2008-09-19

I Thought It Was A Black Name

OK so if you guys don't know I have a kind of unique name. It is a feminine version of a guy's name, but not one you hear so often. So my brother in law calls me to tell me him and his wife have moved into a place and his leasing agent has the same name as me. He was shocked to realize that, as his leasing agent was an old white woman and he thought my name was a "black name". Well when I told him no, the majority of people I meet with my name tend to be older white women, he was in shock. He thought my parents made up my name. I was like no, even though my name is rare, it is actually a name, and even if it was made up what would constitute a "black name"? Then he goes, you know what I am talking about. I was like no, as his own child has a name that is a bit made up, and I have met quite a few white people who love the name Nevaeh aka "Heaven" backwards, which I don't get, just name the baby Heaven, but I digress. Let me not get started on celebrity baby names.

Even the stereotypical "black" names of LaToshas and Shawntaes out there are seem to be derivatives of other names, usually French. I knew a girl with the name LaTosha (I swear that was the official name for children in the 1970s), and her parents named her that because they liked the names Natasha and Laetitia. I always assumed LaTisha was just a different way of spelling Laetitia. Shawntae was just a variant of Shawnta or some other name. I found a website that goes into great detail about African American baby names. Don't let the title Black Ghetto Baby Names fool you, it really is an interesting site. They weren't necessarily made up. I went to school with a black girl named Octavia as a child, and she got teased for it constantly, and I could never figure out why, her mother was apparently very well read in roman history, but because her name wasn't Tiffany, Jennifer, or Rebecca she had a "ghetto" name. I went by my nickname in school, no one really teased me about my name, but it is quite common for folks to mispronounce and misspell my name, which is why I go by my nickname and not my real name, even though my parents and husband refer to me as my real name, and if you were to call me by my nickname in public, it takes them a while to get used to people calling me that.

Now don't get me wrong I have some folks in my family who have given their kids jacked up and made up names, but it wasn't limited to just black people who do that. That or spell names "different" to differentiate their child's name from the masses.