Freakonomics, Tarika Wilson and Afronerd: A Fact-Check, of Sorts

Yesterday we linked to a roundtable (yeah, yeah, we know) on NPR’s News and Notes moderated by Farai Chideya. During the conversation, Desmond Burton, a.k.a. Afronerd, made a comment about the shooting death of Tarika Wilson by a SWAT team, associating Wilson’s name and biography with the sad end of her life.

Burton: … In looking at that story, I saw pit bulls being mentioned; drug dealing; stereotypical, underclass Afrocentric names — those kind of things. No one really wants to talk about it. I feel that we have to speak honestly about what is actually happening with some of our underclass black folk …

He backed up his support of the name comment by pointing to the bestseller Freakonomics. The book contains a chapter entitled “Would A Roshanda by Any Other Name Smell as Sweet?” which examines (among other things) the roles names — and distinctively black names — play in the trajectory of children’s lives. He defended his statement in the comments section of the News and Notes blog.

Well I expected to receive my fair share of barbs from the NPR listening audience but I stand by my original comments. I am allowed to be specific and discern between names. There is a definite difference between “Baratunde”… and “Rayquan” or “Shayquan.” I also referenced Freakonomics because it serves as an excellent treatise for correlating names (both stereotypical underclass White and Black names) and economic opportunity.

Well, what exactly did the authors of Freakonomics say, anyway? We grabbed a copy we had lying around to peep game. (Like, literally on the floor in the hallway, fam.)

The authors cite a study by Roland Fryer, who had reams of data and was able to control for other factors that might influence the paths of people’s lives, so he was able measure the impact of an isolated one — first names — on a woman’s educational, financial and health outcomes.

So does a name matter?

The data show that, on average, a person with a distinctively black name — whether it was a woman named Imani or a man named DeShawn — does have a worse life outcome than a woman named Molly or a man named Jake. But it isn’t the fault of their names. If two black boys, Jake Williams and DeShawn Williams are born in the same neighborhood and into the same familial economic circumstances, they would likely have similar life outcomes. But the kind of parents who name their son Jake don’t tend to live in the same neighborhoods or share economic circumstances with the kind of parents who name their son DeShawn. And that’s why, on average, a boy named Jake will tend to earn more money and get more education than a boy named DeShawn. A DeShawn is more likely to have been handicapped by a low-income, low-education single-parent background. His name is an indicator — not a cause — of his outcome. Just as a child with no books in his home isn’t likely to test well in school, a boy named DeShawn isn’t likely to do as well in life. (Emphasis ours.)

And what if DeShawn had changed his name to Jake of Connor: would his situation improve? Here’s a guess: anybody who bothers to change his name in the name of economic success is — like the high school freshmen in Chicago who entered the school-choice lottery — at least highly motivated, and motivation is probably a stronger indicator of success than, well, a name.

So is Burton wrong? It seems pretty fair to say he misunderstood Levitt and Dubner’s “treatise,” and also skimmed over the bit where the pair question whether there’s an economic cost for having a black-sounding name or a name that signals a low-income (like, say, submitting a resume and being less likely to get a callback for a job interview).

Burton’s suggestion that some black names are more “authentic” is an equally bizarre one. Tarika, to our ears, sounds like a phoneticization or update of Tariqa, which is indeed an Arabic word. (But even if it weren’t, would her name be less valid?) We’ll just assume that Burton similarly rails against folks who name their daughters Jennifer in lieu of the Olde English Guinevere.

More from Burton:

But beyond the name controversy, the case in Lima showed a variety of cues that lead to the tragic death of the young woman beyond alleged police brutality. I repeat-there was a constant theme that we can no longer deny, coddle or excuse away. The reporting of the case denoted pit bulls, digital weight scales, drugs, guns as well as the 26-year-old victim possessing 6 children by FIVE DIFFERENT MEN! Either we are going to continue to be politically correct or we are going to address the habitual dysfunctionalism.

Burton either didn’t know or omitted the fact that Wilson was also about to start college courses. But then, when one is trafficking in stereotype, concessions to nuance usually get left out.



Gene "G.D." Demby is the founder and editor of PostBourgie. In his day job, he blogs and reports on race and ethnicity for NPR's Code Switch team.
  • Nuance? Not much of that going around these days.

  • Troy

    Great synopsis of this whole unfortunate situation, thanks. What further baffles me is how exactly did we get back to an era where police can kill unarmed black people with little or no consequence or questioning? There is a thing called due process and the police don’t have the right to maim and kill innocent unarmed people no matter what circumstances they find themselves in. It’s inexcusable and communities should not stand for it.

  • First off, I may want to pick this up on my internet show and I welcome your readers to discuss this named issue with me live on air. I never said that Tarika’s “name” was the cause of her death. And the Freakonomics piece that you cited pretty much proves my point. Please do not take soundbites from a show and then not allow for appropriate fleshing out. I thought that I was pretty clear that the weight scales, marijuana, pit bulls, multiple births by multiple drug dealing fathers WERE indicators-ingredients if you will of rampant pathology. Now either we are going to address the INDICATORS or we will continue to make excuses, put our heads in the sand and wait for the next funeral. The choice is yours. Feel free to call up the show this Sunday at 8pm eastern at-

    call in# 646-915-9620

  • Ike Moses

    Rampant pathology. All the issues of the hood can be reduced to mental illness? Really?

  • When did my use of the term “rampant pathology” refer to ALL the issues with the hood? Is this a matter of reading comprehension? Black folks are dying in the some of these inner city communities (pick one-Philly, Camden, Newark, Oakland, etc) in record numbers and yet being PC and “sensitive” appears to be an element in not truthfully addressing the problem. NOTHING is absolute, we’re aware of socio-economic problems that are mixed in with the “hood” but Black folk have been poor before with greater impediments and you didn’t see what the things that we are seeing now. And it is irrefutable that the level of Black on Black death is a symptom of pathological if not self-destructive behavior issues. I repeat it’s not the ONLY thing (which is pretty self explanatory) but it is a MAJOR element explaining the dysfunctionalism. It is what it is.

  • ladyboss09

    wow. i don’t think you are hearing your own comments within the context that you used them. i listened to the entire show before this piece was written and i’ve read freakonomics. i agree with the assessment of the author, you used the chapter inappropriately. to me it came off as some sort of offhanded attempt at being clever. in an effort to address exactly what you said regarding the name issue, i listened, transcribed and pasted below. it begins just after you mention the pitbulls, drugs and ‘stereotypical underclass afrocentric names.’ i felt this befitting b/c i wanted to specifically address your comments about names:

    Farayei: Don’t tell me you’re blaming Afrocentric names.
    Jozen: I dunno if her name, the name Tarika has anything to do with it.

