Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What's in a name?!?

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet."
When William Shakespeare wrote that classic line in the late 16th century, he was basically discussing the central theme of the play (other than love of course). The two title characters were born with the wrong last names to be lovers.
For those of you that were born in a cave and are unfamiliar with the bard's famous tale, Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet meet and fall in love in Shakespeare's lyrical tale of "star-cross'd" lovers. They are doomed from the start as members of two warring families. In this classic line Juliet is telling Romeo that a name is an artificial and meaningless convention, and that she loves the person who is called "Montague", not the Montague name and not the Montague family. Romeo, out of his passion for Juliet, rejects his family name and vows, as Juliet asks, to "deny (his) father" and instead be "new baptized" as Juliet's lover. This one short line encapsulates the central struggle and tragedy of the play. The simple fact of the matter is that sometimes love doesn't conquer all. Sometimes life sucks. Sometimes forces outside of our control have our destiny within their hands.........and there isn't a damned thing that we can do about it.
I'm sure that you're asking yourself........why in the hell is Reggie talking about Shakespeare?!?
Well today while I was at work, I listened to a couple of women talk about their children, little Shadicka and little Dyquon; and lest I forget, little Loquiesha. Look I couldn't possibly care less what someone names their child. After all, it's their crumbsnatcher, not mine. But I wonder if people of color ever stop to think about the possible ramifications of naming your child something like this?!? How so?!? Twenty years from now those children will go out and look for a job, they'll probably have a resume online or they'll apply to an online site; and as soon as they type their name into the system they may be stereotyped on the spot.
Is it right?!? No, but that doesn't mean it won't or doesn't happen. I've worked with people in the past that have eyeballed a resume' and dropped it in the "rejection pile" based on what I believe to be "name discrimination". Resume's that based on merit, should have been considered for the positions that we were interviewing for. Since I'd prefer not to get sued, I won't go into it in detail. But trust me when I say, this does happen.


  1. Of course it happens, but frankly how many people do you know that actually think "long-term".

    The other issue is that "made-up" names sound just like that, there is no history or cultural associations, so in the end it comes across as "uncultured or illiterate".

    Is it fair? No, but who ever said life was fair?

    There are enough strikes against us, so I shake my head to parents that add another "unnecessary" one to the mix....

  2. You're absolutely right, if more people actually thought long term, then there would actually be less people in the world.

    ....and I couldn't agree with you more. All names come from somewhere though, someone down the line came up with the name. Instead of Dyquon there was James and instead of Dyianeishia there was Jane. All I'm saying is that there are people out there handicapping their children before they've even taken their first step.

  3. thats in interresting thought.
    I dont know many people with different names like that... other than some of julius' friends from the caribbean... and i dont think it should matter what your name is when it comes to attaining gainful employment... but as you said... whether i like it or not... it is what it is... right?

    a saw a skinny little blond girl with the fairest skin you have ever seen and big blue eyes the other day working at the grocery store... her name tag said "shaniqua" ?!?!

    and that shit threw me for a loop!

    ... and while im not sure if the name tag was a joke... or if that ACTUALLY WAS her name... it made me realize that i was a stereotyper... and i felt kinda bad.

  4. I'm a stereotyper too Michelle, but I don't feel bad. I'm sitting here trying not to watch television (Kims watching House Hunters) and I just saw a Caucasian woman named Tawanna. I wasn't expecting that either.

    You know that old stereotype of the big boobed blonde being dumb, it's not true. The reality is that the larger a blonde woman's breasts are, the dumber the man becomes.

  5. It is interesting brother reggie, your first commentor mentions made up names as uncultured and romeo montague and juliet capulet are as made up, they are not traditional english names of the late european medieval period in england.

    The question for those kids you mentioned is, how will they handle the discrimination?

  6. What I stated:

    "The other issue is that "made-up" names sound just like that, there is no history or cultural associations, so in the end it comes across as "uncultured or illiterate"."

