Monday, March 14, 2011


Though a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet, a child with a deliberately difficult, made-up name will have a chip on his shoulder for having to explain its spelling and pronunciation ad nauseam and will, therefore, be an asshole.
I understand the desire to show the world how unique and special your child is, and it seems that most parents do this by dressing their kids up in cute little outfits and trying to give them the best educational and social opportunities in life. A certain class of black people, on the other hand, resort to making up outlandish names for their kids -- names that are often neither euphonious nor phonetically spelled, so that when I call roll in the morning, I'm presented with a string of unlikely letters that I invariably mispronounce. Unfortunately, these students are usually the ones with the worst self-discipline, so I have to memorize their bizarre names in order to call them out for misbehavior. Add to that the serious insult in the black community of "calling someone out of their name" and it's a recipe for disaster.
Kids with foreign names -- whether because they are recently extracted from a non-Anglophone culture or just because their parents thought it sounded cool -- are no problem. They either correct me politely or offer a simple nickname I can call them. Problem solved. But ebonic names? With random apostrophes and capitalization? Examples:
Le'Frederick (An attempt at a posh French name? At least they got the masculine pronoun right, I guess.)
Jertarvious (Just... no.)
Melquon (Again, it doesn't even sound good.)
A'Miracle (Sounds like a stripper name. Very sweet girl, though, and she reads well above her grade level.)
Saporia (Sounds botanical, and vaguely unpleasant.)
Jaquon (I've heard it pronounced both "Juh-QUON" and "JAY-quon.")
Jebriel (An icky-sounding name for a nasty-mouthed girl. "Juh-BREEL")
Lamarrica (Rhymes with "America.")
Atrayu (A misspelling of either the hero from "The Neverending Story" or that emo/metal band. I didn't think it tactful to ask him which one.)
I know it's wrong to judge someone by something over which they have no control, but think of these kids' college applications, their resum├ęs... Who wouldn't pick a John or a Mary over a Kelchino or a La'Tasia?

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