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Expectant Mother Clashes With Husband By Wanting To Avoid 'Black' Names For Her Child, And The Internet Is Torn

Artem Varnitsin / EyeEm / Getty Images / Reddit

As a currently expectant mother myself, I can assure you that there are countless things you can stress about.

New parents can stress over baby's health, how you're going to raise them, sleeping arrangements, feeding, etc. until you find yourself buried under a mountain of advice and baby books.

One of the things those books typically don't mention as a possible point of stress, though, is a name.


That doesn't mean you're not going to do it.

Unless you have one of those families where every child is named David and you only need to worry about a middle name, there's a pretty good chance you're going to have the "what do we name the baby" argument.

Sometimes that argument is short and sweet. Other times it gets so heated that you end up turning to Reddit for advice.

This is one of those times.

Reddit user Thenameofthebaby posted asking whether she was wrong for "shutting down black-sounding baby names" - and the responses were pretty contentious.

So let's start from the beginning with her post:

"My husband and I are having a baby. I'm mixed race, half black and half white. My husband is black."
"We don't know the gender yet but my husband prefers names that most people would call black names for boys. Names like Trayvon, DeVonte, Marquis, etc."
"I grew up with a name that is tied to black culture and hated it for most of my life. I go by a shortened form of my name professionally (i.e Dee for Denaisha) because I have seen how people react to my government name. I am sure I have been passed up for jobs because of how people perceive my name."
"My husband has a name more commonly used for white boys (i.e Jake). He wants a strong black name for our son because he never had that and believes that giving him a 'white' name to avoid racism isn't helping anyone. I don't disagree, but don't want to use our son as a test dummy to change that."
"This has become a battle. I know that we both need to agree on a baby name but am I the a$$ for writing off all black names?"

While she may have a point about the perception of racial or ethnic-sounding names, there's actually been some interesting research into the origins of names typically associated with black culture. This video goes over a few interesting points about the topic.

The responses the original poster got were pretty split.

One group of people felt like, considering the social climate, she was totally okay to insist that her child's name sound more "white."

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"I am reluctantly calling your husband an ass here. I think he is being willfully ignorant here as hiring discrimination based off black sounding names has been observed in multiple studies. Giving a kid a name like this is putting them at a significant disadvantage." - [deleted]
"Names make a difference. I'm as pasty white as you can get, but my parents gave me a very 'foreign' sounding name. A few years ago, i started putting out 2 copies of my resume, 1 with my legal name, one with my middle name. I never got a call back for my real name, but 'Mitchel' got lots of interviews. Maybe compromise with middle names, or a name like yours that could be shortened?" - Kamenkewl

Others, however, felt that the husband had an incredibly valid point.

Things will never change if everyone keeps admitting there is a problem but doing absolutely nothing to change it.

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"The point the husband is trying to make for naming his son a black name is to help have him have pride in his race, and to kind of give the message that it is okay to be black. Naming him something white to benefit his future is a way to stay complicit with how the present is."
"Instead of naming your kid something white, why don't we all work to change the bias there is towards black names?"
"I'm not trying to say that they should name him one type of name or the other, but I that's a pretty shit reasoning to give a kid a 'white name'. They should pick something that they both like and not focus on what the connotations are."
"The people who don't involve themselves in the change are the reason it doesn't happen." - __kassanova__
"I have both an 'ethnic' name and a 'normal' name and I'd be very offended and disappointed in my parents personally if they avoided giving me a name from our culture out of fear of racism. I'd rather face an uphill battle than lose a part of my culture." - doneanddead
"This is a complicated issue with years of racism and slavery to unpack. Personally, I think it'd be beautiful to have a strong black name and black pride."
"If you're living in a racist community/society, should you have to change yourself and your child to conform to their standards?" - 3300advantage

And then there was the compromise crowd, who had some interesting suggestions.

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"You both have perfectly valid points. Why not give him one as a first and one as a middle name, that way they'll both be his legal names and he can make his own choice when he's old enough to understand." - Acatinmylap
"Both have valid points. Maybe suggest a name that has a strong association with proud, powerful and inspirational black figures but that isn't (for lack of a better term) "definitionally" black? Like maybe Nelson or Martin or Malcolm or Desmond or somesuch?" - womp-womp-rats
"I agree with your husband, that your son should have a strong name to be proud of. But there are a lot of very strong, mainstream names you can use: Frederick, Douglas, Martin, Luther. Putting the "strong black" name in the middle, while using the more common first name is a compromise I see a lot of people do with cultural names."
"For example, a good friend of mine is James Rayansh Surname. His mother and father are full Indian, but plan to stay in the U.S. They made sure he had a name to use on the resume while also just calling him Rayansh. He goes by Ray/Rayansh on everything but his work contact."
"So I think there are plenty of names that fall into the middle [look up French Creole for some absolutely beautiful names] without making both of you feel that your son is going to be lost in his name." - worried_daikon

We may never know how things turn out, but we feel like this is an interesting and important conversation to have.

The book The Baby Name Wizard, 2019 Revised 4th Edition: A Magical Method for Finding the Perfect Name for Your Baby is available here to help find the best name.