    The key point is, given the stereotypes mentioned above with these types of names (right or wrong), why give your child an added disadvantage? Why should they have to handle this discrimination via their name when it could be completely avoided???

  7. Yes, every name comes from somewhere. All words were made up at some point. Yet a name that is made up just because the parents like the sound does their child no service if the name has no meaning. What is the definition? Of what derivation is it? Oh, I see, you don't know...hmmm. Your child is the most precisous thing you will ever have in this word. Their name should be indicative of that fact. A lot of these names are not even phonetically correct; just some made up mess that will stereotype their children as having ignorant parents. Even if parents don't know the meaning of traditional names it can be researched. PLEASE consider what you call your children.

  8. Brother MK, I'm not sure how they'll handle it, but they'll be forced to deal with it if they step a step into the workforce. Is it right?!? No!!! Does it happen?!? Hell yes!!!

    I hope they handle it well and rise above it........because whether they want to or not, they'll probably have to deal with it sooner or later.

  9. I hear what you're saying Anonymous and I agree; however, the simple fact of the matter is that someone made up all of our names somewhere down the road.

    When parent do this, they are unequivocally handicapping their children. I know that there are people who will not believe what I'm saying, but the simple fact is that they're probably lost too.

  10. Yeah Saint James, I have to admit that sometimes when I hear one of these names, I laugh. Sometimes it's sad. I remember a woman who named her daughter Bovina, I just hope she's not fat one day. I remember another woman I used to work with whose son's name was Ma'justus Da'son. As funny as that was, her daughter's name was even more fucked up than that, unfortunately I can't remember her name. But the first time I heard it I was like huh??!!??

  11. Oprah?

  12. You know I'm in the -eesha club and people will often compliment my name and tell me its beautiful and exotic but I cant help but feel that on some level it holds me back in the job search arena.
    Like how many HR departments scan resume's through software, I wonder if there is a parameter that filters our -eesha's and anything "uncommon"...just one of me twisted thoughts.
    On the other hand I think what "holds me back" also propels me to try harder and make physical networking connections as opposed to just forwarding a CV and cover letter.
    Interesting post!!

  13. Athletes, entertainers, actresses, politicians and academics UglyBlackJohn?!? I was talking about businesses and the people that have the power to hire. There are millions of more jobs out there in business (where we actually work) than in these categories. There will always be exceptions to the rule, my name is Reginald and there hasn't been a white Reginald in 100 years (he jokes); and think about it, your name is John. Right?!?

  14. You know Goddess Intellect that once HR departments scan those resumes a human person prints them out and goes through them; and I can tell you from what I've seen in my life I absolutely believe that we are profiled according to our names. I've discussed this with many of my friends over the years in similar positions and they tell me that they see the same things.

    We hold these truths to be self evident my ass!!!

  15. @ Reggie - That was the point.
    Most people in the hood see these as the only way out of the hood. (Oh, I forgot to add Creflo.)

  16. I stand corrected UglyBlackJohn; but you're right, if you had added Creflo or Cuba, I just might have gotten it.

  17. Don't include Barak's name in those. His name is of African origin; meaning Praise or blessing. It's a foreign language NOT a made up name. It has a meaning. Oprah's name is a mispelled version of Orpah who was Naomi's daughter in law in the Bible. That name means neck or sckull (ewwww!) There is a difference between foreign langauge and an odd made up name.

  18. Thank you for taking the time to break us off a little knowledge Saint James. When a man stops learning, his heart should stop beating.

    Thank you.

    It should be noted that so far, he has been a blessing for this country. Hopefully for years to come people will remember that.

  19. Brother Reggie, in terms of them handling it, them stepping into the workforce, is part of that.
    The issue is the definition of handling it well, and rising above it. Our village has many different viewpoints on what determines rising above it and handling it well, and some are opposing to each other.

    brother reggie, in terms of the president being a blessing, have you been over to brother rippa's blog

  20. Not yet, but I will check out RiPPa's blog Brother MK.

    I hope that our young people do rise above these gawdawful names they've been given, because they have to. They are our future.

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