– Thanks to Audible for supporting PBS Digital Studios.
(smooth music) Oh my gosh, y’all, thank you
so much for all these gifts. Look at these shoes! (giggles) Okay, so next, I asked all of
y’all to guess baby’s name, so we’re gonna read
through them now. (hums) (smooth music)
(papers rustle) Moses, okay, is my baby
gonna let our people go? Okay, roll up on Pharaoh. It’s kind of a Benjamin
Button-looking name, kinda old. Keisha, okay, it’s cute. It’s a little 80s, 90s
for me, to be honest. My baby’s gonna pop out with box braids. Aqua, wow, it’s beautiful, it’s pretty, but it’s giving me a
little bit of a Magic City. It’s giving me “working
at The Pyramid tonight,” you know what I’m saying? Just leave some stuff to the imagination. Oluwatosin Akindele, that is beautiful. I’m not Nigerian though. Which one of y’all did Beyonce? – We really only have one
thing for sure in life. – I mean, besides taxes, and death, and yeah, and there’s heartbreak. – Our names.
(hums) It’s your sense of self and
belonging at the same time. – It’s that spark I get
when I meet a fellow Evelyn. I mean, they’re usually over 60 years old, but it’s still exciting, or when I find my name
on a gift shop key chain. – I wonder what that’s like. – Oh, yeah. Sometimes we choose our own names to align with our values or reinvent ourselves. – And be honest, we all
have preconceived notions about names and what type of
person they’re attached to. Eccentric celebrity kid names, down-home country names,
and of course, black ones. – We can see you over
there trying to deny it, but tucked away in your brain are stereotypes about
black-sounding names. It’s even been popularly satirized. – T’Variusness King, Marymount College. – Tyroil Smoochie-Wallace,
University of Miami. – D’Squarius Green, Jr.,
University of Notre Dame. – These assumptions are baked into our minds through the media, pop culture, our collective histories,
and personal experiences. It’s not innocent, though.
– Uh-uh. – Your name is how the
world perceives you, and when jobs, education, medical care, and social status is at stake, that perception comes at a price. – So, let’s explore
black naming conventions, because the difference
between Natasha and Tasha is less than you think.
(upbeat music) – Oh, you thought I wouldn’t
bring it up, did you? – No, I knew it was coming. – Slavery! – When it comes to black
names in the Americas, you can’t ignore the
impact of chattel slavery and how people used names
as a form of survival, and I don’t know if
y’all know this by now, but Azie is a complete nerd when it comes to ancestry records of any kind, and she found some powerful stuff. – Ah, yes, I do love a good ledger. When west Africans were sold into slavery, the ability to retain their
names was largely inconsistent. There are some documents, like receipts, that show the sale of a
person just named Simon, and then there are documents
that show how misspellings of west African words became names. Someone from the Andoni tribe in Nigeria might be named Anthony. Beke from the Ibo tribe
in Nigeria becomes Becky. – Oh, tell them about the ads. – Wanted ads for runaway
slaves in South Carolina indicate that many owners
acknowledged that people weren’t just going to go
by their plantation names. The ads listed the person’s “proper” name and their “country” name, the African name the enslaved person maintained. – We’ll link more information
on west African names that survived the Middle Passage, but over time the mixing
of cultures, languages, and environments introduced different types of names to black communities. There are biblical names. With Christianity as
the pervasive religion, it wasn’t uncommon for people to choose names with religious significance. You have your Daniels and your Davids, which still sound pretty modern, but you also have Moses and Jedidiah. Moesha is a version of the Hebrew Moses. Amen, meaning drawn out of the water. – [Azie] Preach.
(baby cries) – Oh, oh my God. Hi, hi baby. Dad? – It’s also important
to note that although most slave owners in
the US were Anglo-Saxon, these names were not “white.” They’re anglicized versions
of Hebrew and Greek names. – Oprah Winfrey’s name
was originally Orpah, a woman in the Book of
Ruth, and Goliath’s mom. – Speaking of Abrahamic religions, Arabic names belong to some of the most iconic figures in black culture. Due to the efforts of the Nation of Islam, Dar ul-Islam movement,
and other organizations, Islam became a well-established
force in black communities, renouncing the Christianity that had been used to legitimize American slavery. – Malcolm X is arguably the most well known black American Muslim, and the X was his way to guarantee that he didn’t share a last
name with a slave owner. When he left the Nation of Islam and began to practice Sunni Islam he changed his name to
el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz. – I suppose nobody in here
ever heard of Cassius Clay. – A man has the right to change his name to whatever he wants to change it to. – His mama named him
Clay, I’ma call him Clay. – Mm-hm. – [Azie] Cassius Clay,
Jr. becomes Muhammad Ali, and Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, Jr. becomes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. – Then you have Arabic influence. You may not practice Islam, but it’s just another
cultural bucket to draw from. Queen Latifah and her
onscreen character Khadijah, and if you know somebody named Ayesha, that ain’t nothing but some Arabic. – People often combine
names with African origin with those of Arabic origin
as a way to completely renounce what some call a “slave name.” – It’s how you got Assata Shakur. With growing Pan-African politics, black Americans found commonality between their struggles and freedom
fighters in African nations. A Stokely Carmichael becoming a Kwame Ture was a political statement. – And if you weren’t
marching in the streets, remember Roots hit televisions
across the country in 1977, and its iconic scene reawakened the desire to give children African
