The internet has been buzzing all day due to the discriminatory comments Raven-Symone made about people with nontraditional, often referred to as “ghetto’ names. It all started when one of her co-hosts, Whoopi, brought up the topic of people being discriminated upon based on their names. This was a finding from a recent study, that honestly shouldn’t be new news to anyone.
I don’t agree with Raven’s perspective one bit, but that’s a completely different post in itself. The former Cosby kid, proudly shared on-air that she wouldn’t hire someone with a name like Watermelondrea. Of course that name is pretty far fetched, but it was along the lines of some of the names thrown out in the YouTube clip they aired on the show right before she made her comments. The video itself is supposed to be humorous, but it’s pretty annoying.
I’ve always read about studies that resulted in similar findings, and heard about people who admitted to discriminating on others based on the names they were given at birth. Even though we can’t really control our names, it could be a factor that prevents us from getting employment, and ultimately shapes the way people perceive us. I didn’t want my child to go through any of this. I didn’t want her name to become a hindrance to her, much like mine had become for me.
I thought about how hard it was for people to pronounce my first name. I’ll never forget how irritated I was when I was called to walk across the stage at my undergraduate commencement ceremony. There I was on a huge day of my life, and I had to walk across the stage after hearing my name butchered yet again. My family and friends still cheered just as loud, because they knew what she meant to say. From that moment on, I vowed to drop my first name and become known by my middle name.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with unique names, or nontraditional spellings for classic names. I just didn’t want to take that chance with my child. I wanted to give her a name that she wouldn’t grow up to resent me for. I’m over it now, but there was a time that I cringed whenever someone spoke my government name. I had become used to coworkers, friends, peers and some family members calling me by my middle name or one of my various nicknames, that hearing my first name became annoying.
My name doesn’t bother me half as much now. Knowing everything I’d experienced with my name, I couldn’t imagine putting my own child through it. I think many parents try so hard to be different and creative, that they don’t realize that they are naming a child something that may not always fit them. Some names that are cute for a baby or toddler, might not work well for a grown woman or man. I’ll display my creativity elsewhere, not in my child’s name.