The young lady here — well, she’s twenty years younger than I am, anyway — could be memorable for how she looks, which is marvelous; how she busted [name of vital organ] earning a doctorate, which is laudable; or how she stuck to her gums, which is the subject at hand today:
A woman who refused to change her name has defied her bullies by earning a PhD and becoming a doctor.
Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck says she spent her life being made fun of because of her distinctive name. But instead of changing it she decided to be proud of the name she was given and refuse to let it hold her back.
The 46-year-old has used her experience to research black names and how they affect the education of children in the United States.
I’m guessing that black children with distinctive names have a tendency to catch all manner of flak from people who really need to calm down, be they classmates, teachers, or neighbors, though this isn’t something with which I have first-hand experience, since I didn’t actually attend a desegregated school until grade twelve. (If you’re keeping score, this was 1968.) I admit to having had entirely too much fun with some NBA types, particularly Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who brings out Declension Fever in yours truly; I couldn’t tell you what Kentaviousness entails, but dammit, he makes twelve million a year, and I do hope he’s having a great time.
And I’ll bet Caldwell-Pope was never told he ought to change his name, either:
Marijuana was nine years old when she first realised she had an unconventional name. At school in Wisconsin she says it wasn’t just the other children who commented on it but the teachers, too. “Tell them your name honey,” they’d say.
“Marijuana is unusual and then you add Pepsi to it and the comments just didn’t stop and they still don’t stop,” she told the BBC.
“They would ask to call me Mary, and at first that was fine until I won a school spelling bee. I came home with my certificate, and my mum hit the roof when she saw the name on it read Mary Jackson.
“She told me never to let them call me Mary ever again and then she went up to the school and demanded they change it. She wasn’t playing.”
For now, “Doctor Vandyck” works fine.