or African-sounding names. – Your name is Toby.
(breathes heavily) I want to hear you say it. You’re going to learn to say your name. Let me hear you say it. What’s your name? – Kunta. (papers rustle)
(smooth music) – Oh! Anansi Assad, I can dig it. Oh, Malik Said Akan, that’s powerful, giving me black, melanated king. Amala Anaya, giving me regal African princess vibes, Wakanda forever. What’s always been interesting
to me is how Swahili has been incorporated into black culture. While East African
nations were not involved in the transatlantic slave trade, Pan-African politics gave
the gift of even more names. Every Imani, Jabari, and Nia, Swahili. – Then you just have names
that are black, literally. Ebony. – But let’s be real,
there are certain names you perceive to be blacker than others, and that ain’t nothing
but some Creolization. – Some what? (speaks Creole) – Who? – Vibrant Creole culture in
Louisiana introduced French into black naming trends, and it spread. We don’t know how or why,
but by the 1960s French names were so commonly used in black communities that it’s almost impossible
for me to imagine a white Monique, or like a white Antoine. – Nope, I tried, drawing a blank. – You have your typical
French names like Andre, but black folks would add prefixes using pieces of the French language like “le,” “la,” “de,” and voila, Deandre. You can even sprinkle
it on non-French names. LaWanda, LaSondra, DeMarcus, DeShawn. – Ah, now things get interesting, because while it’s cool to understand the other cultures and
languages names come from, there’s also beauty in
making something up. – It’s the ultimate expression of freedom. – Your dad’s name is Raymond,
your mom’s name is Yvonne, so boom, happy birthday Rayvonne. There’s Tyrese, which
is a completely unique creation with no historical origin, and perfect for singing
slow jams in the rain. – Shaquille, as in O’Neal, is a creative respelling
of an Arabic name. His mama probably just wanted to be a little bit different, you know? Sometimes you want to stand out. – And who gets to decide how this is spelled in our alphabet, anyway? Societies look down on some
spellings, but not others, when really it’s just
creative use of English. Like Metta World Peace, born Ron Artest. Sometimes what’s in a name
is just your imagination. – So, where does Azie come from? – Well, my father was inspired
by the Pan-African movement in South Africa, where the people wanted to rename South Africa Azania, but he was reading it in a magazine, so he didn’t know how to
say it, so he said Azaynia, and then my mom heard that and said, “Nah, sounds like a flower.”
– Okay. – So, then they went with Azaneea, and then when they told
my grandparents, like, “This is her name,” they
were like, “That’s a big name “for a little baby,” so they
started calling me Azie, and that’s how I got the nickname Azie. Then as I got older people didn’t really want to learn my name. They acted like it was kind of a hassle, so I just started going by my nickname. – Well, okay, so I’m not
really tied to like the origin, like etymology of my name. Don’t really know much about that. All I know is that my
mom used to be a teacher and I am named after her favorite student, so shout out to you,
Evelyn, the original Evelyn. It’s a lifestyle, I turned out great. – And now for a rapid-fire list of names you thought were super
black, because stereotypes. – We forgive you. – [Azie] Quintrell, an 11th century name from Cornwall, England. – Oh, all right, what is this? – [Azie] Terrell.
– Hut, hut. Performs masculinity.
– [Azie] It’s French. – You call this football? (spits) – Back in my day, hm.
– [Azie] Darnell. Not just for uncles at the cookout, but also a group of people
in the medieval ages who grew a plant called Darnel. Natasha, it’s Slavic. – Is this vodka? – [Azie] Yeah, Tyrone was a
kingdom in Gaelic Ireland. – No, really? – Really? – And we haven’t even scratched
the surface of nicknames, which has an even richer history. We’ll link more information
in the show notes. – But why does any of this matter? For the same reasons some people cringe at the fact that her name is Hennessy. There are real and
perceived negative impacts associated with names that
don’t fit the dominant culture, which can create academic, professional, social, and cultural disadvantages. – Researches understand that
we are imaginative people, and names send a signal that makes us imagine people before we ever meet them. There have been studies that
explore how racism and classism combine to encourage hiring
bias in the workplace, and if people in positions of power won’t even look past your name to learn how much experience you have and the value you could add to the
company, that’s a problem. – While we want to debunk the myth that most black names are “made-up,” we also deserve to
celebrate the creativity that is a completely unique name. At the very least we deserve to have our names deemed unusual or uncommon, versus bound for dysfunction
and economic disadvantage. – We choose to celebrate
black culture by acknowledging and respecting where we come from, and the regional, cultural, historical, and political reasons we are who we are. – [Azie] So, tell us a
story behind your name. Share this video with your uncle Darnell. – We’d like to thank
Audible for supporting PBS. Audible’s selection of audiobooks
include Audible Originals, audio titles created by storytellers from around the literary world, for example Genius Dialogues, a conversation with the country’s most compelling scientists,
educators, and artists. Visit audible.com/sayitloud, or text sayitloud to
500 500 to learn more. Members own their books and
can access them at any time, so to learn more visit
audible.com/sayitloud or text sayitloud to 500 500. Click here to watch previous
episodes of Say It Loud. Click here to watch our friend Danielle over at Origin of Everything
explain why middle names exist, and we’ll see you next time. – Bye.
– Bye. (soft music) (smooth music)

