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As I narrowed down baby names for my daughter before she was born, of course I was greeted with suggestions, ideas, and questions about what we liked.

I was caught off guard when someone asked if I’d name her Shaniqua.

Yes, because my name is Jennifer and Shaniqua is the first name that came to my mind.

This wasn’t the only time people have brought names like this to my attention. Why they think it’s fitting I’m not quite sure.

It’s also strange to me when people say I “don’t look like a Jennifer.” What that’s suppose to mean, I’m not sure.

Think I’m kidding? Think they’re kidding? Yea, that’s what I thought too when one of my former bosses suggested I change my name to something more “ethnic.”

A lot of people are intrigued by my job. People ask if I wear shorts under the news desk (thanks Anchor Man), if I have makeup artists, if I use my real name, the list goes on.

No, I don’t wear shorts, (but sometimes I’ll wear jeans), I do my own makeup, and I use my own name. But at my first news job, in a small town in Southern Utah, that almost changed.

After my first day the general manager brought into our tiny little office and sat me down. The main anchor, one of my mentors was with him.

“What do you think of changing your name to Keisha?” He asked me.

I laughed. Then looked around the room, realizing I was the only one laughing. My friend did give a sympathetic shrug, which made me think she thought it was about as strange as I did but couldn’t tell me right then and there.

“Are you serious?” I asked. Totally stunned.

He was.

He went on and gave me some explanation about my last name sounding French-Creole and that having “Keisha” as a first name “fit.”

“Think about it,” he told me.

I said I would but there was no thinking about it. I was not changing my name. Especially not to Keisha.

I did call my family, then my friends and laughed about it with anyone who would listen. To this day I still have to chuckle a little when I think back to that moment because I honestly don’t know what was going through his mind.

My name is Jennifer. My siblings: Heather, Michael, Lauren, Kimberly. None of them are stereotypical names you’d hear on the Top 60 Ghetto Black Names list. They are, however, found in the most popular names of the year list. I didn’t want my daughter’s name on either. My mother’s reasoning for her decision was different than mine. She would say “do you want to get a job?” Which sounds harsh but some research shows “black-sounding” names on resumes don’t do as well next to the same resume holding a “white-sounding” names.

Deciding what to name your children is a beautiful thing. The coolest thing is that it’s your choice. Some are more unusual, and others are more common, but no one should be pigeon holed into a name because of how they look.

And for your entertainment…I guess. The “Top 60 Ghetto Black Names.”


Sigh. There is a top 60 list. LOL. I cannot but can believe that. I don’t want to click on it out of fear that my name is there.
When I named my daughter it was a mix of sentiment but also I chose race and sex neutrality. I was quite calculated. I am not sure if my name hindered me but I wanted open options.

Kira =] says:

Oh, now I have to see the list! I think picking a name for your child is super important. We personally prayerfully decide together on our children’s names. We prefer to use a family name and an uncommon name. I was the only kid in the whole school system with my name. It was mispronounced so often, but I loved being so different. A friend loved my name so much she named her daughter after me- DaKira. *sigh*

You look more like a Jennifer than a Keisha! My oldest is actually named after a black woman- Carlise. I think names should have meaning behind them and not just “I like the way it sounds.”

I can’t believe there is a list haha! I hate when people think that a certain name is automatically for a certain race only. It’s ridiculous and makes me wonder if we are still stuck in the 1920’s.

My son is biracial and I never once thought about naming him something that would fit a certain race. I named him what I did because I liked the name.

I totally agree with you 100%.

i can totally relate.
we have had our next child’s name picked out for the last two years. emeline or moseby. emeline after a dear family friend (who just happened to be aa) and moseby..well, ’cause we liked it.
after we couldn’t get pregnant we decided to adopt and the agency we chose mainly places mixed or aa children. well, no one said anything about our choice of names before (when we were trying to get pregnant/it would have been a white baby), but now it seems like just about everybody comments on ‘moseby’ and asked if we picked it because they say it sounds more aa b/c it sounds like a “black jazz musician’s name”. huh?!
craziness.
i don’t care if our son (or daughter) is pale and red-headed like me or brown skinned and dark-headed–their name will be moseby.
🙂

As a person of French-Croele decent I can attest to you that “Keisa” is not a French-Creole name. If he had wanted to be authentic he should of suggested something like Cecily.

I would of been so pissed. But you are way nice than me, so I’m sure you handled it with grace 🙂

I get so frustrated with people who chose to name their children THOSE names and then turn around and expect that it wouldn’t impact their child’s life. Should it? Nope. Does it? Yep.

I am so grateful my name is Katherine. I was partly named after my great-great Aunt (who was black!)

