February 27, 2017

We are finally starting to have the real, uncomfortable, long overdue, talks about race in this country. I’ve never been more proud, excited, and uncomfortable with national dialogue before! I’m even more uncomfortable than 9/11 to Iraq War, weapons of mass destruction, national conversations.

Racism is hard stuff to talk about in America. Racism is hard because it brings up “all the feelings” in everyone. No one wants to talk about lynching, slavery, and a prison industrial complex designed to keep Black people enslaved! Not when we can discuss Halle Berrie’s hairstyle or the beef with Nikki Minaj!

It’s also painful for victims of racism to remember personal acts of racism. But, even there is a spectrum of racism(scale of 1-10, 10 being Dylan Roof). While it’s easy for me to remember big, macro-level racist aggressions, I struggle with the microaggressions that happen to me almost daily. All of my life, it just was how it was.

One thing in particular that I’m reflecting on is my name. Yup. ShaRhonda. With a capital, R. And that apparently is the hardest name to pronounce, let alone spell correctly! Honestly, most of my life, probably 90% of my life, my name is misspelled, mispronounced, or told, “how unusual,” and thus relegated to it being okay to not say or spell correctly.

And that’s how it’s been! If I corrected everyone who spelled or said my name wrong, I would do it every day! And the weird thing is, when I do find the courage/energy to ask people to say or spell my name correctly, I apologize to them!!! Because I feel guilty for having a non-European name!

The unwritten “American race rules” is that your punishment as Black people who have “African-American/Ghetto” names, your punishment is having your name ridiculed, misspelled, mispronounced your entire life.

I never felt like I had the right to ask people to say or spell my name correctly because it is ghetto. How effed up is that? I’m 37 and still learning how to navigate through racism, in all its forms, authentically.
I’m going to start by demanding that my name be spelled correctly. It’s hurtful and wrong to dismiss my name. I deserve to have people spell and say my name correctly. Having a Black/ghetto name is not a crime, punishable by a lifetime of people effing up your name! And I’m guilty of it as well! And I apologize and vow to try better from this day forward.

My name is ShaRhonda. There is a capital R in the spelling. It’s pronounced sha-rhonda.

*ill let people slide with Rondi. Rondi actually has nothing to do with ShaRhonda, although it seems like it. But FYI, it’s Rondi. Not Rhonda, Rhondi, or Rhondie.

One thought on “The Price You Pay For A “Ghetto” Name:”

  1. Another expansion of one of those racist/white privileged “aha” moments this old white lady has had. For a long time I wondered, (to myself, thank goodness) why Black people gave their kids such “odd” names. Finally it dawned on me, why should anyone choose a name common in the culture of their oppressor? No one who was brought here enslaved came with the name “Sandra”. And our names are absolutely at the core of our identities. Insisting that they be said and spelled correctly by everyone is absolutely necessary.

Leave a Reply