When I first encountered Americans, I would introduce myself as Tobi (for some reason, Americans find it really difficult to pronounce Olu-wa-tobi) and I would usually get the same reaction: “oh shit dude you’re named after the slave from Roots, your parents must really hate you”. At that time, still getting accustomed to American culture, I had no clue what the fuck Roots was so my ignorance was obvious in my reaction, which was a blank fucking stare. The more I encountered people and introduced myself, their reaction to my name became the norm but my irritation only grew. Finally, I decided to ask someone what Roots was and I found out it was a miniseries or a movie about a slave who got his leg cut off – or something. My tie to this mini-series, movie, or whatever the fuck, was a famous scene were the protagonist is being tortured and forced to change his name; although he refuses to surrender his identity and puts up a fight. This scene profoundly touched on ways African Americans were forced to surrender their African identity and transformed into a slave. For some odd reason, some people find this disturbing scene to be very hilarious. After I got hip (Hip: DMV term meaning to know) I realized everyone I met that tied my name to this scene were immensely ignorant(which wasn’t their fault really). Every time I met the same irritating reaction to my name, I would think to myself “I wonder what the fuck Jamal or Laquiesha means”.
This subtly exposes the ties that have been cut between the African American and his homeland of Africa. To not realize Tobi is an African name and has nothing to do with slavery is almost… Absurd.
There is an African identity without slavery.
Anyways, my name, Oluwatobi, can be interpreted in many ways: God is big, God is omnipotent, God is absolute. I am glad Yoruba people thought it wise to give their children meaningful names. After years of experiencing the same reaction (and still do till today) I still think the people that believe my name is tied to the miniseries/movie are dumbfucks and giant ignoramuses, but it’s easier to forgive them now and just laugh at them. I have never watched Roots before and I don’t plan on ever watching it (although I would like to read the book). It is the only movie that I hate and I’ve never seen before. I mean, mathematically speaking here, the miniseries/movie came out in 2001, I am 21yrs old, I would have to be 15 for my parents to even consider naming me after a slave movie. So even if you’re ignorant to African culture, I am sure you can do basic math. Anyways (deep breath) before I make this angry rant too extensive, to all you dumbfucks out there, I pity you and I forgive you.