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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    2,355

    Cultural Appropriation and Naming

    Occasionally the idea of cultural appropriation is brought up in naming forums, and I was wondering what the general consensus was about what is/is not acceptable. Most often, the claim is made against names that are actually offensive when used outside of the group of origin- i.e., Cohen, India, et cetera. But could names with religious connotations- Bodhi or Krishna, for example- also be considered offensive if used by people with little or no knowledge of the principles of that religion? Would it even extend to foreign secular names like Abdul or Sauda? I'm interested in your thoughts!

  2. #3
    I think common sense needs to take precedence in these situations. I didn't realize how offensive naming could be until I discovered a lot of my OWN history and culture and realizing how I felt when people take things that they don't understand and use them to their own devices. I guess "offense" isn't the right word, I don't get "offended" very easily, it takes quite a lot - uncomfortable and sad is more like it, cheated, almost.

    There is a fine line here, though - yes, India is offensive to see on a white person, period. What happened over there with British colonialism basically equates to the Holocaust in Germany. I have seen people try and defend this by saying that "well, we don't learn about that in the schools in our area, so it doesn't apply to us, we wouldn't have an issue", I'm sorry, but I call BS on that. Just because it didn't happen in your tiny little bubble of the world does not mean that it did not effect millions of people. Then we come to the fact that we are in the day and age of globalization - it is becoming increasingly likely that you will go to school with, work with or interact with people from all corners of the globe throughout your life, to not acknowledge that is just ignorant.

    That being said - I do not think that making snap judgments on someones name based on what they look like is ok, either. I come from a VERY mixed family, I happen to identify as Caucasian, but I have close family members from all corners of the world - just because I LOOK white does not mean that using a name from a different culture does not hold huge significance or family importance to me. Then there is the fact that adoption from all over the world is becoming increasingly common - you just never know who is related to who or who has connections with what.

  3. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    238
    I think it's best not to use names that are sacred to another culture/religion at all. I'd say using names that are just common NAMES from another culture is perfectly acceptable, but that those might sometimes be confusing and hard to wear for a child/adult later on. I've met a freckled redheaded girl named Leilani and an Asian boy named Javier, and they both hated being asked how they got their names. They were asked often, because everyone they met just assumed there must be an interesting story behind such an otherwise unexpected name choice.

  4. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Spain
    Posts
    2,018
    Quote Originally Posted by flick View Post
    I think common sense needs to take precedence in these situations. I didn't realize how offensive naming could be until I discovered a lot of my OWN history and culture and realizing how I felt when people take things that they don't understand and use them to their own devices. I guess "offense" isn't the right word, I don't get "offended" very easily, it takes quite a lot - uncomfortable and sad is more like it, cheated, almost.

    There is a fine line here, though - yes, India is offensive to see on a white person, period. What happened over there with British colonialism basically equates to the Holocaust in Germany. I have seen people try and defend this by saying that "well, we don't learn about that in the schools in our area, so it doesn't apply to us, we wouldn't have an issue", I'm sorry, but I call BS on that. Just because it didn't happen in your tiny little bubble of the world does not mean that it did not effect millions of people. Then we come to the fact that we are in the day and age of globalization - it is becoming increasingly likely that you will go to school with, work with or interact with people from all corners of the globe throughout your life, to not acknowledge that is just ignorant.

    That being said - I do not think that making snap judgments on someones name based on what they look like is ok, either. I come from a VERY mixed family, I happen to identify as Caucasian, but I have close family members from all corners of the world - just because I LOOK white does not mean that using a name from a different culture does not hold huge significance or family importance to me. Then there is the fact that adoption from all over the world is becoming increasingly common - you just never know who is related to who or who has connections with what.
    Well said!
    Lucia
    Eleanora, Iris, Maeve, Sela
    Balthazar, Bastian, Caius, Gideon

  5. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Posts
    575
    I agree pretty much with what @flick said about India though I just don't really comment on that one, I don't think Cohen is ever an acceptable first name, Jews wouldn't use it as a first name and I don't see why others think they should. I also don't buy into the "we didn't know" argument. It's 2013, did you really not even google a baby name to see what people thought? Especially a name that might be foreign to your culture?

    I know a white kid named Bodhi and as far as I know there hasn't been any negative feedback on his name but I wouldn't use it because I'm not sure how acceptable it would be and Krishna seems too religious for me as well.
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