NON-FICTION
Naming It: An Essay in Six Parts
Part Two: A Catalogue of Incidents
Naima Karczmar

"aaaaand the cable has been cut" by Flickr user Lindsey Turner 

"aaaaand the cable has been cut" by Flickr user Lindsey Turner 

My mother was named Mary for the sake of Catholicism and to instill whiteness in her. Not an elixir, really, but an attempt at preventing the blanket racism of North Chicago from beating her to a pulp.

While we lived in Ulster County, we occupied a farmhouse that used to be a servant’s quarters. Because the house was old and breaking, we had a handyman named Larry who could pronounce my mother’s name but not mine or my brother’s.

My mother signs her emails with Delia and believes firmly in the aesthetic value of purple comic sans.

When she read black Cinderellas into my fairytales, I believed she was lying to me.

My mother has since lied to me. I know the difference, now, between lying and refusal.

A different relative is my Polish grandfather, who will only acknowledge his own last name and thinks vehemently of the birth certificates in which it is soiled by a hyphen and insulted by a Britton. He is related to me through my father, who is white, but often type-cast as Afghani. I have seen him on television, playing a terrorist, fake-crying through a thick and somewhat convincing accent.

There are some things that are too close to take seriously. Panic attacks in bathrooms fall into that category, as does my mother’s belief in pyramid shaped rocks, as do incidents that take place in classrooms full of white people.

The incident was incidental, but since it took place in a classroom, was weighted heavily by the fact that it was doomed to repeat itself.

I find it difficult to refer to people by name or by naming.

I have a catalogue of incidents, the ones that are incidental and the ones that are more, and they play sometimes like movie reels, complete with bomb-like ticking.

CONCLUSION: I often have trouble sleeping.


Naima Karczmar is a biracial, semi-youthful, fairly gay student living and writing in Portland Oregon with the help of two cats and a fabulous mentor. She writes a lot about being biracial, semi-youthful, and fairly gay, though not always at the same time. She also writes the kind of fiction she wants to read. 

Read Part One here

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