Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What's in a Name?

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?

Go!

-b

34 comments:

Yolanda said...

FIRST BEYOTCHES!

Yolanda has something to do with COCAINE on Urban Dictionary... so I refrained!

Annamaria said...

FIRST BITCHES!!!

Annamaria said...

DAMN YOU YOLANDA!!!!!!!!!

BREAKING OUT MY TASER!!!!!!!!!!

Yolanda said...

Suck it Anna-Mae!

-love Ike :-)

TAZZZZZZZZZZEDDDD!

Craig n 'em said...

CRAIG:
The codename for the act of smoking marijuana; used primarily in public places

Need I say more?

Annamaria said...

The Urban dictionary didn't have my name!!!! :(

OH WELllllll...anywho...Unfortunately your name is the first impression job seekers have of you...SOOOOO if your name is tooo "ethnic" you are going to be judged. I'm not going to lie. I've heard some names & wondered WHY DOES THAT PERSON'S MAMA HATE THEM??? (ie: skyy blue, Bronx Mowgli, Acire-which is Erica spelled backwards..the mother's name is Erica???WTF)
When it came time to name our daughter Austin & I wanted to give her a nice, classy, name that was going to guarantee no assumptions be made about her prior to her interview. Hence Sophia Michele was born.

Yolanda said...

Oh, to answer your question Brooke.
My last name doesn't scream "she's Black" but usually, they know once they get to the "Yolanda." My name was supposed to be April, but I didn't pop out the oven until May, so that got nixed. I'm actually named after Yolanda King. My father picked the name out a Jet magazine. (*ya'll stop laughing*) I don't plan on having any kids, but I do think there's something to be said for giving real thought to the name you'll give your child. It's their calling card. I actually think you should wait to "meet" your child before selecting a name. Who's to say what you pick out beforehand will really fit them? It's important to think about their future and what the "real world" is. "Tanqueray" is not a promising start for a kid.


YOLANDA (according to Urban Dictionary):

A hidden terminology for refering to cocaine disguised in the third person.

Annamaria said...

@Yolanda: SEE I THINK APRIL WOULD HAVE BEEN PRETTY....HOWEVER I think naming you April because you are born in April is a lil much...lol....

That's like naming you Sunday because you were born on Sunday...LOL
Yolanda screams hispanic to me because soo many of my family members are named Yolanda..But I like it

Craig n 'em said...

CRAIG:
Sexy as hell

CRAIG:
Being lazy without intentions of doing anything

Brooke said...

There are so many names that I like, and most of them don't sound "ethnic." I rarely think about meanings, which may or may not be a bad thing. I love the name "Brooklyn" for my son - but it means "broken land." Either that, or...if you're looking in urbandictionary.com - "Best borough of NYC. The home of many greats; rappers, actors, singers, loactions for great movies, pizza, nail places, hair salons, etc."

LOL!

My sister took my nephews names into account as far as their Moroccan/Arabic heritage and the meanings. Kyce is a name she loved from the love story of Kais and Laila, and it means "firm" - and Ibrahim is a form of Abraham (a prophet's name) that means "father of many."

Yolanda said...

I love it when the Spanish-speakers say Yolanda... it sounds like "Joelanda." I love it.

My Grandmother (rest her soul), never quite got it right. She was the only one allowed to call me "Yo-land-er."

Stef said...

Craig, you crazy!!

Stefanie (according to urbandictionary.com) - An amazing woman! Loves sex... Has a huge circle of friends of all varieties... Loves her family and devotes her life to them.... Loves to party.... Easy to love.... you are one lucky son of a bitch if you've got her....Being able to speak your mind and not caring whether or not you hurt someone while doing it.

Yep, sounds right!!

I don't think my name has been a hinderance since there are white and black stefanies all over, but that doesn't mean I won't give my child a name that is "white sounding." It depends on who the father would be and the meaning of the name. We'd make that decision together, and hope that our child lives up to his name, no matter what it may be.

And I agree with Yolanda, I think you should wait to see the child first, and then name him - but have some names picked out and then see which one suits him.

