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I worked in child support enforcement and the names I encountered were ridiculous and Exhibit 1 in legislation to not allow crackheads to name their children without help. We had Beautifull (yes 2 lls) with a half sister SoFine. There was Dwaynesha; Na’ausha (father Nathaniel); interestingly Na’ausha was a twin with a brother Nathaniel, Jr, which blood tests revealed to not be in fact Nathaniel Jr, so the twins had different fathers — CLASSY.
—Anonymous commenter, Stuff Black People Hate.

The polar opposite of Preppy Name — but somehow, they're not that different...

Over the last 30 years, a trend popped up for poor — most stereotypically black — people to give their daughters flowery, Sue-ish names — often intentionally misspelled, unusually pronounced, and grandiose. Media find this endlessly amusing, and names like this are now tied to all the stereotypes about poor [black] people (poor white people get "Cletus" and "Billy Bob" as stereotypical names in this context). If you see anyone with a name like "Sha'quayla Joniqua LeBrontayyy" in a comedy, she's an automatic Acceptable Target — probably an obese Sassy Black Woman with multiple kids who serves as an attempted Plucky Comic Reliefif she's lucky.

This style of naming is a Truth in Television, as a lot of people can attest — but it's not usually as exaggerated as seen in fiction. Different people have different standards — and to some people, a name may seem "ghetto" when really, it's just an unfamiliar name. Names that are explicitly African or Arabic would not count, for instance. But if it's something the parents clearly made up or saddled with an "inventive" spelling, it would. The same problem hits 'white' names like Apple, though the white American names do not have the patterns displayed in black names. This trend came out from civil rights movement and an attempt by blacks to reclaim their African names and reject the white given and surnames forced upon their ancestors.....it ended up that many blacks in the US did not change their last (family) names, which was their "real" slave name unless the name came from non-slave intermarriage with Irish or another white ethnic group.

A possible subtrope of Unfortunate Names and Unfortunate Implications, if the name is outlandish enough.

Examples of Ghetto Name include:


Live Action TV

  • Mad TV's Bon Qui Qui skits.
    • There's also Bunifa Latifah Halifah Sharifa Jackson.
  • Reality Television is notorious for these; the more ridiculous name the black contestant has, the grosser the stereotype she will be. Examples are Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth from The Apprentice and NaOnka Mixon from Survivor — and it turned out in the last episode that NaOnka's mother is named Zena.
  • Saturday Night Live: Finesse Mitchell's character Starkisha. He has a whole bit about Ghetto Names here.
  • Martin's crass neighbor Shanaenae.
  • Parodied on Mind of Mencia where the concept of Immigrant/Minority baby names are mostly based on Line of Sight Names such as "TopRamenisha," "USNavy"[1], and "Shi-thead"[2].
  • On Thirty Rock in the episodes "Queen of Jordan" and "Queen of Jordan 2: The Mystery of the Phantom Pooper", Angie has a Gay Best Friend named D'Fwan. This is used for puns when he makes his own wine, D'Fwine that you should d'fwink responsibly.

Film

  • LaFawnduh (sp?) from Napoleon Dynamite.
  • Groans and eye-rolls were to be had when Loretta Divine's character in Crash, whose only trait was being a Sassy Black Woman, said her name is Shaniqua Johnson. Not only was the character annoying, but "Shaniqua" is usually the default stereotypical name when someone invokes this trope.
  • Dissected and analysed in Freakonomics. A surprising inversion was of two brothers, Winner and Loser Lane. Loser, who now answers to 'Lou', grew up to become a successful police sergeant. His brother Winner, on the other hand, wound up behind bars.
  • Yonica Babyyeah, a Middle Eastern pop idol in War, Inc. Subverted in that she turned out to be not only Caucasian, but the long-lost daughter of John Cusack's character.
  • Bebe's Kids has Jamika, Kahlil, LaShawn, Pee Wee and Dorthea. Lampshaded in the scene where Leon, Kahlil and LaShawn are looking for novelty license plates with their names.

 Leon: Found mine!

Kahill: How come we can't ever find our names?

LaShawn: Yeah, I know four girls named LaShawn. How come we don't have a license plate?

New Media

  • The Onion once put together a chart (that was Actually Pretty Funny) of the most popular baby names by ethnicity. Among the "black" entries: "Propecia and Sinutab"

Literature

Stand Up Comedy

  • Finesse Mitchell has a bit about this, with hypothetical names such as Escalade (pronounced Es-ca-LA-day), Vaseline (VAZ-lin) and Gonorrhea (Go-NOR-ia). In another bit he actually discusses how Finesse is not his stage name, his mom was either going to name him that or Hairdresser.

Video Games

Western Animation

  • Dijonay from The Proud Family. She and her siblings are named after spices.
    • P-Bo (Peebo?) from the same series
  • Leshawna from Total Drama Island, although her cousin has the more over-the-top name "Leshaniqua."

Real Life

  • Actually analyzed here. Girls with such names tend to do poorly—not because of the names themselves, but because they are associated with the poor and uneducated.
  • The urban legend of "Le-a", pronounced "Ledasha". The dash don't be silent.
  • Snopes explores this trope a bit in an article dealing with urban legends from less enlightened times, claiming that black mothers would give their daughters names like Chlamydia, Vagina (pronounced "Va-GEE-na"), etc.
  • In hispanic Latin America, the equivalent of this trope is either English names and words misspelled (i.e., boys named Jhon Jairo or Wilian [sic], girls named Leydis or Usnavi), or names beginning with the letter Y, albeit the latter trend is decreasing in popularity in some countries. Part of the humor from the infamous Panamian meme "Yasuri Yamileth's song" was that the author chose that name because it was the most stereotypically ghetto name that came to her at the time.
    • Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez named her blog "Generation Y" because of the "names with Y" trend, being herself a live example.
      • Wasn't there a trend of poor black families in Brazil doing an analogy to ghetto black names in the USA?
    • The Spanish equivalent are names of English origin, like Jennifer (known to her schoolmates as "La Yenni"), Jessica ("La Jessi") Vanessa ("La Vane"), Jonatán ("Er Yonni"), Richard ("Er Richal") and so on.
  • The German equivalent are, surprisingly, American names (Mandy, Kevin, Justin) or French names (Chantal, Jacqueline). Those names are usually associated with the poor and uneducated, while educated middle-class children stereotypically have traditionally German or Scandinavian names.
  • This newspaper article is about a man who accidentally killed his girlfriend's 19-month-old son, named Semaj: named after his father James.
  • Here is the website cataloguing the Japanese equivalent. They are called "Kira-kira names" or, more negatively, "DQN names". "DQN" roughly means "stupid/ghetto/uncultured". The website have divided the names into nine different categories:
    • "Too clever", for names the equivalent of the English "Le-a";
    • "It's important to be knowledgeable", where parents accidentally name their kids "jellyfish" or "suicide";
    • "Sexual-pitiful", a variant of the above and equivalent of "Chlamydia" and "Vagina";
    • "Hooray Foreign Languages", where parents attempt to name their kids foreign names (if you know Japanese, you know how hard it is to do this, at least with English names);
    • "Forcing their tastes", for names that clearly come from things their parents like, e.g. "Pooh" and "Dumbo";
    • "Presumptuous", names like "God" and "Emperor";
    • "Things (food/animals)" for, well, names that are words for food and animals;
    • "Gender Blender Name";
    • and the last one, "夜露死苦", is names that look like they were named by gangs, who were famous for using complicated kanji to write even simple words.

Notes

  1. Pronounced "U-Snavvy"
  2. Prononced "Sha-tead"
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