Hi Meltingpot Readers,
So, you know we're still slogging over names for babygirl. I don't know why nothing feels right yet, but every day I'm trying out new names. Feeling how they roll off the tongue. Hearing how they sound when yelled across the room. (You know, as in, Princess Tianna, stop sticking marbles up your nose!!!!) Working out the inevitable shortenings and nick names that will come. I want a unique name, yet I want something that links my daughter to her families both here and in Spain. And of course, I want a name that fits this little girl who already is making her personality known with her strong kicks and aerobic moves in my belly.
Okay, so the other day I threw out a name to el esposo. He wrinkled his brow right away and said, no. He looked as if I'd suggested something truly distasteful. "What's wrong with that name?" I asked. And he said, " that name is low class or common in Spain." Now my husband comes from the deep south of Spain, the region that the entire north of Spain looks down on as low class in a way. He fully understands the wickedness of classism, but there he was saying that this name I'd selected was "common." So I chastised him. I called him a snob. I accused him of all kinds of bourgeois elitism. And he just shook his head and shut me down with one sentence.
"Would you name your daughter Qua'Neesha of JaQuanna?" Day-um. He got me. I'm a snob too. Or am I?
First of all, I don't believe any race can claim a certain name? But like it or not, since the 1980s we have developed what have come to be known as ghetto baby names. I don't really like the term ghetto, but it does serve a purpose and in my mind, ghetto refers to class, not race. (Please read Cora Daniels' excellent book, Ghetto Nation for more on this topic.) And as such, 'ghetto' baby names are not restricted to Black people, they are restricted to people who name their kids after their favorite alcoholic beverage, luxury automobile, snack food, porn star and/or any combination of the aforementioned with excess apostrophes and questionable spelling. I have a White friend who named her baby girl something so cringe worthy she might as well have just called her boo-boo. But at the end of the day, I do believe there are obvious class connotations in names. They have them in Spain and we have them here in the United States. I can't criticize el esposo for not wanting to name his daughter something that will have her labeled in his country when I wouldn't even consider certain names for the same reasons here.
It's just a fact, that certain names reveal a person's class background. And even though we are a country obsessed with race, class matters a whole lot. Let it be known, I'd name my daughter Maya or my son Malcolm or any other name after a inspirational African and/or African American figure. I'm not afraid to go Black. My second son's name is one of the most common in Ghana, in fact. But there is a difference between race and class isn't there? And at the end of the day, we all probably name our children according to our own class condition. I mean if you live in a community where everyone is named Moet, than that's not a problem. Likewise I don't hobnob with the upper class so I would never name my kid Thurston Howell III. I believe that would be pretentious and misguided.
Names do mean something. Choosing a name for your child is probably one of the most important things you do for them before they even come into this world. So much so, a friend of mine, married to a social worker, recently told me that if you don't choose a name for your child within three days of its birth, social services may be called because you might be seen as 'not truly wanting the baby.' Yikes. Makes me think el esposo and I better get on the ball.
What do you think Meltingpot readers? What's in a name when it comes to race vs class? What kind of judgements are made based on a name? Should we care?