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. Thank you to everyone correcting our Arabic font in the comments! We're sorry we got that wrong and will make sure that doesn't happen again in the future. – Hallease

  2. In Mexico, people are not allowed to have exclusive native names, names like Xochitl, or Xanat must be followed or preceded by a name of Spanish or foreign origin in order to be officially registered. 🙁 We have a long way to go…
    It's kind of dumb the situation, because they will allow for misspelled English names or even random words for names, but not traditional names of our native cultures.

  3. I am a black women named Cheryl. It really annoys me when people meet me in person they are really confused because they think they spoke to a white women (even worse apparently a posh white women).
    You know what, screw it i like being a black women named Cheryl, I am different, and I like wearing Cashmere.

  4. My son's name is czeslaw(shezlov). We get a lot of crap for it, but we wanted our kids to have unique names. Our girls are named Franchesca and Madilynn Euphemia (I regret the common first name now) we don't get any where near as much slack for them as we do for czeslaw.

  5. I think names are important. My mom named all four of her kids names that sound good translated in Spanish and English. She said because we are mixed we need names that work for both cultures. She said she didn't want to use any quote "black sounding names" either for the soul purpose of us having a better chance at employment. Was she right? I don't know but I am employed. My mom is black, by the way. So I think she may have just seen a pattern and didn't want us to be marginalized. I don't know.

  6. No story with my name, but I wanted my children to have meaningful names. My premature son was named Mordecai- which means "warrior"- because he HAD to be to survive. My first born was named "Liora" meaning Light- after my favorite verse in the Bible- I also have an Isaiah, which many people in my area associate with a "black" name- but it is Hebrew- meaning "The Lord is my salvation."

