Thursday, September 21, 2006

What’s in a name? A Bitch's Sermon…

A bitch read this article on the ABC website and had to take a walk…a long walk…a 'gather my thoughts' and 'calm thyself down' walk around the corner and down the street.

The article, written by John Stossel and Kristina Kendall, is about the negative impact a person’s name has on their life. In short, Shanique will have a more difficult time getting hired than Anne.

Oh, and Shanique will also have a hard time getting married because of her name.


Now, John Stossel is an asshole. I don’t know Kristina Kendall and I really don’t give a shit if she is a woman of color or not. A bitch suspects that she is. Slapping a sister on the byline of an insulting piece of throw back call for conformity to make The Man feel better about you being ethnic article is on page 2 of the How to Cover Your Ass While Baiting for Ratings handbook.

I set this shit aside yesterday and slept on it. And when I woke up, a bitch felt the need to preach.

My blog = my pulpit.


Flock of bitchitude (wink),

The world is round…not everyone is “just like you”…and “different” names are only "bad" names when being different means being wrong.

When these assholes refer to a name as “bad” they assume that traditional white American names are “good”.

It also assumes that traditional white American names are better, more acceptable and what we brown people should strive towards.

That, my brothers and sisters, is bullshit.

And this bitch doesn't even like a lot of new names...and this is still bullshit.

The surface of the argument is that being something other than white is a mistake for you…and you will be punished for it…and that punishment is logical and therefore acceptable.

Obviously we brown folks can’t undo our 'mark of birth'…but how we manifest it is ours to control!

Hence the name game…which is really the blame game…which is also an attempt to absolve the masses for denying someone a motherfucking job interview because of their race and/or cultural background, which those ethnic others had the audacity to indicate through the use of their “bad” names.

Beneath the scab is the tired ass infection of bigotry….the language of don’t be so different…don’t be so Black/Jewish/Irish/Hispanic/Native American/Asian/Middle Eastern…and don’t expect to go far if you are.

This is not news.

This is propaganda.

It instructs minorities to conform with the promise of a better life…and “easier road”…oh, and marriage! This instruction comes with the undercurrent of punishment for choosing not to conform…the implied threat of denial, suffering and stigma.

Flock, this is a dangerous road to turn onto…it takes us backward in time…and “bad names” is just the first exit on the Highway to 1954. Other exits include, “bad hair”…"dark as a negative thing”…and “minority as less than and unworthy of respect”.

Trust me, faithful…it may seem subtle but, much like a silent fart, it still stinks up the room! It screams for Shanique's parents to be a “good girl and boy” and “tone it down” and she'll “go further” in the company and get married.


Bullshit, bullshit...oh, mercy, mercy me...that is BULLSHIT!

A bitch will be a witness, chil’ren!

Don’t waste your time…you will still be what God made you. The only decision to make is whether to be ashamed of that or celebrate it.

I have straightened my hair…avoided the voice has been de-Southerned…my educational background is devoid of racial assumptions…my work background was, up until my present job, mainstream as a motherfucker.

And a bitch was then what I am today…a black woman trying to live this thing called life in America.

Nappy headed or straightened…skinny or fat…passive or aggressive...I can only be as Black as the day Gawd gave me life.

And through it all I have been denied, insulted, stereotyped and discriminated against so often that I don’t even address all of it...every time...every insult, snub or assumption.

Who the fuck has time?

So, if there’s some side benefit to having a “good” name this black bitch has yet to receive it.

For the record...a bitch doesn’t need permission, tolerance or acceptance to celebrate the wonderful diversity that is me.

Empowerment gave me that.

You feel me?

Fuck you if it intimidates you...if you anticipated gratitude...if you prefer submission...if you are more comfortable with Toby.

Yeah...fuck you.

I stopped trying to put The Man at ease years ago.

And that’s what it comes down to, isn’t it? Empowered difference is threatening…somehow it feels judgmental to those in power. The conversation about Shanique having a “bad name” is really about Anne not being a desired name for everyone birthing babies in America today.

This bitch mailed my personal testimony of fully realized empowered and not desperate to get married Black female bitchitude to those motherfuckers at ABC News this morning.

