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Columns : Opinions - Joye Ritchie Greene Last Updated: Feb 6, 2017 - 2:32:04 PM

Are you who they say you are?
By Joye Ritchie-Greene
Oct 26, 2008 - 11:47:39 PM

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“What’s in a name?   That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet; so Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d, retain that dear perfection which he owes without that title…” Shakespeare, W., Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene II).


I know a man who carries the last name of a man who is not his father.   This man grew up and got married and his wife took the last name of this man who is no blood relation to her husband.   This couple went on to have children and subsequently their children carry the last name of this man who is no blood relation to their father.


The question that lingers in my mind is this: are you still you even though you carry a name that is not yours?   Juliet believed that Romeo would still be Romeo whether he carried the name Montague or not.   But how true is that?


Many times throughout my life, strangers have come up to me and asked if I was related to this person or the next because of some gesture I made or because of some physical attribute.   Then there are those, who, once hearing my name, would ask if I was related to a particular person.   And, there are those individuals who would just look at me and proclaim that they knew I was from a particular island.


What I find it quite humourous is if I use only my married name when introducing myself and have a person, usually someone older, ask me what “ my” name is because I didn’t “look like any Greene’s.”


Unlike a child bearing the name of his father, I can clarify that I am a Ritchie, married to a Greene.   However, if I had been given the last name Greene at birth and didn’t bear any of the characteristics of a Greene, am I still a Greene?


There is a serious problem in this country with identity.   Hundreds, if not thousands of people are walking around carrying a name that does not genetically link them to anyone else bearing the same name.  


A child who is adopted knows that the name he carries was given to him by his new parents.   He will come to understand that there will be characteristic traits and quirks in his personality that are different from his parents.   But he will continue to carry the same name, because they chose him.


However, the reality is that while this adopted child will be a loving part of the Rolle family, he will not be a Rolle.   He will most likely not adopt the mannerisms and quirky disposition of his adopted father.   He will be nurtured to behave a particular way, but this will only go so far as nature will allow.


But this adopted child knows that he is not a Rolle and will come to understand and accept these differences between him and the rest of his family.   However, the little boy who is told that he is a Rolle, when he is actually a Smith, will grow up very differently from the adopted child who was aware of the genetic differences in this family.


When this boy comes to realize that he was living as a Rolle and was really a Smith, it is not hard to believe that he will be very angry and confused.   He will replay various life situations in his head and piece together parts of the puzzle that did not make sense to him.   He will come to understand why he not only looked differently from some of his siblings, but why he thought and acted differently from them.


For what ever reason women choose to lie to their children about their parentage, it needs to stop.   Every human being yearns to be a part of a family; to feel as if they belong.   This is evident in the number of young people who join gangs to feel a part of a “family.”  


But nobody wants to be a part of a lie.   Finding out at 16, 21, or even 41 that your father is not your father can be very painful.   You will question your identity and even your self-worth.   Our name is what connects us to others.   And, while the DNA will not change, even though the name may change; the illusion of who you thought you were will cause much emotional and psychological damage.


Juliet was naïve to believe that she and Romeo could still be lovers once they dismissed their names.   She believed that Romeo would still be Romeo whether he was a Montague or not.   The truth is, who he was, the kind of person he was, was very much linked to the fact that he was a Montague, and that was a truth he could not renounce.

About the author: Joye Ritchie-Greene is an Educational Consultant, Writer and Martial Arts Instructor. She is the owner/operator of The Bahamas Martial Arts Academy; president of Time-Out Productions; and is also a columnist for the Freeport News. She has a B.A. in English and an M.S. in Human Resources, resides in Freeport, Grand Bahama with her husband and enjoys playing tennis. Joye can be reached at joye_hel_ena@hotmail.com  

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