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

posted 5 years ago in Babies
Post # 107
Member
1312 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: A very pretty church.

KatieBklyn: Great essay.

Post # 108
Member
2902 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

On the other hand, I can think of a kid I know whose name sort of borders on cultural appropriation in a way that made a lot of people sort of side-eye the parents a bit. Basically, my friends (who are white, as is the kid in question) named their son a very stereotypically African-American name. When they first started having the discussion about what to name him, this name came up as sort of a “wouldn’t it be funny if…” sort of thing, but eventually they realized they really loved the name. Is that cultural appropriation? Maybe. Maybe not. I think it’s worth discussing, though. 

So yeah, I think maybe it’s worth thinking about the intent behind things and critically examining them. Maybe it’s the difference between a non-Irish family naming their daughter Niamh because they think it’s beautiful, and a white family naming their daughter Shaniqua because “LOL OMG how funny would it be to name a little white girl Shaniqua?” 

  • This reply was modified 4 years, 10 months ago by  KatieBklyn.
Post # 109
Member
1845 posts
Buzzing bee

KatieBklyn:  Maybe it’s the difference between a non-Irish family naming their daughter Niamh because they think it’s beautiful, and a white family naming their daughter Shaniqua because “LOL OMG how funny would it be to name a little white girl Shaniqua?”<br />

I think this really hits the nail on the head. For me it’s all about the reason behind why the parents chose that name. When it starts as a joke like the latter I don’t think it’s appropriate but if the parents have researched the name and are choosing it because they love the name and it’s meanings then I, personally, don’t see a problem with it. 

Post # 110
Member
1312 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: A very pretty church.

I know that I have been (and probably will be in the future) guilty of cultural appropriation. It’s a hard habit to break when it’s fun “oooh, exotic!” “cool” “unique” (because you’re not thinking it through) and there are no serious consequences for you…if you’re a member of the majority ethnicity/more powerful culture where you are.

It takes effort to step back and say, “just because this doesn’t hurt me and there’ll be no negative consequences” (for me) doesn’t make X (that I want to do) okay and “denying” myself something that was never mine is not oppression.

I know that I am privileged, but it’s hard to translate that abstract knowledge to day-to-day life, because it is hard to know what you are (thankfully) ‘missing’ (eg. NOT experiencing multiple oppressions on a daily basis).

Which is my very long way of saying I wore colourful stick on bindis when I was 12 because that’s what hippy kids did apparently and I have made my peace with never naming any future daughters Sakura or Hanabi.

Oh, and if you visit Australia please don’t climb Uluru http://www.parksaustralia.gov.au/uluru/do/we-dont-climb.html 

Post # 111
Member
559 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: January 2014

OneDayMrsL:  You think ‘4Real’ is bad? There was another couple in New Zealand that named their daughter ‘Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii’ …….

Post # 112
Member
559 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: January 2014

Woobee:  “PS I’m not trying to say that ethnic names would/should hinder someone’s job search (although we sadly know that this can be the case).  I’m saying that if your name is Krissidina or Broxtinn people might give you the side-eye.”

I honestly hope people are more open-minded than this. I have a very weird name that only Swedish people recognise upon hearing… and there are not many Swedes in Australia. In addition, my parents made up the spelling (it’s spelt phonetically as opposed to the odd Swedish spelling) so I’m the only person in the world with my name.

I’m only one quarter Swedish and my other half is Asian, so most people struggle pronouncing my name and understanding the cultural connection. I usually get one of two responses: wow that’s a pretty name! or wow, that’s an unusual name……..

It took me years to come to terms with my name being so unique but now I love it. It would be very disappointing for people to judge me based on my name.

Post # 113
Member
983 posts
Busy bee

This is a really interesting conversation, unfortunately some people are just thinking that the OP is attacking their right to name their kids. 

I love love love Native American and First Nations Canadian names (e.g. Rainbow Sun Francks from stargate) but as I am not from either culture I would feel it’s was culturally appropriative of me to name my child Rainbow and it would likely not have the same significance. I feel the line is a bit more blurred in terms of Jewish or Irish or Welsh names but that’s probably my own ignorance showing. Also I would never name my child without first doing research into the name meaning and ensuring the spelling was accurate. 

Also, thank you KatieBklyn:  for posting that link!