Oh, and my first name is Pamela.


Anonymous said...

Oh, there's plenty in a name. Try having one that's foreign and always, always pronounced wrong by Americans. You wouldn't believe how many "Oh! You speak English?!" looks I get when I open my mouth. Yes, I speak English, and I do it better than the President even on my off days. It would be very, very easy to Americanize (more like Anglicize) my name, but like you said, why? I wouldn't want to pass for a WASP if I could.

elle said...

Wow! (From someone whose name begins with that damnable "La")

Thanks for this, ABB...

Er, Pamela. ;-p

Anonymous said...

So we should all change our names to Dick and Jane? Homogenized BS. How to Cover Your Ass While Baiting for Ratings handbook Brilliant ABB!

ben said...

let the people say, Amen!

~Macarena~ said...

"Neveah" is "Heaven" backwards. I'm surprised if it's popular among white people. I first saw it as the name of the black baby born in the toilet.

I assume the whitest names are Jones, Brown, or Smith, yet most names, first and last, are not American. Is there such a thing as a U.S. name, as opposed to (Native) American or Spanish, Hebrew, Polish, Irish.

"Mainstream as a Motherfucker" would be an excellent title.

I am Other, but I have not suffered discrimination. I guess that's one more reason not to quit my job. Throughout my schooling, I was often asked whether I have a nickname, yet I was expected to pronounce and spell all manner of names. My last name is allegedly of Dutch heritage, but I don't think anyone recognizes it as such.

~Macarena~ said...

I missed the day of first grade when the teacher explained greater than/less then. Too embarrassed to ask the next day, I completed my assignment based on which number I liked greater. WHat kind of control or variables do they have for asking kids about names? DO they know whether those kids knew a Sarah or Jamal?

No self-respecting person would include facts on celebrity. When I heard on the radio that Tom Cruise was dating someone w/ the same last name, I had no idea who it was. Because "Cruz" rhymes with "booth" (northern Spain/Castillian) or "goose" (southern Spain/Andalucian dialect).

I am drawn to personalities when choosing friends. As for names, I like unusual ones, but I also like plain ones like Jane and Anne (of Green Gables). Despite the ignorance and resistance regarding my name, I have enjoyed having to myself and am surprised when I have to share it with others online.

Jodie said...

You are wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Try having the word Jew in your last name. That always gets people asking questions. And no I am not Jewish, not that there is anything wrong with that.

AOB said...

What's in a name? How about whats in your BRAIN.... last time I checked your paycheck had a name on it becasue YOUR BRAIN was doing something to earn such....

Hmmm my babies: Nesha and Farrah.

Me? I got stuck with Grace. (damn)

Disgusted in St. Louis said...

Just an FYI about Kristina Kendall, who is not a woman of color but is probably a member of the Radical Religious Right.

Kristina Kendall is a staff producer for ABC News, 20/20, where she has produced more than fifty pieces, many of them taking a skeptical look at conventional wisdom, government, and the media. She received the Paul Mongerson Prize for Investigative Reporting for a piece she did on media hype, and the Michael DeBakey Journalism Award for a segment that she produced on animal rights extremists, titled Give Me a Break. She was also recognized by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for her role in ABC's coverage of September 11th. She graduated from Carleton College with honors in 1998 with a degree in economic

She has a John Templeton Fellowship in Science & Religion:

The John Templeton foundation inaugurated the fellowship in 2005 to offer a small group of print, broadcast or online journalist and editors annually the opportunity to examine the dynamic and creative interface of science and religion.

The program relies on two distinct methods of study. Seminars at the University of Cambridge employ an innovative interdisciplinary approach to give fellows an overview of key issues in the field. Fellows also pursue a course of independent, private research into a specific area of interest within the larger topic. Potential areas of study include comparison of the methods of science and religion, origins of life, cosmology, genetic engineering, astrobiology, and spirituality and health.

I suspect it is to promote Creationism or ID and faith based "science" in the news. I may be wrong. I don't know enough about the John Templeton Foundation, but I get suspicious reading mission statements that include:

In pursuing research at the boundary between science and religion, the Foundation seeks to unite credible and rigorous science with the exploration of humanity's basic spiritual and religious quests.

