As my husband and I are expecting, we are having conversations about what our child’s name should be. During our discussion, we talked about how we want the name to set the child up for success. We discussed if this name were read on a resume, would the employer think our child was white or black? We are both African American and have faced some challenges in our life because of our race. We do not want our child to face those challenges; however, we know that some are inevitable because the way our world is.
Our world is still filled with judgmental people that make decisions based on the color of someone’s skin. Our world is still filled with men thinking that women should not obtain a position because they believe they are not capable. Our world is still filled with people who won’t hire someone based on the color of their skin. We thought maybe we should name our child a name that people would think they were white if they read their name on a paper.
After days of going back and forth, we questioned our thinking. We are falling victim to our system. So what if the name sounds “traditionally black.” Our son or our daughter will be qualified and should be hired based on the experiences we give them and not because of their name. This is the conversation I plan on having with my child as he or she gets older. My parents told me when I was young that I may have to work harder than some just to be afforded the same opportunities and even so, people will still challenge you and think you are not worthy. Sadly, this is something that I may have to tell my child although I hope I don’t.
I began to talk to my husband about his experiences growing up. He has what you would consider an “urban” name. He feels that he has always struggled with interviews and he wondered if people looked at him for who he was. A man never wants to admit the fears, but he said to me it is so hard being a black man. He told me it seems like sometimes the world is against us and people will never know what it is like to walk in our shoes. It’s true; I will never know what it is like to be a black man, the fears they have, the struggles they go through.
It is scary becoming a parent of an African American child these days. You do not know what they will face. The fear our boys will have when they get stopped by the police. You do not know if your daughter will be made fun of or not accepted because of her natural hair. It’s just so much! Needless to say, we didn’t pick a name yet; however, we won’t let our fears stop what name our child will have. We hope that they are accepted for who they are and all the great qualities they have and not judged by their name or color of their skin.
When I think back on this conversation, it is sad to think we are sitting here stressing over what we should name our child when there are a million other things we have to worry about. If we were white, we wouldn’t have to worry about this or many other things. That’s “white privilege.” The sad thing is I can list a few areas where black people are just at a disadvantage or face struggles just because of the color of their skin. We are at a disadvantage to get a job, we are constantly racially profiled, we get discriminated against in health care, for loans we apply for, and by school systems that serve mostly black kids. Others don’t realize what burden this places on us daily, and they never will understand what it is genuinely like to be black in America.