  7. my mom changed the spelling so my name Clarisa has only one S.
    and my Spanish speaking side of the family pronounces it cla'd'sa.
    this was a fun video.
    I think my first interaction with 'black' sounding names was winx club. one of the characters Layla got her name changed to Aisha when the show changed companies and we felt it was weird for some reason and it was kindof steriotypy. then I found out later in the Italian her name started out at Aisha and they had changed it to Layla in the first version. now I cant tell if it was worst to think they had to change the name or if its evidence of internal biases and they knew it was better to change the name to Layla cuz they knew we'd automatically think of sterio types.

  8. Give me a break! Next you'll be saying that your offended by Wallmart selling black underwear. Unbelievable! And people question why Trump in in power. 😆

  9. My name is Keeunda. I asked my biological mom why she named me Keeunda, and she said “your dad was from KeyWest” oh ok

  10. I’ve been wondering about names thought of as “black” that are from Medieval English/Gaelic origin for YEARS. Like how do you even google that?
    Lol thank you!!

  11. As a Mexican myself I find a bit sad how divided is American society, a racial segregation that starts just with the name of a person. To me names like Shaquilel O’neal is a “typical” american name just like Kevin or Allison, I would never think about which one is black or anglo-white name. We just need to be more respectful with other no matter their ethnicity, religion or names, in the end we are all Humans.

  12. My name is DaQuawn…my mom got it from a 90s music video. As a child she always told me that it was an identifier on on who is of Royal blood, a king in the making. 😂😂😂 I liked her meaning better than how I got the name.

  13. I wouldn't recommend calling any Cornish person English!
    We're not Anglo Saxon, we're an ethnic group of our own. Great video apart from that 😉

  14. Love the humor and professionalism. And I’ve always wondered about the history of African American names (I’m white). Great video.

  15. My name is DèMon and I hate when people insist on calling me demon. My mother took it from a character in a French novel.

  16. Thank you for this video. It was informative and very interesting. I was talking with a friend about baby names and mentioned Lucretia for a girl (my husband is Italian, I am Danish). She immediately said it sounded like a black name. I got really irritated because it's a Roman name. It just shows how stereotypes can be damaging, and how names can reinforce stereotypes. I still like Lucretia (for Italian influence) or Freyja (Danish influence).

  17. My siblings were given "normal" names, and my mum liked "Skye" and my dad was like "Skylark" and thought it would be cool if my middle initial was "X" so I got the middle name "Xentha".

  18. I'm Irish from Ireland and my name is Karen. I always thought it was plain and was ambiviliant about it, but I've been slightly dismayed to learn that it's considered a basic white name in America and an older name in the UK. In Ireland, most Karens are under 40 ( I'm 32). I always said that I would give my children more distinct sounding names. My sister's name is Majella, the surname of an Italian saint, St Gerard Majella who was popular in Ireland. Saints' names were a popular source of names in predominantly Christian countries, although my sister's name is rare.

  19. My name doesn't make it key chains either. I believe that Laurene is Frenchized Irish. I see other Laurene's around, but we're kind of rare. It is a very popular name in the Philippines, however. Laurene is attributed as a feminized Laurence, which means crowned with laurels, or victor.

  20. I’m only ever asked the origin of my strange last name by White professionals, mostly men. Which annoys the crap out of me given they are usually above average intelligence so should understand the historical implications that black people carry when choosing to remain with names passed down by their ancestors from their slave owners. I’m proud that my father saw fit to give my family a unique last name as their is no shared pride that I feel when I see a white Scottish man who shares the same name as my grandparents.

  21. 😅😅😅 i been on the youtube info game way to long. I kinda knew all of this already. Plus i have a cuisine named Monique.

  22. I like all the work put into this video, the historical context etc. It was interesting learning how "black sounding" names grew over time and cultural context.

    What I don't understand is why it's considered a stereotype to think a "black sounding" name belongs to a black person after you clearly explained why these names are popular for naming black babies.