    Burton: That means a lot, check out Freakonomics. Freakonomics talks about that. We’re not talking about Barack. Barack is a authentic African name. but if we’re going to talk about Lakesha, Trikesha, Lokesha, there’s a theme. There’s a constant theme that we’re seeing with these kinds of stories. I think if we’re going to, even referencing Obama, Obama has even said, I’ve been referencing a lot lately. Obama has even said that we cannot continue to follow in the same uh political paradim and uh, expect different results. So I think that we’re going to have to really be honest about what’s happening within some of these communities or else we’re going to be back to the same circle again 180 degrees or not 180 degrees. The, the same circle again. This is going to happen again.

    the problem is not that your assessment of the situation was entirely incorrect. perhaps tarika put herself in a poor situation. her name is quite possibility an indicator of a low socio-economic status that presented options as these as viable. however, your statement came off as one of those generalized coby-esque comments that need to stop. they gloss over far more complicated issues in an attempt at the ever popular public communal critiques. in the vein of mr. cosby, these critiques seem to blame these ‘stereotypical low class afrocentric names’ for the problem, instead of truly addressing the core issues.

    additionally, why mention Barack? if tarika had named her son such and there was no Obama, would you offer this child the same validation? or would the name be reduced to your ‘low lcass’ generalization? since you took the time to distinguish between low class black names and ‘authentic’ names, it can be inferred that a person of different status has the right to name their child in the same vein without the same sort of judgement and condemnation.

    rather than addressing the situation in which a woman like tarika might have found herself with those sort of choices, your assessment adopts the typical tone of self-righteous judgment rather than that of nation-building. in no way do i find that helpful to the larger community or to the memory of our slain sister and her ‘6 children by FIVE DIFFERENT MEN.’

  • desmond burton

    I’m going to keep this brief. It appears that ladyboss would like to make excuses for aberrant behavior and I cannot “high five” that. You seem to have a problem with my mentioning of certain facts and “judging” those self-same issues. I repeat-Tarika did NOT deserve to die but excusing the fact that she DID possess six children with multiple drug dealing men just seems extremely disingenuous to me. Raising children in such an enviroment reeks of danger and poor decision making. And I may revist the “name” issue this thursday at 9pm. Feel free to stop by with your thoughts live on air.
    646-915-9620 (call in number, 9pm eastern)

  • DunkMachine

    ladyboss09, I think you need to take a step back and try to see the bigger picture. This womans death is tragic and should never have happened, no matter if she associated herself with criminals. However, the point is whether we can still continue on the same path that MLK and El Shabazz have started. There are so much more opportunities for us (blackfolk) that the rules they played by back-in-the-day don’t apply anymore.

    I, and many like me, are tired of these constant excuses. Please explain to me why all these victims have displayed lower-class behaviour (unmarried, multiple children, low education) or have a dubious social life with ties to criminal activities (think Jena 6 and Duke). Does this constitute a pattern? Maybe not, but an argument can be made that we eiter become more selective of which cases we trump up as civil rights issues, and which cases are just an unfortunate set of circumstances.

    My opinion, the black community needs a change in mentality! Let’s clean up our own house before we complain about the neighbourhood. Let’s be sure that we have lived up to our OWN responsibilities before we point to the responsibilities of others.

  • Tabitha

    it’s clear you don’t get it. this isn’t about excuses. this is about people with options oversimplifying the choices made by people without them. tarika could have just as easily been any of my cousins who didn’t attend college. tarika could have just as easily been me if not for the presence of a very stifling religious upbringing, an insistent teacher and 2 very diligent guidance counselors. those four elements shaped my life in a way that didn’t allow me to end up like my peers. despite having been born of a teenage mother with 2 children at 17 and an absentee father. the particular situation that shaped my birth could have just as easily led me in another direction. i cannot, like you and your supporters simplify tarkia as a woman reduced to her choices. if not for the people outside of my family who made themselves an active part o my life and my future, i may have never seen college as an option. my mother, with her six children by 4 different men could have justly been murdered by police b/c of the choices she made.

    dunk machine:
    first, let me say i am deeply saddened by your statements. to me, it’s akin to challenging the chasity of a rape victim. when a woman is raped and the defense attacks her character. she was promiscous or a tease and therefore, you must understand that maybe she had this coming to her. no, you won’t outright say so, but the point of the argument is to cast the shadow of justification over the crime. had tarika been an upstanding married white woman with 6 children, her death would have more meaning? then the police would have *really* been at fault? please.

    your oversimplification of the issue is just that. there are no words. i challenge you to stop talking. changes in the community aren’t made in internet squabbles. they’re made by being active conduits of change. you see, no matter how much we argue about the problems, they still exist outside of this medium. most of the cosby-esque supporters i’ve met are talkers. quick to criticize and slow to act. we’re here on the internet arguing over problems that can be solved but take a lot of work on OUR part. i’ve noticed more members of our community jumping on this communal critique band-wagon. talking about our issues like white people as if that does the community a service.

    the comments remind me of my white college roommate. she thought i was ‘nasty and dirty’ because i didn’t wash my hair everyday. her hair HAD to be washed everyday or it got ‘greasy and tangled.’ my hair, needed oil and did better with far fewer washings. no matter the differences between our hair options, hers was clearly superior b/c the lens she viewed hair by was quite narrow.

    to that end, you and your ilk are judging people who may be facing far different choices than we’ve ever had to face. you wonder why these people display low-class behaviour? it’s because they are LOW CLASS. examine that term. it refers to socio-ECONOMIC status. these people are often poor or lower middle class. as such they attend poor schools, live in neighborhoods with higher crime rates and generally make the decisions they do based on the options they have.

    we get our degrees. get our good jobs. move to the burbs and start talking. these people aren’t strangers to me. they’re cousins and friends and peers i grew up with, each with their own complicated set of issues. they aren’t pretty. they aren’t easy. they aren’t simple. b/c i fail to see it as such, that doesn’t make me an apologizer. i have nothing to apologize for. i don’t think Tarika or any woman who’s made similar decisions has anything to apologize for. we don’t know what choices these ppl are faced with. we talk as authorities when in our daily lives, we are pretty far removed from the problems.

    come back and talk to me when you’ve mentored a child who’s struggling not to join a gang but cannot safely pass through the neighborhoods to GET to school without being affiliated. come back to me when after a year of getting beat up that child joins and at 13 is shot and killed by the LAPD. i’m sure you’ll be there telling me that it’s wrong BUT deshawn, WAS in a gang!

    we have a choice. our choice is simple, to whom much is given, much is required. stop talking. take your bigger picture to the hood, then come back and tell me how that’s worked out for you.

    if you need help finding a place to volunteer your time, hit me up. i can get you local listings for most major cities. while you’re their, try to keep your disdain to a minimum.

