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Name Narratives

This is a tool for introducing the topic of racial identity into the K-20 classroom.

Diana Martínez

on 15 September 2018

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Transcript of Name Narratives

Name Narratives
“This is for Aisha, this is for Kashera. This is for Khadijah scared to look up in the mirror.

I see the picture clearer thru the stain on the frame. She got a black girl name, she livin black
girl pain.”

New concepts about the formation of racial identities: the social
and legal
construction of race.

Tools to help communicate how names are linked to identity, family, place, community, and culture

Deconstructing Clues
Title of talk: Name Narratives
Subtitle: Cultivating Racial & Ethnic Identities
Subtitle: Creating Racial Solidarity

Song: “Aisha, Kashera, Khadijah—black girl name, black girl pain”

What do we want you to learn from this Name Narrative session?
Theory: Identity Formation &
Skills: Storytelling & Naming Practices

What are we talking about when we’re talking about race and race-conscious scholarship, including CRT and LatCrit?
What is "identity?"
Some dimensions of "race"
Racial/ethnic inequities
Racial/ethnic identity as a individual and collective skill set
Racial/ethnic identity as cultural asset and wealth
What do we mean by "race?"

Race is a not a biological classification.
Race is a social & legal interpretation of appearance.


an awareness (a feeling) that you belong with a particular social group, such as Whites, women, Latinas
Racial Identity
Conventional idea: Racial identity based on oppression
Recent scholarship on race
(more fluid, not oppression-dependent)
Race in tension with cosmopolitanism
(a moral universalism; race not dependent on ethnic group)
Race is social
— A way of defining oneself in relation with others, both imposed and chosen
Race is normative

— signals an agreement with a set of beliefs and practices. A set of “shoulds,” for example, Latinos should respect their parents, Latinos should support immigration. These general norms are contested and in flux.
Race is subjective
— at the core, identity is inside of your own head, a form of awareness and consciousness

Critical Race Theory

Race is inseparably interwoven with other identities:
Examples: “Mexicana” = Race + Gender + Ethnicity & Ancestry + Language + Class + Immigration Status

Interlocking systems of oppression:
Racism “intersects” with – is in conversation with and morphs with other systems of oppression:
Sexism & Patriarchy
Race Merges with & Disappears into:
Color/Facial Features
Indigeneity/Tribal Status
Immigration Status

Interpersonal bias
is the conscious (explicit) and/or unconscious (implicit) use of prejudice in interactions between individuals. Interpersonal bias is best illustrated by physicians’ treatment decisions based on racial prejudice, which sometimes results in the African Americans being given less pain relief.

Institutional bias
operates through organizational structures within institutions, which “establish separate and independent barriers” to health care services. Institutional bias is best demonstrated by higher interest rates for home loans.

Structural bias
exists in the organizational structure of society, which advantages some groups, while denying other groups access to the resources of society, including health care. An example of structural bias is the availability of higher education based primarily on ability to pay, rather than on the needs of the community or the qualifications of students.

Implicit bias
is a positive or negative mental attitude towards a person, thing, or group that a person holds at an unconscious level.
Story Telling Skills & Story Listening Skills
Don’t interrupt a story
Listen! Be present. Try not to think about what you are going to say
Don’t interrogate or rebut someone’s story
Stories are recursive – a detail told by someone might remind you of something about your story, if we had time, we’d go around a second time and allow you to revise/add to your story
Share only what you are comfortable/able to share
Feel free to pass if you don’t want to tell your story – judgment-free zone
Be aware of time – stories have long and short versions

Black Girl Pain
– Talib Kweli
Why should you talk about racial identity?
How to design exercises in which advocates construct the story of their names

Birth Order
Sexual Orientation
Intergenerational Linkages
Marital Status
Cultural And Racial Assimilation
Resistance To Assimilation
Mestizaje or Intermarriage
Native / Indigenous Ancestry
Folk Legends
“Americanization,” Imposed or Chosen
Pronunciation / Spelling
Political / Ideological Choices
Racial / Cultural Ambiguity of Appearance
Melded Family Stories
Tribute or Honoring Rituals
Literary Influences
Gender, race, ethnicity, Native or Indigenous identity
Sometimes visible
Religion, marital status, cultural/racial assimilation, mixed race, “Americanization”
Language, accents, resistance to assimilation, political or ideological choices, pronunciation and spelling
Race, ethnicity, Native/Indigenous identity, birth order, inter-generational links, religion
Gender, race, ethnicity, Native/Indigenous identity, marital status, languages, accents, political identity
Framing Questions
Why talk about [racial, ethnic, gender, sexual orientation] identity
in the classroom, courtroom, community or family?
How can exercises be designed to shape and express
stories about names? about ancestry? about identity?
Why is the Name Narrative exercise important?
Stories help us
understand race & culture

