Clitoria Jackson and the okie doke

Posted: March 28, 2008 in Uncategorized

While online this morning, I came across the following piece of “news”:

(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.” Few stepped forward to defend black women—and black women themselves seemed relieved. It’s so hard to keep coming up with something unique,” said Uneeqqi Jenkins, 22, an African-American mother of seven who survives on public assistance. Her children are named Daryl, Q’Antity, Uhlleejsha, Cray-Ig, Fellisittee, Tay’Sh’awn and Day’Shawndra.

Beginning in one week, at least three white people must agree with the name before a black mother can name her child. “Hopefully we can see a lot more black children with sensible names like Jake and Connor,” Cabrera said. His ruling stemmed from a lawsuit brought by a 13-year-old girl whose mother created her name using Incan hieroglyphics. “She said it would make me stand out,” said the girl, whose name can’t be reproduced by this newspaper’s technology. “But it’s really just stupid.”

The National Association of Elementary School Teachers celebrated Cabrera’s decision. “Oh my God, the first day of school you’d be standing there sweating, looking at the list of names wondering ‘How do I pronounce Q’J’Q’Sha.’?” said Joyce Harmon, NAEST spokeswoman. “Is this even English?” The practice of giving black children outlandish names began in the 1960s, when blacks were getting in touch with their African roots, said historian Corlione Vest.

But even he admits it got out of hand. “I have a niece who’s six. I’m embarrassed to say I can’t even pronounce her name,” said Vest, a professor at Princeton University. “Whenever I want to talk to her, I just wait until she looks at me and then I wave her over.” Cabrera’s ruling exempted black men because so few of them are actually involved in their children’s lives.

This news has apparently been creating a lot of buzz online. So as usual, I began to cross check the information with other news sources. For starters, out of all the news wires out there, this story is not covered by one of them. Second, any Google search for the “Federal judge” that supposedly ruled in this case (Federal Judge Ryan Cabrera) only brings up this particular article. Third, while I am aware of a National Association of Elementary School Principals, this is the first I have heard of The National Association of Elementary School Teachers. Again, any Google search for the latter will bring up this article. Same goes for any search for Princeton University professor Corlione Vest.

Finally, while I can agree that some of our names can get a bit out of hand, I have never seen names like Q’J’Q’Sha, Tay’Sh’awn or most of the others listed in this article.

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Comments
  1. Peg says:

    Duane – I think that this is someone’s notion of satire……

    All that being said – I must admit I am more in favor of “normal” names – no matter what your background or race! Let each of us find our own individuality in life – and NOT have to go through it signing “Clitoria Jackson” on everything…

    If ya know what I mean.

  2. Ms. Johnson says:

    With all due respect to this matter, no one should give their children embarassing names such as “Clitoria”. However, you should be allowed to name your children any respectable name that you wish without a WHITE PERSONS approval. Concider your childrens lives when you are giving them their name. You can be different and unique without offending your child or society. You are eliminating your child’s chance to even get a reply for a job interview with a name like Clitoria. Why create the unnecessary havoc in their life. Everyone should not have to have a name like Sarah,Becky, Robert or Michael in order to be respected?! All of my children have cultured names with 3.5 gpa’s and their names have made no difference within their acidemic achievements. Let’s just keep it real.

  3. Give it a rest! says:

    “You are eliminating your child’s chance to even get a reply for a job interview with a name like Clitoria.”

    Somehow I get the impression that people that would actually name their child Clitoria are NOT really concerned of even considering the notion of a “Job interview”.

  4. Samantha says:

    Is this from The Onion? I have to confess to laughing at many of the names in my younger sister’s junior high year book a couple of years ago. So many of the names just screamed “poorly educated teenage mother” I couldn’t help myself. Some things are so sad that you can only shake your head and laugh.

  5. helois thomas says:

    Some of these young women don’t know what their children names mean.The woman that named her child ‘clitoris’ probaly don’t know where hers is , she can always change the spelling to be pronounced differently.

    Clitoreese

  6. helois thomas says:

    Cli’torreise

  7. Peg says:

    This “white woman” happens to have the same opinion about names – irrespective of race! I went to school with a white Candy Cane… I knew of a white Fonda Dicks. (Would I kid all of you?) My (white) high school counselor’s name was Thomas Thomas.

    I have nothing against ethnic names, names from the “old country” … My personal opinion, however, is that parents shouldn’t saddle a child with a name that might give that child difficulties later in life. Don’t we all have enough problems without a name that can garner ridicule?

    Of course – all this is nothing more nor less than my opinion – and – everyone is entitled to their own!

  8. brotherbrown says:

    I have to admit that struck me right off as urban myth, but I do appreciate the sentiment.

    Perhaps there should be a once-per-lifetime free-of-charge name change law that allows adults to correct mistakes made by their parents. For example, Dwyane Wade should be allowed to change the spelling of his name to Dwayne, and Antawn Jamison should correct his to Antwan.

