The following excerpts are from the first 26 pages of the book project. They cover the origin of Sir’s naming. The format of book bricks of text and images that form vignettes of the story. The white space around the bricks of text performs as a space for reflection and acts as an extended metaphor for the body navigating a confining geography.
The nausea. All black pregnant women have the nausea, when they find out that soon the embryo will become a child. The nausea is not just a morning sickness, but butterflies that occur in the pregnant stomach and thereafter. Yes even after the manchild is born a queasy uneasyness too far from anything tangible. It’s just something you know. A mix of fear, apprehension, anxiety and a strong feeling of hope. Hope that you don’t get the call that he is strung up somewhere. Not by his umbilical cord that could be untangled by the doctors, his lungs coerced to breathe. But by rope, by electrical wire, by chain, by the V8 engine power of a Ford dragging him to pieces. Forces that want to choke the life out of him. Some slow. Some quick. The Black mother knows these forces are out there. Waiting and biding their time. Waiting to reach their arms around the necks of the children yet to be born of the Black womb. Waiting their turn to eat the backs, the eyes, the necks, the hearts and hands. To throw the dismembered parts back to the mother to reclaim. How will she be able to see her baby after what they have done or would do to him?
How would she be able to see him?
She was 16 years old when she had him. It was 1980. There is a picture of her sitting on the bed holding him. She looked at the camera miserably. She is weighed down by her already huge breasts filled with milk. The last time I saw this photo and held it in my hand I could and couldn’t recognize the little girl in the photo who was roughly the same age that I was when I encountered it. Her skin bronzed by humid caked July heat. I could not imagine her being spat on, being a mother, carrying milk, and dancing with the currents of the Ohio River. In all of those couldn’ts I could. I could see her and her Prince. Her knight bundled upon her mountains of milk. There was a whisper that everything would be all right hovering in the ethers of the Polaroid’s murky resolution.
Not only is he a Sir but he is a Marquis as well. Doubly royal. My momma knew that she wanted to have the Marquis in his name before she thought of Sir. All of her children have French middle names. She told me that she liked how they sound. How they just rolled right off of her southern tongue.
Sir Antany Marquis Lavonne Hinkle
And our sons must become men – such men as we hope our daughters, born and unborn, will be pleased to live among. Our sons will be pleased to live among. Our sons will not grow into women. Their way is more difficult than that of our daughters, for they must move away from us without us, without us. Hopefully, our sons have what they have learned from us, and a howness to forge it into their own image.
Audre Lorde Man Child: A Black Lesbian Feminist’s Response
What did his father think? Winferd. What did he think about you naming your son Sir?
He wanted to make him a Jr. and I didn’t want that ugly name.
So how did he feel when you told him the name?
I don’t know you have to call him and ask him. If you can find him.
I had to stay home and heal. I did not go out for six months. Momma had strict rules about healing after you had a baby. I always did what she told me to because I was under her roof. Your Aunt didn’t want to listen and had to have a call back to the hospital.
So you didn’t go out with Sir when he was first born?
No but Momma did. She took him to the Goodies. She took him out with the white folks and she did all of that. I stayed home.
So what did people say when they asked what was his name?
I don’t know Momma will have to tell you that
Walgreens Louisville, KY 1980. Granny and Momma went to the pharmacy to pick up Sir’s medication. Waiting patiently for it to be their turn in line they approached the counter and commenced to pay for the bill. Baby Boy was written in the prescription line that addressed who the medication was for. Baby Boy Hinkle. Not Sir Hinkle, the name written on his birth certificate.
My grandmother wanted to name him Master. Her rationale was that if Kentucky was ever a slave state again then the Master would have to call him Master.
Who would let themselves become a slave? Who would let that happen again?
A baby boy a boy baby. Name that baby. Don’t shame that baby. The boy baby of the Name that baby Master. Name that baby Power. Power name that baby the Master that Powers that baby. The boy baby of the Master named Power.
How did you jump from Granny wanting to name him Master to Sir and how long did the jump take?
Two seconds and a hell naw.
I didn’t like the way Master made me feel. I wanted him to be issued with respect no matter what he became in his life and I didn’t want to give him a dull and boring old timey name that he would grow up hating me for for the rest of his life. I wanted to honor his presence in our family as the first male grandchild.
You have to remember Kenyatta… I had him in Old General Hospital before it belonged to the University of Louisville and they were racist. I could feel that they didn’t want us in there.They even gave me the wrong baby once.
His name is Sir damnit! I was two minutes from slapping the silly hoosie redneck bitch
at the hospital. She disrespected me when I was trying to tell her that Sir’s name would
be Sir. That whore tried to act like she didn’t want to write it down or had a hearing problem or something. We told her four times. His name is Sir Antany Marquis Lavonne Hinkle. Sir Antany Marquis Lavonne Hinkle Sir Antany Mar…
Not a threat at the time, he the Baby Boy, was concerned with milk and breathing his first breaths of the thick humid July/Kentucky air. He was not concerned about what the white nurse did not want to write down.
Power name that baby Master name that baby King, name that baby delectable hung like the horse he is, name that baby Master, name that baby him, name that baby after himself, and the he that built this hospital. Name that baby Master.
Granny Momma said that you wanted to name him Master.
Master never came outta my mouth. I always knew his name would be Sir.
I named him Sir to honor my lineage, so that it would not be disrespected.
The carrier of the name didn’t matter anybody could have been named Sir.
You could have been Sir if you were first.
No matter what my lineage would not be disrespected. We gave him the name so that he would not have to defend his honor until he was old enough to do so. Whether he uses the name or not it always goes back to respect. He would become Mr. Sir, Mister Sir, or Master Sir no matter what.
Mister Sir. Master Sir. Sir Sir. Mister Master. Sir Master Sir. Master Sir Mr. Mister Mr.
Sir. Sir Mister Master Mr.
His name is just a name, like any other name. His name being Sir does not change anything. It is just what it is. I don’t think he likes his name but we gave him honor until he was old enough to defend it for himself.
Granny, you don’t think that the racism of our birthplace and us being descendants of slaves and all of the fighting that we had to do influenced you and momma to name your first male grandchild Sir?
No that ain’t got nothing to do with it. He was the first male.
Granny his name it is not just a name. You could have named him anything in the world, but ya’ll chose Sir. His name changes everything. Every single interaction that he has with the world becomes charged.
So what are you saying? Are you saying that I crippled him by giving him that name?
If we don’t do it then no one will. The distrust. The knowing that from birth he will not be respected. The knowing from what you have seen in your lifetime. The denial to be called your name when you have a name. To have another name you a name, that is so not a part of you that it becomes you either way.
Your name transformed to something else. Without you even having a say so.
Without a reason or cause
© All Rights Reserved by Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle 2013