Thursday, June 12, 2008

My Name is FaLa'La'La' Jenkins - And Don't Forget the Accent Marks!

Q: How do black people come up with these unique first names?

A: "Shalonda? Girl, can you believe this question? They got the nerve to be askin' 'bout how we come up with our names! I mean... why they gotta act like it's different. I know 12 other Shaquonda's and 5 more Kelendria's and Jay-kwon Rayshawn is so common that I ain't NEVER namin' my child that. This don't make no sense!"

Sometimes our homegirls choose some f'ed up names. I'm not going to try to defend it at all. It's like the parents put their favorite French and Spanish sounding syllables of names in a grab bag and rolled the die to decide how many pieces of paper they'd draw. From those pieces they pieced together a name. Words often chosen for this task are: LaBelle - for Miss Patti, Patti! Vous avec moi?, Shasta because they make so many delicious soda pop flavors, including Red Pop!, and just about any word ending in the sound "ay" and "uh". One of combinations you might pull from the bag may create names like LaShontay and Shastelle. Once a name is chosen, we just need one person to agree that it sounds cute and MOST IMPORTANTLY, unique. The best friend will agree with the name and say, "Mmmm hmmm, girl - that name LaShontay sound reeeeeeeeal cute. I saw on some cable channel when I was flippin' channels that in France, words that have that "ay" sound on the end is spelled with an "e" girl... with one of them accents marks. You should do that, fo' reeeeeeeal. Then she'll have a French name and she'll be sophisticated AND shit with a unique name that aint' nobody gone forget!"

Oftentimes I think that my sistas will just make up names out of the blue. Here are some names I have heard and thought, "Hmmm.. that is QUITE different!"

  • Kenetha - a feminizing of the name Kennth
  • Twiniece
  • Georgetta - which isn't really THAT different.. just COUNTRY!
  • LaQuincia - I guess they used the grab bag method and the father's name.
  • DeMarcus - I guess they meant he was "Off his Mark"
  • Ja'Quan
  • Tamiska
  • Tomisina
  • DeJuan
  • KeyShaun
  • Te'Quan - Doesn't it just make you wanna say Tae Kwon Do?
  • Breniecia
  • Shaneeka
Those are just a few.

Now, I might add that just because you've never heard of the name before doesn't mean it's not a valid and important name. Look at Beyonce'. Her momma was using her maiden name (Beyince) and gave it some extra French flava to an already Creole name. This same name is probably on the rise with babies that were born during the height of Destiny's Child. These are the names that go down in what I like to call, Black Baby Name Hall of Fame. These are the names that were once unusual... but they are now so common that it's normal (at least in their neighborhood).

Let's ask Aquanetta how many people she knows that share the same name.
Let's start with... BoonQuisha?

"Shiiiit... I know about 5 of dem! In fact, my cousin Mopey (who's real name is something completely different and could be a whole other topic) is married to a BoonKeisha... wait.. I guess that's another name."

Actually Aquanetta, we'll go ahead and count that one. How about Chardonne'?

"I know a Nay Nay. I think her real name is Chardonne', though. Or is it Jean-Nate'? Hell, I don't know!"

It's okay.. I think we get the picture.

Honestly - there are some names that have made the Black Baby Name Hall of Fame. Some of these names are:
  • Nakia
  • Shamieka (I had to add this one because I JUST met another Shamieka - the first was in high school)
  • LaKeisha
  • Shareese - and all variations
  • Devonte
  • Kenyatta
Uniquely made up names seems to be more relegated to people in a lower socioeconomic level. But that's not to say that those individuals will always be poor. Look at Oprah Winfrey (although her name came from the name Orpah which came from the Book of Ruth in the Bible but changed to Oprah because it was easier to pronounce). However, we don't think anything of Oprah's name these days.