  9. Duane says:

    Thank for submiting that link. This part stuck out to me the most:

    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.”

  10. Saudia says:

    PLEASE TELL ME THAT YOU PEOPLE ARE JOKING!! Who are you to tell anyone what they should or should not name their child. I have never been so incensed by anything on this site as I am about this. Normally Duane I accept our differences of opinions as just that but this is offensive. I am utterly disgusted!!! By the way my mother was married and has a great deal of education an still choose to give me this great name.

  11. Paula K says:

    It seemed a little outlandish to me for a judge to have the right to tell “all black women” what she can or can’t name her child. Although a lot of people- give their children crazy names, we have to admit in WE all know at least one “momma” who has fallen off her rocker! But this is not real, check snopes.(see link)

    I can give some real examples. One of my in-laws has children named:

    Recognize, Keloid, Champaigne, Damiracle… come on now!

    http://www.snopes.com/humor/iftrue/blacknames.asp

  12. MrKittyKilla138 says:

    Come on people!! Do you reall y think a ruling like that would fly?? This is obviously a joke. I would even venture to bet it was written by a Black person. Many times in an attempt to make a point we (Black People) will make an over the top, satirical statement like this. The thing that really blew me aways was when it said that there would be some kind of approval panel of three white women. Ha-Haaaa! Okay here’s my satire: with all the kids the lowly educated impoverished mothers are having there would not be enough white women to do the job. Just kidding. Im Black too, so now responses about me being a racist please. Look, it is true everyone deserves the right to name their children whatever they like. They also have the responsibility to ensure that the name is not one that would limit the childs opportunities in the future. thats all welll and good. I think the bigger issue and the lesson to be taught here is that we have gone too far in some cases. We do need to tone it down bit. By all means stay ethnic if you choose, but names like Clitoria Jackson and Q’J’Q’Sha (clearly exaggerations) are just outta control and even we as Black people are tired of it. In closing, No. My Mom didn’t name me MrKittyKilla138. LOL!!

  13. Saudia says:

    I am sure the story is not real but my outrage at some of the comments that were made here is very real.

  14. MrKittyKilla138 says:

    Now, Now Saudia. Calm down. Remember this is SATIRE. Its just a joke. The common response to a joke is unemployed comedians tring to co-sign(add on) to the joke. We do need to take a look at some of the names we are giving our children. Your name isn’t difficult at all, nor is it offensive or embarrasing. This is not really racial issue but it is fueled by racism. And not in a negative way. Some other races just dont understand certain things that certain other races do. In this case many races (and maybe classes) dont understand our naming methods. Our desire to be flamboyant yet unique. To honor certain family members and to still be unique. Thats just part of our flair baby. Its part of our culture. To rebirth an old, but very true phrase: It IS a black thing. And some just dont understand. Race is a very big issue in our country. For years we have been told we are a melting pot. I was born and raised in the US of A, but my family lines are in St. Lucia. I dont want to fall into a melting pot. I dont want to melt down into some molten commonality for socia-political correctness and acceptance. I would much rather be a tossed salad. Where every peice of lettuce, cheese, and tomato maintains its own flavor, when put together create a pallate pleaser, and drape ourselves in the common salad dressing of Old Glory herself. Now thats a great country

  15. kouta says:

    Come on Saudia, it seems that you are taking things too personal. Sounds like it has hit home with you. I believe we all need to respect each view point of why these under-educated young parents name their kids. We don’t have to accept, just respect it. Personally I’m tired a hearing all these crazy wild names. I’m a 70’s child, so I come from the Black power movement that started all these individual, independent Black naming craze. Yes, growing up I was ashamed of my name because it was very different from just about everybody in the schools I attended. I actually told my teachers to call me by another name so I could fit in.

    Thats the problem with everybody not just black people, peer pressure will build up and consume our thought process.

    I am proud to say that I conquered my self-loathing of my name in high school. It took a minute, but I gained that self-respect and knowledge to know that hey this is my name, it means something, its extremely empowering as a young Black man to know that you do have to stand and embrace whats given to you.

    My name is Kouta pronounced Koo-tay. Now is it my fault that Black and White people who hear my name and when I spell my name out they still hear something else. My argument against the point that people make about kids with those crazy names is they won’t get an interview with a company with a name like that. My debate is we as a people need to stop under-educating our kids. Teaching our kids to be good little employees and become part of the working poor class of citizens. Thats people who go to work everyday and live below the poverty line. IF WE can buy into education freeing us from the bondages of poverty, crime and lack of mid to high paying jobs we could win that battle. My point I’m making is IF we can shift our thought process away from working for DA MAN and building and establishing a foundation so we can have our own successful businesses.

    Black people love to say everybody is not built for college. I say you’ll never know unless you go and find out for yourself. I read someone’s post earlier that they Googled some things pertaining to the hoax article about “Clitoria”. Google was started by some college kids as well as Microsoft. If you people don’t understand that statement we’re lost as a people.

