Real Talk? If I Give My Son A “Black” Name, He Might Already Have A Mugshot

September 20, 2013  |  


From MommyNoire

Naming your child is a big decision, and for parents of color, it’s especially loaded. Will my child not be able to get a job if I name him something “too ethnic”? Will he be made fun of in school? An opinion piece on the New York Time’s Motherlode blog puts the whole thing into perspective with a new, sobering perspective. One mom-to-be found that when she Googled potential “black” names for her son, all she saw were mug shots. Nikisia Drayton is expecting a son with her boyfriend, who suggested they name their son Keion. Their friends and family were shocked, with her mother saying flat out, “Hell no…too ghetto.” Drayton was hesitant at first, too, but looking into the name’s origins made her feel better about the decision:

“Keion means ‘born of nobility’ and ‘God is gracious.’ Its origins are eclectic: Hebrew, African, Irish and Hawaiian. I felt in my heart that this should be my son’s name.”

But further digging didn’t have the same positive results:

“I’d accepted ‘Keion,’ but what about the rest of the world? I gave the name what I have now coined the ‘Google test:’ I typed ‘Keion name’ in the image search box. To my surprise, my computer screen loaded images of African-American young men posing for their mug shots. Trying desperately to grasp at straws of hope for my baby boy, I tried a variant of Keion which is spelled K-i-a-n. The results were dramatically different. Smiling photographs of Caucasian males could be seen with every scroll of my mouse. I could not believe the change.”



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  • KamJos

    Blacks in America are so broken.

  • Chanda

    If you gotta give your child a hood name at least have them grow up to be very smart/educated. Maybe they can have a good chance in life after all and not be on a mug shot.

  • FromUR2UB

    Names are the most personal possessions we own, so people really should think about how it’s going to affect their child if they have to go through life defending it or telling people how to pronounce it, or when it’s spelled such a way as to make you wonder if the parents were literate. Wouldn’t that make somebody kind of mean? I don’t mind the REAL African names, but I hate those contrived, made-up names that sound contrived and made-up. I was listening to the Tom Joyner Morning Show the other day, and they mentioned that someone named their child, Abcde (pronounced: ab-si-dee). Someone else named their children, Crayon and Crayola. Was that done with a straight face? A kid’s name shouldn’t be a damned gimmick!

    • KamJos

      First off, a lot of those stories about names aren’t even true and I think it’s telling that Black people in America are completely willing to believe such negative things about themselves.
      Secondly there are many names that White people made up that are common now like Jessica, Vanessa and Wendy. Yet you don’t hear anyone complaining about that.

      • FromUR2UB

        Well, my sisters, Alopecia, Cialis and Q’Ambien, say it’s true.

        • KamJos


  • Ms_Sunshine9898

    I must be the only one also stuck on the fact that she’s unmarried as well . . .

    • Barren Boe

      yea im like the baby has bigger problems than a name…no matter the name an unstable home can result in some mugshots as well

    • JDubb

      What?? ====> The “only one” (which is singular) “also” (which is inclusive of others) stuck on the fact that she’s unmarried. I will let you figure that out.

      And why should the fact that you used the wrong words in a grossly judgemental comment on an online article matter? The same reason why you feel her marital status is any of your business. You should be ashamed.

      • Ms_Sunshine9898

        I am ashamed for her, why make a life long commitment with a child you can’t make with another adult. Stop trying to justify having children out of wedlock in a time when most black children in America are raised by single mothers without fathers in the homes.The fact that they aren’t married makes it even more likely for them to break up and this father to go on his way after the fact. . . Shenanigans . . .

        • JDubb

          Clearly your past has you bound. You need to heal and be delivered.

          FYI – I absolutely believe that people should get married first. But I also understand that not all people have a desire to get married. Good thing you aren’t God. Smh.

          • Ms_Sunshine9898

            Nope, I have no past that you speak of. I know right and wrong and unlike you, I don’t make excuses for it. Don’t bring God into this mix of morals if you’re going do the exact opposite of what He asks us to do: speak out against immoral acts and praised godly ones. Love how people throw out the word “judgement” when someone disagrees with them . . .

