Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Happy Hump Day!
My friend Patrick posted this as his Facebook status today:
Hit up "urbandictionary.com" and search your first name. Put the meaning as the first comment.
So I did, and this is what is listed under "Brooke":
1) A word more along the lines of Gorgeous, Beautiful, Pretty, Glamorous...2) Sexually interesting or exciting; radiating sexuality: 3) Excitingly appealing; glamorous.the coolest person in the world - and she is quite pretty indeed. One of the most amazing people you will EVER meet! Brooke's are really fragile, and extremely caring at heart! They are always positive, and will cheer you up when you are down! sexy beast, hot girl. no guy can resist her - The best name ever - aka "Fucking Awesome."
While that seemed pretty accurate (smile) - the real meaning of Brooke is: From an English surname which denoted one who lived near a brook.
Nothing Afrocentric about my name for the most part. No deep meanings either. However, I was named after my grandmother's favorite singer - a Black man named Brook Benton. I would have been named "Brook(e)" whether I was a boy or a girl.
But some people I know have names that have awesome meanings - like "Aisha" which means "alive" or "Amir" which means "commander" or "prince" or "Akili" which means "bright and smart."
Some would argue that these are very "Black" or Arabic names - there's nothing "European" about them. However, when most of us name our children, we give them names that represent what we want them to become, or names that bear pride in one's family or culture. We want their names to mean something.
But what does it mean when Jamal can't get a call back to set up a job interview? Is "Linda" more employable than "Lakisha?"
Your name should define you in a positive way, not diminish you in other's eyes. But we all know that we live in a society where some employers discriminate against job applicants based on the Afrocentric or "black-sounding" names on their resumes, regardless of their education, job experience or qualifications. Jamal could be a Harvard grad, while Jeremy could be a high school drop out...and Jeremy STILL MIGHT get a call quicker than Jamal will. Sad, but true.
In a research paper by University of Chicago economics professor Marianne Ber-trand and Massachusetts Institute of Technology economics professor Sendhil Mullaina, 5,000 fictitious resumes were sent out in response to more than 1,300 help-wanted ads in The Boston Globe and the Chicago Tribune. Resumes were randomly assigned a variety of very "black-sounding" names, such as Lakisha Washington and Jamal Jones, or very white-sounding names, such as Emily Walsh or Greg Baker.
Two higher-quality and two lower-quality resumes were sent out in response to each ad. Black-sounding names were randomly assigned to one of the higher-quality resumes and one of the lower-quality resumes. The resumes with white-sounding names received 50 percent more call-backs for interviews than those with black-sounding names. Resumes with white-sounding names received one call-back per 10 resumes, while those with black-sounding names received one call-back per 15 resumes.
Now, this shouldn't surprise anyone, but my question to you all is: Have you, or are you considering, giving your child a "white sounding" name so that they don't have to deal with this type of discrimination? Or do you plan on giving them names that mean something to YOU - even if they sound "ethnic"?
Most would argue that no matter WHAT name you give a Black, Middle Eastern or Latino person, they may still be discriminated against when they come face to face with the HR representative who will see who they really are - so why bother trying to fit in?
I've gone into interviews and personally gotten the surprised-to-see-I-was-Black look on their face - with the response,"Oh, YOU'RE Brooke?" In most cases, I still got the job, and my resume usually spoke for itself...but maybe they assumed that I was "less Black" because of my name.
It's hard to say I would have gotten those interviews anyway had my name been Shaniqua. But having the name Brooke hasn't made me any less proud of my heritage. I'm not "less Black" because I just happened to be named after a man who has a "White sounding" name. I don't need to have a "black sounding" name in order to be proud that I'm black. I've found that a lot of my friends who are now becoming parents, or who plan on becoming parents, have told me that they are going to raise their children to be proud of who they are, but still give their children conservative names so that they don't have to deal with any "extra" discrimination. After all, there are blatant, obvious pitfalls to having a name that screams "ghetto" - even if the name has a regal meaning.
So...again I ask, is it better for our children to have more common names rather than ethnic sounding names? Do we give our kids a chance on a not-so-even playing field, or do we wear who we are on our sleeves...and our resumes?
Think about it - an HR rep makes a decision to call a person back based on his or her resume in 10-15 seconds, which is not a lot of time to sift through one's intrinsic biases. Maybe if they took the time to read past the name, they'd see that Jerome graduated at the top of his class and has amazing credentials. But that sometimes doesn't and won't always happen...unless they're trying to fill a quota.
Those of you who have children - tell us their names and the reasons why you chose those names. If you don't have children, but plan to one day - how do you think you'd name them?