    It can be hard having an unusual name. After so many pronunciation corrections I usually give up. I've heard of the study where typically black names had less call backs then typically white names; I haven't had a chance to read it yet so they may have controlled for my alternate idea. People like familiarity, if the people doing the hiring were white and were used to "white names" they may simply have preferred those resumes because of the familiarity. I have heard stories of people being super worried about how to pronounce my name before they meet me. I could see how my resume might end up lower in the pile just to avoid the socially awkward mispronounced name. Which would be a familiarity bias not a racist one. Still sucks if you didn't get a job because if your name. ☹️

  23. Why blame white Christians for slavery? Slavery is an entrenched institution to this very day in Africa and it is a fact that Africans sold their own people to traders, many of whom were black or Arabic Muslims.

  24. Why did they say Tyrone was instead of is a region in Ireland like it’s the lost city of Atlantis. It’s a city and county and it’s still very much there alive and well (despite everything)

  25. My name is Anisha, it's a name that is inspired by Hindi names but my parents spelled it more black. I love my name for both origins, the actual history (Hindi) and my parent's history with it (my mom didnt want it spelled Aneesha with too many e's). I love indian names and i also love that its mixed with my identity.

  26. Amira-Nicholle Marie Yvette – Amira is Arabic and Nicholle is French, together Amira-Nicholle means "Princess who is victorious for her people" Marie means Sea of Sorrow and Yvette means Archer so I suppose I am a Princess who is victorious for her people on a sea of sorrows as an archer??

  27. Names issue from cultures not from an abstraction designed to denote race. so black names is a bit of a misnomer. yall funny though.

  28. How exactly do those biblical names being Greek/Hebrew preclude them from being white names?

    Also, does anyone else find it ironic to embrace Arabic names as a form of getting rid of slavery’s legacy when Arabs also practiced slavery with Black Africans for even longer than Europeans?

  29. I was supposed to be named Cindy after my mother's late best friend, but my father thought that was morbid and so they named me Hillary, after the character in "Beaches." Their friendship was a lot like my mom and Cindy's.

  30. I feel this way when folks get on the case of white parents who name their kids stuff like "Dylann" or "Mikaylea" and laugh at the names. Like, yeah, it's stupid, but it's also someone's name. Just like people dig at "black" names that aren't actually of black origin at all (ex: Tyrone), we need to be inclusive and not jump to conclusions about anyone. Because the next generation is gonna have a TON of stupid hipster names and stupid "unique" spellings, and it's going to be so many different skin colors who do it. We need to stop idolizing only the Davids and the Steves and the Elizabeths, etc.

  31. My brother had a name ready made, he is the third with the exact same name. My father and grandfather have three names and a baptismal name, my brother was just given all four on the birth certificate. That’s why I have two middle names, it just seemed to make since to give both their kids four names. Ashley, because it was the 90s and my mom liked it, and one of my middle names is a family name from her side and the other was again, just picked for no reason.

    Black names being “made up” is such a stupid thing to say. Black culture is some of the oldest and richest culture on the planet. And even if they were, so what? You think Karen wasn’t just made up by some dude? Kayydennn definitely was. And it’s all fine.

  32. My name is Lastashia… and literally everyone thinks I’m black before they meet me. My dad wanted Larissa and my mom wanted Anastasia. So they compromised and got Lastashia. I love unique names. And I definitely want to pass that on to my kids.

  33. Mara Irene Atalie . Meaning (according to my mother) for she will come through bitter waters and become peaceful and serene

  34. My name, Sally, is an old English pet name of the Hebrew Sara. Dad din't want my name to be Billy Jo, after a tv character my mom likes. So they worked it out

  35. My mother recalls how sweet her grandmother was; Her birth name was Bertha, but everybody called her "Caroline." That's how I got my middle name Caroline. 🙂

  36. Illyana is russian which I am not
    My mom liked the sound of the name and found the spelling she wanted from Illyana Rasputin in the X Men comics.

  37. Thank you for this video! It was extremely entertaining, informative and thought provoking. My name literally means “girl” in Irish Gaelic.

