Friday, October 25, 2013

What's wrong with 'black names'?

I've contributed to the Orlando Sentinel's Moms at Work blog since 2010. This was my Sept. 24, 2013 post.

So what exactly is wrong with giving your kid a 'black name'?
A writer on the New York Times' Motherlode blog is trying to figure out the answer to that question. She wants to know whether she's dooming her son to problems later in life if she gives him a name that is easily identifiable as belonging to someone of his ethnicity.
The writer, Nikisia Drayton, is a black American. 'Keion,' the name she has considered for her son, is meaningful to her husband because it belonged to his childhood best friend, but she and some of her friends and family worry whether it's too black-identified, or, the word she uses, 'ghetto.' She thinks Keion is a poor choice because when she did a Google Images search for the name, multiple jail or prison mugshots of black men come up in the search. 
I certainly remember being an expectant parent and thinking about baby names, but I responded to Drayton's handwringing with an eyeroll and a yawn. If the idea is that Drayton can prevent people from judging her son negatively by giving him a less ethnically identifiable name, she's in for a particularly unpleasant shock. 
I should add a disclaimer here: My name is Anika. I am a black person with a 'black name' -- one I absolutely love.

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