Ask Ty...September 24 [The Name Game Question]

Q: Dear Ty,

I followed a guy on Twitter named Tyrell.

I met him IRL and was surprised that he was white.

Does my assumption that Tyrell = black make me a racist?

-Confused Presumptive Whitey

Ty: Good question and an even better observation, CPDubbz. Names...our handy mini-biographies and calling cards. I mean, Tyrone, right?

First off, I almost forgot all about Twitter. [redacted opinions about the tech-people interface] So there's the first digression out of the way.

Wouldn't it be best if it were a cultural convention for us to all pick our very own names? Maybe we could try a bunch of 'em for size in our youth but are eventually legally bound to stick with a permanent name by, say, the age you get our licenses to drive. Maybe I'd be Julius T. Leisure after all. I mean, Tyrone, right?

We all have probably questioned our names at some point. Some Madelines go by Maddy. Some Davids go by Dave. Some people use their middle names socially. Some people change their names legally to Metta World Peace. Some people live a life as a nickname. I knew a Tyrone who went by Chip because he was a "chip off the old block." Interestingly, this Tyrone, or "Chip," was a rich, white male from the Connecticut social scene. I mean, Tyrone, right?

And believe me, careful social, business, and nickname thought went into the naming of my offspring. Personally, I have chosen to socially go by a shortened, more race-neutral version of my own name. I mean, Tyrone, right?

Are you a racist? Let's see. You have the ability to discern that there are people of varying skin tones who may have come from varying parts of the planet. At least their ancestors may have come from different places than where you made your observation. Are you a racist? You know that some names have some race correlation. This is the social game. You are allowed some shortcuts, some educated guesses. But are you a racist? A savvy racist? Are we all racist then? I mean, Tyrone, right?

In this case, CPDubbz, you did well by assuming a race based only on a name. You chose black based upon first name alone. I might've done the same thing. But add some context, however, and one's  assumptions could change. Or, judgments sway. What if the full name was Tyrell Chang? Does that change anything? What if the "tweets" or "twitterings" you followed were all written in a clear, perfect English? What if this Tyrell dropped the term, "mate," in on the regs? What if their Twitter page was decorated with Canadian or Swiss flags? What if the full name was Tyrell Chowdry? What if the person was from Houston? What if the person was from Salem, Oregon? Salem, Massachusetts? What if he went by DJ Tyrell BoomSizzle? We manufacture all sorts of physical characteristics based on all sorts of direct or circumstantial information. I mean, Tyrone, right?

IRL: What if we met Tyrell blindfolded? Only heard a voice and it was lyrically and classically British? What it he was a she at least based on our own earholes? What if she smelled of beautiful perfume? What if the person stank of B.O.? Or patchouli? What if, with our own eyes, they were paraplegic? Or geriatric? Or red haired? Or presented as poor? Likewise, we manufacture all sorts of social and cultural characteristics based on what our senses perceive. I mean, Tyrone, right?

So, racist? You ascribed race on name alone? Yeah, you're pretty fucking racist, CPDubbz. Nailed it. I mean, Tyrone, right?

Just a guess.

-ty short for Tyrone


Self-Healing Wounds

Many things that create each and every day
Some things we embrace some things we avoid
some we share and some annoy
Like grains of sand on the opposing platforms
of life’s balancing scale
Little things charge the positive and negative poles

Like today for example (and certainly)
Tasks were accomplished and
Tasks were completed but
When the suboptimal dominates the optimal
then the overarching tone begins to
amplify the underlying loneliness and uncertainty

When our raison d’ĂȘtre begins to feel like
dreamscape hikes through desperate mud
When in the course of fulfilling our contracts the
parts oppose the whole like surly adolescents
When the extras in this reality program
decide to carve out starring roles

Proverbial straws break the backs
of camels aplenty and only one additional
drop of water will flood a thousand villages
The tiniest things alight atop the tiniest things until
these miniature beings gain what amounts to their
very own heft and dimension and life

But what I am discovering is that
even when the fail-safe’s fail-safe fails
and nothing feels safe amongst all the failings is
It really doesn’t matter because it is not important
It doesn’t matter at all because it just doesn’t
It does not matter

And what we may accomplish
and what we advertise
and we take full credit for
and what we believe we are going to do someday
are all just tiny little pieces of the
Many things that create each day

Distinction (Mope No. 5/10)