First things first I’m Darealyst.
My first name is hideous. Shekinah. It rhymes with vagina, despite my mother’s attempts to pronounce it with a long e. When I was 9, I was adopted and my adoptive parents changed my name to something equally hideous, but whiter.
I go by my birth middle name or a bastardization of my adopted first name. When people ask my name I have to stop and think before I answer because I sometimes can’t remember what name they know me by. I don’t get job offers back if I use my real first name. People are either disappointed that I’m not super ghetto, or feel the need to express their relief. Either one is pretty tiresome.
I was having a big problem with my health insurance coverage. I called, got shuffled around, got disconnected, and no one I talked to seemed to be able to even understand the fairly simple, yet oh so costly to me, situation.
On about the sixth phone call, I hear, “Thank you for calling Fake Insurance Company Name, my name is Shaniqua, how can I help you?”
Shaniqua proceeded to instantly comprehend the problem I was calling about, already putting her a step above every one of her co-workers, fix the immediate problem, and find a long term solution.
She followed up with the health care provider, and before the day was out their billing department called me to tell me all was fine and to disregard their bill. The next day Shaniqua called me back to make sure everything was resolved to my satisfaction.
I will never underestimate a Shaniqua again.
My wife’s name is Lawandashon.
She got into stage acting very late in life and they tried to convince her to change her name. She decided that she would stick it out with the name that her mother had given her.
Unfortunately, that decision led to her being cast almost exclusively into various versions of Cats, but always in full costume, and always as Cat #6. After many years she decided that it was enough and official changed her name to Stacy.
She immediately was able to get into an all-black casting of Rent with an off-broadway company.
My wife’s friend’s adopted kid’s birth name was, I shit you not, “Latrina”.
It’s since been changed.
My best friend’s name is Abba (as in the band). Made no difference to her life but people do always ask her about it.
She even put “Take a chance on me” on a job application where she was applying for a job she was under qualified for in a company she was working in.
I taught a kid named Notorius. Not even spelled right. I mean, does he REALLY have the same chances as a William?
“You know who I’d love to hire today? Notorius. He sounds trustworthy as fuck.”
(And yeah, he was shitty, in case you were wondering.)
Okay, I realize this is very loosely related and isn’t a “ghetto” name at all, but here goes: when I was a substitute teacher last year I had a kid in one if my classes named Anis, pronounced “Ah-niss.” While calling role call’ obviously I was an idiot and pronounced it “Anus.” Ugh. My face turned tomato red. It was hilarious and mortifying all at once. But the kid was cool about it and it seemed as though it happened frequently. Poor kid.
TL;DR: Mispronunciation. Called a kid anus while substitute teaching.
My name is Asia, which according to Freakonomics is (or was) the 9th Blackest name in America. Since I’m young, it really hasn’t affected me as much. I don’t know how naming children after continents, countries, cities, etc. is viewed, but the only real way my life has been affected is by having multiple people with the same name in my class in elementary, which is probable common among people with common names.
Having a typically known stripper name is just as bad. Trust me, I know.
I don’t know if my name qualifies as ‘ghetto’ but ya. I’m Keisha or (as I’ve actually been referred to once or twice) ”White Keisha”, because um, I’m white. My boss told me the other day that when I first started work, he was disappointed to find out I wasn’t a sassy black girl…. thanks I guess?
I worked with woman named Keisha. She told me that her real name was LaKeisha, but that she dropped the “La” because she didn’t think it was going to help her get ahead in life. You’d like to think that people who look at your resume are looking only at your qualifications, but when a couple of white people are looking at resumes and they see “Grace Smith” at the top of one and “LaKeisha Smith” at the top of the other, racism is going to creep in. Even if the white people deny it, some of them are not going to give LaKeisha a chance. I’ve been in hiring situations enough to see it happen.
