What’s In A Name?

With a name like this, this child is destined to be a stripper.
With a name like this, this child is destined to be a stripper.
Are you a namist? Urban Dictionary definition: “To be discriminatory against a certain name, it can be equated to being racist, but with names”. How many of y’all will even admit to it? How many times have you seen a name ending in -isha (as in Franquisha) or -onte (as in Deonte) and assumed that, that person’s mother was a high school dropout, future WorldStar model. While we, especially us black folk, don’t want to admit, we are namists. Whenever we see a name that ends in multiple vowels, we tend to think the worst of the person; never mind that the person didn’t name themselves, all we see is someone who set the African American race back 30 years.

Is this fair? No it isn’t, but it’s like that and that’s the way it is – no Run DMC. We all have our prejudices whether you want to admit it or not; for some, it’s men under 6 feet, a person’s hands (I have a friend who thinks Sanaa Lathan is ugly because of her thumbs). And women who don’t swallow, women who wear weave. While wearing or not wearing weave can be helped height, hands and names cannot, but that doesn’t stop you from talking about Qourvoisier’s mother who had to have been an extra in the Pass the Courvoisier video ** (Editor’s note: I knew a boy named Quorvoisier when I was living in GA). If kept in perspective, our prejudices don’t have to be harmful, and besides, a parent is allowed to give their child any name they want without having to explain.

And here lies the problem, while we are given freewill and a mind of our own, I personally think some people need a license to operate said free will and own mind. Yes, you can name your child whatever you want without regard for the next person’s opinion; you can call it being creative. But truth be told, there is nothing creative about naming your child D’Brickashaw, that’s just being lazy. Either you were a Brickmason living in South Central, Los Angeles near Crenshaw, or you just said f*ck it, I am going to make it impossible for my child to find a job in the future.

You see, freewill in the wrong hands can lead to all sorts of future strippers named Precious, Black Butterfly, Cinnamon and Obsession , and rappers whose stage name’s begin with “Lil” (Lil Zane, whatever happened to him??). Mama, don’t let your children grow up to become Video Vixens. Because honestly who is going to hire someone named Qwayshawna or Dontaysha?? Yes, it is possible, but it’s also an uphill battle to just get to the interview.

While it may seem like I’m judging, I’m trying not to, I’m just concerned about the impact some of these names will have on the younger generation as they get older. We are some of the most creative people on this Earth, and unfortunately that goes for names. Also, I know I’m straddling the fence talking about how it’s unfair to be prejudiced against names, but I’m tired of running into LaDante’s and NaKisha’s handing me their demo or asking me if I want a lap dance, while working as cashier’s at Target with mix-matched bangs and ponytails (one word).

So am I wrong in thinking this way? How do you feel about names that sound like their letters were picked while being blindfolded?

Talk to me, I’ll talk back.

The Narrator Breazy.

13 thoughts on “What’s In A Name?

  1. What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet, but said rose never had to worry about trying to get a job. Kids will be discriminated against if they have a name that sounds too ethnic. We may not like it, but that is the way it is. If we truly love our kids it will make their lives so much easier if we gave them more regular names. What makes me laugh is when a parent spells a name in a way that only they would know it is pronounced and then gets mad when people say it the way it is spelled. Great post and right on point.

    1. Yeah it’s not fair that we can’t name our children whatever we want, without some type of push back. But that’s the way it is. I’m all for uniqueness, but do it in a way that won’t hinder your child as they get older.

  2. I’ve read this a couple of times and I’m still wondering where these names come from. Being from a typical WASP background, no one in my family has an exotic or eclectic name. My folks aren’t so creative at all as I’m the 4th straight first born male in the line with the same name. Kids with made up names will always have to defend them. Parents don’t think about that. Shawn is right by saying kids will be discriminated against because of their name sounding too ethnic. From the ‘white’ perspective, I guarantee you that all of us scratch our head each time we see a name like Qwayshawna or Fuquan. We do ask amongst ourselves if that’s an actual name or something made up. Then we still have no idea what it means because the kid has no idea stemming from the fact that the parents have no idea. These made up names single people, kids especially, out and immediately causes us (white folks) to think with prejudice. Not saying that all of us are like that but imagine this, on the bus you have kids named: John, Steven, Michael, Michelle, and LaTonya. Which one will be immediately thought of as black? Yes, that’s how white folks see it. Could be they all are black but the name will make a kid stick out from the others. When is the last time you knew a white LaTonya? Probably never. I met my first white Anita back home in Alabama…no kidding. A name is a name is a name but it could also become a stigma. Yes, be creative but think of the child first. BTW – Didn’t George Foreman name all his sons George? Not real creative, more egotistical and not good for the kids.

