Naming is a serious process. It has been of crucial concern for many individuals within oppressed groups who struggle for self-recovery, for self-determination. It has been important for black people in the United States. Think of the many African-American slaves who renamed themselves after emancipation or the use of nicknames in traditional folk communities, where such names act to tell something specific about the bearer. Within naming is a source of empowerment, an important gesture in the process of creation. A primacy is given to naming as a gesture that deeply shapes and influences the social construction of a self. As in southern African-American folk traditions, a name is perceived as a force that has the power to determine whether or not an individual will be fully self-realized, whether she or he will be able to fulfill their destiny, find their place in the world.

from “Talking Back: thinking feminist, thinking black”, p. 166