names

i have been so consumed with being biracial lately, that i don’t even know what to write about it. instead i will share another comic (don’t worry, this won’t become a comic strip blog) that my mom emailed me yesterday…image001someone recently messaged me on youtube to ask if i think that her “blackified” name may hold her back when she gets out into the real world. i’m not really sure, a. if i think it will or b. how to respond. i suppose that i think  it could pose a problem, or i would not hesitate to write back.  hmmm…

11 thoughts on “names

  1. that comic was pretty humourous. i liked it. but i dont think a person with a “blackified” name as u call can hold them back, only if they let it. A name doesnt define all of a person. I remember when i was in high school and my English teaching asked us a simple question he asked us “Who are you?” and most of us would say our name. and some didnt really have word to say. my point is some people will be judge by thier name but it’s thier character and qualities that matter the most. look at our president name Barrack Hussein Obama. there are insults made all the time about his name in the media. I bet he’s been teased as a child but look at him now. Our first black President of America.! 🙂 so her name can set her back if she let it or be proud and put something behind that name. i hope this makes any sense. idk. lol

  2. I don’t think that a name would hold a person back —especially now. Look to the White House. Although I used to think that, being that I have a (what?? I can’t believe I’m repeating this!) “BLACK-DI-FIED?” name, myself. Some people may use that as an excuse for failure. Wait a minute, I’m gonna take a second to just pause/meditate. Did she really use that word? Or was that your word? Is this real in 2009?

  3. Ohhh!! Correction–>”BLACK-I-FIED.” Not that it makes any difference. I can’t fathom…I need to get to the bottom of this. Maybe it’s just too early in the morning for me. 🙂

  4. i really don’t know. it was just an email attachment. i’ll ask my mom if she knows…

  5. i did make sense, lol 🙂
    just for the record “blackified” is something i made up to use instead of ghetto in this case. the girl who messaged me said ghetto and i try not to use that word anymore.

  6. There have been at least two recent studies that seem to show that unusual “afro-centric” or “urban” names are problematic.

    One study released just a few days ago attempted to show a link between the first names of boys and the likelihood that they would engage in criminal activity as they got older. The more unusual the name… the more likely that they would show anti-social behavior.

    I don’t know how accurate these studies really are…. In the case of the study that looked at the naming of boys, I think the likelihood of a bad outcome has more to do with economic conditions/class, and the situation at home.

    But I tend to believe the report about urban (Black) names….

    They can be both internally and externally problematic. Internally because children could be teased about their name… or may be made to feel less than. Externally because it makes it easier for the person to be targeted for discrimination… for instance…on an employment application. (the report did make reference to this).

    I’m glad my parents gave me a normal name, lol. I would have killed them!
    And if they would have given me an unusual ethnocentric name… I would have legally changed it to something else…something cool like Robert DeNiro, lol…. no question about it. But luckily my parents didn’t buy into that stuff.

    Sorry, I don’t have time right now to find the links to those reports… but I can later if anyone’s interested. I just wanted to point out that social scientists have actually looked at this… and there are bits & pieces of evidence showing that such names have more of a potential to be problematic.

  7. Hi Tiffany, love your videos btw.

    I posted this comic strip on my blog too and got 1 person who was very offended by it:

    http://glamazini.typepad.com/blog/2009/01/obamalama-hicks-dead.html

    I thought it was hilarious honestly…not sure why she was so offended *shrug* … I suppose the idea of making fun of the propensity for black folks to make up names was not humor her book…but it was super funny to me LOL! *whew*
    Concerning a “blackified” name holding someone back … well, studies show there is a chance that is true…but here’s my thing, if you make it in the door ’cause you have a “regular name” isn’t the biased person gonna nix you anyway once they see you?

    The good news is I think the tide is slowly shifting on this one. For example, my name is Hindu..so imagine the SHOCK when people see a 6’1″ black woman show up LOL!! Then hubby’s name is Adima … strange and culturally ambiguous to most Americans (it’s an African name). The other day someone told him “oooh, you got a cool name like Obama!” …. so apparently our names are now all the rage *scratches head*

    ok i’m rambling. ini out.

  8. Great comic Tiff, thanks for sharing.

    My boyfriend has a “blackified” name and there are definitely times it’s hurt him. But it’s also helped him, in instances where people/organizations were looking to increase diversity. Mike might be a person of color but Kwaku* definitely is! I think people need to re-examine name racism and look at ways in which having an ethnically identifiable name can be positive as well.

    *not my bf, just using a random african name

  9. I think that it can hold you back, but only to a certain extent. But to me, there is a difference between an “ethnic” name and “ghetto” name. Barack Obama is not a Black or ghetto sounding name. If I heard it without knowing who he is, I would assume that he was Middleastern. I wouldn’t even assume that he was a Black American Muslim because, from my experience, usually the last name of a Black American Muslim is some kind of derivative of Muhammed or another kind of popular Muslim name.

    I don’t think having “ethnic” names can hold you back because unless you are familiar with whatever culture the person came from, you wouldn’t know what race they were. For example, I don’t think the name Chukwuemeka Okafor carries the same connotations that Lavante Jenkins. Unless you are familiar with Nigerian names, you probably wouldn’t know Chukwuemeka was Black. You wouldn’t know what he was, but you would probably assume that he wasn’t white. However, Lavante Jenkins is clearly a Black American. There is no guesswork about that one.

    The CEO of the last company I worked for is named Alex Alimanestineau. Crap, I don’t even know if I spelled that right, but you get the idea. Now, what do you think Alex is? I’ll give you a minute. *Cue jeopardy music. Okay, time’s up! Alimanestineau is a Romanian name — making Alex a white man. Bet you didn’t see that coming, huh? Not unless you are familar with Romanian names.

    But Aquaneisha Jones, Quafashia Smith and Rosemicah Johnson are a different story. They are “Black” sounding names and therefore open to blatant discrimination. My last name is German and my first name is Candace, so nobody knows I’m Black until I walk through the door.
    On interviews, I have seen surprised looks on people’s faces before because they were not expecting a Negro to show up.

    Some call these “ghetto” names an attempt to recreate African names. I thought that was total BS, until I watched a special about the West African country Gabon. One of the guides was a man with a named Chimeko which sounds eerily like Shemeka. Something to think about.

    Wow, I wrote way more than you did! LOL. Anyway, if the person who wrote you is still in highschool, I would recommend that they try to get into a really great college. Who cares what your name is if you have Columbia, Harvard, Stanford, or NYU on your resume!

  10. Love the comic! I don’t have a problem with black sounding names….just like I don’t have a problem with natural hair…there are people that will discriminate because of names, hair, skin color, etc. but, imo, if you are being the best that you can be, you can go far….those who discriminate in this day and age lose out on qualified, capable people, and they deserve to lose out! I have had people tell me to my face that my “African” name and my natural hair made them hesitant to hire me….they were world class arses and they lost out on a great employee….my son has an African name…just like our president….if he can go far, so can my son and other people with ethnic names…don’t let other folks’ prejudice determine what you name your children….

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