One of the most exciting, yet thought-provoking times in the lives of expectant parents is the tossing back and forth of potential names for their new child. The naming process is a very big deal to most parents. They want to pick the perfect name for the perfect baby. Some go the traditional route and name the child after themselves or someone in their family. Some choose to name their new baby after a famous idol or prominent person in history. Nowadays, it is quite popular to be original and expecting parents rack their brains to come up with a name no one has ever heard of. I personally appreciate originality in every way, but I believe there is a line between original and just plain weird.

What is the breaking point between original and weird? Erykah Badu and Andre Benjamin (Andre 3000) named their son Seven Sirius. Actress Shannyn Sossamon named her son Audio Science. As the list goes on, the names get crazier! I am sure these names hold some huge significance to the parents, but I always wonder if celebrities are trying to out-do each other in the name department. It’s easy for one to believe that sometimes people might be trying a bit too hard. I guess it is different for celebrities than regular people. I am all for original, but I don’t think names should be given to children that can have them labeled later in life (i.e. Adolf Hitler!). It is wrong for an employer to stereotype people based on their names, but it happens. Across the United States some seem to believe that there are racial categories for names. To them and many others, there are black names, Hispanic names, white names and so forth. Can you really judge a person’s race by their name?

I have spoken with expecting African American mothers, and when I ask them what they are going to name their baby, I don’t always get a good response. I’ve gotten responses close to things like “Shoelace” (pronounced Sha-lah-say) and things I can’t even pronounce because of the ridiculous amount of consonants that were thrown together. These names had nothing to do with the African heritage and did not uphold any kind of religious belief or values. This is not just black parents but white parents as well. Musician/director Frank Zappa named one of his daughters Moon Unit. This shows that the oddness of names is cross cultural.

Some will say “Well, I don’t want my baby’s name to be too white” or “I don’t want my baby’s name to be ghetto.” This whole white/ black naming nonsense society does started because average people were beginning to label names. The more common names that stemmed from European heritage became the “white names” and the more original, or “made-up” names were considered black names. I believe that a child should not be named because of their race, but because of how beautiful and special they are.

I’ve met some students on campus with what are considered “ghetto names” and they admitted to having backlash from it. They said that they felt embarrassed when people constantly ask them how to spell their name or how people automatically label them as a “hood rat” because of their name. I would personally hate to feel that my name was holding me back from obtaining the type of career I want. I am holding onto the belief that employers would investigate more than a person’s name before deciding not to hire them. Even if they do hire someone with a unique name, the stereotypes will still be there for them to break through.

Hearing someone’s name for the first time can draw up all kinds of subconscious ideas. Are they preppy or goth? Musical or sporty? Sometimes you may be right, but at other times you can be very wrong. When I was in middle school,l we had a new girl come to our class and her name was Shameika. When she walked into the room I was shocked to see that she had long blond hair and an N’Sync t-shirt on. She was a white girl named Shameika! This was amazing to me and from then on I tried to not judge other’s physical appearance by their name. This naming thing this isn’t always racial either. There are supposedly fat names, skater names, stripper names and etc. I don’t see how you can judge someone when you have only seen their name on a piece of paper.

My point is that if you are expecting a child do not name them something they will be embarrassed about. If the name is rather unusual and sends off some kind of label, make sure you are naming them that for a reason. For those with ghetto names and so on, try not to get discouraged by those people who say “What?!” when you say your name over and over again. Think of yourself as unique instead of slighted. Your name is special for you and non-judgmental people will see that.