Friday, August 8, 2008

Lighter Side of Life

I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired.

This whole political thing is getting old. So, today I've decided to write something a little less serious. My mind needs a rest from continual outrage.

Anyway, a while back I wrote about how black people with "black" names get shot down when looking for a job. Anybody who pays even a little bit of attention to black culture knows that many of us shy away from giving our kids common Anglo names like Becky, John or Brett. We prefer our names to have a little more kick, especially if that kick involves random capital letters, hyphens or phonetic spellings.

I'll confess that for a time I was a little ashamed of this proclivity among my people. I was one of those bougie suckers who couldn't understand why "those people" didn't give their kids "regular" names. I would roll my eyes or silently giggle when teachers or clerks mangled one of those creative names because I thought it served that person and their parents right.

Brainwashing is a horrible thing, y'all.

I've grown out of that mindset. And recently, I read an article that confirmed for me that unique names aren't a "black" thing or a "ghetto" thing. They are just a people thing.

The article I found,which y'all can read here, talks about a real problem in New Zealand where folks were giving their kids the most effed up names in the world. I mean, if you thought Mercedes, Porshe and Lexus were the holy trinity of tacky child names, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Man, a judge over there even legally changed the name of one girl whose parents had given her the unfortunate name of "Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii." The poor girl was so embarrassed by her name she just went by the name "K." Another set of parents had the nerve to name their child "Number 16 Bus Shelter." I'm guessing that's where the child was conceived because that seems to be the theme for most of the weird names.

These New Zealand names go way beyond anything black folks do with our names. One set of parents over there wanted to name their child "Sex Fruit." Being named Diamonds may put you on the fast track to stripper land, but I'm guessing that "Sex Fruit" fucks up your life infinitely more. Just, damn.

It's kind of unfair to your kids to give them a weird name. Not because of the racism or prejudice they might face, but because it just seems like an easy way to make their school life a living hell. Can you imagine the teasing a child named "Sex Fruit" would endure? Plus, a child with one of those long convoluted names is never going to be the teacher's pet because teachers will hate that child for making them look stupid every morning at roll call. You're screwing them two ways.

Anyway, I'm not going anywhere with this post, I just wanted to provide y'all with something curious that I stumbled over a long time ago and have been saving for just the right day.

Today was the day.

(Sidenote: Apparently our brothers and sisters in Africa are determined not to allow New Zealand to win this battle.)


OG, The Original Glamazon said...

Interesting. I assume that these names are in the native tongue?

I know many Africans whose name in English means one who is something or rather or Gods blessing or one who brings sun etc. I guess that is my only question.

Anyway good Friday reading!!


Big Man said...

That's a good question O.G

The story was in English so I guess I assumed everybody spoke English, but I could be wrong.

Deacon Blue said...

My wife and I struggled mightily to make sure that our girl had a somewhat unique first name without it being something wacky...then had the backup plan of two middle names (her late grandmothers, both of whom had mainstream American names) so that she can either wear her given name proudly, pick up one of the middle names later, or go with initials.

Problem was we named her after a goddess, and I think she's known that from the start because she sure tries to run this house...

Imhotep said...

Big Man, I thought of naming my son Ramada Inn, but clearly our choice of Random Consentual Sex turned out to be the better name.

Deacon Blue said...

Pity it wasn't Random Conception instead. R.C. makes for a better sounding nickname thatn R.C.S.

Big Man said...

Yeah, R.C. is definitely better.

The African names are actually chosen for better reasons than the New Zealand ones. If you read the story, it's a very interesting situation.

Anonymous said...

I was born in the early 1970's and was the recipient of one of them creative names Black folks was naming their kids back then.

For years I hated my given name especially back when shows like Martin came out and my given name was dangerously close to the Sha-nay-nay character.

So a little over a decade ago, I just unofficially changed my name, found a nickname that wasn't too far off my given name and started using it.

The funny thing is now that I am older, my name bugs me less. Lets just say I have learned there are advantages to a creative name. Especially when it involves using a credit card since its very clear my card belongs to me since there are no white girls with my name. LOL

All that to say that like you I used to feel a bit bad but having met some mainstream white folks who have given their kids strange names I agree its a people thing.

Raving Black Lunatic