Black Women Writers @ Southwestern University

An English / Feminist Studies / Race & Ethnicity Studies Course Blog

Safe Names


What is in a name?



-meanings etc…

The list can go on and on. Having a different name myself, I literally think of this day in and day out, what do people think when THEY hear my name? Since personally, I think it is cool, but do others? Today with my students at Georgetown High, we started discussing names and how important they are. My cooperating teacher explained to the class that there was a study done (which I am sure most of you are familiar with, or have heard something about) where businesses were given fake resumes, with fake names. The resume with a creative name, was immediately out picked by the person who had a non-original name (I think I got that right.. hopefully–correct me if I’m wrong). I think of this everyday not because of my name, and not because of how, when, or where I land a job, but for my future children. I have always wanted to name my children something creative and fun, but then I have this sitting in the back of my mind.. Will they get jobs, or dirty looks when I give them a different name? Or will they take their name and stride with it and be proud? I say all this because of the names in Americana. They are so interesting and I would love to name my Black children similar names to those of the characters in the novel (because y’all know I have told y’all about my want of adopting a Black child). Should I name my child something interesting or a name such as Ngozi to make it sound better? Of course I am refereeing to when Ifem tells employers that her name is Ngozi just to match the license she has been given, but nonetheless that is her name for a bit. Why are all the White names in the book boring? Are we boring? Do we name our children safe names? For me, I really hope not..


4 thoughts on “Safe Names

  1. I could be totally wrong but I’ve heard of a similar study in sociology where they sent in fake names and resumes and found that typical White American names were chosen over typical Black American ones. Is that the study you’re talking about? Oh and don’t forget it’s Americanah with an H 😀

  2. Oh and also I wanted to say too, that I like your notion of “safe names.” I never had one and it’s a curse and a blessing right? I like my name too. But it has some disadvantages to it. Aramis has been pronounced all sorts of ways around me. It’s funny that I would expect an anglo to mispronounce it, but my hispanic friends even do it. The acentó is always in the wrong place. But oh well. 🙂

    • Yes, unfortunately my computer/phone, whichever I am using at that time, will ALWAYS autocorrect it to Americana and not Americanah. My bad!

      • HAAA too funny x) no worries. and I didn’t wanna be the b that points it out but I just wanted you to be able to give Adichie’s works their full worth 😀

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