Serena W. said...

I have a list of meanings under mine. The first is, "hottie with a body!!!"

I'll take that...

The second one is more me, "beautiful in all ways
kind in all ways
willing to help others
knows what she wants and always sets goals and accomplishes the
pretty,cute,sexy,fun,love,laughing
SUCCESSFUL
when i grow up i wanna be just like serena beautiful and successful"

Hee hee.

The true meaning though to my name is calm, peace, fair and serene which I am all things. It's also of Latin origin (I love it when someone says my name with the latin accent).

I'm also named after my great grandmother Serena Wills :)

Have no clue as to exactly what name I want for my daughter or son but I do want it to mean something to me and to them when they grow up.

The Cable Guy said...

I'm about to reveal myself:

Robert (urbandictionary) - The most incredible guy in the universe, end of story. He’s sweet, caring, and truly amazing. He isn’t concerned with himself at all, but instead he’s concerned with other people. He always knows the perfect thing to say and the right time to say it. He takes your breath away and leaves you speechless. And he has a way of making your heart melt like no one else ever will. Robert is so wonderful, it’s almost impossible to find the words to match.

Yeah, that's me...see that Brooke? :-) LOL!

My son is named after me, so that's where he got his name. And he's just as fly as me!

Jaz said...

My urban dictionary meaning:

Jazmine: A beautiful flower, with a sweet, yet sassy attitude toward life. She is fearless and knows no boundaries. She walks on the wild side at night, but is an just as ordinary during the day as anyone. The night is her playground!

Love it!

I was named after my grandmother, and my name isn't really "black sounding" but some say it's "exotic." I LOVE the names Kyce and Ibrahim Brooke - your sister picked some winners!

I don't have a problem with African or Arabic names - but when parents name their kids "Alize" and "Mercedes" - then I get to scratching my head. What the hell are you thinking??? It's like you WANT them to fail in life. Not saying that you can't rise above your name, but come on people! They need to stop with that!

Monica said...

LOl My name had a few meanings in urban dictionary but I'll pick the ones that are not negative.

Monica = the sexiest woman on the planet. never see her without peeing your pants. cant help but pop one when you look at her. always laughing and has a smile that makes you poop your pants. but you gotta love her :D
A name derived from the latin language meaning "A wise councilor" Also a Catholic Saint

I agree! Naming your kid rodneisha or Alize is not always the move you want to make. Usually you have no choice in what the last name will be so descrimination of names like Rodriguez can't be avoided. I've experienced it when applying to interships and things of that nature in college. Some of these parents need to take more thought and care into the decision that will shape the rest of their child's life.

The Fury said...

Fury
One with many sick kickalicks who just keeps dippin' and just keeps switchin' lanes.
Better not scuff his shoes, cause this fury has got a man on the inside.

WTF!!

ok I do have some nice kicks, but was that man on the inside a gay reference? It shouldve said he will show you his fury when you have this man inside you! Much better!!

how you can define me without the great sex is beyond me. Urbandictionary you have failed and I shall challenge thee to a duel.

Names mean a lot especially getting a job. You know how many times I changed my name before I got acceptance into the wayward heroes of sex association?? Now my name speaks for itself.

Annamaria: fine ass woman with thigh high boots and a taser.

Yolanda: sexy ass woman that conjures thoughts when she tells another woman to "suck it"

Brooke: will be flowing like a brook when she experiences The Fury.

Beat that Urbandictionary!

Shawn Smith said...

I love it.

I looked up my real name and found this:

basically a kid with a huge dick. looks great, smells great, and all the ladies want him. great at sports also. great sense of humor.

I plan on naming my son Donovan:

The most powerful commanders of the east. Most feared of any man in the entire universe. Complete and utter badass.

Stephanie said...

