My name is Blaine Eugene Young II.
European blood runs through my veins as
Strongly as the names that represent that heritage
Flow from my mouth.
Blaine from Gaelic meaning “strong and lean.”
Eugene from Greek meaning “well-born and noble.”
Young from Old English meaning…well, meaning “young.”
And the II, a numeral of Roman origin to signify that I
Proudly bear the entirety of my father’s name.
And this is what bothers me…having that privilege, I mean.
Because while I have that right, I repeatedly meet
Black men, women, and children who share my Old English
Last name. How is it that men with blood from Africa coursing
Through their bodies to a beat of hearts pumping since the
Creation of Man can share this trait with me?
My deliberation leads to consternation as I realize that
It’s because Youngs from generations past decided that
Their Anglo-Saxon nomenclature was superior to that
Of the ones shared by generations unfamiliar to them.
This is for the men who lost their family’s
Last name legacy to slavery;
Men who had the right to give their sons
Something to pass down taken from them by force
Locked down by bars and chains,
By bushel baskets and whips.
This is for the men who were forced to wear
The name Young on their backs, etched by bits
Of stone, bone, and glass; surpassing human tolerance
And renaming not just mind but body,
Calling it “Owned.”
Can you see them? See the hands of wives
Rubbing a homemade salve into the raised flesh,
A human Braille, spelling out a name given
By white men to erase African roots.
Can you hear them? Free men taking on the name
“Freeman” to regain a sense of independence
From so-called men who feared what they
Did not understand.
Well I don’t understand either. And I never will.
Because my name is Blaine Eugene Young II,
The name of my father. And I will call my son a Young.
And I never thought that I’d be one to call for reparations
Because money cannot erase hundreds of year of subjugation
But I am calling for them now…appellation reparations.
But how do you give someone their history back?
I don’t know. Maybe my son can figure it out.