The vital importance of Thandiwe Newton’s name change

Given that the word of the year for 2022 is permacrise, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the world has been sliding rapidly into oblivion for some time now. Some say it’s been going on since the late 1970s and others since 2001, but despite the arguments about the origin, one thing is certain: for the past few years life has been royally shitty, and it looks like things are not going. to change soon. Whether environmental, racial or economic, many factors led to a tense period. However, not all was bad. We’ve seen many heroes step in, and in 2021 actress Thandiwe Newton did her part to make the world a little better.

2021 has been a weird year. She has seen many countries finally emerge from the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic and attempt to try and live a normal life. Elsewhere, Italy won the Euros, Russia’s Belarus war games tipped off their endgame and President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol in a murderous rage in Washington, DC

Alongside all of this was the fight of the Black Lives Matter movement, which reached new heights after the murder of George Floyd the previous year. Many musicians, actors and sportspeople have done their part to champion the cause, despite backlash from certain elements of society ranging from racist thugs to bizarre ideologues such as Candace Owens – a textbook Aunt Thomasina.

In my opinion, the Black Lives Matter movement bringing the long-standing struggles of BAME people into the mainstream dialogue has been one of the best things to happen in the 21st century. It was long overdue, with Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin proving to be an incendiary moment. Race relations may have improved dramatically since the days of lynchings in the 1950s and 1960s, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

For many people of color, BLM’s work over the past few years has encouraged them to stand up for themselves, with Thandiwe Newton being one of the most important. Until 2021, the Westworld The star was known as Thandie Newton, a name lazily anglicized due to the institutional racism she faced in every chapter of her life. However, in the face of BAME people regaining control, or more accurately, self-determination, this was no longer the case. From April of that year and forever, she was now called Thandiwe Newton, her real name.

Born in London in 1972, Newton is the daughter of a Zimbabwean princess and an English lab technician, Thandiwe meaning “beloved” in Zulu. Although she was born in Britain, the family lived in Zambia until she was three, when they moved to Penzance, Cornwall, so her father could help run the business. his family’s antiquities. She would soon taste otherness for the first time.

During a long interview with vogue conducted in April 2021, Newton discussed his feelings of being part of the BAME community, the effect it had on his youth and his eventual decision to reclaim his name. “I mean, holy hell,” she said of the move to Britain’s south-west coast. “We might as well have been the first black people anyone had ever seen. We had no conditioner. We had nothing.

The movement was typical of the era. Her mother gave up her position as the granddaughter of a Shona chief and became an NHS health worker, while her father took over the antiques business. Completing the transition to assimilation, Thandiwe and her younger brother attended a local Catholic school run by austere nuns, but they were treated with complete disregard.

She told the publication of a case where she was kicked out of a class photo for wearing cornrows. Amazingly, this was just one of the first moments Newton was forced to accept that she, her mother, and her brother were “the other” and that for any hope of assimilating into their new society, she would have to give up elements of her natural self. and give in to the demands of the world configured in white. As a result, she gradually dropped the W from her name, approaching the notion of whiteness.

She told a TED talk in 2011: “From the age of about five, I was aware that I didn’t belong. I was the black, atheist kid in the all-white Catholic school run by nuns. I was an anomaly.

Raised between Penzance and London, Thandiwe ended up studying at Cambridge before embarking on an acting career that saw her become one of the most successful British stars of all time. However, one thing was clear: although she remained true to herself by only accepting roles she deemed appropriate after being sexually abused by a director at just 16, something was still missing – her real name and, therefore, his true self.

Notably, due to the obstacles she faced, Newton always referred to herself as a Londoner and not a Brit. An example of this kind of bias came in 2006 after he won a BAFTA for Accident when a certain British tabloid claimed she wasn’t really British because her mother was black. She thinks about this moment for vogue“I remember thinking, ‘But it’s a British victory! Why don’t you want to take this? Why wouldn’t you dig that and embrace it and feel real good? ‘”

Unsurprisingly, following the BLM movement and the backlash to it, Thandiwe decided once and for all that it was time to act.

Just a week before announcing she was getting her name back, Newton took to Twitter to express her disgust at the government’s racial disparity report, which all but dismissed the idea that structural racism is indeed living in the UK. He claimed that while racism may still exist, geography, family influence, socio-economic background, culture and religion have a significant impact on life chances.

Interestingly, Lord Wooley, the former head of No 10’s racial disparities unit, even criticized the report, saying it was disrespectful and disregarded the lived experience of many people: “If you deny structural racial inequality, then you don’t have to do anything and that in itself is a huge problem. There was structural racism before Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter in all areas and at all levels of our society. There are shocking disparities and shocking outcomes in health, education and housing. This is why we implemented Race and Disparity Unity in the first place.

He continued: “Covid-19 has laid bare these structural inequalities in such Technicolor and made them worse, where [BAME communities] are dying in greater numbers, becoming seriously ill in greater numbers and losing their jobs. Then, not just in denial, but saying, “What are you complaining about? ‘We live in a society that is much better than it was 100 years ago’ is a monumental disrespect and disregard for people’s lived experiences, but more importantly, a lost opportunity for systemic change.

Appalled by the report’s findings, writing on Twitter, Newton said: ‘There’s no way this could be real – it would be unethical madness.’

During the interview with vogue, she got rid of the shackles of the past, specifying the reasons for her decision: “It’s my name. It’s always been my name. I’m taking back what’s mine.

“The thing I’m most grateful for in our business right now is being around other people who really see me. And not being complicit in the objectification of black people as ” others’, what happens when you’re the only one,” she explained.

Thandiwe Newton changing her name was a big decision. This conveyed that BAME people don’t have to live by the rules that the system imposes on them and that they can be as successful as their white counterparts while still managing to retain their natural selves. This might have seemed inconsequential to some, like those who wrote the government’s report, but it is not. Having to give up your name in the hope of fitting in is a crime in more ways than one.

Moreover, the symbolic weight of the decision was enormous, as Newton was one of the most prominent people of color to highlight the world’s unjust racial rules, doing his part to highlight the struggle of people of color. who aren’t blessed with the money, fame, and ultimately, power like she has. It is certain that much good will continue to follow him.

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About Marco C. Nichols

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