A painting of me

the name warsan means good news in the somali language. i hated it. i despised my name. i wanted to be called something soft, something that ended with an “ah” sound. my name is difficult to whisper into the side of my face. my name is easy to use with a hard voice. i appreciate that now. the hesitation on the other side of the phone. the way they would replace my name with ‘baby’. give your daughters difficult names. give your daughters names that command the full use of tongue. my name makes you want to tell me the truth. my name doesn’t allow me to trust anyone that cannot pronounce it right. my mother calls me ‘warsanay’. if a man ever tried to call me that, it means he understands that i am someone’s daughter. it means i’ll let him call me down from a long building. praise my grandmother, warsan baraka. my father’s mother. the woman i was named after.
— the birth name by Warsan Shire


  1. I have more to say about this, but perhaps i’ll leave that for another time.

  2. Say it! I have a daughter with a pretty goddamn difficult name too.

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