(Closed) "Offbeat" baby names – Cultural Appropriation?

posted 5 years ago in Babies
Post # 76
Member
10642 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: January 2011

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MrsTywinLannister:  I’m not even American 🙂

Post # 77
Member
787 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

I don’t know… this topic is very confusing to me. My husband is mediterranean and many of his relatives have very traditional names. So if we name our child after one of his relatives, and the child looks like me (Irish background), are people who don’t know my husband going to think we ripped-off a name that ‘belongs’ to another culture? So in later life, my child has to explain to anyone who asks that they have a genetic claim to a traditionally mediterranean name or people will think his/her parents are name-thieving jerks? That makes me quite sad.

Post # 78
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2875 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2015

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OneDayMrsL: generally, I have mixed feels. Sometimes I feel awesome about it and sometimes I feel terrible about it. Depends on the parents and if they were aware of the history of French, Chinese and American imperialism of my parents’ homeland.

Bottom line is their kid, their choice so I’m probably not going to say anything because I would hope the parents thought through names.

that said, there are a few things to consider. Just because they don’t look like they culturally identify with my culture doesn’t mean they don’t have latent ties I don’t know about. Maybe the baby is named after a caretaker / family friend / adoptive parent or grandparent, or some other personal edge case. It’s not my place to question their reasons. 

However if they completely and purposefully butcher the spelling and / or pronounciation while insisting it be connected to my culture and aren’t open to learning about the roots of the name, I’d feel terrible about it.

most cases are in between. I’m all for increased understanding and empathy and if a name increases those, go for it. Parents should be aware of how it may be perceived though, just so they aren’t taken aback. 

Post # 81
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1841 posts
Buzzing bee

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bitsybee:  Thanks! I really appreciate your input as I feel this discussion and board is really benefiting from the view points of people in those ethnic and cultural minorities. 

I definitely agree with you that it’s terrible when they butcher the spelling/pronunciation of the names. Like I said earlier there is that fine line where if the kids teacher won’t be able to properly pronounce it (or you change the pronunciation to get around that) or if the average person where you are won’t be able to spell it properly (or you change the spelling to get around that) then you should probably choose another name.

Post # 82
Member
7501 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2014

Cultures are blending and when they’re not blending, they’re at least influencing each other. The world is getting smaller, and it’s happening faster than society can evolve. That’s why some (hopefully only a few, very closed-minded folks) cannot get the concept of a Nigerian woman and a Scottish man having a baby and giving it a traditionally French name. The US President’s middle name is commonly associated with the Middle East and was used against him time and time again by the ultra-right-wing media— we as a society should be flat-out ashamed of that! But if people stick in their little boxes of “that name is in,ya for African Americans”  or “that name is only for Russians” then the cultures do not blend.

i don’t see anything wrong with using a name with a strong cultural identity if you yourself do not identify with that identity, but I think it’s important to understand the culture from which your name originates. Knowledge is power and the more we know about each other, the fewer cultural barriers we will have.

that said, if you name your kid Mailbox, Hobbit or Pineapple, you’re an idiot and you’re setting your kid up for 8 years of getting beat up on the elementary school playground.

Post # 83
Member
8686 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2013

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EL2101:  and I am well aware of that research and, as a POC, see it firsthand but I still believe the OP is a bit ignorant. Aren’t we trying to progress out of ignorance? She said she is scared for some bees’ kids among other things. 

Post # 84
Member
2168 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception/The Gallery

My Italian grandfather was adopted by his Irish stepfather after his biological father walked out on him and his mother during the Depression. Let’s say his adoptive last name is O’Connor (it’s not). Flash forward. He and his 100% Panamanian wife have a son (a Jr.), a Laura (named after Italian relative), Lydia (Italian), and my mom, Maureen (Irish–though she has not an ounce of Irish blood). My mom looks more like our Italian relatives than any of the rest of us but is Maureen “O’Connor.” Go figure. It’s not always what it seems. 

