Amun-Ra : What's In a Name?


Well-Known Member
Feb 15, 2001
Sales Management
Plenty! This one has been bothering me for a long time. Today there are names in the black community that rely heavily on certain sounds like "esha" and "ita." In my day we had "etta" as in Charlesetta or Jamesetta or "lean" as in Pauline or Emmaline. As a kid those names meant nothing unusual to me and still don't as do the names that are popular today.

However, several years ago it occurred to me that black people might be doing themselves a disservice picking these names, not because anything is wrong with them, but becaue it made them readily identifiable. I was watching a segment on 60 Minutes showing how an equally qualified black and woman were turned down for jobs that less qualified white men and women received.

I was not surprised by the interviews, but it made me think. How many blacks never see an interview because they are identifiable because of their name? A resume could quietly be disqualified if the personnel manager was biased against blacks and the only notice the resume owner would get is a rejection letter.

I don't know that this that this happens, but I suspect that it does more than we know. It is one thing not to get the job after an interview, but it is entirely something else when we don't even get the chance for an interview. This strips us of legal means because there is little way to prove it without an interview.

So, what do we do? I often mentor younger brothers and sisters and when they have an unusual name or spelling, I warn them of the potential for discrimination. Sometimes I suggest using initials, but that is little comfort for those who run into the prejudices of others and lose an opportunity without ever getting a chance.




Well-Known Member
Jan 29, 2001
Brotha Ra!

can't tell you how glad I am to see this topic. This is a subject close to my heart because I remember back in the 70s, there was a surge of Black awareness that caused many of us to search Ki-Swahili baby name books to select meaningful names for our children. For example, "Aisha" means "life"..."Kwame" means "born on the 7th day", "Hasan" means "handsome and strong", "Rasheda" means "righteous one", so on and so forth.

However, something very strange began to happen as the 70s ended and the 80s were ushered in. People began to create new names that "sounded like" the Swahili names, with no understanding of why those names of the previous decade had been chosen. I dare not give an example, for fear of insulting a member of the family here, but I mean no harm. It simply saddens me that there are parents who will choose some extremely intricate name which is not only difficult to pronounce, but with questionable spelling. I agree with you and have also spoken to young people in the classroom, and adults as well, as an employment counselor and workshop facilitator, about how to lower the incident of discrimination from the point of the "application" process in seeking employment. You have said well, sir.

Now...jumping back to the 60s when I was in grade school...there were several feminized male names for daughters named after their fathers. I know a Jamesetta, Clydette, and a Charlesetta, and of course, Ernestine and Earlene. Wonderul ladies to this day, and wear their names proudly....My own family member was named after her grandfather...Kenneth, but the parents were kind to her, naming her "Kennee", pronounced, "Ken-knee" (she won't mind me saying it...she's proud of her patriarch). One thing I can say about this type of was done in honor of a beloved family member, father, mentor, etc. There was meaning and thoughtfulness put into it.

I saw this thread, and I tell you my smile just broadened! You continue to provoke thought, Amun Ra. Thank you.





Lyon King Admin.
Mar 21, 2001
names and more names are being built
the names today is names many heard
of but yet common enough to be identifiable
u hit a major point here


Well-Known Member
Feb 15, 2001
Sales Management
A Tuff One

It limits our creativity--but at the same time--we must be aware of the world in which we operate--in many ways we are defeated before we have a chance to play and that is sad



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