  • ladyboss09

    psst: i should be clear- Tabitha is ladyboss09

  • LH

    Desmond, rather than explain your point you reiterated it. Can you walk me through how Ms. Wilson’s name lead to her demise? And not by way of oversimplification or generalisation, but specifics.

    You said that we need to be honest about what’s happening, but in boiling this situation down to her name, I think you’re being disingenuous.

    I’ll allow that her name, as well as the names of her six children gives us at least shallow insight into her socioeconomic sphere. But we’re letting the police off the hook if we don’t delve any further. Her name notwithstanding, Wilson deserves better.

  • This is the deal and this may be a reiteration but maybe I’m not making myself clear….I NEVER said Wilson’s name lead to her demise but that it ONE of a number of indicators denoting her circumstances. The name, the multiple births at a young age, her choice in paramours are indicators or “symptoms” of societal dysfunctionalism. And trust me, I can appreciate Tabitha’s personal story BUT we MUST stop with personalizing some of these issues. I have plenty of colleagues/friends that were raised in single parent homes. They can still take themselves “out” of a discussion of OTHER single parent homes that are in disarray. And your rape victim analogy is important because how ever a person arrives at victimhood doesn’t mean that they STAY a victim. No one discusses the collateral damage that is caused because of aberrant criminal behavior. How about the African doctoral student in Chicago who was gunned down for 20 bucks a few weeks short of receiving his PHD by a 16 year old punk. You have hard working people who have NOTHING to do with this criminal behavior and yet they are victimized as well. If you or one of your family members gets caught in the midst of the madness you may start to think about these issues differently. Tarika knew the drug life and was not a complete innocent-the home possessed drugs and weaponry that could have been used to kill innocents. And Cosby, myself and others want to start to change the mesaage of failure that underscores this behavior. And mind you Cosby has been touring the “hood” for about 2 years with this message but so many folks are so ashamed and hurt that they do not want to hear the truth. But also there are more stories forthcoming of formerly dysfunctional folks who are admitting that they were wrong and want to change. One could definitely say that a physically handicapped person does not want to be coddled. If we are to surmise that underclass Black folk are socio-economically “handicapped,” why are they being coddled by enablers. ENOUGH! Black folks have been poor before (actually poorer) with far greater impediments and we were not killing each other like we are in Philly, Newark etc. We know some police are corrupt but that doesn’t explain away the countless deaths that have NOTHING to do with the “white bogeyman”, the police or the Klan-it’s “Rayquan” and his mans and dem”….tabitha it’s time to dip your toe in the non-victimization pool…the water is warm. Call up on Thursday and let’s flesh this out…

  • ladyboss09


    wow, cosby had been touring for 2 years? have the problems persisted after the lecture? seriously, what impact does cosby really have on a woman like Tarika? is his talking going to pay for daycare and tuition so she can go to school? does it feed her children or cloth them? or is it enough that there are ‘stories forthcoming of formerly dysfunctional folks who are admitting that they were wrong and want to change.’ once that happens, tell me, how is Cosby helping those folks change? has he set up some community centers i’m unaware of? does he have an educational fund assisting them in going back to school?

    enough with the rhetorical, tell me how you personally are making a difference. how have you been going about rectifying the problems within our communities? frankly, i’m sick of you (and those like you talking) and your holier-than-thou ‘stop playing the victim’ schtick. this is not about victimization, this is about recognizing the issues causing larger problems and MAKING A DIFFERENCE.

    as for the personalization, i don’t see that as a flaw. i don’t make excuses for my situation or those of my peers. having come from those situations i recognize the complexity of them. personalization of issues are what let us know how to best handle them. trying to address situations that you are totally removed from and not connected to is futile. i didn’t get my degree and good job and start calling foul on those that didn’t get here. i mentor children. i work with my younger siblings. i set an example for them to aspire to and mostly i check my potential disdain and superiority complex at the door.

    so tell me desmond, how do YOU propose we fix the issues?

  • DunkMachine

    Tabitha said:
    “first, let me say i am deeply saddened by your statements. to me, it’s akin to challenging the chasity of a rape victim………….then the police would have *really* been at fault? please.”

    Who is simplifying?! I am the one who’s actually adressing this issue from MULTIPLE ANGLES whereas you make it to be a black or white (figuratively and literally)? Also, I never condoned or supported her death, you stating that I actually did – and then arguing that I shouldn’t – is preposterous. However can we please hold people accountable for their actions?! Can we please?! Did anyone force Tarika to impregnate herself by 4 different men? Did those men force her to live in a drug-filled house? The fact that she’s black (as opposed to white) is absolutely erroneous to this conversation.

    This woman made bad decisions but the fact is that those were HER DECISIONS to make and start treating people like they actually have A CHOICE in how they live their lives.

    To me it looks like your whole stance on deviant behavior is based on the premise that lower-class blacks are weak minded and don’t have the ability to do what’s right. ‘It’s OK to crumble to peer pressure and join a gang, because it’s not really their choice. You can sleep around, have unprotected sex and father/mother multiple children with multiple people, because it’s not really your choice’. Life isn’t easy, that’s still no excuse!

    My parents (yes I had two, guess I head it easy huh?!)I was taught 1 lesson that I will never forget. They told me that; “We as blacks are seen as second-rate by (white)society and that we have to work harder to receive the same recognition”. They made it clear that this isn’t a ‘fact’ but a ‘fact of life’ and I was taught to live with it and above all deal with it. Now when blacks are considered to be second-rate as an honest, law-abiding citizen – how much would one be worth as a pushers girlfriend or a criminal? Let’s stop pretending that the whiteman will come down and give us reparations and actually start making strides to better ourselves.

    I used to think that Cosby and Desmond were too harsh but now I wonder; is it the white man that’s destroying the black community or are enablers self-destructive behaviour like yourself to blame.

    ps. Don’t tell me to stop talking, or are you the black female version of O’Reilly?

  • LH

    Desmond, here’s what you said: “Barack is a authentic African name. but if we’re going to talk about Lakesha, Trikesha, Lokesha, there’s a theme. There’s a constant theme that we’re seeing with these kinds of stories. I think if we’re going to, even referencing Obama, Obama has even said, I’ve been referencing a lot lately. Obama has even said that we cannot continue to follow in the same uh political paradim and uh, expect different results. So I think that we’re going to have to really be honest about what’s happening within some of these communities or else we’re going to be back to the same circle again 180 degrees or not 180 degrees. The, the same circle again. This is going to happen again.”

