Sign Your Name Across My Heart: An Ode to My Chain and Black Girls Everywhere

By Jasmine Kelly

What’s in a name? For me, its 14-carat gold on an ‘x’ and ‘o’ chain. A love affair that began the summer of 1997. My favorite cousin Khalilah came down to visit my family from Brooklyn and before she could even say hello, her jewelry caught my attention. It was subtle yet beautiful, commanding yet quiet: her nameplate necklace. I was immediately enamored. I never saw a name written so beautifully. I bugged my mother to get me one for years after that.

My mother never got me the necklace, but guess who did? Yep, you guessed it, my cousin, Khalilah. She gave it to me in March 2009. I was visiting her in Brooklyn during spring break in college. When she gave me that gold box, never in a million years would I have guessed that it was what I desired for so many years. I screamed and damn near cried. I was emotional because my cousin gave me something that was near and dear to her heart. Also, because it was THEE NECKLACE with MY name on it, on the same chain! She removed her name from the necklace and added mine. I was 19 and it truly was a rite of passage. I was inheriting her legacy right there in Brooklyn. Talk about a full-circle moment. 

I am now thirty and I still love my necklace for both the aesthetic and what it represents. While my necklace is beautiful, it’s not dainty. It is not a cute little pendant on a delicate chain. Nah. It is bold and in your face. It is what it is. My name. Take it or leave it. My chain celebrates black girls everywhere because that is who I would always see them on after I was introduced to it. My necklace represents self-love. I mean, why else would girls (or someone who loves them) drop hella money on something that they already know, just to hang around their neck? Because it’s a declaration, that’s why. 

My necklace announces me to the world before I say a word. But I would only be telling half of the story if I did not say I understand the perception that my necklace has in society. You do, too. Nameplate necklaces are often perceived as “ghetto.” Part of that is because well, you only see black girls wearing them and we know that black fashion is considered “ghetto” until proven fashionable by white designers.  

Despite the BS, my necklace states that I think so highly of myself that I deemed it significant enough to put what my mother calls me, in gold. Khalilah did too. I am something to be taken seriously. Something like my favorite quote from Sista Souljah:  “I never said I was an angel. But what I am is natural and serious and as sensitive as an open nerve on an ice cube.” 

It’s regal, baby. We majestic!

Jasmine Kelly is a contributing writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC. Jasmine is a higher education professional who believes in the powers of Black Twitter. You can follow her on Instagram @chicomydusty.

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