Saturday, May 2, 2015

Renaming Names

I heard a story on MPR a few days ago about a young woman who was texting while driving. That moment of inattention caused her to hit another car and severely injure a little boy. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to probation and community service. She dropped out of high school to work so she can pay restitution to the family.

And she's speaking out to her generation about distracted driving. That the accidents you think only happen to other people can happen to you. She thinks of the little boy all the time. Good for her, I say.

All of that is background for the purposes of this post, though. The thing I feel compelled to write about is the young woman's first name. Listening to the story on the radio, I assumed it was Cheyenne, but I was wrong.

Her name is spelled Shyann. As in, a shy woman named Ann.

So the next time you hear someone making fun of the first name or the spelling of a first name of a black person, mention Shyann. And remember what Ta-Nehisi Coates said on Twitter about invented names and invented spellings of names:
Would love to read a history of naming. Strongly suspect that there's nothing particularly original about "making up" names. So much of this just comes down to cultural ("racist") snobbery. You hate "Shaniqua." But why precisely? Seriously why? ...not sure why naming your kid "George Washington" because you think he'll have presidential properties is any more legit.

Here's a link to the Star Tribune story.

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