Working closely with scientists, theologians, medical professional, philosophers and other scholars, the Foundation encourages substantive dialogue in order to stimulate research and reflection in the relationship between science and religion. The Foundation especially seeks to stimulate rigorous scholarly/scientific advances that increase understanding of the ultimate aspects of human purpose, and of the vast potential for creativity and progress, which can be inspired by the collaboration of science and religion.

I might love me some Reese's peanut butter cups (especially around Halloween), but I have no love for people dipping their religion into science.

Anonymous said...

There must be a bad moon rising this week because not only did I have a racial out of body experience with a manager of a store, but TV has played the racial card once again. I feel as if I am living in pre-civil acts times. I feel as if we are being told once again to sit at the back of the bus, shut the hell up and just take it. I feel we have not been or will never really be safe in America. We want to just live and they keep acting crazy. What is wrong with these people?
It is as if no matter how much education, money, power, cars or whatever people of color get we are always seen as the other and always treated terribly. I am sick of it. I am sick of stupid racial comments. I am sick of being being watched when I walk into stores, being thought of as less intelligent, less trustworthy and just less. I mean the biggest crooks in this nation whose acts affect most people are white men. Does anyone remember Enron, Tyco and all the others. We did not see one story about what is wrong with white men. There were no generalizations, no lumping all white people into the catagory of crook. WHy not? Why this continued racial preference? I am sick of it!
On another note has anyone read about the guy who once owned BET before he sold it to Viacom, now selling out to the Carlyle Group. You know the same motherfuckers who have been selling blacks, whites, jews, christians et all, up the river. I can not believe he, Johnson, has no problem with working with these crooks. This shows that there are still a lot of folks no matter their color who just don't get it.

This is a sad week indeed.

Avatar said...

Apparently, John Stossel and Kristina Kendall have never heard of Beyoncé. Goodness knows that new-fangled name of hers has certainly held her back professionally.


Kit B. said...

God I love you. That post gave me a semi. ;)

Kitty also recently had a fucktarded racial experience.

My father is Hispanic, my mother is caucasian.

My skin color tends to look more caucasian, as do most of my features.

During a meeting at my workplace, some moron decided to go on a tirade about illegal immigration and peppered his all-knowing soliloquy with words like "wetback" and "spic."

Brilliant. And when he was done, he looked at me and said, "You know what I mean, right."

This Kitty looked right back, and very evenly said, "No habla fucktard."


ChristopherM said...

Confession time: During orientation for law school last month, one of the student leaders, the head of the Black Law Student Association, introduced herself as Cinnamon. My first thought was, "Girl! I'd change that because you are so not going to be taken seriously when you are named after toast!"

First of all, my big flaming gay ass has some nerve talking about anyone being taken seriously for what they know rather than what they are perceived to be. Second of all, from hearing her speak at a diversity forum this week, she is an intelligent woman who deserves more respect than what I gave her in my inner monologue.

The liberals judge almost as much as anyone else. The difference is, we need to own it and change it. My sincere apologies to my fellow student.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant and thank you for breaking this shit down. As a Rican with an Irish first name who got shit all her life both within and outside of the POC community for it, I purposely chose a Latino sounding name for my daughter

Elvez73 said...

Thats a great post, Stossel is an absolute asshole, why would we want everyone to be named Trip or Buffy? I'm a WASP, my wife isn't, and when she wanted to change her last name to mine I asked her why and she admitted that she had felt prejudice with her surname from potential employers etc., in the past, she's Hispanic, shit maybe I should change my name to hers. Your post brings up some great points as to how American racism is stronger than ever, if only slightly more subtle that it was in the past.

Anonymous said...

Racism, and its apoligists, suck. You, on the other hand, rule.

Hammer said...

hey ABB!

So, I loved the post. You always nail your point to the wall. I appreciate that!

I just hope that the Church of Bitchitude and Latter Day Drunks does not receive tax exempt status, becuase you know the IRS will come for their money when you preach political seromons ( Church and IRS)


Shark-Fu said...

LOL, HammerChe!

And no...the UCoB&LDD only takes donations of volunteer time and spirit

You be sure to let me know if there's a tax on that now...

