“Ghetto Names”: Creative Or Just Plain Hood?

It’s an almost known fact that some, if not most of the world’s most… unusual names come from the black community.

We all know an “-isha”, “-niqua”, “tria” or any other unknown combination of letters that lead to names that many would struggle to pronounce; names that cause everyone to ask “do you have a nickname I can call you?”

While many call these names ghetto and denounce them to individuals from certain socio-economic classes, these are the same people to ignorantly ignore the fact that many of these names are the embodiment of sheer creativity and can also come from names from our history, that have some of the most beautiful meanings behind them. Many African names are seen as too “eccentric” “too different” and we are taught to shun what is not easily understood, in favor of something we can all easily grasp, like an “Ashley” or “Melissa”.

I am way too familiar with both side of this, having grown up with an African name that caused me to just raise my hand and say “that’s me” whenever I saw the teacher struggling to pronounce what probably looked like random letters on page to her. I had to defend my name as not “hood” but African royalty with the beautiful meaning of “God saved me” behind it. Yet, I have fallen prey to looking down on the “Taniquas” and “Latishas” as they were almost synonymous with lower class black girls, almost names we, as a race should be ashamed of.

The more I accepted myself and where I come from, the more I realized how mainstream society tries to take all that is unique to people of color and either turn it into their own, somehow thinking they made it better, or just completely trash it until we no longer what to associate with it as well. Big lips, big hair, big asses. These have all gone from things to avoid to things people willingly pay to have.

And now our names. Our identities. If they can make us be ashamed of something as intrinsic as our birth name, what else can they cause us to shame ourselves about? Yes, the names can at times be jarring, comical or just catch you off guard in general. Yet are they any different from an “Apple”, “Rocket” or any of the other celebrity children names we’ve heard? Yes, there is a stigma attached to ours as they usually come from lower income parents with less education, but are the names that bad, or is it their association with certain socioeconomic classes or levels of intelligence?

Check out this beautiful and eloquent young woman below in the best piece of spoken word on this matter.

What are your thoughts?

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