Aareck to Zsaneka: The Politics of Why “Black” Names Matter

Jerrilyn McGregory (Florida State University)

Unlike the lexicon of Eurocentric proper names that are virtually meaningless and without connotation, traditionally, African societies granted anthroponyms that demonstrated greater evocative meanings and variations depending on home contexts. The proposed paper interrogates African American names in route to developing their own affirmative, stylistic taste. In the past four decades, from Aareck to Zsaneka, African American birth names have creatively evolved. Now situated as “noisy ghetto names,” African Americans’ present-day birth names function as a “shibboleth,” amplifying a nominal blackness although triggering a “similarity bias.” The present-day outcry for political, economic, and social justice ultimately speaks to aesthetic justice as well.

Part of 01-08 Mambomania, Birthworkers, and Onomastics: Activating Cultural Memory , Thursday, November 02, 8:30 am–10:00 am