On sight unseen I can pick out the professional Black women in a symposium or conference just by reading the names listed on the program. Not because Black women have first names that ethnically seperate them from others, but because sisters now have surnames that ethnically red flag their presence. Is it my paranoia or does every sister that gets married now retain their maiden name? The first major example for me was Ms.HUXTABLE, the beautiful PHYLICIA AYERS-ALLEN. She dropped the AYERS-ALLEN for almost a decade while she played the part of the better half of AHMAD RASHAD. Who, by the way, I have never really smelled without his moustache. Now Ms.PHYLICIA has returned to the AYERS-ALLEN surname, and not a moment too soon. From esteemed authors like, ZORA NEALE-HURSTON and BeBe MOORE-CAMPBELL, to social critics and teachers like KIMBERLY CHABOT-DAVIS one thing is for certain. Sisters are getting their hyphen on!

I can imagine the sociological reasons for this trend. Black women have made tremendous progress in all aspects of american society. They have come from the maid’s room to the center seat in the board room. Black men are lagging far behind their supposed counterparts on the educational front when considering the completion of grades 10 and above. With all this effort, the reward is an economic independence never imagined in previous generations. Who would have imagined that the most beloved woman in American culture would be the 240horsepower, automatic transmission, gift giving OPRAH WINFREY. If she says a book is good then it must be true. If she says that Black men’s closeted homosexuality is the reason why there is an epidemic of HIV affecting Black women… IT MUST BE TRUE! Oprah’s poo really does smell like roses.

So I get annoyed when I see Black women credited with something and their name is hyphenated. I am not annoyed with these women, but instead, it’s their player hater husbands that have me pissed off. If you know that your wife is ballin’ out of control, you should take on HER last name. VERONIE K. STEELE-SMALL of the Los Angeles County Fire Department is the first African American women to be promoted to the rank of captain in the Dept’s history. Her husband should have had the good sense to realize that her maiden name of ‘STEELE’ was way more gangsta than his last name ‘SMALL’. Her joint even has the final ‘E’ on the back as well.

This is completely a new world in a new millenium. The post 9-11 era is all about changing the rules for perception on everything. If my girlfriend has a better sounding last name than ELLIS or PENN or she is making more cheddar than the kid, then we will rock her last name no problemo. This way we can keep those (-) characters where I am used to seeing them… on my checking account statment.

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