This is so cute. I was told that my name means "The crowned one." urban dictionary says "Stephanie is, to say the least, an incredible girl. She is an immediate soul mate, before you even have the time to realize it. She is gorgeous, but still stands out from the other pretty girls. She has a sense of humor that never dissapoints or keeps you from laughing. She has this aura about her that no one else could ever have. She carries herself with grace worthy of Grace Kelly herself. Stephanie is loving, unique, and maybe even a bit quirky; but its in a cool addictive way. Once you meet a real Stephanie, don't ever let go. Can also mean a sophisticated bitch.
I wonder what my Alias name means? lolol

Ms. Penn said...

Well, considering I have a typically male name, my urban dictionary definition was a bit off:

Ryan: A bad ass mofo who is the iron chef of pounding vag.
All the woman want him! He has 11 1/2 inches. Bad ass drinker who will kill your bitch ass if u fuck with him. His friends are bad ass to which is bad ass, bad ass. a handsome man with determination and drive, a good sense of humor, easy going and carefree. Fun to be around, easy to talk to, never fake and full of optimism.

LOL.

I was named after my father - and it's safe to say my name would have been Ryan if I were a boy as well.

As for "ethnic" names - I don't see anything wrong with instilling a sense of pride in your children via their name, but some of these folks who name their children aren't thinking about the meaning, so names like "Alize" and "Lexus" just don't make any sense - and they only hurt them, not help them or instill any pride. I've known a few people who have jacked up names who defy the odds, but most people I know with names like that are a product of the parents who gave them that name.

JUSTBNME ♥ said...

Before I read all of the comments, I want to say that I purposely named my children (1 boy, 1 girl)names that would make it hard for anyone to distinguish them; black, white, green or yellow. I wanted them to have equal footing at least until they come face to face with the interviewer. Kayla and Joshua McKenzie.....You won't get a chance to discount them early.

Brooke said...

I love the name Mackenzie - I love that for a girl!

Tony said...

Hey everyone! Its been awhile but like I said yesterday "I'm baaaaack!"

Ok on to the original OP. I have five children: Ashley, Damian, Juan, Alexa and Sean. With the exception of Juan, my wifes grandfathers name, I purposely choose my other children,s names because of how they will look on a resume. Brooke said that some people want their children's names to have meaning and I agree! I want their names to mean a fair shot in an unfair workforce. I have had to explain this to me oldest (18) when she wondered why I didn't name her Shanene. As sad as it is to say people of color must use every advantage in the workplace in order to be treated fairly.

Brooke said...

Tony, have you noticed that we don't really have that many "ethnic" names in our immediate family? Brooke, Nicole, Anthony, David, Brian, Renee, Donna, Cheryl, Michael, Lois, Robert, Eleanor, Samuel, Joan, Kristin? Same on my father's side: Bruce, Maureen, Maurice, Calvin, Angela, etc. A few cousins' children have "ethnic" (Toya, Thalya) names with awesome meanings, but for the most part it's pretty common/neutral.

So when I see names like "Laquasha", it throws me off. I immediately wonder what the name means, or who they were named after - because otherwise I see no point. And names like "Alize" are just stupid. Why name your kid after an alcoholic beverage? Even if you had some deep meaning for it, you should still wonder to yourself "hmmm, maybe that's not a good idea considering this is the name of an alcoholic beverage... some might think I'm trifling." :)

I'm not against "ethnic sounding" names...if you wanna call them that, and Kyce and Ibrahim might have to deal with some discrimination as a result - but at least their names were chosen with care and consideration and have meanings that both my sister and her husband are proud of. The name is only part of it, but raising your children to live up to their potential is the hardest part.

Stef said...

I love the name "Brooke." And I think it fits you perfectly!

Sometimes I don't know where we get these names. I agree Tony, we have to think ahead to our children's future and what we might be doing to them or setting them up for. Like someone said, you can't always help what your last name is, so if your last name is Rodriguez, I don't think there's anything wrong with naming your child Juan, or Carmen since most people will assume you're Latino anyway. But if your last name is Jones or Williams, don't mess up a good name by naming your kid Shanene or Tangueray.

What I don't like, but understand, is when people combine the mom and dad's name to make up a name - like Jeffrhonda (my friend who's dad's name is Jeffrey and mom's name is Rhonda...and no I'm not kidding). While I get the meaning, or understand the intent - sometimes it just sounds plain ridiculous.