Post # 114
Member
1784 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

Cultural appropriation usually means white people taking something they think is cool and shiny out of it’s cultural context and using it to be trendy and unique, while people who are actually from that culture are still shat on as weird and foreign for it.  That’s what makes it different from cultures being naturally shared and mixing.

I’m white, my husband is Japanese, and we live in Japan.  I’ve seen people freak out and stumble over his name while we’re visiting the US, despite it being easy to say and spelled exactly like it sounds.  When I posted the baby names I was thinking about here, there were a couple of comments along the lines of “I’d find them annoying to pronounce” and “I only like traditional, classic names.”  And while I was researching the baby names, I found blogs by Japanese Americans who have lived with the microagressions around their names for their whole lives, so I can see how it’s frustrating to see someone who isn’t having a kid with any Japanese heritage just wanting to name their kid a cool anime name.

So basically, if the name is “cool” and “unique” on a white kid, but “I can’t pronounce that” and “Why don’t you have a normal name?” on a kid from that culture, is appropriation and you shoudn’t do it.

Post # 115
Member
928 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2011

Jabberwocky:  Wow, I think this is an awesome explanation and really clarifies a lot of these issues for me. Thanks!!

Post # 116
Member
9444 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

All names started somewhere. My great grandmother’s name was Stefania, but when she came to the US from the Ukraine she changed it to Stella. Does that mean she shouldn’t have used that name since it’s not Ukranian? Or is it okay since it was so long ago? Name trends are constantly and forever changing.

Darling Husband and I personally like a lot of Irish names, but we have no ties to the culture.

Post # 117
Member
1234 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

As a Native American (Navajo) I would find it offensive if an obviously white couple named their child a Native American name or word- I don’t mean something like “Storm Cloud” or “Black Wolf” because those are English words- I mean the original Native language (like Dakota). I know a lot of people just do things with no bad intentions but ignorance can be hurtful- Ive had to explain to many friends why the cute tee pees in their kids rooms a la Pinterest is offensive.

Post # 118
Member
1234 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

To everyone who keeps chiming in about loving Irish names but aren’t Irish, etc etc. I’m pretty sure the OP meant cultural appropriation as White people choosing “ethnic” (non white) names. And by white I mean Anglo-Bibilical (I know, people of the bible weren’t white but names like Samantha, John, etc are seen as “white classical” names here in the USA). I don’t think the OP meant it that if you’re not Irish you shouldn’t pick Sean or whatever. And really, no one seems to know that Cohen is Jewish??

  • This reply was modified 4 years, 10 months ago by  fiver.
Post # 119
Member
5111 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: December 2014

fiver:  Just a question…

Would it still be offensive to you if that “obviously white” person actually had a significant Native American hertitage, they just appear white? The reason that I ask is because my Fiance is 1/4 Native American, his maternal grandmother is full blooded. If he chose a name that honored his grandmother’s tribe (Cherokee), would that be offensive because he, himself, has pale skin and is “obviously white” to the eye? I’m not saying we would name our kid a Cherokee name, I’m just curious. 

ETA: One of my best friends from childhood is also 1/4 Native American, but presents as Native American much more because she is also 1/4 Mexican. The other half of her heritage is French Canadian. She identifies most strongly with her Native heritage, despite her Native American father being adopted by white people and having no real ties to her tribe or other Native relatives. Would it be ok if she chose a Native American name because her skin is darker, even though she doesn’t have any real ties to her tribe?

  • This reply was modified 4 years, 10 months ago by  SithLady.
Post # 120
Member
1234 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

 

SithLady:  

Yeah, I knew as I was typing that that was the wrong wording (I mean John Lennon’s son looks totally white but he is half Japanese!). I guess if there were circumstances where I knew a kid’s name I would probably know his or her parents a bit too? I’ve never actually encountered the “Native American name on a white kid” scenario before. I think as long as you are choosing the name as a personal tribute/significance because you have roots in it,its ok. I know a lot of people think it’s an honor to name your football team after native american’s but its not honoring them at all.

 

I would be pissed if Johnny Depp started going by his “tribal name” or whatever. He isn’t Native but he was “adopted” by a tribe when he was getting a ton of flack for portraying a Native American in The Long Ranger.

  • This reply was modified 4 years, 10 months ago by  fiver.

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