I get it now.
All my life, I grew up being told that “black” names are ghetto and held by people who are likely to be trashy. If you know a girl named Laquisha, Latoya, Shaniqua, or Kelendria, she’s probably the neighborhood hoodrat, and even names like Tyrone and Tyrese are blacklisted in our society (pun intended). Statistically, it’s been proven that resumes and job applications that bear these names are more likely to go unread or end up in the trash can. [Translation: you’re less likely to be hired if you are obviously black.]
But of course, names are alright if they are unquestionably mainstream (read: white) - Benjamin, Elizabeth, William, etc. Names are also fine if they are from a minority culture, as long as they are not identifiably a product of African-American culture; Alejandra, Lucia, Ivanka, Pierre, Elena, Boris, and Armando, are acceptable, exotic, and can even be beautiful. You might get teased on the playground, but your name is less likely to be a stigma or bad luck charm that follows you for the rest of your life.
When I worked at Hollister (not something I’m proud of), one of my white bosses was named Chante. She told me how people were often surprised when they met her, and would say thinks like “you’re not black!” or “what a ghetto name for a little white girl!” Turns out, her name was French. Her family was French. But because Chante has become such a popular name in the black American community, people have started to see it as ghetto. It’s losing its value because it’s associated with blackness.
A few weeks ago, I met a black girl named Shizuki. I immediately thought what an interesting ghetto name. I’m not exempt from prejudice. Such thoughts come to me once in a while, and I have to reprimand myself for upholding racist ideals instilled in me by American society. I asked her what her name meant, and she told me it was Japanese. Turns out, she was born in Japan and grew up there. Imagine how stupid I felt - and rightly so.
And now I suddenly understand why black names are frowned upon. Because things that are black, in this country, are ghetto. “Ghetto” is synonymous with poor, trashy, uncivilized, and ill-mannered. Because black names are ghetto, they are inherently ugly and unattractive, and names likes Tierra and Mo’nique (which I find aesthetically pleasing) will automatically be regarded as ugly. Simply put, the only reason why black names are bad… is because they are held by black people.
Bolding for emphasis mine.
For about 70% of my high school years, I had the pleasure of being in classes constantly surrounded by four girls named Labarbara (“Yes, like the Futurama wife.”), Latoya, Lakeisha Monique (Momo to everyone but her twin sister and mom), and Laquondra. I only had one class with all four of them, but the teacher in that class would do this awful thing where he’d take a breath between saying La and the rest of the girl’s name he was calling on. Momo was one of my best friends in high school (we lost touch after she graduated; she was older than me by a year and went directly to college), so hers was the only point of view I got on the La situation.
“This guy, he’s a fucking dick. He is every dick. I have people call me by my middle name because I like it better, and he’s the only one who won’t do it that I can’t tell off.”
From what I understand, none of the other girls liked what he did, either, but they didn’t report him or anything.