Essential Questions:

  • What does your name mean to you?
  • How did your name get power?
  • What is the origin of your name?
  • Does your name have a family history?
  • Does your name represent you currently?


Kalonji Nzinga

book of names


i get around lil homie i get around

following the Green Book southbound

i’ve moved around the colony and always found

a little ghetto blossoming in every town

and in the midst of liquour stores and hoop courts

you hope to find a thriving independent black book store

and on the shelf next to malcolm toni and james

you can usually find a volume of African names

glistening like an almanac of spells

looking for a name parallel to my selves

connected to ancestral tongues blessings from

when i scroll through pages hope i find a special bond

with a name that’s Foulani Bambara or Ga

do I resonate with Jelani Amara or Jah?

i saw the symbols and suddenly a wave came

that washed away a slave name



Marlene Palomar

Cast the first stone





Shawn Trenell O’Neal




Say my name like the Wondaland cried out

Pink and white house teenage girl where she cried out

Biologically psychologically astrologically

A Scorpio was born to carry on genealogically

Genetically brown-skinned poetically

Factor in the era and the system-wide terror

It’s a miracle how we stay so spiritual

While the empirical namesakes are everything but satirical


Why they keep askin, “What’s your roots”

And it’s obvious Alex Haley refutes

Eurocentric Transmutes and transmissions

But our ambition was to petition for position

Africana tactician my abolition of Black conditions

And give our rendition Black soul traditions

I was a sight for sore eyes in the eyes of this girl

And her creation and patience sent me out to the world


It was a very nice home Double X chromosome

But the X and the Y still had space to roam

Is Astrodome stardust in your dome

Intergalactic travel outside the judge’s gavel

No brothers no sisters just cousins no Mister

No yo I got ya back lil’ man Tongue twisters

and headphones microphones cornerstones of fully grown

Ran wit kids affiliate to Folk and Black P. Stones


News Flash

Always been Black enough

Always had tact becuz

Knew my name would back it up

Whatever I was lackin of

Kept it tight like batting gloves

Labor of love was rising up

From a youngster to punkster


Athlete to obtuse from oddball to recluse

Never reproduced so when I’m gone

My tag will be the final truce

But I’ll be reintroduced to the young girl

No longer sixteen with fro sheen aspirations

Of Egyptian Queens

But holding space inbetween the sky, clouds, stars and moon

My identity depends on whether we all remain immune.



Alexander Williams

Alexander the Great

If my life were a musical, it would be Hamlet accompanied to Drake music.


I wasn’t tutored by Aristotle or Plato.
I wasn’t the heir to an empire or a kingdom.
I didn’t conquer the “known world” by the age of 25.
I did not die Great.


I was forced to accept this throne,
without agency and without repose.


I’m too old to write a sad song about how my dad raised me,
cause I’m looking in the mirror and my dad made me.
I don’t have a statue for my foes to deface and ruin,
I was a young boy when my mother told me what my name really means and the power just kicked in.
I live my life as a kingpin, a disruptor to this unfair system,
always askin’ myself, “Am I Black? Am I white? Do I run? Do I fight?”
If I give in to the throne, will I survive another night?”
I came into this life a prodigy, my people know me from my libraries,
I’m sorry, but not sorry, my name defines every nook in the city,
Best believe you’ll have to defeat my team if you wanna do battle with their king.


The top of my tombstone reads:

“As the salt water fills my lungs, I finally see that I’ve forsaken Your will and replaced it with my own selfish needs. These hands were built with purpose, but I have used them for my own. These wings were made to lift me up so high and instead they tear me down. But oh my God, won’t you let me fall from the sky, embraced in flames? I’ve done this to myself. If I’m to drown into the depths then let me go.”


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