  16. shaniqua smith says:

    Black mothers should be able to name their kids whatever the heck they want, granted it should be tasteful. This has gone too far, I’ll be damned if I let someone else name my baby after I done worked to conceive, carry it, and deliver, hell no!

  17. “CONDOLEEZA!”

    “CON-DOH-LEE-ZAH!”

    “CONDOLEEZA, you ain’t never gonna be nothin!”

    “Tell me, where are your cousins CONDI?”

    “LONGWAVIOUS! PAMFERNICIA! DIBLONGRADAVIOUS! It’s time for dinner!”

  18. M.D. says:

    I must say, when I first saw this article, I was a little upset. Who is anyone to tell another human bieng what they can or cannot name their child? But as I read on, I began to laugh. It is funny how we can laugh at ourselves while discussing an important issue within our community. Really people, these ridiculous names have to stop. Why oh why would you name your child “Lacresha” or “Sha-na-eeka”? I say this because I know people with these names. How would anyone take you seriously. But I guess just like Dynamite Soul said: CONDOLEEZA! Hey, you NEVER know.

  19. Charles says:

    I found this thread because I was trying to demonstrate out to one of my aunts that the article was, indeed, satire. I’ve enjoyed reading the debate. My aunt is a teacher in southern Louisiana. While I have to wonder at the fact that a well educated person would believe this article (she did at least admit skepticism), I have to admit that I also understand her confusion.

    You see, she’s had students in her class with some rather strange names. The “best” ones definitely go to some of the twins:

    Lewasher and Ledryer, and Lemonjello and Oranjello (by way of explanation, the latter pair’s mother admitted she wasn’t expecting twins, so she named them after her favorite foods).

    Nobody should ever be told what to name their children, but a little guidance (perhaps from a caring grandmother, aunt, or mentor?) might go a long way. . .

  20. ButtaflySista says:

    This is very interesting… i agree all people, of all races should give their children names that the children themselves can be proud of, something with substance and meaning, where they won’t have any issues throughout life with having to explain to the world how to pronounce their name!!

    But… if i as a black woman choose to name my daughter rain or summer or my son seven, grey or midnight, they may not like it and then i am restricted from being orignial

    is it just the spelling and pronunciation of the names that will allow these laws to take place?

  21. charles says:

    And we have a winner! The Star-Telegram (Fort Worth) published a story about a shooting (http://www.star-telegram.com/804/v-print/story/568196.html)

    involving two sisters: “Nahtica” (a miss spelling for “Nautica”?) and “Cash’Monae.”

    Maybe the parents will decided to push their luck with the next child and name it “Lah’Terie” . . .

  22. Ebony says:

    First of all, this story is SO BOGUS, I don’t know how anyone reading it on other websites or in their email ends up taking it seriously after reading it. The language is so loaded and lacks objectivity in a way that screams fake journalism.

    Second of all, if Clitoria were a person’s name (which it probably is somewhere in America), that person would be named after a genus of tropical flowers. Just because the person reading it is ignorant of its meaning doesn’t mean their mother or father didn’t have the right to give her child that name. I must say that I have seen some names that have made me cringe, but I would never advocate for taking away a person’s right to name their child whatever they please. I am most certainly in favor of parents giving their children names that actually have meanings, even if the parents themselves have signified the meaning.

    Teachers and other people can’t pronounce a lot of names, but that also often has to do with the fact that we as Americans are averse to anything that doesn’t look like English and haven’t taken the time to learn or respect other languages. Mutaqee (pronounced: moo-TOC-ee) actually means “pious one” and has way more meaning than “hound-lover” (the meaning of Connor), but lacking respect for other cultures or for the fact that non-English names can actually have valid significance, most of us would want to cuss Mutaqee’s mother out, too, not taking into consideration that perhaps she wanted a child with a meaningful name, not just a name that was “acceptable”…and acceptable to WHO? Chances are MOST people’s parents don’t even know what their names mean, “acceptable” and “normal” as they may be. There are plenty of mommas who didn’t know they were naming their child “hound-lover” when they gave them the name Connor.

    I would encourage people to slow their roll when they make judgement on a person’s name. Instead of sayin’, “What the hell kinda name is that?!” ask a person what their name means or why their parents named them that. You’d be surprised at the stories you’ll get that go a lot deeper than picking something out of a baby names book or beyond “They thought that people wouldn’t know my ethnicity (might even think I was white) when they saw my name on my resume.”

    P.S. Lucretia is actually an elite, Southern white name. I’ve come across this name for rich, older white women quite often in my work.

  23. D'zreya says:

    Yo that judge be trippin’ and his ruling is whack!

    I see him down the mall I’m all like in his face with “what you talkin’ bout Willis?!”

    DAMN.

  24. billlee dalton washington says:

    i am changing my name from billlee washington
    to clitoria jones

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