Tiana says:

I kind of have a funny story about my name. When I was 7 years old, I started playing basketball in a girl/boy league. I had just moved and so I didn’t try out and none of the coaches saw me, they just had to pick out names. When I showed up to the first practice, I noticed that my entire team was black (including the coach) AFTER I walked up to the coach and told him my name. He looked at me and said, “Are you sure? You’re not who I was expecting”.

I had no idea at the time why he said that so I asked my mom when I got home and she told me that he thought I was black just because of my name. That didn’t make any sense to me and still doesn’t even though I have heard that my whole life.

I don’t know why people stereotype names at all- that has always bugged me. You should just name your children whatever you like. But I love my name and am glad they named a Disney princess after me 🙂

WOW.
That is some racist sh*t right there. I cannot believe your boss said that to you? Crazy.

I’m not a fan of names that tell ethnicity.

I am however, a fan of the ghetto name youtube clip LOL!!!!

toi says:

As I am choosing my soon to be baby’s name, I never thought about race, but more about the meaning of the name. A name becomes popular for what that person does and not because it is the race she or he belongs to.

The video shouldn’t be taken seriously, because who calls her child Fri’Chickenisha? LOL, they are just two silly boys making up names and calling it ghetto black names.

toi says:

@Tiana, it happens to me to when people read my name somewhere (without the surname) they expect to see someone else and when they see that i am black they are surprise.

I LOVE my name for it meaning.

I love names that have meaning! I HATE when other black people name their children something crazy like Fri’Chickenisha and say it’s African or something. Umm…no. I’m 100% Nigerian and the names they choose all have meaning and do not sound like that. Yes, they are weird but never made up. I named my own children short and simple names just so they could avoid what I went through as a child. I had to always pronounce my first and last name at least 10 times before someone could remember it for that day.

Why must everything be black or white? Just because you have a normal name then it is a white name. Gosh…

I struggled with this name debate a lot when naming my son. I didn’t want his name to lean more towards one race than another. Then I realized that the ‘race related name’ is silly. I think people (myself included) often confuse the fact the names have a cultural orgin with being race related. However the anchor who wanted to change your name to Keisha was out of line- I’m glad you were able to laugh it off because I would have been very offended. Perhaps I could learn something from that.

From Mrs. to Mom

I can’t get past what your boss asked you to change your name to. That question may have brought the “Keisha” out of me in that board room, so to speak. I don’t know how you kept your cool, lol.

Amanda says:

I am constantly amazed at the pure ignorance some people possess. You would think with all the important society puts on equality, we wouldn’t have these problems. But unfortunately, it’s all totally bassackwards.

Cam says:

I work in TV as well so that conversation doesn’t surprise me at all.

melifaif says:

Oh my!!!! Where the heck are those two kids parents!?! Seriously. And I am stunned that you were asked to use another name….wow!!! Absurd.

Jenni says:

Suggested that you change your name to Keisha! That is so outrageous and offensive. What were they getting at? And Creole? What the heck? Ugh.

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Tatum says:

I can relate & I laughed reading this post because it’s so true! Remember it also can go the same way with last names LOL. A close group of friends along with their kids call me Tay Tay short for Tatum 🙂 Then if you heard my maiden name one would make assumptions LOL..

YUMMommy says:

I can totally relate. In school people were always shocked to find out I was Black when the teacher would do the role call. I think it’s just crazy that people associate names with color. I’m glad that more parents are taking chances and going out the box in terms of naming their kids.

I guess Jennifer is just too common. 😉 I don’t know why he couldn’t see how that would come off racially insensitive. You can’t tell someone that their name sounds too “black” so they need to change it to be “white,” so it’s not okay the other way either. The things bosses say behind doors…one of mine told me I need to “blacken up.”

I’m a teacher and I swear I’ve seen it all with the names. Every year I get a new list of “what were you thinking!” I sometimes wonder if parents just don’t know how to spell. We take a LONG time coming up with a name (it’s hard when you try not to use a student name or something weird and crazy). I could go on and on about the names I’ve seen. In my opinion, a name should never spell out a curse word!

Quiana says:

I cannot believe that Keisha story! That is ridic! Anyway, DH had a similar train of thought as your mom when naming our daughter Virginia (we’re named Quiana and Uka). We gave her the nickname “Nia” which we refer to her as regularly. We wanted to make sure she had a classic and a hip option to choose from when she decides on her career path.

