A Trayvon by any Other Name
Photo Credit: Taki's Magazine
I received an email today from Indasia M., a reader from Jersey City, NJ who disagreed with a statement I made in my article Today April 9 is National Name Yourself Day- I wrote, and here I paraphrase: "Black children who are Ebonically yclept such as Shaniqwa, Taishown, or Trayvon will end up either in perpetual poverty or prematurely dead."
Indasia wrote that my opinion was the stupidest thing she has ever read. My sweet, dear, misnamed, mistaken Indasia, I was not offering my opinion, but the results of a study done by Steven D. Levitt (of Freakonomics fame) and the black Harvard economist Roland G. Fryer, Jr.:
The Quarterly Journal Of Economics,
Vol. CXIX August 2004 Issue 3,
THE CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES OF DISTINCTIVELY BLACK NAMES [PDF]
One explanation for the prevalence of distinctively Black names is ignorance on the part of Black parents, who fail to appreciate the costs they are imposing on their children through such choices. Audit study results, for instance, suggest that Black names may be punished in the labor market.
a woman with a BNI [Black Name Index] equal to 100 (implying a name that no Whites have) is 20.9 percentage points more likely to have been born to a teenage mother and 31.3 percentage points more likely to have been born out-of-wedlock than a Black woman living in the same zip code with the same age and education, but carrying a name that is equally common among Whites and Blacks.
I certainly would never hire anyone with a name like Shaniqwa or Placenta; as I explained in my article Who B Stupid enuff to name their child LordTyshon?:
If I had a resume in front of me with two candidate names, one David Jones and another Lordtyshon Jones, I certainly would not even think of hiring anyone with an African or ghetto-sounding name.
And no, not because the fellow is black - for all I know David Jones could be Black and Lordtyshon could be white. I wouldn't hire him because anyone stupid enough to go around looking for a job with a moniker like that is not smart enough to work for me. If my birth name were Lordtyshon, God forbid, I certainly would have changed it legally way before going around looking for a job.
As for leading to early death, Trayvon's mother was stupid enough to name him Trayvon, which indicates she was probably too stupid to teach her kid that you don't confront people you don't know, especially in gated communities. If I were a black parent, this would be one of a number of things I would teach my kids: don't run with a TV on your shoulder when other people are looting stores, don't sass cops, don't punch anyone, and so on. My black son absolutely would not have a black name, and he'd be alive even if a neighborhood watch person was following him.
Trayvon is a stupid name, Trayvon was a stupid teen, and now he's stupid dead.