Anonymous said...

WOW! Like I've said many times before, just let me know when you're going to run for office - I'll gladly work on your team! You rule, AB... I mean Shark...uh, Pamela. :-)



Joolya said...

Your mama may have called you Pam, but you'll always be a Shark-fu Bitch to me.

(PS my mama calls me Joolya, but she's the only one who's allowed to pronounce it that way. Speaking of regional accents.)

Joolya said...

Re: ethnic last names. Remember how everyone was changing their names back in the day to sound less "ethnic"? I think my Italian forbears tried to "anglicize" their Sicilian name when my Pap-pap was a little boy (1920s America). Unfortunately, they fucked it up so that it's 1) harder to pronounce than the original and 2) still ends in a vowel, so doesn't sound the least bit anglo, either.


Anonymous said...

I have noticed something. Immigrants come over, and they name their kids the "flattest" names they can. My vietnamese neighbors have Andrew and Yvonne. My Filipino neighbors have Victor and Christina. My Polish neighbors have John and Robert. These kids are going to grow up and name THEIR kids "ethnic" as a way of exploring their heritage. Any bets?

~Macarena~ said...

Kitty: Good for you. Was his point that you agreed or that you were illegal?

Christopher: I don't think it's the association with toast, but with strippers.

Rileysdtr: There is something to be said for the ease of having people call you by your rightful name. With my mother dead, the only family members who pronounce my name correctly are several states away or Spain. I would have to seek out fluent speakers in order to feel at ease. (Or maybe I've managed to surround myself with people who can't think in foreign vowel sounds.)

Anonymous said...

This of course is racist fuckwittery:

Anonymous said...

All I hope for is a name that I can pronounce and not be tempted to laugh at. Problematic: eg, somewhere on this earth there is likely to be a boy named Richard Harden, naturally shortened to, you know... On the same topic, our fine country is named after Amerigo Vespucci. Be glad that the first name got used and not the last name, which is slang equivalent to "dick".

I also draw the line at "Moon Unit" (child of Frank Zappa). Also at George "Grill" Foreman naming his 6 sons George. Also at "black-style" names of multiple non-twin sibs, all starting with the same letter, eg, Tanika, Tashawna, Tawana, Tamalik.... Not because I object to individual names in the series, but because animal breeders often use a common element in names of descendents of a common sire (ok, that's geeky to know).

And I groan inwardly when encountering South Indians, because the first and last names can exceed 40 letters.


Anonymous said...

What I object to is using air time to point out that America is racist, so watch out!
Well blow me down. This is SUCH big news.

The Local Crank said...

Names are used for power. That's why the Dawes Commission forced members of the Five Civillized Tribes to adopt "Christian" names on the rolls on threat of contempt of court. And yes, John Stossel is bottlicking little twit who pretends to be "cutting edge" when he's really just a sock puppet for corporate interests.

Anonymous said...

this story did originate with an economist discussed in the book "freakonomics," which is also the book that made some republicans say that aborting Black babies would reduce crime (anyone remember that here?).

the "regression" analysis the featured economist uses like a sledgehammer on all questions has never seemed so aptly named.

A White Bear said...

I love this post, ABB. Why isn't it clear to everyone alive that insulting people's names, hair, etc., is just another way of saying "I don't like people of color"? How did they get through writing that entire article without suggesting that maybe the problem is RACISM, not the inappropriateness of names? When Racist Dude schedules an interview with "Donna" and she shows up in the "wrong" skin, does she stand any more of a chance for the job than if she'd had the "wrong" name on paper? Infuriating. I wrote a response at my place.

Anonymous said...

Girl preach. I loved this.
We've got to get past this some day. We just need to respect the differences between us all.

Preach on.

tonya said...

