That NEW Adage

A pressure-relief valve about God, and just about everything else.

Dignity and the Made-Up Name

My name is Derrick. My sisters, Cassandra, Karin, and Kim all have what you would call standard, regular American English names.

My son’s name is Max Ellis, and my daughter’s name is, Diana Elise. I wanted masculine, straight-to-the-point, famous-sounding names for the boys, and feminine, delicate names for the girls. And I wanted them to have jobs. Jobs where they didn’t have to wear visors or steel-toed boots. I– we— didn’t want to handcuff our kids to a crusade by short-sightedly giving them names which would easily allow bigots to exercise their prejudices.

We black folk — and you white folk too, admit it — talk from time to time about the “phenomenon” of the made-up name — the Shaniqua, the Montevion, and the Equarious (a strange mixture of geography and an adjective).

I’m not talking about ETHNIC names.

I will admit to being, at times, a little ashamed when watching a college basketball game and having to wince while the play-by-play man stumbles over the names. It is almost as though you can predict who was raised by two parents (Shane Battier, Blake Griffin, Grant Hill), and who wasn’t (DeVanta, Jumawl, LaQuon, “I’d like to thank my mama who raised me…”)

I know a guy, a nice kid, named “Rarecas.” His mom was obviously trying to spell, “Rodriguez,” but missed BADLY! I know Shatericas and Uniquas and Treyvions. They show up on the news and in classrooms all over the country. There are mainstream websites (with white faces on the homepages) where you can pick a nice name of your own for your newborn.

In practically every case, the economic heritage of those with the cute made-up name is that of “less-than.” Poor black folk.

I was just wondering about the whole thing, and came to this conclusion: Folk who name their kids, Lasswon and Bearcolt (REAL names!!!) do so because that is the only thing they can do that costs not a dime! It is the one thing they can give their children (in their minds) that will give them some sense of CLASS and elegance.

They don’t have inheritances and dowries and silver spoons and trust funds and birthday cars with red bows in circular driveways and summer vacations to give.

All they can give is a French-sounding name beginning in De-something, or one with a lot of “Q’s” in it. Everybody knows that if it’s French, it says, “Class.” And if the middle name is “Nicole” that is the coupe de maitre!

As we say around my way, “Black folk like nice stuff, too!” In a messed up kind of way, that is all that is going on.

So, how about exhibiting a little grace and understanding (not conservative traits, to be sure!) the next time you see a NutraGina, or an Alize, or Shardinnay other alcohol-monikered black person. Connor, Brad, and Chadwick would have a hard time in the ‘hood!

Besides, we don’t judge YOU because some celebrity named his child, Apple, Pilot Inspektor, Banjo, Dweezil, Moon Unit, Racer, or Tu Morrow.

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June 12, 2009 Posted by | Babies, Baby Names, Ghetto Names, Hollywood, Humor, Names | 9 Comments