Home > April 2011 Posts > What’s In a Name?

What’s In a Name?

I had the fortune of being raised in a household that retained not a hint of racial, sexual, ethnic, religious, or cultural prejudice. This, along with being raised in the heart of Atlanta, Georgia’s pride and joy, allowed me to maintain friendships with a variety of kids from a multitude of different backgrounds.

For the most part, I enjoyed being privy to different traditions and family relationships, as well as participating in different religious holidays with my friends. However, even in a city as rich with variety as Atlanta, I was not excluded from witnessing my share of prejudice and bias.

I honestly believe my first experience that inevitably shattered my protective wall of innocence (or naivety) occurred when I was in 1st grade. At least that I can remember.

I was standing in the classroom socializing with my peers, when one girl came up to me with obvious negative intentions. I don’t remember her name at this time, but I will always remember what she said to me:

“Symphony…My mom says your name sounds like a black name!”

Her intended insult was hurled at me with such force that I could do nothing but be hit square in the noggin with confusion and hurt. I felt insulted simply because she had meant it as an insult, but could not grasp why I should feel insulted. I snapped back, “Well, it isn’t!” and quickly tried to change the subject to something else besides her apparent need to feel superior to me.

I recovered from this incident in the way that most children bounce back, unlike adults. Adults tend to retain the tainted water of our misfortune and carry it around under our skin. But, it has left me to wonder about the multitude of families that raise their children to harbor discriminatory feelings towards their fellow man – whether intentional or unintentional.  These seeds of intolerance are planted throughout generations, and are tilled, and watered, and nurtured.

Someone needs to re-plant these gardens, lest their weeds choke the farm.

Categories: April 2011 Posts
  1. DI
    April 8, 2011 at 1:14 am

    Growing up in the north I was well aware of different cultures. I knew the were not the same as me physically or culturally. I HAD NO FEAR .,because I recognized our similarities. Kids were kids and adults were adults. Race ,religion orcolor ment nothing. Some where I learned the difference and still acepted what I knew. My children were raised with the same values.

  2. prdtabwt
    April 13, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    under your definition of racism,dose’nt the fact that someone thought your name sounds black offened you make you a racist. i mean if you say the name shakita you ,me and every one else thinks black . there for that makes us all racist.

    • S.C.Ragan
      April 13, 2011 at 9:01 pm

      What I was trying to convey was that the other person hurled it as me as an intended insult, however I did not understand why it should be insulting, I only felt insulted because they had intended it as an insult. I was a child. They were not simply making an innocent observation. I am not, never have been, nor will I ever consider myself racist. I appreciate people for who they are as a person. Just because someone’s name derives from a certain culture, ethnicity, or background, and you appreciate their name for that does not make one a racist either (commenting on your 2nd statement). It only makes you prejudicial if you associate their name for that very reason with something negative.

  3. lindsay
    April 13, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    I think someone is just trying to get a little attention. But, it’s not a debate if you don’t even know about what’s being debated. weirdo. If I heard the name Shakita,I’d think it was a black girl. Not because I’m racist, but because I actually have common sense.

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