly defeats the purpose—the patriarchy can't be broken this way. It's small solace, a partial solution, no solution. So I should add my mother's name, Philipson (son of Philip?). But, of course, that wasn't her mother's name either, just her father's. So I should use Manders, my grandmother's name as well. But I know that name carries the same half-weight. Marilynn Manders Philipson Rashid. What's in a name? A lot, but somehow not enough.

These names hearken back to Lebanon, Ireland, Luxembourg, places of origin of people lost to me, places with which I have little or no connection, places that were distant shadows even for the ones who held the names and passed them on. I am a piece of the cultural entropy of the age, forever falling away from many centers.

If we truly knew who we were, our names would not be such a problem. It is difficult to find one's way in a world divided not only by war and racism, but by freeways, television, and the technological projects of so-called progress. If we could, in fact, go back where we came from, as some would like us to do, we would still not find ourselves, for those places are changed or destroyed or occupied or part of the same industrial grid we find ourselves in here. And also, some of us, many of us, would have to cut ourselves up in twos and threes and ship pieces of ourselves all over the globe. And surely that wouldn't help our sense of fragmentation.

So we stay where we are, at least for now, and we know it as home. We stick with the names we've been given and we ask a lot of questions of the old people, if there are any left. And we listen carefully so that we can tell others. The details are important.

____________________
*
These excerpts are from a work-in-progress.

-197-

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Food for Our Grandmothers: Writings by Arab-American and Arab-Canadian Feminists
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