    Rather than retrofitting your statement to include “a number of indicators,” ones that you didn’t specify initially, why not just acknowledge that you’re stereotyping? I happen to think it’s human nature to stereotype, which is to say that even some of those who clown you for it can relate. To read your attempts at distancing yourself from what you said is embarrassing.

    It bares mentioning that no one chooses his name. It also bares mentioning that there are too many exmaples of people who’ve made poor choices who aren’t named Tarika. Does the surname Kennedy ring a bell?

  • Al From Bay Shore

    Er, not so fast guys. There exists a segment of the black community that, in varying degrees, attempts to minimize the magnitude of the self inflicted damage done within our working and middle class communities. The ghetto name is yet another canary dying in the mineshaft.

    The criticisms of Dburt are yet another variation of the Dyson-esque retorts that reflect the complete denial over the pathologies that ravage our community. Its amazing the way in which the pro-black Afristocratic intelligencia have turned a cold shoulder towards the black working and middle classes that suffer underneath the brunt of ghetto culture’s tyranny and terrorism. The ghetto name is a less malignant form of this group destructive behavior.

    Yes, I am advocating a widespread condemnation of ghetto culture, including the names with which it adorns itself. All of it is completely corrupt. It is a cancer that eats away at black culture. While it is just a name, it still arises from the very ignorance that foments and perpetuates the destruction of black people, black culture, and infrastructure within the black community. The ghetto name has become inseparable from the behaviors, attitudes, and pathologies with which it is associated.

    The emerging backlash against the ghetto name on the part of black folks is not the result of elitism. It is the frustration that results from living among those who continually disrespect our communities, cultures, and saftey. This backlash also comes from those who, in their younger and naive days, violated the cardinal rule – never romanticize the ghetto.

    Ghetto names are childish designations from a childish culture. Its time to draw an uncompromising line and maintain it. The criticisms of Dburt are nothing but nice sounding permissive rationalizations of practices and behaviors that are destructive to black people and their culture.

  • OMG, I’m loving this blog and the host of the blog. The title I’m loving even more.

    Ladyboss, Tabitha, You’re doing an excellent job in uncovering the pathology that Desmond is stricken with; self hatred and apologizing for police brutality. The name, or who this woman was in a relationship with has nothing to do with how she died. Was she brandishing a weapon when they raided her home? Maybe the kid threatened the police with his pacifier? Can Desmond give us some incite other than guess work, reactionary rhetoric, and self-hating ramblings?

  • LH

    Al From Bay Shore: What would you call attributing what happened to Tarika Wilson to her name? I’m going with blaming the victim–literally and figuratively.

  • LH, what about Wilson’s children who were “victims” BEFORE her death. What about the “victims” in her community that had to deal with the illegal and violent business interests of her boyfriends/children’s fathers? This reminds me of the Notorious BIG’s Juicy song when he does a monologue:

    “to all the people that lived above the
    buildings that I was hustlin’ in front of that called the police on me when I was just tryin’ to make some money to feed my daughters”

    You see, this lyric always bothered me because the hard working folks that have NOTHING TO DO WITH HIS (Biggie in this case) ISSUES OR ILLEGAL BUSINESS are ALSO victims and the enablers and apologists are silent on this! It is this mentality that is partially contributing to the Black community’s demise. Again, folks are so incensed by my “name” hypothesis that EVERYTHING else is discarded. The police are simplistically viewed as the enemy but the numerically LARGER malfeasance that takes place with US gets a pass. Can some one address this or is it more of the “same o same o” Come on people!

  • Al From Bay Shore

    LH, my entire beef is with black folk who ignore the self inflicted crisis that currently ravages our community. What happened to Tarika Wilson was a tragedy. What is more tragic is the way some of you guys select your victims. It would seem that the only way for black life to have meaning is to be victimized or killed by whites or the police. However, if a black person is victimized by another black person, that black life is meaningless (we seem to replicate a mindset that prevails in the ghetto).

    There is a HUGE problem and the name issue is another less malignant form of that problem. Please do not misunderstand me, the name did not cause the death. If that were the case, I would have blamed Annijah Rolax’s death on her name when in fact she was a victim of black on black pathology – this was yet another senseless death of a promising young child that went ignored by our Afristocratic intelligencia.

    In a nutshell, many of us who had angst against racism and the police REMAINED in the community and turned our rage against the REAL source of the blight and despair that ravages the hard working black man and woman in many of our communities. We need to change our cultural values and the way in which we name our children is but one of the many things that require adjustment.

  • Concerned Citizen

    I think there’s truth in both arguments in this case. On the one hand, Tarika, however tragically and unjustifiably she died, and no matter what her name, is a human being, no less important in the eyes of God than any of us regardless of our socioeconomic standing. While it is easy to aloofly say that one would not have been so foolish (if that’s the way one chooses to see it) as to have taken such a path in life, truth is, none of us can say with certainty how we would have dealt with the pressures of life in such a setting, or whether we would have been able to resist romantic entanglements with this one or that one given the natural inclination to seek love and acceptance wherever it might be found, especially when the pickings are slim. We’ve heard the age-old adage “love is blind.”

    On the other hand, we all should be concerned by the depressing realities of the inner city and the statistics that go with. They paint a bleak picture of a fundamental breakdown of family structure that has wracked Black communities and that has borne as its fruit a generation of children who simply aren’t being vectored in the right direction with their lives. Some are, but most aren’t. From a Christian perspective, I think we should really make restoration of the Black family a top priority. A lot of what we see in our young people are symptoms of this larger problem of the absence of stable (and preferably two-parent) homes. As far as I can tell, that’s really the main difference between what we see in 2008 and what existed immediately after slavery and into the Civil Rights era.

    Despite an openly more hostile environment for Black folks then, we didn’t see crime in our communities at the scale and horrific nature that we see it today. And crimes that did rise to that level were usually perpetrated by hateful outsiders and were not of the Black-on-Black type that have prevailed for the past three decades or so. If that’s unappreciated, it might point to the fact that we’ve all become so collectively numb to the daily litany of reported murders, robberies and sex crimes so as to accept them as normal. Not so back then, and why: stronger familial bonds and community self policing, in which there was a pervasive attitude of respect for adults and the elderly in particular. Everything was knit together around the core family and extended family of the neighborhood where one grew up.

