A Name Is Not Just A Name For Black People

by Yvonne Chase on October 14, 2015

Heat And Hell
On a recent episode of The View, Raven Symone caught a lot of heat and hell for her comments about name discrimination.  She said,  “It’s just not going to happen. I’m not about to hire you if your name is Watemelondrea.”  Please tell me that’s not a real name.  Her comments came during a discussion with her co-hosts about a recent study that found Americans make racist assumptions based on people’s names.   Watch the clip and we’ll talk after…

Not Hired Because Of Their Name
I wasn’t going to write about this then I decided to because I have very strong feelings about this issue. While many are mad at Raven, I’m not.  She spoke the truth.  Many black people are not hired because of their names.  Some black people don’t even get an interview.  A great resume gets tossed because of a name. It’s not right, but it is what it is.  Sometimes the opposite is true.

Most People Think I’m An Older Jewish White Woman
My name has done more good than harm.  It’s racially ambiguous. You don’t know who’s about to walk through the door.  My parents gave me three names; a first and two middles.  Yvonne is one of my middle names.  My first name is what I’m referring to in this post.  If you know me, you know what it is.  I love my first name.  Most people think I’m an older Jewish white woman then gag when they realize I’m black.

You Got Any Other Names We Can Call You?
In the workplace, specifically the TV & entertainment world, my name has been an interesting issue.  While working at a top radio station in NY back in the day, my black female boss said, ‘You don’t look like your name. You got any other names we can call you? Something black?”

I Was Supposed To Act Like A Black Woman
On another job, my white boss wanted to know if I grew up in a white neighborhood.   She called me into her office one day and said, “Where are you from? Who gave you that name? How come you speak so well? How come you dress so nice? Did you grow up in a white neighborhood? What kind of work do your parents do?” She couldn’t believe this black woman with this racially ambiguous name presented so we’ll.  You see, my name was supposed to be something along the lines of Watermelondrea and I was supposed to act like a black woman.

I Thought You Were A Jewish White Woman
Another Jewish Executive Producer said, “The only reason I hired you is because your resume is impressive and I thought you were a Jewish white woman. What else could you be with that name! I was not expecting a black woman.  I was shocked when you arrived on the first day.”

We Are Judged By Our Names
Whether black people like it or not, we are judged by our names.  Since we know what it is, we ought to stop giving our kids ignorant names. Yea I said it! Your responsibility as a parent is to set your child up for success. Why impede that by giving him or her a name like Courvoisier or Hennesy? NBA player Steph Curry named both of his daughters Ryan and Riley.  If we didn’t know they were girls, we wouldn’t know until they walked in the door.  We don’t know if they’re black, white or indifferent.  They get a chance to at least walk in the door. What happens after that is up to them.

A Name Is Not Just A Name
Do I agree with someone being denied a job because of his/her name? Absolutely not but like I said earlier, it is what it is.  There are a lot of things happening in this world specifically to black people that are 100% wrong, however, until those things change, specifically being denied employment because of a name, we ought to put a lot of thought into choosing a name.  Drink all the Courvoisier and Hennesy you want but for the love of your children and the sake of their future success, stop naming your kids after bottles of brown juice.  A name is not just a name…for black people.


Something to think about…

What say you? What do you think about Raven’s comments? Do black people need to take her commentary into consideration when choosing a name? Is a name just a name? Are you or have you ever been judged by your name?

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