Thursday, April 18, 2013

What's In A Name?

I know that after reading this a lot of my African-American brothers and sisters will be mad at me. I know that the truth hurts but it must be told. Especially when it comes to the future of our children. I have never been one to sugar coat the truth. Ok, in the interest if full disclosure, sugar coating is not my particular forte' anyway. But this should not come as a shock to those who read my blog regularly.

It never fails. Each and every time I attend a school event with one of my children, especially my six year old, I cringe and scratch my head when I hear a child being called by his or her complicated name. The level of creativity never ceases to amaze me. Names like, Lakwanasia, Messiah, Quantavia, and Dayshawn have become the standard, and I often wonder if these children's parents had given any significant thought to naming their offspring. Or if they just took creative license and ran with it.

Of course every parent has the absolute right to name their children what ever they please, and many choose names that they feel are unique, meaningful, and them. So I can't help but wonder if these choices are motivated by a subconscious need for power, and control. Fulfilling a void in lives where both are in short supply by exercising the only bastion of autonomy that they may have, naming their children.
Or maybe some people truly believe that it's cute to name their sons Genesis. Either way, it's just wrong. Pigeon-holing your children by giving them these un-orthodox names is selfish, and nonsensical. Your child will have their names for the rest of their lives. They have to live with it, in a world that they do not control.
Barack Obama became President. But he he worked his behind off to get there. He is the exception and not the rule. Unless your child goes to Harvard, becomes a lawyer, and a state Senator turned presidential candidate who wins an election because the president leaving office displayed such an unimaginable level of ineptitude that anybody different was a wonderful choice, they will not be President.

Our children will be judged by their names, whether we like it or not.

One of my favorite books is a book entitled "Freakanomocs" by Malcolm Gladwell. In the book Gladwell talked about the results of his research which basically entailed the impact, cause, and effect certain circumstances had on every day life. In one study he sent resumes with equal credentials to a prospective employer. One resume, had a common name like (Michael, John, Jennifer, or Gail) and the other had a name which was unique to African-Americans. The results were astounding. Employers overwhelmingly chose to follow up on the resume with the racially ambiguous or common name regardless of the fact that both applicants were equally qualified.
As much as some of us would like to believe that we live in a post racial America, the fact of the matter is, due to rampant cultural conditioning, racism still manifests itself in the choices that people make. This is the world that we live in, and I believe that naming a child Messiah is doing him a dis-service unless he actually is one. This moniker is going to guarantee that he faces undue scrutiny, and prejudice. Even if you believe that I am wrong. Why take a chance with your child's future? Children should have every advantage possible to succeed, thrive, and grow. As parents we must ask ourselves if we are taking the necessary steps to makes this possible or are we impeding their progress.


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