It’s Tuesday so it’s time to fess up. I confess my name isn’t Susan. If you read my ABC meme last week, you know my first initial is L. I also wrote that when I began surfing a decade ago, my moniker was Zawadi and had been for many years. Let me share a brief history and explanation of my pseudonyms.
Little more than a decade ago I discovered online communities and I was hooked. I am social so it’s no surprised that I gravitated towards message boards. I joined several and with message boards you have to create a username. Now you can imagine that in large communities, using your real name is unlikely since most of us have common names and all members must have unique usernames on their accounts. My favorite communities were poetry and social/culture sites. Inevitably there was always a thread (discussion) about how you chose your username and why. Despite the regularity of these discussions, I always found them interesting. I chose my daughter’s name because I think it’s beautiful, and I had little concern that someone else would have it. Her name is Swahili for gift. I didn’t have to alter my moniker for several years.
Well, Z is a teen now and doesn’t like me co-opting her name so when I began blogging, I naturally thought about a new moniker. I realize that many people use their real names now, but the writer in me likes having an alter identity which for me really isn’t alter since anyone who knows me knows that I’m equally rough around the edges in person, too. Still, using a pseudonym does feel a bit like dressing up.
I chose Susan based on a collection of short stories, entitled Black-Eyed Susans and Midnight Birds: Stories by and about Black Women edited by Mary Helen Washington. Ms. Washington taught for years in Detroit and the appeal of Susan was sealed when I read the following excerpt from a speech Ms. Washington gave:
“Three years after the uprising in Detroit that whites called a riot and blacks called a rebellion, I became part of the small band of scholars who, in 1970, inaugurated the first Black Studies program at the University of Detroit.”
One activist, one outspoken black woman identifying with another. I realize the anthology is Black-Eyed Susan. Okay, I like the idea of the sturdy plant; I also like crooner, Al Jarreau’s Susan, and I definitely have an affinity for women like Ms. Washington. So, call me, Susan.
It’s funny, when someone addresses me by my real name I have to remember, Oh yeah, that’s me.
Have you belonged to online communities where you used a moniker? What was your name and why did you choose it? Have you ever written under a penname?
To read more confessions, check in with January at Poet Mom.