I saw the aired segment last night on 20/20! Did you see the part where they interviewed several young children and the interviewer read to each child two names (ie: Shaniqua and Anne), asking them which of the two names they would rather play with, and the child always gave the 'white' name? You couldn't always tell the child's race, but this reminded me of a spectacular short film I saw as part of the Tribeca Film Festival. It was called "A Girl Like Me" and was made by this brilliant young teenager named Kiri Davis. In it, she examined the way racial stereotypes continue to infect African American children's self-images, and she re-performed the Kenneth Clark test from the 50s (used in Brown v. Board of Ed.), interviewing several small children from Harlem day care centers, asking them which of two dolls (one black, one white), they would like to play with. They almost all prefered the white doll. It was so disturbing, especially when one little girl, barely four years old, angrily pushed the black doll away from her when asked which doll resembled her. The name test was the same exact test as the doll test, and yet no one on the 20/20 show commented on the racist aspect of it...

Anonymous said...

A little known fact about Utah is that in rural Utah, many white Utahns give their children names that are often confused by outsiders with names that might be common among African-Americans. Example: near DC, a community of course with a very large black community in the District and in Maryland, the Giant Food Store hired Odonna Matthews as its radio and TV customer spokesperson. Many a customer, black or white, has been surprised to learn that Odonna Matthews is white. Utah.

LaPrell, Taudene, and LaNondus are white Mormon Utahn names. I swear, upon my children and my grandmother. They have a culture which they consider distinct, don't feel the need to accommodate outsiders and are proud of having persevered with their own ways despite persecution. Gee.

This will prove that I am not pulling your leg.

Anonymous said...

My boyfriend is a white guy named Jamaal. You're dead-on - the article is about racism, not the name. He gets treated with white privilige, the same as if his name were Mike or Richard.

The black names are only a problem to the patriarchy when they are reminded of cracks in the patriarchy. Name a white guy 'Jamaal' and everyone thinks it's weird, but that's all.

Anonymous said...

My boyfriend is a white guy named Jamaal, and he gets treated with white privilige. You're dead on - the black names are only a problem to the patriarchy when they serve to remind them of cracks in the patriarchy. When a white guy is named Jamaal, everyone thinks it's a little weird, but treats him like a white guy named Mike or Richard.

Anonymous said...

(Sorry for the double-post. I thought it was my computer erasing it. Then I saw the note about you seeing it first!

- heebie-geebie.)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for deconstructing the racist and hegemonic referents that are destroying the spirit of black women everyday. the way, my now deceased father's name was tyrone. For real.

Anonymous said...

I'm still laughing because you used "silent fart" in an analogy.

On the serious side though, an asshole is an asshole regardless of what color/race they belong to. We're all one race, HUMAN!

Anonymous said...

That post is a FINE example of why I keep you bookmarked. I value all the clarity, honesty, bitchitute and acts of empowerment I can expose myself to - helps keep my eyes forward.

And as for what's in a name to me?

I have a somewhat uncommon first name (Troy), a garden-variety middle and a hyphenated last name that rhymes with itself. Not enough? I'm "the Third" on top of it. In short, a real mouthful. (ha)

BUT, both my first and middle came from my grandfather who was one of the most loving, honest and thinking people I've met. He was (and is still) one of my heros and the fact that I am a living legacy to the fact that he was once here makes me all the prouder because people ask where it came from and I can tell them about him.
My name is the first means through which the world gets to relate to me as a person (not an object standing in the distance) and it's the first thing I ever owned. It's mine and the world will just have to live with all the letters it takes to spell.
Empowerment for me starts with saying this is WHAT and WHO I am, and you may call me THIS. Without it, generic, boring, hard to pronounce or wierd, that is the baseline.

Thanks for another great post.

oh, macarena -
I live in Japan. I hear you on being surrounded by people who have pronounciation issues. Then again, my Japanese grandmother isn't very clear with my name either, but she still loves me.


Weasel said...

Now, John Stossel is an asshole...

Now now, John Stossel isn't an asshole... he is a dickless idiot, a sellout, and an asshole! You ought to read the tripe he writes for Newsmax: pure neo-con bullshit if I ever saw it. (Sure John, it's a great idea to send DDT to African nations dealing with anthrax; no, they won't get cancer but they will get Parkinson's!)

It's this sort of tripe that has made me loathe 20/20. I haven't watched the show in over a decade. I can easily say that was one of the best choices I ever made. And one I won't go back on.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that is some anger...if you could channel that into something useful, imagine all the good you could do.

Shark-Fu said...

Cool Anonymous!

