I'm not gonna tell you that upon hearing that my husband and I plan to name our upcoming kid Langston, most of the village rejoiced, relieved that we're not "saddling our kid with a funny name." Because if I do, my blood pressure will rise again and I'll go into preterm labor. But just know that I'm lightweight tempted to throw in a Jamal or Raheem just to piss 'em off.
Negroes better hope I don't have any more kids. I'm gonna name the little mo-fo JaDante. Hell, I must just adopt strictly for those purposes. I assure you, we will get ourselves a Raheem will be up in there
On another note, it's interesting how times have changed in terms of naming. When I was young, there were as many Donelles in my school then, as there are Jenns or Katies at my job, now. It never crossed my mind that Keisha or Tremaine were "black," much less, "ghetto" names--there were just too many people with those kinds of handles. But the fact that these names were normal didn't make Ta-Nehisi normal. No one had an apostrophe in their name. If you want to get a picture of what elementary school was like for me, scroll through Althouse's comments.
But when I went off to Howard the names actually changed. You had a few, but not so many, Tremiane's and Keishas. But you had a lot more Kwames, Kenyattas and Kamilahs. In other words there were a lot of "authentically African" or "authentically Arabic" names. Still, there wasn't anyone at Howard with my name. But it was African and everyone wanted to know what it meant. When I gave them the whole Nubia business, I'd get all these approving nods and smiles.
And that was cool for awhile. Indeed, it sums up why I love Howard. No matter what you were into, you can find a crowd of black people who are into the same thing. I found a crowd that thought Ta-Nehisi was a cool name, and many of them are, to this day, my best friends.
These days, I talk to parents who, class-wise, came up a lot like me. But now there's a wholesale rejection of "ghetto names." The disdain for Tremaine and such has really crested in the last few years. We're seeing more Shelbys and Gabriels in the hood.
It's a fascinating thing. And I don't really have strong feelings about it, one way or another. There's been some excellent work about how, in the larger culture, names go in and out of fashion. I named my son Samori for Samori Ture, one of the last cats in the Senegambia region to hold out against the French. His middle name is Maceo (I wanted it to be his first, but his mother vetoed) for Maceo Parker and Antonio Maceo. He also carries the middle name of his father and grandfather. There's a lot of thought there, but it represents our priorities and our thinking at the time. I wouldn't be surprised if, when his time came, he named his kid Michelle or Mike, because he liked how it sounds.
Things change. Nothing wrong with that. As for me? I'm keeping it hood. Raheem all the way, baby. We don't do "Connor" above 125th. Not yet, at least.
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