Color Us Connected – Naming Process is a glimpse at our struggle to find an identity that was authentic. It wasn’t easy but we did it.
This is the second installment in a series of blogs that are published every other Tuesday, written by two women, one African American from Tuskegee and one white from South Berwick, Maine. This project was born out of the sister city relationship begun by their two communities in 2017.
By Karin Hopkins
We were like tennis players, ferociously lobbing names back and forth. Amy would serve, I would return. We kept this volley going until one of us scored the winning shot.
As we were developing our first storylines, we decided we needed a sustainable name that implied our purpose. We had no criteria, no structure, just a commitment to come up with the right name. Amy suggested “SisterSpeak” and I immediately saw problems. It was too gender specific. It also crossed a line we had set for ourselves. We chose independence from the Sister City project to avoid ruffling any feathers within the Sister City group. This was our way of showing respect for them and ensuring freedom of speech for us.
So we went back to the drawing board. In one e-mail, Amy presented 19 other suggestions including “Sharing Difference” and “Across the Divide.” Questioning whether impulsive creativity was sufficient, I suggested that we develop a more deliberate process. We asked ourselves, what do we want to accomplish with our name? Is it a Call to Action? This motivated a new list including, “Let’s Heal Together” and “Join the Conversation.”
When we thought about our news reporting backgrounds, we considered, “The Write Way,” and “Moving in the Write Direction.” Then we asked ourselves if we were piggybacking on a larger mission, e.g. civil rights, and we gravitated to “Across the Divide,” ‘Pursuing Racial Equity” and “Chasing the Dream.” But it was something about “Forward March” that struck a positive chord with Amy.
She’s about to learn something when I make this confession.
In 2015, I was working on a project connected to the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March when I first came up with “Forward March.” After that project was aborted, I offered the theme to the Montgomery minister who now presides over the church where Dr. Martin Luther King was head pastor in the 1950’s. The theme fits so beautifully with the mission of this church, its current leaders and congregants. Forward March embodies their past, present and future.
So I was incredibly relieved when Amy suggested “Color Us Connected.” It’s fresh, authentic and purpose-driven. Since it was a springboard for profound conversations that gave us a glimpse into each other’s hearts, passions and values; the naming experience was worth every second we spent on it. In the end, the name meant more than we could ever have imagined.
By Amy Miller
“Bridging the Divide?” A bit clichéd, perhaps with too much focus on the divide. “Bright Horizons?” No, a day care chain already has taken that name.
Coming up with a title for this column was almost an after-thought. We had two essays already written, publication day was upon us and we still didn’t have a name. What we called our joint effort, we knew, could be critical in drawing people in, or keeping them away. It also could help define who we attracted to the words we hoped would resonate with many readers, anger others, and perhaps even open new worlds to a few.
Tempting as it was to draw on the sister city relationship, we quickly dispensed with references to sisterhood. Although it spoke to the roots of our column, we wanted it to exist outside the relationship between our communities and we did not want men to feel excluded.
So here you go, take a look at some of the dozens of names we bandied about until we finally settled on one in an 11th hour snap decision.
Friends without Fear; Beyond Fear; Time to Connect; This Little Light; Our Little Light; Amistad; It’s Our Privilege; It’s a Privilege; New Horizons; Opening Hearts & Minds; Let’s Heal Together; Let’s Start Something; Let’s Talk About Race; Join the Conversation; The Write Way; Moving in the Write Direction; Forward March; Chasing the Dream; Across the Divide; Pursuing Racial Equity; Let’s Talk; Healing US; Healing Us; About US.
For a week or so, “Forward March” remained the crowd favorite, in our crowd of two. Karin was excited by Opening Hearts and Minds for a bit. And I got excited about “Amistad,” which means friendship and was the name of a ship carrying Africans to slavery. Karin never responded to that one and I never responded to her favorite, so we kept brainstorming. One of my favorites I never even proposed, an expression I learned in Asia – Same Same But Different.
As Karin and I spent time talking by phone and trading emails, it was interesting to see what we each liked, but far richer was how we got to know each other through the process. I saw that Karin would not dis or discard a name I suggested, but might let me know gently it didn’t work for her.
She let me peek into her organizational skills and style of thinking when she divided the names by category: there were those that focused on progress, and those that focused on social justice; there were some that alluded to difference and some that emphasized commonalities.
In the end we just had to pick from our list, so when Karin said “I like ‘Color Us Connected,’” I said fine.
You can reach Karin or Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org