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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    1,597

    Race in Naming: New Questions

    Earlier, I posted about names like Jemima and that led to a pretty lively discussion! I learned a bunch of things I never knew before and fortunately will not be naming a baby so I don't need to decide if I would ever use it or not.

    I have other questions now, the main one being:

    1. Are there other names (like Jemima with its minstrel show phase of history) that are considered racist? For example, are there Italian names, Greek names, Japanese names, Latino names, French names, African names that are off-limits because of their ethnicity?

    What got me thinking about this (besides the Jemima thread) was my recent reading of the local paper. I saw a picture of a boys' ball team and I read all the names (like any good Nameberry!). One of the boys was named Guido and my first reaction was, "YECH! That is THE ugliest name! WHO would name their child GUIDO?"

    Then I recoiled from myself, at once thinking, "Oh my God, I am so racist!"

    Then I was confused. I actually think the sound and look of Guido is ugly, really ugly. No offense to anyone with this name out there. So is that a racist thought? I also think many names are ugly and this seems to be beyond racial lines.

    However, not only does the name sound and look ugly to me, it also seems such the stereotyped Italian name, the SNL Italian name, that it feels unusable. Insulting even.

    But I may be mistaken about that. Maybe Guido is a perfectly acceptable and common Italian name. I would like to know about the name taboos of other nationalities. For example, the name Mick sounds insulting to the Irish to me, but again, that might be some erroneous impression in my mind.

    2. I am also curious about the appropriateness of naming your child a name out of his/her ethnicity. For example, I am of European-American ancestry, largely Celtic, French, and German. If I were to name my child an African, Chinese, Spanish, Korean, or Italian name, would anyone bat an eye? Would I be offending? After all, most of my favorite names tend to be Greek anyway, and I am certainly not Greek.

    I live in a Caucasian/Latino community and I think if I had named my children Juan and Maria that they would have been given a very hard time. I think I as a parent would have been too. I don't know how I feel about that. I do know that a number of my Latino students over the years who have been named the commonly used Juan and Maria have not been happy over their name choices, expressing some concerns over their stereotypical nature.

    Any polite responses eagerly awaited!
    Leslie

  2. #3
    Interesting that Maria is perceived as a "Latino" (i.e. Latin American?) name in the USA. In most European countries, Maria is the normal form of Mary and is one of the most common woman's names.

  3. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    1,597

    Latino

    Quote Originally Posted by ilayali View Post
    Interesting that Maria is perceived as a "Latino" (i.e. Latin American?) name in the USA. In most European countries, Maria is the normal form of Mary and is one of the most common woman's names.
    as in Latin-American. Not sure if the term is used country-wide, but where I teach high school it is considered the most appropriate term.

    I didn't know that about Maria in Europe... Interesting.

  4. #7
    Jemima is a fairly popular name in the UK. Here in the US, it does have many ties to the Jim Crow era, and would likely be perceived the wrong way by most people.

    Cohen is another hotly debated name that has the moderators watching like hawks on the forums. People get very touchy about that name, and I feel that their reasons for being so are quite valid.

    I feel like cultural appropriation is a hot button issue in US culture... everyone from Miley Cyrus to Victoria's Secret to high end runway shows has been getting some flack for it lately.

    I think Adolph is one of those names that is absolutely off-limits, for quite obvious reasons.

    Maria just sounds European. It could be any European culture, or Latino culture. It's fair game for anyone.

    I always thought Guido was an ethnic/ racial slur...

    I personally feel that it is inappropriate to name a child a name from a culture from which I do not claim ancestry. However, I would not say it is "racist" if parents choose a name outside of their ancestry/ culture. My name choices are generally limited to cultures from which my husband or I claim ancestry- French, Slavic (strong emphasis on Polish), and the UK, with a strong emphasis on Irish.

    It seems like nowadays, (almost) anything goes with naming.

  5. #9
    I sincerely apologize. 3 year old reaching at my computer!! I did not mean to repost a gajillion times!

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