Brooke said...

oh wow...

But Stef, I hear you. When I see names like Plaxico, Laverneaus, or D'Brickashaw (Ferguson - plays for the NY Jets - no lie) - I always wonder who they were named after...because their parents couldn't have just said "oh, this sounds nice...let's go with D'Brickashaw."

Clearly those are names of guys in the NFL, and so maybe their name appearing on a resume is neither here nor there at this point as they're all successful (or were, dumbass Plaxico) - but what if playing football didn't work out. Can you imagine seeing the name "D'Brickashaw" on a resume?

I'd actually call him back and invite him in just to see what a "D'Brickashaw" looked like :)

The Cable Guy said...

LMAO!!!

Brooke, I remember watching the game thinking the same thing! Like what the HELL is a "D'Brickashaw?"

Jay said...

I'm late, but joining in the fun. Mine said:

1. the act of being the sexiest person alive
2. A very VERY sexy person
3. Something you would/should name your penis

Legendary Hero associated with Greek Mythology; Same level as Hercules, Ulysses, and Achilles; Smart, Sexy, Very Handsome person; often RF Engineer by day and gigaloo by night. Admired and idolized by many.

As for what I plan to name my children one day, obviously my wife's input would determine that as well, but I have to admit that I'd steer away from obvious ethnic names unless they have a profound meaning for the both of us. No combining of names (so no "JayBrooke's" out there) ;)

I think we should take pride in our culture and names that have a great meaning are wonderful. It's the silly ones, like you stated, that give me pause - or people who don't give names based on meaning, but on what they think sounds cool, but really doesn't help their kid in the long run.

It's a shame that a person's name carries so much weight when it comes to discrimination in the workplace, and we usually have to work 10 times harder just to prove ourselves equal - no matter WHAT our name is. But let's at least get in the door.

DMoe said...

LOL...I'm late on this one, but wow...

This is fun. Since my name "Dereyck" is the french take on 'Derrick', I had to look it up on that one if that's alright...

Here's mine:

1. Meaning intellectual, or very bright.Also, may be the stage of intercourse when the male may become aroused, or sexually ready for intercourse. When semen flows to the penis. When the penis becomes excited and gets hard and "stands up", for the sexual pleasure of a female, or another male.
Felmale: "Hunny, did you Derrick yet?"
Male: "Wait, I just got it, let's go!"

2. A cool, SEXY dark caramel black guy with a giant penis and who loves to be loved. A calm, but Crazy guy if you make him. The only thing that isnt cool about him is he likes to mess with alot of girls, but he's a MACK DADDY. All the girls loves him and his penis.
That one guy DERRICK is fucking sexy and he has a HUUUGGGEEE penis!

LOL. Of course there are a couple more, but I don't like those - and neither will you!

Yeaaaaah!

Dmoe

Tony said...

@Brooke I did notice that our family names are fairly generic. I guess we're boring huh? Lol

DMoe said...

I didnt want to mention my child's name in the midst of all that crazy stuff about 'derrick' in the previous comment.

My daughter's name is "Kennedy" and that decision was based on a classic, timeless name that wouldn't point to any ethnicity. Its tough for the 'Uniqua' and other names like that to have their name at the top of a resume and get considered in certain places. That's a big issue as far as I'm concerned.

Dmoe

Brooke said...

Interesting definition "Derrick" LOL!!

one part of my definition mentioned something about masturbation, so I decided to leave it out :)

Yeah Tony, I guess we are pretty boring :)

ArrElle said...

Origin: French

Meaning: little rock

A woman who doesn't take shit from anyone, even her own parents. She does things her way when she wants where she wants how she wants. A beautiful person inside and out. She is a great listener and tells it like it is. She is lotal and trust worthy. She is exotic and fun to be around.

Hey some of it is true, I'm a great listener and tell it like it is who is trustworthy (don't know what "Lotal" means so I can agree with it until further investigation) and can be fun to be around that's if I like your azz. Nighty night

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