Race as
social and subjective
Racial/ethnic identity is a
social and legal
Racial/ethnic identity is both
individual and collective

Race as
social and normative
we tell and the stories that are told about us form or deform or transform our identities
Identity Formation & Storytelling: Name Stories
Name Narratives
At pages 10–11
Sandra Cisneros,
The House on Mango Street

In English my name means hope. In Spanish it means too many letters. . . .  It was my great-grandmother’s name and now it is mine. . . . I am always Esperanza. I would like to baptize myself under a new name, a name more like the real me, the one nobody sees. Esperanza as Lisandra or Maritza or Zeze the X. Yes. Something like Zeze the X will do.

Perspectives - ways of representing the world
Heuristics - techniques & tools for making improvements
Interpretations - ways of creating categories
Predictive Models - inferences about correlation & cause and effect
Cognitive Diversity
“Pile Sorting”
Identity-diverse groups -- better at solving problems and making predictions.

How can we empirically prove cognitive differences attributable to culture?

Use “pile sorting,” -- people are asked to sort familiar items or terms into piles.

People from different cultures make different associations and thus create different piles.
Why is the Name Narrative exercise important?
Strengthening racial/ethnic identity enhances individual and collective skill sets. Name stories with racial analysis help connect our work lives with our home lives.

Working with people from different backgrounds and identities makes you smarter.

Source: Scott E. Page, The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools and Societies (Princeton: 2007)
Racial/Identity Formation
Oppression-Based "Race"
Asset-Based "Race"
Margaret Montoya
, Professor Emerita of Law & Visiting Professor, Dept. of Family & Community Medicine, montoya@law.unm.edu
Diana Martínez
, MPH , Director of Programming, UNM HSC Office for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. deemb@salud.unm.edu

Source Ta-Nehisi Coates, Reparations, http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/05/the-case-for-reparations/361631/

Scott Page, The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools and Societies (2007)
Source: Kwame Anthony Appiah, Lines of Descent: W.E.B. DuBois and the Emergence of Identity (2014).
Source: Mahzarin R. Banaji & Anthony G. Greenwald, Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People (2013).
Camara Jones, Allegories on Race and Racism (2014).
Name Narrative Skills
An Exercise

Working in groups,
use the cues & clues to analyze
the Sandra Cisneros narrative.
What identity elements
are embedded
in the name Esperanza?

Identity Cues & Clues
Embedded in Names
Bringing the Analysis, Skills, & Stories to the Home and the Family

Types of Name Narrative Assignments
#1: Tell the story of your name.

#2: Use the Cues & Clues to tell a more complex story about your name, your family, & your racial group.

#3: Create a scaffolding exercise over several weeks or meetings.
Montoya, Margaret E.; Vasquez, Irene Morris; Martínez, Diana V. Name Narratives: A Tool for Examining and Cultivating Identity (2014)
Chicano-Latino Law Review, Vol. 32, No. 2,
Using the Name Narrative
with Teachers and Students:
Using identity- and race-conscious theory and tools to educate health providers:
UNM HSC's Educational Pipeline Programs
Theories & Skills in Practice
Skill: "Reading" race from stereotypical traits
: Blond, Morena, Cornrows, Tattoos
: Head scarf, Bandana, Business suit
Manhattan, Harlem, Congress
Millionaires, immigrants, slaves, the President
WalMart, Saks,
In Brief:
It seems obvious that a group of people with diverse individual expertise would be better than a homogeneous group at solving complex, nonroutine problems. It is less obvious that social diversity should work in the same way—yet the science shows that it does.

This is not only because people with different backgrounds bring new information. Simply interacting with individuals who are different forces group members to prepare better, to anticipate alternative viewpoints and to expect that reaching consensus will take effort.

Other Source:
Katherine Phillips, How Diversity Makes Us Smarter, Scientific American, (2014).
More Tools
Name Narrative Video:
Facundo the Great

Name Narrative Video: Names

Full transcript