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Saturday, July 7, 2007

A Rose by Any Other Name...

I was reading Bygbaby's mindspill (see right) about a murder that was ignored. An interesting spin-off occured regarding names.

1. Made Up Names- I once worked with a woman who tols me she would name her first girl, phonetic pronounciation, T-ohm-nay; because she liked the way the syllables sound together. Although I know and love many people with mispelled and "made-up names", it is unnecessary and a detriment for a job-seeker. Please see the link. The study concludes that these people will be hindered in the labor market. http://

2. African Names- I have no problems with those who have and want to name their children names from African origins, although I think this is best reserved for those that are actually native or nearly native born Africans. I think that it may be a hindrance to have such a name in this country. In fact, I know it is. I have many African friends that use an American alias for interviews, bills, jobs, and loans. If it were easy for them, they wouldn't have to do this. And they know the true meaning behind their names. Many people with African names may not know the origins of the name (tribe/language) or the true context in its language. For me, it is better to know.

3. Brand Names- Some people say they don't like the plain names like John or Jane. But in my opinion, I think those names are great, easy to pronounce, and usually fit the last names. For example, Bomquishea Smith just doesn't have the same ring as Barbara Smith. LOL!

4. Names (causation vs. correlation)- Obviously, names don't cause people to not get a job or commit crimes. But I think it is naive to think that having an Ethnic name has nothing to do with the interview process especially early on in one's career. It's like saying that racism doesn't exist because you're not racist. It's just ridiculous to think if your name is Lemonjello (pronounced la-mon-jello) that a hiring manager or H.R. person will not notice your name and make some inference about your ethnicity.

5. Mispelled names- A 4-year old I know is named Jaila. The intended pronounciation is Jay- Al- Ah. I just think it should/could be spelled different. But on the other hand, a substitute teacher once called me Sop-he- ah. lol! And I can not escape the Color Purple reference to the character: Sofia. But I love my name, know it's meaning, and never had anyone sane pronounce it incorrectly. Besides I love sharing the name of this beauty:


Bygbaby said...

When you posted your comment on my blog, I was like, hmmm, we should dialogue.

I hate misspelled names, fuck being hooked on phonics & trying to be cute. Many young parents just don't get it! I do think made up names will hamper these poor kids & now adults in the way of personal progress but at the same time, I also think that parents should be raising their kids to be self determined & proud of ho they are as a whole.

On the subject of African names; yes research is key when you want to give your child an African name & it is important to understand the history that goes along with that.

I'm not sure if you know but earlier this year I decided to denounce my "slave name" in order to take an African name that made me feel proud & I wear my African name (Tafari) as a badge of honor.

My name is East African Ethiopian to be exact. Know I know that my ancestors came from West Africa & my wife has said many times, that maybe I should have chosen an West African name if I really wanted to honor my ancestors.

To that & to others have said that the region made no difference to me because I am a Pan Africanist. I believe in the richness of the diversity in African but see it as one love as well as I see the people in the Diaspora.

Our names, language, & sanity were taken by Europeans that have brainwashed us on every level. We need to claim & be proud of who where are & where we came from.

I know everyone cannot go there but we all should be aware & knowledgeable.

Lastly & back on the jobs thing. When I told my director at work (middle aged progressive white woman) about my name change, she had a very surprised look on her face but congratulated (sp?) me. The next day she called me in the off & told me that she was concerned that my name change would affect my my career growth potential. Then she went on to tell me that she heard a story about name discrimination on NPR about this.

While listening & processing her concern, I did not trip, I used it as an educational moment & gave her the gift of knowledge about my new freedom.

I told her that I was self-determined & that if a potential employer wanted to discriminate against me, then that is not the job/company for me. Further more, I am guided by the 2nd principal of Kwanzaa, which is Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) & means - To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.

At this point, she said, well you obviously thought this through & I am truly happy that you are taking this step for yourself.

OK I better stop hogging your blog. But thanks for giving me the opportunity to voice my viewpoint, this is just a topic that I love discussing.


Rodrigo said...

Oi, achei teu blog pelo google tá bem interessante gostei desse post. Quando der dá uma passada pelo meu blog, é sobre camisetas personalizadas, mostra passo a passo como criar uma camiseta personalizada bem maneira. Se você quiser linkar meu blog no seu eu ficaria agradecido, até mais e sucesso. (If you speak English can see the version in English of the Camiseta Personalizada. If he will be possible add my blog in your blogroll I thankful, bye friend).

Naturally Sophia said...

I'm happy that you made a name change that makes you feel proud. I am also glad you did your research. It's beautiful to embrace the entire continent of Africa. And it's clear you've thought about implications to your career.

As far as my particular "slave (last)name", I have learned to be proud of it. Because the patriarchs in my family were always there and responsible, I feel like to change my name would shame my father, father's father, and so on. Carrying their name, to me, is a part of honoring them.

Bygbaby- hog my blog anytime. Many people read my blog and send me e-mails or don't respond. So, I appreciate the feedback.

P.S. Sorry for the late reply- got a hair retightening this weekend.

Bygbaby said...

No problem n the reply, I am 2 weeks away from a retightning & in desperate need now LOL.

I keep my last name the same because I have a hyphenated last name part mom & part dad & it has some deep meaning to me so I compromised with myself.


Shai said...

Let me get this straight only Africans should have African names?

I find that interesting because most "regular" names originate from various races. Mine is Irish/Gaelic.

Many folks have names originating from races they don't even know. But hey since they are "regular" no discrimination? LOL.

I have had issues with folks who chose to be ignorant about pronouncing my name it is Shai Lynn Shai as in Shay not Shy. See in Irish it is Shay and in Arabic it is Shy.

Truthfully there are so many sounds in the world and whose to say my name is misspelled like some folks have said. My child's name is Ashley and it is spelled various ways. Yet, if it looks too cutesy then folks trip.

Please let's quit falling into the divisive discriminator the oppressor uses. I believe there is a saying learn the oppressor's ways don't become the oppressor and we do that when we trip like them over names.


Naturally Sophia said...

Shai- Thanks for commenting. It is good to listen/read a different perspective. Good food for thought.

Lola Gets said...

The impression I got from people naming children things like Bomquisha or Ishalay (I know a girl named that) is that they were going for something original, something unique. I can appreciate that desire, even while I dont like the result, lol.

Lola Gets said...

I also wanted to say that I had a very typical, [Black] bourgeois name, and I know it has gotten me into places that another name might not have. Perhaps parents should think of giving children choices: For example, one "unique" name and one "traditional" name, and the child can choose which one to use in "professional" situations, and still be using their legal name!
Sorry for all the "" lol.

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