    The breakdown of the family in general in America, and disproportionately among Black Americans, is the culprit behind all of the mayhem we’ve grown to accept as part and parcel of life in the “ghetto.” The family is the basic structure of any nation or people group. When that starts to breakdown, everything else starts to slip with it. It’s as if God is saying, hey, you mess with what I’ve ordained as good and proper, and you’re going to reap a whirlwind of pain. It’s happening all around us. Identifying the problem is the easy part, changing hearts and minds is where the real work lies. I don’t have all the answers, and I suppose that change begins with one person at a time, but something must be done to give people hope that change is possible and that change we must. If 70% of our kids are being born out of wedlock, something is terribly wrong; we can’t expect to see any positive developments come out of statistics like this.

    I’m open to suggestions….

  • What’s with all the speechifying, guys?

    First: who is defending pathology? (And why is it pathology?) It seemed as if the point made by ladyboss/Tabitha was that poverty necessarily changes the options on the table for those who live in it. It’s hard to figure out what’s so controversial or untrue about that, or why people who are marginalized would exercise the same choices that more well-off people would even when those choices aren’t available to them. That’s not ‘enabling,’ that’s literally realpolitik. You will not change the values of the people you’re chastising by issuing angry moral appeals. You’d have to change the incentives they have (and you’d be hard-pressed to find an incentive more pressing than feeding your kids and keeping the lights on).

    Second: How effective is this alleged ‘challenging the enabling mindset’ thing you’re doing? Bill Cosby delivered the pound cake speech in front of a paying crowd on a university campus; shouldn’t his exhortations for ‘good behavior’ be directed toward the people he’s chastising? The same goes for Afronerd: how many people who are struggling in poverty are listening to Afronerd’s importuning on his podcast? on NPR? C’mon, ya’ll.

    Third: Tabitha posed this question, and none of you have answered it: If these are issues that you’re so concerned and impassioned about, what are you doing about them besides podcasting and denouncing the alleged moral decline of black America on blogs? Is it safe to assume that Desmond takes time from his busy schedule to mentor kids in the inner-city? Or does this alleged anguish only exist on the level of rhetoric?

  • “Third: Tabitha posed this question, and none of you have answered it: If these are issues that you’re so concerned and impassioned about, what are you doing about them besides podcasting and denouncing the alleged moral decline of black America on blogs? Is it safe to assume that Desmond takes time from his busy schedule to mentor kids in the inner-city? Or does this alleged anguish only exist on the level of rhetoric?”

    Ah, G.D., wonderful words but most importantly, wonderful questions.
    And the thing is, the reason why one cannot take Desmond seriously in any way shape or form as a so-called idealogue like is that he has no solutions. Not one. Not one idea. and as told to me by a former associate of his, he could care less about mentoring. I know that that’s what I’m doing amonget other things, but poor Desmond is so wrapped up in his ‘anger’ at the scourge of the black community, thqat I believe that when the day comes mass arrest will be conducted for whatever reasons and black non- criminals will be locked up as well as the real criminals, Desmond would be sitting in front of the TV eating popcorn and cheering the cops on saying, “See, if these black folks didn’t tolerate the gangster, they wouldn’t be going to jail. Does my hypothetical sound off? Well let’s not forget this little story:
    NYPD Arrest 181 Black Men in Queens After Cop Shot in the Leg

  • First off, I’m not one for really acknowledging anything brother komrade has to say because he is not really interested in conversing and keeping it civil. Why that is no one knows. But again, I’m going to contact all parties to discuss this tomorrow at 9pm ( in#646-915-9620). Let’s lay out everything on the table and really get into this subject. I respect anyone that chooses to mentor but there are a number of different ways to contribute to society and Black society in addition to mentoring. But I am for logic and many Black folk as can be exhibited in this exchange in this site aren’t comfortable with a Cosby-esque message but in the same breath you want me to mentor folks. I have also had “solution” shows and the solutions still didn’t measure up to komrade and his ilk’s satisfaction. What is required and what myself and other bloggers are attempting to do is garner a cultural shift and provide cultural alternatives, hence casting a wide net. Going into the projects and attempting to provide instruction or telling someone how to raise their children is foolhardy and fruitless at best. There are educated people of color that have a problem with such a strict message so you think that a drug dealer or someone truly dysfunctional is prepared to listen to the obvious? Again, we need hundreds of folks to hit our problems from a hundred different angles and to diminish the power of blogging is disingenuous and dishonest at best. White folks have harnessed change and power through blogging and now that Black folks are doing it NOW it doesn’t mean anything just doesn’t fly with me. Heck even gang members are recruiting on the internet now so TRUST me change has, will and IS occurring on cyberspace. And lastly, I do not think asking Black people to be responsible for raising their kids, to refrain from violent acts and to respect ourselves is not tantamount to being an “Uncle Ruckus” but scoffing at personal responsibility and not being honest about the self destructive elements in our communities to save face in front of Whites comes off a whole lot more traitorous than speaking truthfully. Afronerd/Dburt is a sell-out but Fifty cent, Lil wayne, some of our “down” politicians who sell our image out REPEATEDLY are NEVER considered sell outs. We’ll talk about this tomorrow-ALL ARE WELCOME!

  • Pretty good discussion. Always healthy to air out the issues and this seems like a great blog to do that. I RSS’d it.

    IMO, names don’t kill, but they do often indicate the kind of conditioning that an individual absorbed, and conditioning can kill. Its the correlation between that name and that conditioning that I think people are talking about here.

    My sons are named Cassius, Cornelius, and Carnegie. In our family, we like “C’s.” We could have chosen Cormega, Capone, etc. and I love QB rappers but I also wasn’t gonna name my kids Charles, Chris, Carl, or whatever. I think names mean a lot. Names are like brands. They get noticed. People say, “that’s a great name!” That leaves an impression on a kid. So does a blank stare. This isn’t out of pretentiousness but out of respect, honor, expectation, programming. I don’t care what a person’s name is, I respect and honor the individual first, in terms of what’s on the inside.

    You could be called Queen Elizabeth or Queen Nefertiti or Einstein and still end up being a self-destructive, fearful, unmotivated, selfish, passionless person.

    You could be called Shaniqua or Billy Bob and still be purposeful, fearless, passionate, kindhearted, gracious, and wise.

    (But … we know someone who named their daughter Cliche. This is a ghetto crime. Sorry. Ignorance of what the word “cliche” means is no excuse. That poor girl is gonna have to work extra hard, don’t you think? And maybe that’s OK. But, maybe not.)

    As for the term “low class” I totally hate that term. “Class” has to do with what’s on the inside of a person. My grandfather was a functionally illiterate Pullman Porter on the South Side of Chicago, and his wife, my grandmother, was a “domestic.” Her brothers were sharecroppers. They were from Monroe, Louisiana. They conducted their lives with class and dignity, despite living in what many people would call the ghetto (43rd and Prairie). They were “low class.” Or were they? IMO that’s a racist, antique term.