Do I think sometimes people are insensitive to others’ cultures? Absolutely. But generally, I don’t find naming a child to be appropriative in the same manner as dumb girls wearing Native American-style headdresses to the Coachella Music Fest.

There’s awareness (necessary) and then there’s the point of taking PC-ness to the extreme. Embracing other people’s cultures is a sign of progress, IMO. 

And FWIW, many traditionally Hebrew/Jewish names are that because they are Biblical; I don’t feel that Old Testament names are reserved only for those of Jewish ethnicity or religion. But I digress…

Post # 85
Member
5188 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: February 2013

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Woobee:  I think it depends on what you consider a cultural name. My first and middle name are fairly common in the U.S. and are both distinctly Irish in origin. I don’t have a drop of Irish blood in my body. Most biblical names are of Hebrew origin, but of course not every Michael or Rachel out there is Jewish. I’m of the opinion that you can name your kid whatever you want, as long as most people in your particular nation will be able to recognize and pronounce it correctly.

Post # 86
Member
2875 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2015

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OneDayMrsL: thanks! I know I can be a grumpy panda on these boards sometimes because it’s an issue I’ve been dealing with my whole life so I don’t have patience for people who can’t see that trying to learn / grow / understand isn’t a personal attack on German parents who gave their kid a Greek name (as an example) 

i asked a new friend how her thanksgiving went and she said that as someone who is 1/4 Native American she didn’t recognize that holiday. I apologized and she said not to worry because there’s no way I could have known. I think of thanksgiving as togetherness but I should acknowledge the impact of European colonialism on indigenous peoples.

so it happens. It’s how we react and respond that defines us. 

Hopefully that’s not a thread jack but rather context into how each case is its own case. There are lots of shades of gray here. 

Post # 87
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1841 posts
Buzzing bee

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bitsybee:  I definitely agree that there are hundreds of shades of grey in any conversation that delves into the world of cultural minorities and what is and isn’t acceptable. 

I’m not from a cultural minority so I find it really interesting hearing from those who are when topics like this come up. I think it’s easy enough for me to say that if you understand the culture, what the name means and how to pronounce it properly then fair enough, go name your child that, but it’s good to know what people in those minorities or or that ethnicity think about it. For me it boils down to respect. If you respect the culture that the name comes from (enough to know more than just what the name means and how to pronounce it) then I can’t see anything wrong with that. But there comes a point in every childs life when they question where their name comes from, and if you pick a cultural name then you need to be able to explain that culture and name to your child beyond simply saying “it’s a Spanish name that we thought sounded cool”.

Haha, I get grumpy panda sometimes too, it”s ok! 

Post # 88
Member
49 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: August 2015

I don’t understand how anyone could be “offended” at someone using a name from another culture for their child. It’s THEIR child. They can name their kid anything they want. You have no claim to the names in “your” culture. If anything I’d think you would be flattered that people outside your culture are acknowledging and appreciating the historical background and names you grew up hearing about. 

Post # 89
Member
1939 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2018 - City, State

I have nothing of value to contribute to this conversation. But I just wanted to say how interesting I find this thread! 

Fiance and I want to name our future child (if a boy) a very Irish name, despite neither of us being very Irish. However, people probably wont find it very strange. However if we named him Alejandro that would probably raise a lot of questions. 

Its a very interesting concept that I had previously never considered and I’m finding this discussion very enlightening. 

Post # 90
Member
799 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

I grew up knowing several Asher’s – 15+ years ago. There wasn’t a Jewish community in sight. Thought it more or less like any other Bible baby name. 

Also, Darling Husband is 100% Filipino with a hispanic last name and the first name of George. Most hispanics think he’s one of theirs. He’s also been called out as a disgrace for not knowing Spanish until he tells them he’s 100% Filipino – they all have Spanish last names in the Philipines.

I’m white and grew up with a hypenated French and Swedish last name. I’m not even 1% Swedish. It was my dad’s adoped last name from his step-father. 

We’re loving baby names that are English, Scottish, and German. 

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