Unless you have been living under a rock the past few days, I’m sure many of you have seen the clip of Raven-Seymoné saying she wouldn’t hire someone named “Watermelondrea”. Initially seeing the 10 second clip, I instantly SMHed and thought to myself “Why Raven Why”?! If only seeing a 10 second video clip, yes her comment looks extremely moronic. Initially with only seeing the clip, I understood why some of Black America wished to possibly trade Raven to another race. However, I am someone who tries to see the good in people, I try to understand where and how people do some of the things they do. I honestly TRY my hardest not to judge, people. So I did a little homework.
Last week on ABC’s ‘The View’, Raven Symoné stated that she would not hire a person with and ghetto name. “I’m not about to hire you if your name is Watermelondrea. It’s just not gonna happen. I’m not gonna hire you.” Seymoné’s comments set the internet ablaze. Black Twitter, IG, FB, and bloggers proceeded to thoroughly READ Ms. Symoné. Even Raven’s own father came for her. But here is the thing, yes we all saw the video of what Raven said, but how many of us took the time to go back and read or tried to understand why Raven said what she did?!
In a segment on ABC’s ‘The View’, the co-host discussed a new study conducted at UCLA about racial bias toward “black-sounding” names. UCLA researchers found people envisioned men with stereotypically black names as bigger and more violent. During the segment, a clip was played from the popular YouTube video, “Top 60 Ghetto Black Names,” in which “Watermelondrea” comes in at number 12. Now honestly people let’s take F and E’s (feelings and emotions) out of this. In the grand scheme of life and with knowing the full context of what Raven was referring to, I understand where she is coming from.
Fact: we as African-Americans are judge not only by the color of our skin, but sometimes by our hair texture, where we grow up, and yes even by our names. Whats even more alarming is the fact that many of us still judge each other by these same standards. These are facts, this is not fair, but this does happen. It’s hard enough to make it as a black person in corporate america, add an ethic name in the mix and see how many side eyes or judgmental people you will have to encounter.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I KNOW that a name does not take away from a person’s character, brilliance, or one’s ability to do one’s job. However the reality is that ethnic or “ghetto” names are judged. There are negative precognitive stigmas attached to a person with an ethnic name. Which crosses beyond race, but religion as well. Until we become a more truly tolerant nation, these negative stigmas will remain. Would I hire someone named “Watermelondrea” honestly if she were the most qualified person yes I would. Now would I name my child this? Nope not at all, but that is a different story for a different time.