    No one talks about conditioning. The good news about conditioning is that we can re-condition. I can’t stand blame. I love possibilities. Once people understand that anything’s possible then they agree to allow themselves their own reconditioning. In our communities this is sometimes complicated. We suffer from the diabolical combination of fear of success on the one hand, and doubt about self-worth on the other. When we begin to understand this, then we can move forward.

    Anyway, one man’s opinion!

  • can someone define all these terms that are getting thrown around for the purpose of this discussion?

    Al from Bay Shore said “destructive to black culture” as if we were all in agreement on what ‘black culture’ us?

    I don’t think the broad stereotypes Desmond is employing leaves room to consider that these are real people who make culturally specific decisions about their lives — the way the rest of the population does. And who gets to determine what’s functional and what isn’t? I think that question goes to the heart of what we’re trying to flesh out on this blog.

    Desmond: could you point to some evidence to how you’re blogging effects change? It seems like your tactic in this discussion has just been to keep insisting that these things are the case. On your own blog you’ve pointed to Biggie and an episode of ‘Family Guy’. As the man said: ‘we don’t believe you/you need more people.”

  • Unfortunately, tech problems prevented my show from broadcasting properly so I will try again this Sunday at 8pm. I believe my blogging has caused change in a number of ways…first, I have made a number of connections behind the scenes to address alternate imagery for Black folk….contacting Sirius to consider a Black rock /progressive hip hop channel(which they are resisting but I’m hearing a reconsideration) to offset the sole minstrel hip hop depiction that literally DEFINES Black culture, also the promotion of alternative politics for Black folk (conservative/moderate), the feedback that I have received from folks of ALL nationalities that felt that what my site promotes caused them to think about issues differently and about people of color DIFFERENTLY. When I talk about casting a wide net this is what I’m talking about helping to address our imagery and to stop the CURRENT ghettocentric message of failure. We also educate our audience with interviews of a side of Black life that some of us are not privy to…hence the gentleman above, “Claude” who we interviewed a few months ago about his Black fives project(negro league basketball). I have been asked to speak at colleges and other venues since the blog’s inception to address Black blogging and alternate Black imagery. Again, there is more than one way to address issues and promoting the concept of a MULTI-FACETED image for Black folk may at least give our youth a CHANCE if they are at least AWARE of alternatives. I have also confronted Reggie Hudlin regarding BET and he is aware of my blog we are working on an interview with him as well. A number of notables (i.e. the CEO of Overstock, Patrick Byrne) have reached out regarding discussions on education as it relates to Black folk. Again this is a work in progress but the bottom line is I have had countless personal encounters with people that seem to be getting this message. And your view that I am using broad stereotypes I believe is incorrect. Our site’s mantra is to DEBUNK stereotypes. I am being quite specific about indicators of our dysfunction/pathology. No one is focusing on the OTHER indicators only the one that makes you uncomfortable…the name debate. Sorry for the tech problems folks but we have to pick this up on the show…I’ve been assured the problems have been rectified. We should not have to be on the same page on these topics….MANY Black folk understand that we can not continue to ignore issues that make us feel uncomfortable. Someone else mentioned that nothing has changed during Cosby’s 2 year tour and that is an unfair statement and unrealistic. But a change HAS started-the rash of “cosby effect” films, decline in rap sales and reevaluation of the music, recent polls of differing values between underclass Blacks and middle class Blacks and just the realization (slowly) by the media that there are different “types” of Blacks fighting this backward monolithic perception of us is CHANGE….it’s happening. Hell even more notoriety about the Black blogosphere is change…..but expecting everyone to do the same thing the same way..THAT must stop. PS the “american Dad episode was a comment about enabling….which is what some of us are doing when we coddle some of our people. HANDICAPPED people do not want to be coddled so why people of color?

  • Desmond: It’s hard to figure out what you’re referring to; all your buss words (‘ghettocentric message of failure’) are all so vague.

    Could you please, please be more specific?

  • and further evidence:

    There are a LOT of Black folk that understand what I am saying. Sure folks shouldn’t be judged by their name but it’s time to deal with realities. We have to stop stigmatizing OURSELVES and stop the excuses. Slowly but surely….the message is getting out!

  • LH

    G.D.: I’m normally loath to pose a question in response to a question, but I will ask if you think dating a drug dealer and having six children by five different men is functional?

    So often, the question you posed is discussed using hyptothetical constructions, but here we have a person whose life we can draw some inferences about based on some of the choices we know she made.

  • you know what? Sunday at 8pm(again my apologies for tonight…beyond my control)….let’s get into this where our points can be made clear. And again words that you do not like I do not consider buzzwords. Only folks that do not LIKE what I am saying seem to need specifics….

  • Here’s a young lady from NPR’s site on this issue….more folks chiming in:

    “Afrocetnric is an excellent way to characterize these names. Like the afrocetnric myth (that Western civilization originated in Africa–debunked brilliantly by Mary Lefkowitz in Not out of Africa ) they have nothing to do with Africa. “Tarika” is just made up gibberish: it has no meaning, no etymology, and no history. It is not African. One did not see names like these in the black community in the 1950s and 1960s. As a Middle school Latin teacher in a predominately black school I have had ample opportunity to observe how these names developed. At first (in the early 1980s), one saw names like “Moneek” and “Lukreesha” which were clearly attempts to achieve a phonetic spelling of ordinary names, made by mothers who did now how to spell their childern’s names and did not care to learn. Then one began to see elaborations and variations such as Moneequa and LaKreesha — attempts to make them sound more feminine by adding a spurious feminine elements from the romance languages. Then they developed at random until Tarika seems tame (I have also seen Pepsi and Porsche as given names — a parallel rather than strictly related development, although I do not think the latter has anything to do with Shakespeare). Then, in the late 1990s one began to see in the baby name book section by the checkout lane in the supermarket texts offering lists of such gibberish, each one provided with a fake meaning in “African Language” — whatever that means. It is a horrible comment on the black underclass turning its back on education as a means of escape from poverty.”

    Sent by Helena Constantine | 9:27 PM ET | 02-13-2008

  • Desmond: I don’t even know what you’re saying, hence my request for specifics. The idea that some names are valid and some names aren’t — because they aren’t ‘authentically African’ doesn’t make sense. Would the sudden popularity of ‘Djimon’ for little black boys change anything at all?

    Oh, before I forget: Good looking out on that Sirius thing. A lot of cats in Bed-Stuy were complaining about the lack of alternative hip-hop on subscriber satellite radio. We appreciate it.

