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Racism and naming baby

(29 Posts)
Quinandthem Tue 11-Dec-12 17:11:48

Need the help of MN or a slap

My husband is British but his parents are both from 2 different continents. Our surname is actually Bangladeshi but many people mistake it for Spanish from the sound and spelling of it.

We are now 11 wks pregnant and obviously thinking about names. My husband has a ‘foreign’ first and last name and although he says he hasn’t experienced any racism with it (in the workplace – getting interviews etc) it does make me concerned when we are choosing a name for the baby as a ‘typical English’ name just wouldn’t fit with the surname.

This has been brought more to my attention as it was in the news this week about people with ‘foreign’ names not getting shortlisted for jobs and even having to change their names just to get a job.

Obviously in an ideal world racism wouldn’t exist – but it does.

We have found a really nice girl’s name, Sophia that would go really nicely with the surname. But we’re generally struggling with boy’s names that we both like and that go with the surname.

So do we choose a name that we like and works well with the surname or do we choose something that is a bit more ‘normal’ to the average ear?

Or am I just over thinking it?

SaintNiChaolas Tue 11-Dec-12 17:15:12

I think the world is getting smaller and names are now more widely used, less restricted to only country of origin, iyswim?

Ho for what you like but please don't say we are pregnant again.


badtime Tue 11-Dec-12 17:19:47

There are plenty of names which would go with a Bangladeshi surname but sound less 'foreign' (I think that is what you are asking for?)
Names like Har(r)is or Far(r)is, or even Adam or Noah etc would probably work.

CheungFun Tue 11-Dec-12 17:23:57

I do kind of get where you're coming from, but my DH has a foreign surname and has never ever had any problems getting a job and has been head hunted a couple of times via LinkedIn.

The world is changing, think how much has changed in the last 20 years and how much it will change in the next 20 years.

This is an interesting article I read the other day about mixed race Britain

Go with a name your and your DH love and don't worry what anyone else may or may not think smile

Gwennan Tue 11-Dec-12 17:24:47


While I think you are over-thinking a little bit, I imagine it is because you've read this recent article on the BBC: If you've read that, who can blame you for worrying about this kind of stuff?

Personally, I'd just use a name that you both like! If I were in your position, that's what I'd do. If your surname is particularly long or hard to spell or difficult to say, I would choose a simpler first name. Assuming you both intend to raise your family in Britain then I'd pick a name that is reasonably obvious to pronounce in in English too - if only because I'd find constantly correcting people annoying!

Gwennan Tue 11-Dec-12 17:25:19

Sorry, the link didn't work:

Quinandthem Tue 11-Dec-12 17:26:05

Thanks for the input.

Have been looking at Spanish & Italian boy's names as they have a good flow with the surname - but equally dont want people looking at me saying why did you choose that name?

But names are so personal anyway in what you like/don't like

(i thought it was a bit like saying 'my' wedding - meant to be a joint thing)

Gwennan Tue 11-Dec-12 17:29:46

Why did you choose that name?

Simple: Because we liked it; it has a lovely meaning; We're fans of X so we named our baby after him; I heard it in a film; I knew someone at work with the name and thought it sounded nice...

There are plenty of reasons why you might pick a particular name.

Many Italian/Spanish names are widely used in the UK so are unlikely to attract any comments.

badtime Tue 11-Dec-12 17:29:53

I don't think that you need to use a particular 'type' of name, though - these days people are more familiar with names from around the world, and it is less likely that your child would be discriminated against in the future just because of his or her name.

LynetteScavo Tue 11-Dec-12 17:49:55

Well, I think there is a bit of judging if not prejudice.

People will think Hugo has been privately educated, Krishna is good at maths, and Jaden isn't very bright.

All would be judged incorrectly, IME.

The world is getting smaller. The days of my parents not being sold a house in a village (the vendors refused to sell to them) because my DF didn't have a British passport are long gone.

When I was pg with DC1 my grandmother said several times "I do hope you won't give the baby a foreign name." This was from a woman who didn't set foot in England until the early 60's, bless her.

Normal to the average ear is over thinking it these days. I recently met an Arden, which initially I thought hmm to. But it's really grown on me.

