Bonquesa and Shanaye have somehow became hideous names that only ghetto people will name their children. Some, more affluent Black people believe that a name such as London or Paris is more appropriate; that Sheniqua or Jacquenese has no class. Who gave them this standard of naming?

A name is one of the first gifts you receive from your parents. Typically, parents spend much thought into the cultural or creative aspects of the name that their child is to bear for the rest of their life and after death. Being a historian, names tell me more than what your mom or dad gave you or about your sense of character; it tells me the era in which you were born. Old names hint that you are of a certain age or are named after a relative. Foreign names typically show some type of heritage that you carry. Then, ghetto names, show that you were born somewhere after the disco era and into the crack era; an era where white oppression went from overt to subtle.

During the late 70’s and early 80’s Black people were coming into a sense of being accepted by the white masses. We had come through integration and blatant police brutality and were at a state of rebellion. We rebelled in the manners in which we could afford; our clothes and our names. We didn’t control where we worked, we didn’t control where we lived, we didn’t control how much money we made (yes there were always exceptions), but we most definitely could control our names. We have long lost our original identity, that was stripped from us through forced chattel enslavement. Black people could no longer pronounce those names that our ancestors once adorned with pride. We didn’t want the same names as Becky and Lauren; we wanted our own identity with the very limited thing we could control, our children’s given name.

After we made it to the millennium, we were more able to work in most establishments and live in almost any neighborhood our money would allow, so because we were now under the masses, we must do like the masses. Someone told us that Shashanaye was a horrible name for a child and that Meagan would bring our children more opportunities. Those who did not conform were now considered ghetto, by the masses and many of our affluent brothers and sisters cosigned.

I don’t believe we should necessarily name children after alcohol or drugs, but no matter what we name them it is their gift. A name should require much thought, effort and energy, but even if it does not, we’re speaking more negatively of ourselves to judge someone simply because of their name.

Although it is very important, your name does not dictate your future and you should not be judged because of it. There are many successful Keisha’s and unsuccessful Mallory’s. Take pride in the era in which you were born. Many times a so-called “ghetto name” indicates that your presence made your parents so proud that they wanted to give you a name that was so unique, that it had never before been spoken. Your success will have everyone learning to pronounce a name that they never one thought even existed.

Know Thyself