Stupid Names

14 03 2008

At a Kenneth Cole in Bethesda a few months back, I had the pleasure of meeting a very attractive young black woman working the sales floor. Very tall, very well-built, assertive yet soft-spoken, and ambitious enough to be pursuing an advanced degree without being a dick about it. I was damn near ready to marry this girl on the spot.

Then she told me her name. “La La.”

This was her actual fucking name. It wasn’t a nickname. It wasn’t her middle name. It wasn’t her name in Sanskrit. I’m sorry to say it, but the conversation pretty much ended there. Assuming things got serious, there’s no way I’m introducing to my mother a chick whose name doubles as a drug-induced slur. I’d rather be keelhauled.


Figure 1: Lala is a clam, not a name.

The incident got me thinking about all the ridiculous names of black people I’ve come across in my lifetime, and exactly why the fuck these childrens’ parents would do something so socially damning as to name their child something like ‘Sugar’ or ‘Heaven’ or ‘Knoshawn’.

Any parent who gives their child a ridiculous name is dooming that child to failure in more ways than they could possibly fathom. It will inhibit your life professionally, socially, romantically, and even physically*

* I have a cousin who, upon meeting people named after luxury cars (e.g. Mercedes, Lexus, etc.), takes a blood oath to ram them whilst driving their namesake automobile. He sincerely believes this will restore balance to the universe, and so do I.

In analyzing this cultural disease, it became apparent that stupid black names fall under four major categories (listed in decreasing order of popularity):

  1. Swahili Bastardizations
  2. Megalomaniacal Descriptors
  3. Luxury Latch-Ons
  4. The Unfathomably Ridiculous

I will address these in turn.

Swahili Bastardizations

During the waning years of the Civil Rights Movement, black people all over the country decided to rebel against the dominant society by rejecting typical white (slave) names and adopting names closer to our own roots. The natural choice was, then, to adopt African names – but it wasn’t quite that simple. African Americans have a natural distrust of actual Africans…so we wanted to give our children names that sounded like they were from the mother continent, but wouldn’t make people think our children were actually African. It all went downhill from here.

Swahili names (taken from eastern and central Africa and typically applied to girls) and Arabic names (taken from north Africa and typically applied to boys) became ferociously popular – but for some reason many parents felt the need to mutate the Swahili names. So while boys received unaltered Arabic names like Ahmad and Kareem, girls were nominally punched in the uterus with senseless names like Shanequa and Shaquan. Parents to this day insist on naming their girls this way, despite the knowledge that doing so dooms their child to being perceived thusly by the population at large.


Figure 2: Not one of them is named ‘Laquesha’

Megalomanical Descriptors

Again, girls were the ones who really took it up the ass when it suddenly became popular to name children shit like ‘Pleasure’, ‘Heaven’, and ‘Serenity’. I can only assume that the parents think they’ll be the only people who ever call the child by her first name – daddies all over the world call their little girls ‘Precious’ without a second thought. But this logic is horrendously flawed, and akin to a girl legally changing her name to ‘Baby’, ‘Sweetheart’, or ‘Boo’ because that’s how her boyfriend addresses her.

Note to all prospective parents: nothing makes people more uncomfortable than having to address a complete fucking stranger as ‘Precious’ – and yes, to 99.99999999999999% of the world, your kid will be a stranger with an insufferable fucking name. Call your child all the pet names you want, but please leave it off the goddamn birth certificate.


Figure 3: Less awkward than a kid named ‘Treasure’

Luxury Latch-Ons

For whatever reason, black parents all over the country decided that naming their children after expensive things would bode good fortune for them throughout their lives. Consequently, there are legions of unfortunate people (mostly girls, again) with names like Chanel, Mercedes, Chandelier, and even Prada (yes, I did meet a girl named Prada, and it was the worst day of my life.)

I have personally never met someone with an LL-O name that made more than $10 an hour – so all these parents are really doing is pigeon-holing their kids into careers that will always involve a name tag and the omnipresent threat of a grease fire. Take a look at the names of the richest people in North America, and you’ll quickly realize that simplicity is the key.

Kid Named ‘Lexus’ ∩ Success = ø

The Unfathomably Ridiculous

This is where the men finally get it…and as far as I’m concerned it makes up for the fact that girls bear the brunt of the first three categories. UR names span the gamut from gross misspellings of common names (e.g. Anfernee) to those that could only be the result of massive head trauma (e.g. Oranjello)

Interestingly, though, UR names seem to be the only ones that actually correlate with financial success in life. If you need proof, take a look at the roster for any team in the NBA and you’ll find at least half a dozen dudes with a UR name. So the names are stupid, but if it works….then hey….


Figure 4: Stupid name? Fuck it.

Aside: Asian People

Being friends with a lot of Asian people has taught me that Asians just LOVE to make fun of the names black people give to their children – which is about the worst case of the pot calling the kettle black that I could possibly imagine. Our names may be ridiculous, but your entire languages are fucked up. Give me enough milk and beans, and I can say any word in Vietnamese with my butt.


Figure 5: At least one of these people is named Long Truc Phuc