  38. I love this! My name is Gabriela which means God’s right hand after the archangel Gabriel. I have one l in my name because it’s supposed to be the Spanish spelling, not the French or Italian one. People really struggle with it.

  39. With a name like mines, not only do I shock Canadians, by the fact that there's an American named Marcel. But I also get a lot of callbacks when I submit my resume to employers because it assumed I am a White Frenchmen.

  40. About that accent for Cornwall

    This is a scene from Hot Fuzz, set in Gloucestershire. Cornwall is three counties further west and the accent gets thicker as you go.

  41. Never would consider Natasha a black name…more like a russian one like Anastasia.

    But Tyrone being an Irish origin was a big surprise!

  42. Then there's Dr. Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck, shattering all preconceptions: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marijuana_Pepsi_Vandyck

  43. My name was a combination of my parents, Jay and Lee. Where I live, it’s not uncommon for baby girls to be named with two family names put together.

  44. My name is Inna (my birth name is even longer) and people always have trouble pronouncing it correctly, but I usually brush it off or not correct them unless they ask. I should give my name more respect.

  45. I know the no keychain feeling. I am a white American woman named Erika. Most Erica/Ericka/Airecka's that I meet are black, Erika's are are sometimes Japanese. My name is Scandinavian origin.

  46. Did she really just say working that the pyramid tonight🤣🤣when I tell you I wheezed I wheezed🤣🤣

  47. I hear the name Over Tamika in the black community. The name Actually pronounced as Taa- Miy-kaa Tamu for sweet which is a Japanese origin .not sure how it ended up in the black community.

  48. Another popular name in the black community for girls I hear is Jasmine. Which is of Persian origin (Yasmin) adopted by the French Jasmin, then the English Jasmine. Now a popular name in the black community.

  49. Is Natasha considered a stereotypically "black" name in the USA? I'm curious as I live in England and it's a somewhat middle class name here.

  50. I am not black merely half brown. My name is Diana & I hope captions spelled it correctly – Azi" LOL Loved the video!

  51. im white but trans and got to choose my own name. i chose eli because -el means angel and in abrahamic mythos, all angel incarnates are men. to me, when someone calls me eli they are calling me a man and an angel haha

  52. This was a fascinating video. I knew some of these name origins (I knew where Tyrone was from because my great grandpa was from that region of Ireland). I'm named Riley. My parents tell me that it's from the song 7 Curses by Bob Dylan.

  53. It's sad society looks down on Black people because of our names. Seems like everything we do is wrong. It's kinda ironic that a lot of the 'hood names are actually of European descent. They say they are ghetto names but their ancestors are the ones who created the names we carry. Now that's funny.

  54. Man, these are some cool young ladies I would love to chill with! And the one on the left for some reason really appeals to me very much. Thank you for opening our eyes to common stereotypes of the Black community!

  55. I remember Keisha being the name of one of the "Kinderfriends" growing up. I thought it was like a play on Quiche or something lol

  56. I love this video but something seen can not be un-seen & sometimes Miss Anzie appears to be wearing a little party hat to the side. lol.

  57. This is so interesting! My name is Katarina, from Greek for "pure, chaste". I think my parents just thought yeah that's a good enough name and slapped it on me. The fact that it's related to "catharsis" gives me great pleasure.

  58. People always think my sister Danae has a black name. But it's Greek, from mythology. She was a princess & the mother of Perseus. I bought her a star from the Pegasus constellation one year & she thought it was the coolest thing. Mine, my mom got from reading a 'romance' novel.

  59. My mom wanted to name me Elizabeth. But, she didn't want anyone eventually shortening it to Beth, Liz, Betty, etc. My mom's name was Barbara and she hated when people tried calling her Babs or Bobbi. So, she decided to name me Lisa, which is a form of Elizabeth, but is a "proper" name in it's own right, not a nickname. Elizabeth is Hebrew and means "consecrated to god" or "a worshiper of god". The French version of Elizabeth is Elise. The Italian version of Elise is Lisa. My mom was Italian, so it was her perfect solution. She once said to me "You can't shorten Lisa into a nickname. That's why I chose it, for you." Although, my ex tried. He always called me LiLi.

Related Post