I was shocked, after hearing "Carless Whisper" to find out George Michael wasn't black. I was, like, seven but I just knew that some Luther Vandross wannabee--a black Luther wannabee. I thought the same about Madonna on "Holiday," and while no Negroes will cop to it, I have it on good authority that when "Ice, Ice Baby" hit the club Negroes didn't exactly vacate the dance-floor. Then they saw the video. Oh, my people.
I thought about this because a few of us here got it into our head that one of our commenters here was black, in part, because of her name. If I recall, I think her participation in the football and Real Housewives thread reinforced this notion. Please don't make me explain the racial calculus on that one, it probably isn't very pretty.
There's this great line in Billy Bathgate, where the gangster Dutch Shultz to a woman who is going by the name Lola--"You don't look like a 'Lola.' I know all the girls named Lola." Or some such. Much the same I thought I knew all the girls named Maya--you know Angelou, Rudolph, Harrison. It's all about our frame, and how you grow up. Despite much evidence to the contrary, that name struck me as a black marker.
And it gets deeper. This weekend, I tried to find an old friend from high school through Facebook. I figured her first name--Ebony--would eliminate a significant portion of Facebook's users. It did--but not to the degree that I thought. Evidently, there are white girls named Ebony. Seriously, who knew?