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According to the Freakonomics guys, black babies with “superblack” names (Roshanda, Darnell, etc.) don’t do as well economically as black babies with “whiter” names — but it’s not because of the name itself. This is why, they say:
What kind of parent is most likely to give a child such a distinctively black name? The data offer a clear answer: an unmarried, low-income, undereducated, teenage mother from a black neighborhood who has a distinctively black name herself. Giving a child a super-black name would seem to be a black parent’s signal of solidarity with her community–the flip side of the “acting white” phenomenon.
In other words, if you have a “superblack” name (their word), chances are you come from a socioeconomic background that stacks the deck against your future success. A black Caitlin from that background would struggle just as much.
I confess that I’m pretty rigidly conservative about names, and don’t understand why parents saddle their kids with weird names. Take those idiotic names white hipsters give to their kids, e.g., Gwyneth Paltrow naming her child “Apple.” Here’s a list of hipster names you might want to avoid (funny how so many of the male names are those of the old black janitors at my 1970s elementary school). And here are some rules of thumbs to avoid the mistake of giving your kid a hipster name. We almost violated this one:
4. AVOID THE NAMES OF HIGH-FALUTIN’ WRITERS. This is kind of a thin line. We’d say Auden, Austen, Flannery, Harper, Tennessee and Tennyson are dripping in hipsterdom; Edith, Eudora, and Ellison, still okay.
…but “Flannery Dreher” didn’t sound right for our daughter.