You mean I could volunteer on campaigns...teach voter education classes at local shelters...and even mentor an at-risk teen?


Who would have thunk it?

Lawd, where is the digital divide when you need it...

Anonymous said...

We could be named Latin (or old-fashioned Chinese) style - Primus, Secundus, Tertius, etc. Just our birth order. Now, wouldn't that be the pits - named after a stove...

or even worse, we could have names assigned at random by something like the word verication program, in which case I would be named Gpdqij Z. instead of


Anonymous said...

Shark-fu, if thats the limit of your capabilities, then I say go for it, but it seems to me that you could do much much more without say bitch every 5 words...but I guess thats your M.O., I still like your blog though. I would give you mine, but your probably rip it apart anyways.

Shark-Fu said...

Uh...thanks Anonymous?!?

Whatever gives your life meaning!

Oh, and a bitch isn't a blog critic...perish the thought.


Anonymous said...

Speak on it, Bitch. Damn, do I hate for people to tell me my kids names (Darkim, Prince, DivineAsia and Alasia) will hold them back as if its something wrong with me for naming them that as opposed to smething being wrong with the cracka ass crackas who discriminate based on racist profiling.

Another Bitch had mentioned in her post that she hates when people play the race card. Let a Bitch know: Whats the race card for Black people? Is it like the two of clubs, the eight of diamonds or the five of hearts? "Cause soon as we bring up our color, my oh my do we NOT get our way...

Anonymous said...

By the way, Deltoid has a whole series of posts on the DDT thing:

Long story short, there are some appropriate uses for DDT for combating malaria in the developing world, but the whole "Rachel Carson killed more people than Hitler by banning DDT" crap is a pernicious right-wing myth (there was no global ban on DDT for fighting malaria--there were agricultural bans, but besides the direct environmental harm of the stuff, one reason they were put in place was that mosquitoes were developing resistance, rendering DDT less useful for malaria prevention--so to some extent the Carson-as-Hitler trope is completely backwards).

Right now, the adoption of DDT as a conservative cause celebre even seems to be distorting the selection of strategies in the global fight against malaria, which is particularly sad.

Anonymous said...

Actually, if I remember right, the trend of giving children an "original" name really got going in the 70s with Rock Stars and hippies. Frank Zappa's kids, for instance. Think Moonbeam has had a hard time making it in the world now that she is grown?

MAWG said...

I'm a middle aged white guy and I say AMEN!

Anonymous said...

I'm probably asking for a verbal smackdown here, but:

What about people whose names are just misspellings of common names: Dwyane, Antawn, Dahntay, and so on? I gotta admit, I see a name like that and think, "Man, how could your parents be so ignorant as to name their kid a name they couldn't spell, and not bother to look it up?" It's not a negative reaction to the actual person with the name, but to their parents...

So, am I being racist, and if so, why? Bring it on, I can take it.

Shark-Fu said...


Where did I acquire this reputation for attacking folks (wink)? A wee bit too judgemental? Yes!

Years ago I met a black man who was named Denmark. I went around thinking his parents must have been ghetto as hell...until another friend pointed out that Denmark was named after Denmark Vesey.

A bitch tries not to leap to conclusions.

As for odd spelling...well, a bitch's people are southern so my ass is rather forgiving of odd spelling...

storm indigo said...

my coworkers and I were just talking about this phenom... incredible how blatant the racism is, and the crap is packaged to be swallowed whole. bullshit.

Anonymous said...

I understand your concern, however why are you bashing stossel or the other woman? they are stating facts that employers download non-made up black names more often and both white and black kids correlate made-up black names or " unique " ones with negativity. They are stating the facts. Personally I laugh at names like " Resume " " Chiante" " " Tequila " "LaCoka" all of which are real names of black people i know.

joan said...

Wear my name for a day and see how comfortable it feels to be given the name of an alias.I was taken aback when being question by an intake worker at the unemployment office in the eightys if "I was sure that it was my name,"because she had at least 200 joan smiths in the system for my state,and all joan's with that last name were white.I had to produce all kinds of ID that day just to get into a name poole of more joan's. So what's in a name..I don't know..But what I am sure of is that I would rather mine be different....upbold

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