Name Matching Your Race

[deleted account] ( 20 moms have responded )

I have a pretty good rapport with a particular student who is obviously going through an identity crisis. He's 15, so I get the self-esteem part. But, I do find his concern valid. He is biracial-half Mexican half white. He has a very white/light skin complexion but a traditional, common Hispanic first & last name. So he claims that no one believes him that he is Mexican and he is going to change his name. He says he identifies more with his Mexican side and wants his skin to be darker. He said his younger sister has a darker tanned skin tone and looks more Mexican. So I jokingly told him I was going to call him JT (his initials) and he said I can't do that "cause white kids go by initials". Then it prompted further impromptu discussion in the class from all my kids: Black, white, Hispanic about if a name matches your ethnicity and why it's important. They really did come up with a great discussion and valid points. So....I am curious what you think. Should a name match an ethnic backgroud?


Bonnie - posted on 01/09/2011




No I don't think it matters. A name is a name, not who you are inside.


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Sarah - posted on 01/11/2011




My daughter has a name as Irish as it gets.. Ceili (pronounced kay-lee)
I'm 100% Australian and so is my partner.. what of it?
I love irish culture, music, people, name and especially dancing, Yes everyone assumes i am Irish but that doesn't bother me. I loved the name so i chose it lol it shouldn't be any more complicated than that :)

Charlie - posted on 01/09/2011




Meh ! Im Tongan , Australian , Samoan , Irish , German I have an Irish name , I look like an islander and behaves very Aussie .
My kids have English , scottish , latin names , does ethnic background matter ? I don't think so but given our mix we could almost pick anywhere and be connected haha .

Janessa - posted on 01/09/2011




JuLeah Wilson

"Funny, in our history, how many light skinned folks have given up their 'Black' sounding name and passed for White for a 'better life"

Your so wrong lol blacks in those days had european white names from the start from slavery. They passed because of their european looks for a better life not because of their names which was white to start with. They aren't such thing really as a light (white) black person lol . I mean there are albinos if that is what you mean. Anyways you should check your history if your an american because your comments are not true. Certain kinds of blacks started having stupid made up names different then white folks starting around the time of Malcom X and 1970s and so on and still today. Many change their first names because they will have more respect from white people and others for business.

Janessa - posted on 01/09/2011




Race has nothing to do with names or last names. I mean read history books why blacks have spainish, english, french, german ect so n last names and names. So with that said should I have a african name because I am black? when i have no ties to africa and only know about what the master told my ancestors. This issue is a little deep for some of us. For the most part majority of other ethancity matches their last name and name but for some of us we have a deep history of the reasons why. Mexican is not a race lol Mexicans are native people which belong in the asian group,white or black those are the 3 main groups of race living in mexico. They no such thing is a mexican last name it is spainish from europe that is what majority of their last names come from. Some keep their native names and other have other european or middle eastern last names. Mexico is actually very diverse country.

Stifler's - posted on 01/09/2011




I don't even know what my cultural heritage is. So I just name my kids whatever I like and I think my parents and their parents did too.

Joanna - posted on 01/09/2011




I think it's great to embrace your heritage and use cultural names, but your name is yours, it's who you are, your race doesn't have to have anything to do with it.

[deleted account]

It always bugged me that my mom stuck me with an Irish name (I'm scottish) and my sister with a scottish name (shes irish) but thats just mildly irritating. My son's father wanted to name him Makaih or something and it really doesn't match my sons ethnicity so I chose a more appropriate name. The kicker is my hunni's nephew has that name and is the same ethnicity as my son so obviously its not a big deal to other people. When it comes to hearing other peoples names who dont match their ethnicity or colour I don't care but to deliberately name my child a name that would imply them being a different race than the one they are it just seems like im setting them up for unwanted attention. I mean kids have enough to deal with regarding peers why set them up to be centered out because of their name? In a situation like your student though I don't think his parents did anything wrong by naming him a spanish name, he is mexican and identifies with his culture so who cares the colour of his skin. If he is that opposed to having his name sound "white" and there seems to be a problem when he goes by his more ethnic name then I'd tell him to go tanning if that was the only thing standing in his way of being comfortable with his heritage. I have a friend who has a skin disorder, she was black when she was born just like her parents and siblings but now she is almost completely white. She has a very generic white name and because of her appearance people don't believe her that she isnt white. She actually had some idiot charged with hate crime, she tried to kick this guy out of her house during her party because he was telling offensive racist jokes, he laughed at her because he figured as a "white" person she should get it or something, when she and everyone in the room informed him that she was black and has every right to be horribly offended he attacked her. The police got called and from the way she described it you've never seen an idiots mouth drop so much as when the police informed him he was being charged with assault under the hate crime law. People need to realise in this day and age you have black people who look like white people, white people that look like native people, native people that look like Irish people, and so on and so forth. So when are people going to give up on judging by the colour of your skin or accents in your name?I just laugh because the severe racists are gonna end up with heartattacks lol. Anyway like I said I'm fine with people naming their kids whatever they like but when it comes to my kids I try and keep it pretty basic and simple just to save them from possible mockery on the playground.

[deleted account]

As an adult, no I don't believe neccesarily needs to represent an ethnic identity. BUT, from a teenager's point of view, I can understand the "fitting in" part.
We read the novel "The House on Mango Street" earlier in the year and I'm sure this is where the young man is getting it from. The character is Hispanic, and her name is Esperanza. She wanted to change her name to Stephanie to fit in with her white school friends. My student relates to his Mexican side of his family, his dad's side, although he is raised by his white grandmother. I can't say that he is right, nor wrong in his feelings. I just listen to him.