    1. I think we sometimes confuse being unique for doing what the hell we want to do. We feel that the “man” won’t let us be us, not knowing that we are our own worst enemey. I’m all for being unique but some names are beyond unique and were chosen simply because they could.

  3. It’s unfortunate that no one comes down hard on Russians who name their children Natasha and Boris or any other name that would automatically lead you to know their Russian. Same for Asians and other non-Black people. I recall someone who went out of their way to learn a Japanese woman’s name but refused to do so for a Black woman. There is no need to be ashamed of a name and I think we really need to check ourselves when we look down on others. The assumption that they won’t get a job because they have more vowels than consonants in their names show that it’s us who have some prejudices. I remember when I was younger I was ashamed that I had a “white girls” name, and always wanted it changed. When I got older, someone told me I was lucky because no one would be able to guess my race from my name as if that’s a badge of honor. It isn’t because once I step in the door you will realize I’m a Black woman and if you don’t know, I’ll make it known. I just think it shows just how much power the white man still has on us when we clown each other over a simple name, as if being or sounding “too Black” is with being uneducated, ghetto and destined for poverty.

    1. Respectfully, “It shows how much power the white man has”??? You said it your self, you clown on each other over a name…what else are we supposed to think?. It’s not a matter of who has any power it’s a matter of stigmatizing a child with a made up name just to be “different” or “unique”. If being or sounding too black is an issue, that issue starts in the black community and not from the white man. Giving a child a made up name already puts him/her at a disadvantage by singling them out from the non-made up names. It’s up to the individual to rise above the name but the parents start the kid out in life with a hardship. Don’t blame the white man for something that starts in a black home, put the accountability on the parents. Boris and Natasha won’t get a hard time because those are real names within the russian ancestory. Find me a black russian named Qwayshawna or Fuquan and then we’ll talk.

      Much respect to you for your opinion.

    2. This isn’t about giving the “white man more power” but about not hindering our children’s progress. You can choose a unique name for your child, no one is saying that you can. But truth be told they’re some names that simply are lazy. Not to mention while we worry about being hired by others, we give each other a hard time because of their names. I’m not saying that every child has to be named Brian or Jane, there is nothing wrong with My, Nia, Nina or Simone and they are unique. I don’t mean to judge, nor advocating that we cater to the “white man”, but some of these names will make it hard for our children to be accepted not only outside of black america but within as well. Thank you for your comment.

  4. Great post and everyone’s comments hit right home. I agree with Shawn in that we need to give our kids a fighting chance. Granted no one should be judged by their name, but what exactly is a woman trying to prove by naming her child Avengerisha?

    1. Exactly, a name like that make be think that the mother or father just said to hell with it I’m going to pick any ol name. It’s unique, it’s lazy and short sighted.

  5. I have to walk a fine line here because we all know that every name was made up by somebody. Somebody thought up John, all though it’s in the bible. Having said that some of the names, some parents (mostly black people) give their kids crazy names in hopes of having their child stand out in a crowd. In most cases it works but for all the wrong reasons. I would say if you are going to give your child a name, please don’t name them after a drink, car, or some other innate object. Although, there are a lot of white people named Mercedes. All we can hope for is they give it a lot of thought before hanging a odd name on a child.

    1. There is nothing wrong with wanting your child to stand out but like you said you don’t want it to be for the wrong reason. I’m all for unique names but I wonder what goes through a person’s mind that names a child a made up name. What is the rationale?

  6. This is a great topic. I’m going to come down on the side of those who opt for creativity and individualism. Whether your child has a name that is perceived to be black or not won’t change a thing that some white folks will think of them. “Abraham Lincoln Johnson” won’t get a better deal than “Shaquille Cousins” until we take over their system of education and use our communal resources fully to their benefit. As long as it’s more important to please others than it is to make our own then that’s where we’ll be stuck. If you look up the names of those who were lynched, subjected to Jim Crow and denied opportunity in the past you won’t find any of these creative names. Not only are we black folks the creators of most forms of what is perceived to be “American Music” but the American English dictionary is full of words and expressions that originated within our communities. Let’s not forget the myriad of other inventions that were due to our creativity. The choice to give our children names that have a uniquely African American feel, in my opinion, is simply an extension of the creative expression of a people who are attempting to make their own place in the world.

    1. I agree there is nothing wrong with giving your child a unique name or a name with an African American feel. This is post isn’t anti unique or ethnic names, but more so an observation. You are a right, a black John may not get an interview or job quicker than a LaDonte. I am not advocating pacifying the white man or others. But just know that a certain name could hinder a child’s progression even slightly and may cause ridicule amongst his/her own people. While people should be able to name their child want they want and they can but just know there may be some push back somewhere down the line, we shouldn’t purposely add another strike to our black children. I’m all for unique names but tell me what is unique about Lafonquiqui or Haveniqua? Those names just seem made up to me, simple and plain. Thanks for the comment.

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