I was a Mormon missionary in Baltimore a few years back, and I had a companion named Tyrone, who was the whitest kid imaginable, but from Buttfuck Idaho. When we were out tracting in the ghettos, people always just shout “Who DAT?” and if you reply, “It’s the Elders” or the “It’s the missionaries” people wouldn’t come to the door, so he’d start saying “It’s ty-RONE”. People would come to the door seeing the whitest thing since wonderbread and get confused, then inevitably respond with “You ain’t no Tyrone!” and slam the door. So funny.
White guy here with the middle name of Dion. I couldn’t get a call back on a job to save my life when Dion was in my resume’s email address. Changed it and the calls started coming in.
Not quite ghetto, but my last name is Kronyk. Pronounced “Chronic.” I get tons of praise from potheads during roll calls.
Not ghetto, but I have an Eastern European name because I was born in Europe. I live in America now, and it is hard for Americans to pronounce my name. I do what most from my country do, I gave myself an English name that is the best equivalent and sounds the closest to my real name, and I go by that name when interacting with Americans. It is much more convenient in Starbucks and whatever, because I only have to say my name once, and not repeat it a hundred times and spell it out.
My name is pretty much as ghetto as it gets. It has never caused me any troubles in life except for during high school.
Specifically, there was one student (for the sake of anonymity, we’ll call her Vanessa Lockman), who would go out of her way to make life hell for me.
She’d always make fun of me for my name, call me a “trash peasant”, called my parents ignorant for giving me my name, etc.
One day, she had found some book that listed the most common names for poorer people, and my name was in there. She circled my name on it, made photocopies, and posted them up around the school.
Largely thanks to her, I resented my classmates, my parents, and people in general for a large majority of my teens.
But then about 20 years later, I was back at my hometown visiting my parents. I was driving to the grocery store to pick up some stuff, when I saw her. It was Vanessa, and she was begging for money on the side of the street. She looked in bad shape.
I parked my car, went up to her, and asked “Is your name Vanessa?”
She turned, and looked straight at me. It was like she was seeing me for the first time.
Her mouth opened, her hands shook, and her eyes widened.
She grabbed my by the shoulders, leaned in close to my ear, and whispered:
“Imma need about tree fiddy.”
It was then that I noticed she was a 50 foot crustacean from the paleolithic era.
I went to elementary and junior high schools whose student body populations were 80% black. So I’ve obviously got a lot of friends with stereotypical black names.
And, well, to a person they all live completely normal middle class lives. Shantillia is an ultrasound technician. Toymika is a route salesperson for Coca~Cola. Shaunda is an administrative assistant. Jawanda is a behavioral therapist. Kiana is a customer service rep. Shanique is a teacher.
I’m sure they’ve all had problems with racist fools, but this is 2014 and we all live in urban areas (Houston/DFW/San Antonio), so it’s essentially a non-issue. I mean, we live in a time when our President is named Barack and a former Secretary of State is named Condoleezza. It’s time to quit pretending names are the problem instead of how people react to them.
I grew up with brother/ sister twins named Mercedes Benz (Jones) and Coupe De Ville (Jones). (not real last name).
They went by Mercy and Coop. They were fine. Only a problem was when they came across a teacher who thought they were lying about their real names.
I’m a white young woman, dark blonde hair and blue eyes. My first name is Chenoa. It’s pronounced Shun-o-uh.
If people learn my name before they meet me, they assume that I am either black or, less commonly, Asian.
People can never pronounce it correctly on the first try. There are generally several iterations of me saying my name, them repeating it, me saying it again so they can get closer to saying it right, them repeating, and again.
Oh lord, the nicknames. So many ways you can make my name into words…like slurring and saying something about “snow” or “cha-know” are some of the most common.
Generally, I get asked what it means, where it comes from, and why the hell my parents gave me the name.
I often get tired of telling all the stories and answering all the questions. When I eat out or go somewhere where a server asks for your name, I just go with Jane (a bastardization of my middle name, which is more common but still gives people trouble). I keep considering simply changing the name I go by in the workplace. I still think I may when I next change jobs. It keeps me from having to jump through all the aforementioned hoops every time I meet someone new.
I love my name, just not everything that comes with it.
TL;DR: White girl with a weird name is tired of being interrogated about it by everyone she meets.