Hailey - posted on 01/09/2011




Im from the UK but my little girls name is Liesel (austrian). My little boys name is Blake (no idea where that is from) and i am thinking of calling my next Priya if its a girl. I think its pretty, lovely feel to it and not sure where its from. I dont think it matters at all.

Sharon - posted on 01/09/2011




I just found my moms' name on a website, LMFAO Omg it sooooo totally fits her!! She's gonna pissed I know about it! ROTFL!!

Sharon - posted on 01/09/2011




No it shouldn't. Unless you want it to.

I'm rather sad my kids didn't get japanese names. I really wanted all of them to have japanese names but really I only knew a few characters from TV & movies and my relatives names and my mother objected VEHEMENTLY against ethnic japanese names, she was afraid it would stop them from achieving anything in the United States and she refused to supply me with any names she liked. Finding japanese only name books at our local bookstores was difficult to say the least.

Maybe I'll pick three names and tell the kids its what I would have named them had I known (now that I have access to the internet) and see if they want to keep them.

Its weird? No one doubts my kids when they say they're part japanese?

Rosie - posted on 01/09/2011




i feel it's kinda sad that this kid feels he needs to have darker skin and a ethnic name to feel like WHAT HE ALREADY IS. i don't know, maybe it's just the teenage thing, but it really bothers me that this kid doesn't realize he's half mexican AND half white. he has both in him, and he should embrace both, instead of feeling he needs to be more one than the other.
is his dad white, and leave? maybe that's why he feels such a strong connection to the mexican side of him. it's all he knows?

i feel people should just stop worrying about what a name represents, but who they actually are inside.

Mrs. - posted on 01/07/2011




Strangely Lacye...being a Rebecca, most people think I'm Jewish, not a WASP. Course, I'm not but I guess people have a lot of different ideas about what names go with what groups.

Personally, I really wanted to honour my fiance's French Canadian side my giving my daughter a french name and continuing the very French-Catholic tradition of having three given names. Of course, so many of my friends have opted for names from a ton of different cultures of which they may or may not belong to. I'm really wanting to name my next child, if it's a girl, Annika which is traditionally Scandinavian...and I'm not at all Scandinavian.

[deleted account]

I think that's part of the issue. This particular kid is being raised by his white grandmother. He sees his dad on weekends, and his mother is not in the picture at all. I know there are other family dynamcis going on, but the grandmother is also a teacher and her whole thing is having him focus on school instead of wanting to drop out of school & hang out in South Phoenix. But from the kid's point of view, that's where his Mexican side of the family is. I love teaching in a racially diverse area, and sad to say that yes, in a school atmosphere, a lot of kids are still semi-divided in the groups of kids they hang with by racial group. Like I said, the kids & I had a great discussion about if a name should match your ethnicity. During the discussion, one of my Black students (and class comedian) made a comment about himself. He has a very dark skin tone and has a unique, unusual name. He stood up and and he feels his name fits him and said "C'mon Mrs. Fonzo, do I really look like a Bobby or a Joey"? In a way, I had to agree with him.

JuLeah - posted on 01/07/2011




There is no should, in my opinion. Kids are often given family names, names of dear friends ... so they come from community and get handed down. But, I think this kid is in a good place. He doesn't have to 'look' Mexican to be Mexican - it is who he is inside, not his skin color that counts
Funny, in our history, how many light skinned folks have given up their 'Black' sounding name and passed for White for a 'better life'
How many wished they were lighter in color .... kind of cool really, to find a kid who wants to more who he is, darker, and viewed as 'not white'

Shauna - posted on 01/07/2011




Only if the parents want it to. i dont think the child would think of it being a "mexican" name if his/her parents didnt talk about it being that way. its how you are raised.

Johnny - posted on 01/07/2011




No. But then I live in an extremely ethnically diverse area. Just in my co-op we have a kid who is half caucasian Canadian / half Mexican with an Italian name. And a half Quebecois / half Scottish girl with an Indian name. So locally, I seriously doubt anyone would notice. We have a large Asian population here, and very few of them use Asian names. Most have either westernized their names upon immigration or were given those names at birth. My mother's maiden name and my maiden name were both first names for Asian boys at my highschool. So there were Chinese kids with Scottish & Norwegian surnames for first names.

I can see it being an identity issue though, in places where there may be a more intense racial divide between just two or three groups or something and people want to be identified with one of those groups.

[deleted account]

my name is french, gabbys name is Italian. We are Scotch/Irish. pretty soon with all the bi-racial couples, different races wont exist :P

Lacye - posted on 01/07/2011




I don't think so. I think it just promotes more racial diversity than what people need. I know when I was in Job Corps (it's a program in the United States where 16-24 year olds can go and get a trade skill, like nursing assistants, and the government pays you to go there) I was one of the people that went there that helped out the new students to fit in on their first week. We were called student counselors. There was one week, a girl was coming and she was supposed to be my advisee, we would get the advisee names before they showed up. Now the girl I was supposed to get was named Rebecca, normally a "white" name. Yes I did assume she was going to be white. She was black. I hate that some people label names "white" names or "black" names or anything like that. Yes I am very guilty of doing it, as I just explained, but that particular moment taught me to not expect the expected. LOL

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