    LH: Are they choices I would have personally made? No. But that speaks to the kind of options Tarika Wilson had available (or thought she had available).

    Let’s look at the role of economics as it pertains to family. College-educated women are much more likely to marry than women who are not college educated. They also marry later and have their first children later. Tarika Wilson wasn’t college-educated (though she was slated to start classes) — and this is just a guess here — she probably wasn’t considering going to college before she started having children.

    The reason the people who plan to go to college don’t have children in large numbers is probably really simple: it would throw a monkey-wrench into their long-term plans.

    College-educated people don’t have less sex; they do have fewer pregnancies and more abortions. Again, the monkey-wrench. If you’re Wilson and you’re poor and you live in Lima, Ohio, what are the incentives for not having children (even five) if you’re future almost certainly involves staying poor in Lima, Ohio? Is the surfeit of options she allegedly had suddenly off the table? What options are we talking about?

    Tarika Wilson almost certainly would have had some interaction with the law, given the company she kept. But, again, from her perspective, these dudes probably weren’t evil villains. They were just them dudes down the block. Or her boyfriend. Or whatever. Context matters.

    Her choices were probably functional in the very specific context in which she lived. But would the choices middle-class people employ make sense in that context? Not likely.

  • ladyboss09

    desmond: i wasn’t going to reply, and i promise, this is the last
    time. i just wanted to say, thank you. i get it now. you’re not *really* concerned with what’s happening to the poor less fortunate members of the black community. you’re concerned with how their behavior reflects on you as a black person in america. when asked to address your contribution to change in this
    environment, this summed it up for me:

    ‘the feedback that I have received from folks of ALL nationalities that felt that what my site promotes caused them to think about issues differently and about people of color DIFFERENTLY’

    i suspected, but didn’t want to accuse you right away. thank you for confirming my suspicions. this isn’t really about helping the people within our communities. this is bout you not being associated with behavior deemed uncivilized by that larger population.

    you are quite delusional if you believe:

    1. a show about black punk rock will change anything in *our* communities. think about the people we’ve been discussing. generally poor with limited access. when are *they* listening to Sirius?

    2. the folks we are discussing are listening to your podcast. again, we’re talking about access. the kids we are talking about attend schools that barely have books. you think they are listening to Patrick Byrne on your podcast?

    3. that you are somehow creating a new political class of black conservatives. newsflash: MOST black folks are conservatives! nearly all the pro-life, pro-god, pro-prayer, anti-big government folks i know are black.

    4. ‘Only folks that do not LIKE what I am saying seem to need specifics….’ i would hope that any critical thinking person that engaged you would demand more of you on topics you opine about on the regular. perhaps, that’s the problem. you are engaging people who loathe to think past the initial rhetoric.

    5. the citing of a comment by Ms. Helena Constantine is some sort of validation. i would *really* suggest you do more research in the future before posting such foolishness. perhaps i’ll do a post on the real orgin of such names in the near future. your quick willingness to blindly believe that black women created these names merely because they couldn’t spell is rather telling.

    lastly, i’d really like to say thank you again. i realize that our agendas on this thing are wholly different. your blog and commentary generally seeks to gain approval from the (white) mainstream to validate that you are ‘in it but not *of* it,’ so to speak. it’s common among the black middle class. i understand with your general disdain for hip-hop (having created a monolithic image of it in the same way you seem to despise), your vitriolic assessments of the black lower class and your general earnest belief that Bill Cosby has spurred change among the people he talks about (read: not YOU or any of us college educated middle class folks)- we will never be on the same page. our aims are different. i seek to change not how people see our people but how our people see themselves.

  • First off, WHATEVER I would have said I suspect you guys/gals would not have liked. And I find it interesting that anytime we ask Black folk (and class designation has nothing to do with this) to release the mental shackles of enslavement and to take ownership or personal responsibility for at least SOME of our internal strife, it is perceived as capitulating to White folks…I never mention Whites but those that do not get the message ALAWAYS do. And IMAGERY or PROPAGANDA does contribute to how many of us are conducting ourselves, whether you want to believe it or not. There is a current theme or message that many of our youth are receiving and I think it is important to expand the IMAGE so that it is an ACCURATE one. Now if you think that we must all conform to a one BOX description, I feel sorry for you. AGAIN, this has nothing to do with Whites…this is about self-analysis this time and Sunday I hope you guys come through so that you can fairly assess what I am trying to do or you can go by what you THINK I am about. It really is depressing that so many people of color think that refraining from killing ourselves, respecting the family unit and just getting off this myopic vision of Blackness is trying to be “white” is absolutely backward thinking. Fifty cent has a voice and actually speaks to our “community” in a fashion but you HATE Cosby…WOW! And you choose to think that this is a wholesale indictment of the lower class it is not. But what you fail to answer is…ALL Black folk historically come from humble beginnings. In the past, being poor didn’t necessarily come with all the dysfunction that we are witnessing now. We have had GREATER impediments before and we still maintained a sense of dignity. What the hell happened? What you guys on this site fail to recognize is NOW we have a codified subculture of failure and criminality that affects the working poor, lower, middle and upper classes. Some of this will lessen if we change our imagery/perception-making it more accurate. I have spoken to countless folks-ex-cons, street cats, folks in projects and the consistent thread is a mentality that they are victims and going to jail is just the thing to do. Just like getting a job or going to school is “the thing to do” for many of us on this site. We are literally talking about the dismantling of culture, a mindset. Matter of fact, we have seen MANY of our people obtain money and access and they STILL succumbed to their past-their minds were still stuck in the ghetto even though they may have physically resided in Beverly Hills (just ask our entertainers, athletes, rappers, etc) . So is it poverty or is it the MIND? But if you folks on the board want to continue keeping our people with a victimization mindset and that every time we ask for self respect or any other list of positives to be enacted, likening it to Whiteness….trust me, I feel sorry for YOU. I wish my tech problems did occur last night but Sunday I hope you folks can come through at 8pm to confront me on this. Many have a tendency to believe what they want to believe instead of REALLY engaging in a conversation. Let’s stop giving White folks the credit for decency when such behavior has no color.

  • Oh and one more thing…Black folks by and large are SOCIALLY conservative..we are talking about political conservatism.

  • Desmond: Could you refrain from the incoherent sanctimony? No one here has ridden for 50, have they? No one here hates Bill Cosby, either. We do reserve the right to be critical of whomever we choose to criticize — and that includes Dr. Cosby.

    “Many have a tendency to believe what they want instead of engaging in a conversation.”