Monique says:

This video is certainly racist. I saw these guys on Tyra’s show and they are just kids making fun of black female names and creating their own as they go along. Barack Hussein Obama is a living testament that one can go on to live full and successful lives regardless of what his or her name is. Of course certain names may hold people back but I don’t think that people should stray away from names they love in fear that the children will not be successful because of it. Oprah’s name is a standard American name. Neither is Prince. I think a child’s name should be chosen from the heart. I love ethnic names. There are many Japanese and Muslim names that I will look at because of their meaning. I teach in a school and there are so many Amanda’s and Amber’s having a unique name can also work to a person’s benefit. My name is Haitian Creole Claude Monique and I’ve had people tell me they contacted me or chose me because of my name. It peaks interests to draw outside the lines.

Cynthia says:

You are right that people of all races have opinions on names. My nephew and his wife were supposed to adopt twin aa girls. The adoption fell through 2 days after the girls were born and one of the reasons birth Dad gave was that he didn’t want the girls to have the ‘white’ sounding names they had picked out.

Jamale says:

I love your daughter’s name. In February my brother and his wife were thinking of baby names and I let one from my “list” slip and they just so happened to choose it…Journiee. Cutest name!

Jessica says:

My daughters are Puerto Rican & Caucasian
I heard the name Tajanea at 14 and said I was
Going to name my daughter that name and I did
Then I wanted similar names for my other daughters whom
I named Daejalin & Lynaeja….I think their beautiful names
But most of my family say their “black” names! I hope
My daughters love their names if not they can go with their
Middle name which are Ivelis, Victoria, & Dawn-Marie:-)

Keisha says:

This blog makes you sound just as prejudice and racist as the man who suggested you change your name. It’s ignorant to think that Keishas and other classic so-called ethnic names like Malcolm & Tyrone do not have jobs/careers. Keisha is not a ghetto name just because a black woman is more liely to have it… Jennifer is also a very common name and it doesn’t make you better or smarter or prettier than anyone named Keisha or Shaniqua. Your mentality is really a part of the problem. If an organization/business/institution doesn’t want to hire a black person, they will not hire you anyway when you show up with your black face and white name. More importantly, blacks shouldn’t want to work for racist.

Baby Making Mama says:

I never said people with so-called ethnic names didn’t have careers, I said I didn’t believe I needed to change mine to fit someone else’s stereotypical ideals. And I never said Jennifer was any better, it just happens to be my name. Don’t try to make this about something it’s not.

Keisha says:

This blog makes you sound just as prejudice and racist as the man who suggested you change your name. It’s ignorant to think that Keishas and other classic so-called ethnic names like Malcolm & Tyrone do not have jobs/careers. Keisha is not a ghetto name just because a black woman is more likely to have it… Jennifer is also a very common name and it doesn’t make you better or smarter or prettier than anyone named Keisha or Shaniqua. Your mentality is really a part of the problem. If an organization/business/institution doesn’t want to hire a black person, they will not hire you anyway when you show up with your black face and white name. More importantly, blacks shouldn’t want to work for racist organizations.

Baby Making Mama says:

I never said people with so-called ethnic names didn’t have careers, I said I didn’t believe I needed to change mine to fit someone else’s stereotypical ideals. And I never said Jennifer was any better, it just happens to be my name. Don’t try to make this about something it’s not.

Keisha says:

The comment you said your mom made “do you want a job?” is the reason why it comes across that way. Also, you suggested that it sounded like it should be on the ‘ghetto’ list. There is a tone to this blog that I felt compelled to address. I like my name. I get complimented on it all the time by (surprise) white people. I represent my name quite well and so do many other Keishas I know of… Of course you don’t need to change your name. This blog has a tone to it (imo) the guy was wrong but you kind of took it out on black people for giving their kids names that are of legitimate nomenclature.

Baby Making Mama says:

Ok, well that’s your opinion and I respect that, I just think you’re reading into it too much. That was my mom’s quote, not my own. And I’m simply stating I don’t know why people would assume I would give my child such a name, or change my name to something else, just because I’m black. I think your name is beautiful too! 🙂

Also, both my kids have very non-traditional and unique beautiful names that maybe some would consider stereotypical, but I find them amazing, just like my kids 🙂

POWER says:

You should change your name to Telavita.

Sim says:

Black names, White names, German names, Funny names, Hippie names, Ghetto names,, and so on and on . When I was born, I was to take the name of my grandfather who had took the name of his grandfather which went back to the War for
Independence . My grandfather name was Sim , but the White nurse who took the information of birth (1960s Mississippi ) told my mother that there was no such name and scratched out Sim and replaced it with Simmons. If people knew the history of Black and naming practices they would think second before making fun of their names.
African Americans do not have the same history as Anglo White America , their names do not have to mirror White names. Choosing or changing names just to fit into the mainstream is giving up on something.

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Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget



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