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Which Name Is Weirder, Saxby Chambliss or Barkevious Mingo? The Answer May Tell You Whether or Not You’re Racist
The great Jamelle Bouie wrote about “black names” for the Daily Beast, and it’s a solid one if you missed it. Prompted by a question posed to the “Black American parents of Reddit”—“[I’m] just curious why you name your kids names like D’brickishaw, Barkevious D’quell and so on?”—Bouie writes the ever-necessary reminder that black Americans are not a monolith, that the adoption of names that signify difference was an important part of the Black Power movement in the ’70s, and that black children are not the only ones with unusual names.
It’s not hard to find white kids with names like Braelyn and Declyn. And while it’s tempting to chalk this up to poverty—in the Reddit thread, there was wide agreement that this was a phenomenon of poor blacks and poor whites—the wealthy are no strangers to unique names. The popular Netflix show Orange is the New Black, written by a Jenji Kohan (a white woman), was based on the experiences of a Piper Kerman (also a white woman). And in last year’s presidential election, nearly 61 million people voted for a Willard Mitt Romney, at the same time that the current head of the Republican National Committee was (and is) a Reince Priebus.
On Twitter, riffing off of the Reddit thread, I mused on this double standard with a comment and a joke. “Seriously, I will take your ‘questions’ about ‘weird’ black names seriously when you make fun of Reince Priebus and Rand Paul,” followed by “White people giving their kids names like Saxby Chambliss and Tagg Romney is a clear sign of cultural pathology.” If names like “DeShawn” and “Shanice” are fair targets for ridicule, then the same should be true for “Saxby” and “Tagg.”
All names are ridiculous. Next person who tells that dumb urban legend about “La–a, pronounced Ladasha” gets a permanent time-out.