BikeRunSki Tue 11-Dec-12 17:59:12

My dad had a friend called Yakimoto Hamilton. Half Scottish, half Japanese. Any two names can go together, then they become that person. A person is much more than their name!

LynetteScavo Tue 11-Dec-12 18:32:30

Oooh, I would give Yakimoto Hamilton a job! grin

Rhubarbgarden Tue 11-Dec-12 20:35:08

I love names like Yakimoto Hamilton! I went out with a Giovanni MacDonald (half Italian half Scottish) briefly, just because of that fabulously incongruous name.

Leafmould Tue 11-Dec-12 23:21:37

I have a foreign surname, but do not believe I have ever experienced discrimination because of it. Don't worry too much about it, and just pick a name you love. It will he hard enough to choose one you both love, without setting extra limitations on it!

GinSoakedMu1berryLush Wed 12-Dec-12 11:34:53

I thought about giving my children Spanish/Italian names to 'explain' why they would be darker than the average British White child. Which wouldn't have reflected their heritage at all (1/4 black and 3/4s celtic). But anyway, that idea floated through my head. I liked Rafael and Bruno a lot.. Kind of glad I didn't do that now. My son does look Italian /Greek and if he was called Rafael or Bruno, people might expect him to switch into Italian. Although, those two names are lovely. I still like them.

Quinandthem Wed 12-Dec-12 11:45:28

thanks for your words of wisdom

still no further forward with boys names though - good job we've got 6 months to come up with some...

doodlecrayon Wed 12-Dec-12 22:11:07

I really relate to this! I'm 34 weeks pregnant and boys' names are tough! We have an Indian surname, I have an Arabic first name and grew up with an Iranian surname. Prejudice is a factor for me, based on my own experience. I've been asked on several occasions if I speak English/need an interpretter by people reading my name from a form. I'm half Welsh, have lived here all my life and have two degrees in English it can be a bit irritating to say the least.

Added to the fact that I don't want to 'invite' assumptions about my son's ethnicity is the fact that my Dad will probably be upset if there isn't at least one Iranian name in the mix! My husband and I are both mixed race so it's a challenge to try to acknowledge all our heritage.

I've been telling myself I'm over-thinking it too, but it is a big deal, and I'm afraid prejudice is a factor.

Meringue33 Wed 12-Dec-12 22:17:37

Think in the professional world it would be more likely to be positive prejudice rather than negative - eg recruiters thinking Asian candidates will be smart, highly numerate, hard working, bilingual etc. Think how well represented Asian professionals are now in so many sectors: medicine, science, IT, engineering...

drcrab Wed 12-Dec-12 22:19:44

My children are mixed race. We've given them an English first name, 2 middle names of which one reflects their heritage and the English surname.

Canihavesomemore Wed 12-Dec-12 22:46:43

We had the same issue hmm boys names were the toughest and we have a lovely ds named Ryaan we figured if he ever wanted to drop the 'a' when he gets older he can but it means gate of heaven which I loved. Mixed race names can be so cliche for boys and I didn't want another Adam or haris

Part1 Thu 13-Dec-12 14:13:27

Just looking at this board I would say that names perceived to be white and lower class get more prejudice and insults than any arabic or asian names. I think the name Sophia is a lovely choice. I love Adam for a boy and disagree that it is a cliche, it is just a name liked by a lot of people and also used by Jews, Christians and Muslims so also suits a mixed child. A very good choice.

ZombiesAreClammyDodgers Thu 13-Dec-12 15:39:30

OP go with the name that fits in more. Your child will thank you later.

InNeedOfBrandyButter Thu 13-Dec-12 15:43:21

I read an article in the guardian a while ago saying boys more then girls get knocked down marks in GCSE and A levels when they have "ghetto" sounding names then traditional names. I hope by the time my ds is old enough the fact his name isn't Hugo or Adam won't matter.

GinSoakedMu1berryLush Thu 13-Dec-12 15:45:12

but ... for state exams, don't they just have your number? In Ireland you get a number and you put that on your state exam book

GinSoakedMu1berryLush Thu 13-Dec-12 15:45:59

Just surprised that names would be used. What if the examiner knows you and likes you, or knows you and dislikes you!?

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