Emailed 'news item' claims a U.S. federal judge has ruled that due to the proliferation of 'ridiculous names,' poverty-stricken black women no longer have the right to christen their own children.
Description: Forwarded email / Satire
Circulating since: March 2008
Status: False (see details below)
Email text contributed by Sharon P., March 14, 2008:
Fw: Federal Judge forbids Poor Black mothers from naming their children
After Judge Cabrera’s historic ruling, little Clitoria Jackson will likely undergo a name change.
(DETROIT) In a decision that’s expected to send shockwaves through the African-American community - and yet, give much relief to teachers everywhere - a federal judge ruled today that black women no longer have independent naming rights for their children. Too many black children - and many adults - bear names that border on not even being words, he said.
"I am simply tired of these ridiculous names black women are giving their children," said U.S. Federal Judge Ryan Cabrera before rendering his decision. "Someone had to put a stop to it."
The rule applies to all black women, but Cabrera singled out impoverished mothers. "They are the worst perpetrators," he said. "They put in apostrophes where none are needed. They think a ‘Q’ is a must. There was a time when Shaniqua and Tawanda were names you dreaded. Now, if you’re a black girl, you hope you get a name as sensible as one of those."
Analysis: False. This text first appeared under the byline of Bill Matthews on a blog entitled "The Peoples News." The original posting included this disclaimer: "This article is satire, brought to you by the creative minds at The Peoples News. It’s not real, but we hope it made you think."
There is no federal judge by the name of Ryan Cabrera (though there is a musician by that name), nor has any U.S. judge issued a ruling forbidding black women from naming their own children. So far as I know, there is no real child running around with the unfortunate name "Clitoria Jackson."
The article offers a none-too-subtle take on the familiar theme of impoverished, single black mothers giving their children (especially girls) "distinctively black" first names a real and growing trend both recognized and studied by demographers in recent years. According to a 2004 study based on a sampling of the names given to all children born in California since 1961, over 40 percent of African-American females born in the mid-2000s have names not found at all in the white population; over 30 percent have names that are utterly unique even in the black population. Topping the list of the most popular black names when the study was compiled were Imani, Ebony, Shanice, Aaliyah, and Precious.
A previous study conducted at M.I.T. had already yielded the disturbing finding that employers are 50 percent more likely to interview job applicants who submit resumes with "white-sounding" names at the top than those with "black-sounding" names, regardless of credentials a practice which is both discriminatory and illegal, but very real.
A multi-ethnic trend
That said, it should also be pointed out that it has become a trend in recent years for parents of all ethnic backgrounds to give their children unique-sounding names. "Today, children are christened in honor of sports teams, political parties, vacation spots and food cravings," observes Carlin Flora in Psychology Today. Luxury brand names are especially trendy. "In 2000, birth certificates revealed that there were 298 Armanis, 269 Chanels, 49 Canons, 6 Timberlands, 5 Jaguars and 353 girls named Lexus in the U.S." Which is hardly surprising, writes Flora, in an era when children are viewed as "accessories."
Sources and further reading:
Federal Judge: Enough with the Stupid Names
(Satire) The Peoples News, 2 March 2008
A Roshanda by Any Other Name
Slate, 11 April 2005
Economic Scene; Sticks and Stones Can Break Bones, but the Wrong Name Can Make a Job Hard to Find
New York Times, 12 December 2002
Hello, My Name Is Unique
Psychology Today, March/April 2004
U.S. Babies Get Global Brand Names
BBC News, 13 November 2003
Last updated 12/23/11