Lots Of Peeves. Namely This.

So, I am finding myself smack dab in a conversation that centers around baby names. It is an exciting conversation; but also an intensely provocative one. “Provocative” because without one doubt, the naming of a baby is fraught with just toooooooooooooooo much emotion and imposed obligation. There is the desire to stroke the father’s ego by making him a ‘JR’ (as if he hasn’t already been “stroked” enough. That IS how we have all gotten to this point, isn’t it?!). Then, there are those who feel names should carry some fascinating or deep-seated meaning, in the hope the baby lives up to same. There’s the desire to be original; evidenced by the Blue, Sir, Chicago, True and Stormi of late. And then, there is the insistence that one’s heritage must shine bright and scream loud in that name; this is where I get good and scared. My fine folk at times hail their blackness by combining first three letters of mother’s name with last three of baby-daddy’s name and saddle the poor child with a name no one can pronounce (not even the damn child!). Or, we get real creative and decide to announce to the world just-what-we-were-doing-when-we-oops’d and Voila! Here come Hennessy, Alize and Chardonnay. When we get dreamy and dare to “speak it into existence” we give birth to, Diamond, Sparkle, Sapphire, Garnet and Barack. And in all of this potential wreckage, we forget two very important things: (1) the reality of the world we live in and (2) you are choosing names that are exclusionary, not inclusionary.

Now, before you “I am black and proud!” folks try to rise up, remain seated, massage your bellies and give me a minute. Truly. Chill. And, let’s address this…

This is not a knock against black pride; I too am quite black and very proud. What this is is a conversation that will hopefully bring awareness to those of us currently expecting and those planning to be so in the future. The awareness that pride and wisdom do not have to be mutually exclusive. It is absofuckinglutely possible for them to play very well together. One can (and should) be quite proud of one’s heritage (regardless of that heritage) while also being fully cognizant that it is not [always] necessary to place those jarring markers along the way. I know some of you may object to that statement; let me be clear.

I am black. All day. Every day. And sometimes I have found, twice on Sundays (I go to a black church… they get the ‘good’ black me and at times it is necessary to introduce them to the ‘badass’ black me!). No matter where I go, city, state or country, this fact will never change. In fact, it is so much a part of me, so ingrained in me, so intrinsically me, so much the best and most effortless accessory I carry, that I am often surprised when someone points it out. Truly. Because you see, it is not something I don for effect, or because it is trending, I cannot take it off or put it on at will, it stays with me. My blackness shows up long I do and it announces my heritage, my legacies, my strength, my purpose, my will and my scars. Long before I open my mouth to introduce myself, the beauty of my color has heralded my existence.

And then I say my name. My given name is Diane. Yes, some may find it nondescript; I do too at times. But, I answer to it proudly to my family as it too is part of my heritage. However, you all know I was given the moniker, Fury and at this stage in my life, it is the name that embodies more of whom I have become and it demonstrates, well… Let’s go back to Diane. Could my name have been something more ‘black’? Yes. It many ways is it quite bland and easily straddling of the black or white fence? Yes. Could my parents have incorporated one of the notable options in the opening paragraph and come up with something that denoted their pride in their reality or their Africanness? Yes. I, ladies and gentlemen, could have been named Carib, after the most popular Trinidad beer; that would have shown the world!

But show what? Name aside, I am still black. But the difference between Diane and Carib is profound. Diane gets all doors open to her. Carib, well… I am able, because of parents that understood that first we had to be included before we could be instrumental. Understood that if our desire was to dance, we would have to be invited to the party. Parents who recognized that there was not one damned thing we could do about the color of our skins and that despite the reality of the world, every morning we wake up, get up, go out, show up and show out, we do it black. But we do it from  the inside… of boardrooms, classrooms and hospitals. Neither our blackness nor our names got in the way of our goals.

Listen, I am not saying that meaning and significance matter not. Not at all. I am saying, be wise. I am saying that as a black woman in the position of authority to interview and hire, names matter. Every once in a while I drink Chardonnay; at no time do I want to work with one. I just feel that in naming a baby, as in all things, we should do so responsibly. And that means remembering that at one point, that baby will grow up and step outside of your home and run smack dab into this great big world that is still being run by those determined to stifle as much of our voices as they possibly can and leave us outside standing on the doorstep begging to come in. Do not help them.

Understand that the choices we make can silence the voices of those we love long before those who hate us do.


9 responses to Lots Of Peeves. Namely This.

  1. Deion

    I love this !
    Would you allow me to move it away and take it one step further !

    The giver of the blessing originally regardless of race culture and at times “ John the Baptist”
    Family Heritage was named by the giver

    Mary was told His name would be Jesus

    Monorah his name would be Samson
    ( what he would eat & drink as NOT as well as not to even cut the HAIR )

    To Elizabeth his name would be John and when the FATHER QUESTIONED AND WANTED HIS NAME TO BE JR AS THAT WAS TRADITION, his tongue was stuck to the top of his mouth until John was born and when asked what shall we call him WHEN HE WAS SAYING JOHN AND NOT ZACARIAHS JR

    Parents knew who their children were purposed to be
    What they were being sent for
    Who’d get the promise
    (Jacob )
    who was the promise
    ( Isaac)
    Who was not but still blessed
    ( Ishamel )

    So my 2 cents
    I agree with Dian


    • Let's AdDress This... – Author

      I would expect no less from you than to take it “one step further” 🙂

      Thank you for your insightful and educational response. An appreciation for the spiritual and not just the secular is always encouraged.


  2. Lorraine Blackman

    As a HR professional, you could not be more accurate!! My friends/colleagues and I discuss this all the time. Because of the color of our skin, we are already at a disadvantage, and you are adding to this disadvantage by the name you give your child. Is it fair? No, it is not. Should we able to name our children anything we want? Sure! But you are raising your child to survive in the real world, and the real world ain’t fair! I wish this blog could be blasted to every black family in the country.


    • Let's AdDress This... – Author

      Thank you so very much, Lorraine for this. I love the acknowledgement for the unfairness of this reality, but appreciate the emphasis on the reality of the world in which we live and must thrive.

      Thank you for reading.


  3. cheryl russell

    Fury, my love, you’re absolutely correct! Back in the 60’s – 80’s it was all the rage to give your child an “afrocentric” name. My daughter is named Yavanna – which is actually a character from the JRR Tolkien “Lord of the Rings” books. However, it’s very close to other African inspired names – enough to immediately identify her as Black. It’s a choice I now regret.


    • Let's AdDress This... – Author

      Here is what I say to you…I love the name Yavanna!


  4. Susan

    I’m jus sayin’ that Diane, Susan, Michelle, Gillian, William, Michael, Eleanor, Patricia etc, are all the names of our colonizing jailers who now continue to jail us in the current and future system that they have put in place strictly for their use in order to continue mass subjugation of (creative)people of color.
    Having said that, my kids name ID Madison so I guess I continue the toxic cycle of using the names of the reviled “colonizer”. If black Americans want to break out and use new/next generation “black names, they should be so allowed. More job interviews for the likes of the Susans and Dianes of the world…until they discover the real Wakanda.


    • Let's AdDress This... – Author

      You are absolutely hysterical and had me on the floor with this! And yes, I agree… we should be empowering our children with the mindset, opportunities and skillset necessary to carve realities that allow for any freedom of expression they so choose.


  5. Susan

    What we should be teaching our sweet black babies is self employment and entrepreneurship so they don’t HAVE to care what someone thinks of their name as long as it ends in CEO.


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