            • JDubb

              Me make excuses? Well you are worried about things that does not concern you. It is not your business. Period! Also – I could care less about you disagreeing – I don’t know you from a box of rocks. It just doesn’t matter! Don’t bring God into this??Stop trying to do his job then!

              And once again – I agree that marriage should take place first (esp if you practice a religion that calls for it).

              I am married with no children. By choice. We decided to establish a home first. And we wanted to live according to God’s word. Since you decided to place me in the same category that you apparently despise. I had to correct your judgemental behind. I won’t mention the 2 homes we own and the careers we have built between the both of us. Everyone won’t make the decisions you made but that doesn’t mean they may the wrong decision for their life.

              You poor thing you!! Smh.

              • Ms_Sunshine9898

                I guess you defining your credentials is supposed to make you more creditable huh? Find a few mirrors in those two houses you own and write the word hypocrite. You claim discussions on a public forum don’t concern me yet you return to respond to each my post and defend a choice that people make that you don’t agree with. O-0. . . yeah, lol, ok. Quit trying to be God? Really? You claim you’re trying to live according to God’s word and yet you bash me for questioning why she chose not marry first? *confused look* You might need to find you a new church home lol.
                Judgmental . . . you might want to pull out a dictionary and take a look at again since your desire to establish your credentials compared to me and point out how I must have a history holding me back when while in the same breath accusing me of grouping you in the same category are exactly what it means – you’re judging me based on some opinions of your own and statements I made. Reading is fundamental, I can’t seem to find the part where I called you another unmarried mother. Can’t stick to opinions and facts but rather attack my character. Child please, do better . . .

                • JDubb

                  Her marital status is none of your business. Nor was it the topic of this article. Your opinion is irrelevant.

                  And YES you are the only one stuck on the fact that she is unmarried. Lol.

                  • Ms_Sunshine9898

                    As much as yours is but you are still here aren’t you lol . . .

                    • JDubb

                      And you are still miserable and judgemental. Kmsl.

                    • Ms_Sunshine9898

                      *Yawn* Reading is still fundamental and you still haven’t mastered that or comprehension skills yet . . .

                    • JDubb

                      Lol. So obsolete and bitter!!

  • L-Boogie

    Always look up the name of your child before naming.

  • Bits

    I am soooo tired of people confusing and translating the term ‘African-American’ to automatically mean a ‘black’ person. I’m so sick of labels period.

  • jason vorhees

    This is always going to be tough. Ive seen what HR people do with resumes when they cant pronounce the persons name. They toss them right in the trash. Here is my view of things….name your child all the afrocentric names you want but somewhere in there put a name that is “corporate” ready. Yes there are people with “hood” names that get good if not great jobs. But as ive seen in corporate america they are few and far between. ( at least at the jobs ive worked at). Unless you plan on your child starting their own business, working for a black owned company or becoming a pro athlete/entertainer please believe that resume is going to probably pass through the hands of someone white more than likely.

    • Chanda

      I see where you’re coming from but not everyone wants or is meant to have a “corporate” job even if their name is “Tom” or “Megan”.

      • Alisha Dixon

        Not even “corporate”…I have worked in finance, hospitality, non-profit, etc…ALL of those fields tossed applicants with names that sounded “too ghetto”. Efforts were made to work with those with foreign names that were Russian or German, even names from Southeast Asia, but almost every field I have been in (note, all of my past employers/companies were mainly white) have tossed applicants with names that sounded too hood. The Shaniqua’s and Shawanda’s go straight into the trash. However, I must say that there seems to be more breathing room. Names like Deshon and Aliza and other names that (I personally) would attribute to black applicants, stayed. So…

        I never got the impression that they did not want black staff, but they did not want staff that was “too black” by their standards.

    • Chas

      As someone with a name that’s difficult to pronounce I completely agree. Its nice to want to be unique but you have to think about that child’s future and the world we live in. I had this same discussion with my fiance about baby names. I don’t want someone to pick up my future child’s resume or college application and immediately label them.