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Behind the Name This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     As an African-American male living in a world of limitless opportunity, I know that when I face reality, I am limited as to what I can do. I have planned my future step by step, calculating every move as precisely as possible. There’s nothing I have left out and nothing I’ve overlooked. However, as much as I would like to continue with my future, there’s something in my past that haunts and taunts me. I am tormented by the knowledge, the pain, and my last name that carries the treachery of my father.

When I was seven years of age I lived with both my mom and father in a wonderful neighborhood in Dallas, Texas. It was a beautiful place filled with kind and respectful people. Everything seemed like a fairy tale and I believed nothing could go wrong. My mom was a wonderful woman but little did I know that my father was not the person he seemed.

During my early childhood my father chased women day and night; I realized this one day when he took me to a mysterious woman’s house. It was obvious she was not a family member. They would giggle and hold hands as they sat on the couch sipping wine. I pretended to watch TV but as I sat there it dawned on me that they had disappeared into the bedroom. During the car ride home my father asked me in a very uneasy tone never to tell my mother what I had witnessed that day. I feared the consequences if I did not do as he demanded, so I kept quiet and continued to live the fairy-tale life.

It was not long before I noticed a change in the atmosphere of my home. The glow on my mom’s face that brought warmth to my world faded away. I was confused and didn’t know what to do. Emotions ran high and arguments increased by the day. It got to the point where my father decided he no longer loved my mom so he packed her bags and asked her to leave. I remember that day like it was yesterday.

Standing there watching my mother get kicked out of the house, I was afraid. Tears burned my cheeks. I felt hopeless and useless yet tried to contain myself. Luckily, my mother was able to land on her feet. Some relatives gave her a place to stay in New Jersey where she could start over. As for me, as time passed I became the victim of my father’s ungrateful nature and was put on a plane to New Jersey to live with my mom. I looked at this as a new beginning. I no longer look at my dad with the same respect I did when I was younger. Our relationship has fizzled.

Now 17, my experiences have made me wise beyond my years. I am a fast learner and have guided myself through life with morals that I stand by completely. I have decided to change my last name to something I feel will better represent me. I can no longer bear having my father’s last name for it only reminds me of the pain I felt. I have ostracized him from my life completely and so the only way for me to continue is to change my last name. Some may disagree with me because they might feel that although he was a bad father, he’s still family and family should stay together, but I believe this change will allow me to take on a new identity and relieve me of the fear that one day I might end up like him. It is the meaning behind the name that interests me the most and unfortunately the name I carry has no good meaning behind it. Therefore, I feel I must find one that captures the real me in the most dignified way.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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