Now.. when you get to the educated black folks.. and I don't mean they need to have a college degree, they are just well read and sometimes bourgeois folks (pronounced boog-wah, or as my people call it.. "boo-zhee" phonetically said... because NONE of us know how to spell it because the word doesn't exist in standard dictionaries). These people will take an Anglo name or a name from our African ancestry that has a deliberate meaning. African names such as Diallo (meaning "bold) and Zuri (meaning "beautiful") have a distinct meaning behind them. These names are accepted by the masses - quite possibly because they're more commonly heard and because the person who named them actually knows what the hell it means! Let's rewind to the name BoonQuisha... what the FUCK does that represent, that the child was conceived in the "boonies"?

That takes me to another way of naming their child. Black folks naming their kids after areas they were conceived in or on... but I digress.

We can't end this blog without mentioning the hippies of the black community. These folks can easily be mistaken for white celebrities who name their babies crazy ass names.

How's this?
  • Apple
  • Dweezil
  • Tiger Lilly
  • Jigme
  • Kafka
  • Pilot Inspector
  • Poppy Honey
  • Rumer
and the list goes on and on. Is there the same scrutiny? At any rate...

Some black hippie names are (and yes, i know/knew people with these names):
  • Sparkle
  • Honey
  • Cookie
  • Jazzmin
  • Caprice (Classic, as in conceived in an automobile)
  • Tangy (short for Tangerine I think pronounced Tangee and not tangy)
  • Lyric (I think a surge of this name happened after the movie Jason's Lyric)
And I REALLY want to get into why black people of NON-Hispanic decent have these Spanish names such as Carlos, Yolanda (yep.. that's not just a black name!), Consuela (yes, I knew a girl named this and she was definitely black!) and Roberto. As a good friend of mine says, "Never trust a black man with a Spanish first name. And especially don't trust them if they're wearing a pinky ring!" This is a topic within itself! But I have a feeling it's all about the exotic feeling of the name and it's uniqueness among blacks.. although, those names are HIGHLY popular in Spanish speaking countries.

With all of that said.. I still don't know why people do this to their children. But I say, keep on keepin' on. But keep in mind, a name that's unique has it's pluses and minuses. These kids are often labeled right off the bat as being dumb or hopeless - it migiht have something to do with them not even being able to spell their own damn name because they didn't know how to properly spell it themselves or phonetically it just wasn't right (e.g. Shanta - to me and MOST people.. that is pronounced Shon-tuh or Shan-tuh... but the girl I knew who was named that pronounces it Shon-tay. Go figure!) I just urge you to stay away from naming your kids after areas where conception occurred. The world does not need another Chevelle Diamonique LaChanel Thomas just because her parents got it on in a Chevy and her dad proposed with a stunning diamond-like ring with a Technibond ™ gold band on the HSN channel because that is just TOO MUCH!

Links used in this entry:

Oprah Winfrey
white celebrities who name their babies crazy ass names


Scott said...

Dennis you are a man of genius. Thanks for this unique insight into life of an unfortunately-named child. A few of my favorites that I must mention here are: My waitress at Friendly's "Punkin," a well-educated army brat named LaQuinn, and her friend who although her parents were Nigerian, had to deal her whole life with the name Olaronke Olabookama Olatunji. But we called her Ronké which is pronounced "Roon-kay". Now THAT's a winner.

Anonymous said...

we should nuke the dutch for starting the slave trade. if they never started the slave trade, all african-americans, would just be africans, and they would be happy living in prosperity in their homeland. They wouldn't have to put up with the white peoples silly questions,or live in poverty, starve on the streets, be massacred by the thousands (hell, millions), suffer through drought,disease,famine,and political-economical & religous persecution. The "MAN" is a drag on modern african-americans in the united states. They should be left alone. Like that indiana city, where the blacks moved in, the whites moved out, and it was run for the blacks,by the blacks. You should put THAT link on your site. very happy ending, that story.

Anonymous said...

Because he may be deaf who learned to talk. He is deaf. Why do you not ask him why is he yelling? He does not hear. Do you have the delicacy to ask him why does he yell? Probably, he is trying to talk because he is deaf. There are things that people ignore that deaf learned to talk.

Anonymous said...

is this discrimination when you offend someone who is deaf who learned to talk?