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Put a Handle on my name – CARTER AT LARGE By Lorraine B. Carter

Titles are used in greeting as a matter of politeness, courtesy, and respect. It has been long respected from the beginning of mankind’s civilization. We were taught in school to address our Kindergarten teacher by the title of Ms., Mrs., or Mr. at an early age out of respect. From school, we went on to employment or college, and we knew how to address our superiors or those in leadership positions. We were taught to address the elderly persons in the neighborhood by titles listed above.

We never thought to call our elderly or adults by their first name as that it would be disrespectful and insulting. Not only that, we felt uncomfortable to do so. Our parents taught us well. As I grew into adulthood, and then into what is defined as elderly, I expected the same respect that I gave my teachers and supervisors at my place of employment. However, things changed; politically correctness took a choke hold on politeness and courtesy. Now what we were taught about respect has been deferred as incorrect. It is now thought that to give an elderly woman a title such as Mrs. or Ms. makes a woman feel old and by calling her by her first name makes her feel young, and befriended. This is the corporate policy adapted for “cold calling” potential customers.

Some professional offices will call you by your first name whether you like it or not and will display hurt feelings if you ask to be addressed as Ms. or Mrs. Most people today are not aware that this infraction goes back to the days of slavery, and apartheid in America. Let’s consider how female slaves were disrespected and denied a title to their name. Our women were denigrated by referring to them as gal, girl, picaninnie, wench, bi—! The derogatory names go on and on.

I remember how my beautiful aunt was insulted at the Piggly Wiggly Market years ago. I was about 12 years old, and the Butcher addressed this beautiful, college educated, refined and devout Christian worker in her church, by her first name. I was appalled, and I proceeded to give the Butcher a good balling out for not addressing my precious aunt with the title of Mrs. He showed her no respect and used common jargon. My aunt quietly reprimanded me for balling him out and continued on with the purchase. I was fuming but never said another word. After we left the store, my aunt explained how some white people just couldn’t accept the fact that they were not superior and did whatever they could to humiliate black people.

My aunt had a library full of Negro history books, and I started reading them with some vigor. I learned a lot about racial prejudice, and how it was abundant in America. Black women were disrespected by not adding a title to their name and in so doing, would not allow the black woman the same equality and respect as a white woman.

Today’s woman: please remember how your ancestors were treated and demand respect! Make them put a handle on your name.