Just As Sweet

We’ve all read the articles that claim that Black sounding names are more likely to get a prison ID number than an employee ID number which are either true or untrue, depending on which one you read. Shaniqua and Lakeesha and Jamal and Kareem are the typical “ethnic” names some people like to use when making a statement about black people, but with a president named Barack and a former Secretary of State by the name of Condoleezza, maybe naming your kid Plaxico won’t just limit him to the NFL. He can become an astronaut or a physicist or invent facebook, the sky’s the limit. But as soon as it became ok to have an ethnic name, folks had to start coming up with new shit to keep their kids from getting jobs. I apologize in advance if you have one these names or plan on naming your child something foolish, but dammit, I’m just trying to help.

Inventive Spelling I’m not sure when it became okay to blatantly disregard every single law of phonics when naming children, but I’m pretty sure it’s what prompted No Child Left Behind. Consonants and vowels make new sounds, letters that used to have a lot say become silent, putting a q next to an r makes the /w/ sound. The shit just don’t be making no damn sense whatsoever. I taught for almost seven years and thought I had seen it all, but nothing is quite as amusing as trying to pronounce a child’s name and having their mother say, “You saying it wrong!!’ Nah, bitch! You spelled it wrong. A little boy walked into my classroom and his mother handed me his enrollment papers. I said, “Hello Mahdi. Have a seat on the rug.” His mama glared at me and said, “It’s pronounced Ma-hi. The D is silent.” When in the fuck did Ds become silent? Rich Boy is probably pissed. He spent all this time throwing Ds on that bitch and this broad had the audacity to make ’em silent. If someone can find a language where the letter D doesn’t make a sound, I’ll apologize. (No I won’t) Fine, it’s okay to get all fancy and creative when naming your child, but no one gave y’all permission to make up your own phonetic system.

Punctuation Commas and hyphens and apostrophes, OH MY! Look, so putting an apostrophe in your child’s name doesn’t change how it’s pronounced. Mi’Chelle is still Michelle. Ri’Chard is just Richard. I’m the jackass who refused to acknoweldge punctuation in my students’ names. I’d skip over that shit and write it the way it should be written. There was no way in hell I was honoring or respecting incorrect ass accent marks added to children’s names to aid in proper pronunciation. The English language and the human brain have a funny way logically accenting the correct syllable. Your punctuation marks are doing nothing but making it impossible to fill out forms online when the box will only let you include alpha characters and not erroneous ass apostrophes. Apostrophes are supposed to indicate a missing letter or appear before an s to show possession, not to showcase the fact that you failed English every school year since kindergarten.

Spelling names backwards Somewhere, sometime long ago, someone discovered the James and Heaven are Semaj and Nevaeh spelled backwards. Stop it. Just fucking stop. If you don’t, I’m gonna start calling you Mud Cuf (the b and k are silent).

Stupid shit Inventive, creative names are ok. Stupid shit is not. Lyfe Machiavelli is stupid shit. Unique Dreams is stupid shit. Apple is stupid shit. Denim is stupid shit. Seven is stupid shit (celebrities do stupid shit, too). You may think the awesome name you chose for your child is awesome but he or she is going to hate you and put you in a nursing home where the CNAs are named Jameeria (pronounced Amy) and Ty-rone’.

I used to hate my name. I wanted a name like other black kids that Doug Banks could sweat on the morning show…Tawana!!! Oh yeah!!!! Today, I don’t necessarily love it but I sure as hell appreciate not having to correct people who see it in print. The world is filled with idiots who pretend they have a difficult time pronouncing any name that isn’t Becky or Tom so while your resistance to conformity is a valiant effort at showing The Man, your fight is in vain if the name you choose for your child defies all logic, reason, and letter sounds. I’ve decided that as a community service project, I’m going to visit hospitals to help mothers properly spell the creative names they’ve decided to bestow upon their offspring. Of course a rose by any other name smells just as sweet, but why you gotta call it LL-exarose’ (pronounced Axel Rose, of course)

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