    Fam, can you re-read this whole thread? It’s you whose speechifying and incessantly plugging your podcast. You’ve not elaborated or clarified any of the points you made; you’ve only made them more insistent. If this hasn’t been a fruitful or civil conversation, you certainly bear some of the responsibility for that.

  • I’m plugging the podcast so we can actually “speak.”….then we will really get an idea of each others viewpoints…that is perhaps the besy way to keep it civil.

  • LH

    I’d almost rather have clarity in lieu of civility, because as it stands now, Desmond, you haven’t clarified your initial point. You’ve reiterated, retrofitted and insisted, as have your apologists.

    I think you squandered an opportunity to have an informative discussion on the problems affecting communities like Wilson’s by making what happened to her about her name.

  • LH, this just came in on my blog unsolicited by a person that heard my broadcast:

    I just heard a clip of the roundtable discussion on Afro-centric names and wanted to share this perspective with you.

    A month ago I was sitting at my buddy Kituku’s place in Nairobi, Kenya. He’s a young, successful Kenyan dentist – I’m a white American photographer.

    We were watching a sports show on satellite TV where there was a black American female athlete with a typical Afrocentric name.

    My friend Kituku posed me this question: “Where do black Americans get all these funny names from?” (his exact words)

    I thought about it and responded that I thought it came as a reaction against the Christian names inherited from the days of slavery, and that they came up with these names to sound well…he looked at me…”more African.”

    Kituku burst out laughing. To an African, the idea that a name like Shaniqua or Tarika, etc is somehow “more African” is preposterous and a little bit insulting. He ended up shaking his head and giving me the vibe that I usually get from people overseas when talking about American idiosyncrasies – “you Americans are crazy!”

    My issue with so-called Afrocentric names is not that they seek to be Afrocentric – I think authentic Swahili names like Amani (peace) are both beautiful and meaningful – it is that they show a lack of respect for authentic African culture. Africa is a humongous continent with hundreds of languages – the differences between which are often as great as the difference between English and Chinese. I feel it is a bit simplistic and insulting to African culture to invent a name simply because it “sounds African”. ”
    Mzungu Mmoja | Homepage | 02.15.08 – 2:28 pm | #

    I rest my case.

  • Desmond: What case are you resting? Has anyone besides you even suggested that folks assumed Tarika or Shaniqua were ‘authentic African’ names? Where exactly? Are you getting this conversation confused with another diatribe you’re engaged in on another blog/message board?

    Whether ‘Tarika’ is ‘authentic’ or not has no bearing on its validity. It seems as if you’re arguing that names that you personally think sound like ‘gibberish’ aren’t valid or legitimate. That, I guess, is your prerogative. You can discriminate in whichever way affords you the moral superiority you want to wield.

  • Well the discussion is two-fold. It stems from my last NPR appearance and this gentleman provided his take on it. And secondly, it’s the denial that you have toward one (the “name” issue) of a NUMBER of indicators that point to inner city dysfunctionalism. There seems to be a problem with the “lack of specificity” regarding my words: “dysfunctional,” “pathology,” “ghetto-centric,” etc but to many my usage of these terms are quite specific. You want specificity and solutions and we can’t even be honest about the problems! I suspect you are accustomed to “attractive” talk so anything that denotes non-victimization or “non-whiteyistheproblemism” (more alleged buzzwords-sorry bruh) you get shook and feign a lack of understanding. We’ll mix it this weekend for sure….hopefully I can help you with “my lack of clarity.”

  • LH

    Desmond, your “case” is lacking in substance and Mzungu Mmoja’s comments don’t change that. I think it’s priceless that a white man is insulted on behalf of Africans by a name that “sounds African.”

    Who said Tarika’s name was “invented” because it “sounds African”? That’s an assumption based on a stereotype. I’m hard put to think of a more slippery slope.

    The issue isn’t whether or not Wilson’s name is authentically African, but whether –as you suggested– it’s the reason she was shot by the police.

    Tarika’s name didn’t bring about her death anymore than Mzungu Mmoja’s name creates the privilege he enjoys as a “white American photographer.”

    I think it’s safe to say that never the Twain shall meet, Desmond, but thank you for the conversation.

  • Desmond: Where did I ‘blame whitey’, as you put it? You’re accusing me of making points I haven’t made.

    What is the name issue? That names are indicators? How do you make sense of the chapter you cited saying that ‘Michael’ was the most popular name among poor blacks in their study?

    Is the issue that the names just sound stupid? Again, it’s your world. But it’s always odd to hear black people ride in favor of broad stereotype.

    We’re not gonna agree on this — whatever ‘this’ is, as you still haven’t clarified — but thank you for your responses, nonetheless.

  • LH..don’t be disingenuous..I never said that her name was the CAUSE of her getting shot. Come on bruh…why can’t we highlight the cues? This is what I’m talking about…too much inference and “reading into” what I clearly did not say. Let’s keep it honest. And GD sorry for the confusion, it was really in response to “ladyboss” that assumed I’m concerned about what “White folks think.” So again, I apologize for that. But it’s the “White photographer” (this is to LH) who pointed out what an AFRICAN stated about the name issue…just a little too much irony in respects to an addendum to my original argument. Again, this can be fleshed out better in a live format but if not that’s ok also. I just do not like conjecture to be replaced or misconstrued for what was actually said.

  • ladyboss09


    I’m not going to argue any further with you on your rhetoric. However, I’d like to request that you please stop making things up and do your homework. The African centered movements that have happened in the black community are wholly different from the naming phenomenon you’ve described. Lumping them together is a mass generalization of *VERY* different communities. The term “afro-centric” has been egregiously misused by you, your supporters and those comments (whose hugely inaccurate ‘facts’ do nothing to further your points) you post. If you’d like to learn more about Afrocentricity, I suggest you read up from scholars on the subject. My suggestions: Dr. John Henrik Clark, Molefi K. Asanta or Dr. Marimba Ani. That will at least give you a base from which to speak with more accuracy.

  • It appears that you just don’t like my opinions and that’s fine but I do not think my beliefs are rhetoric. And I perceive myself to be afrocentric just not how YOU define it as such. If anything, the name issue was not a wholesale indictment against afrocentric names as I do not espouse eurocentricism……I made distinctions between names that were African as opposed to names like Shenaynay, Dashawn or Alize. Let’s try to be specifc and use some discernment. Blackness has a lot to do with confidence without excuses and being self analytical. I am very aware of the scholars you mentioned as I highlight them in my blog. And if you notice, their names do not resemble the names of the underclass set that I am talking about. Let’s stop being sensitive and try to be HONEST…political correctness is literally killing our people. And let’s at least TRY to focus on our OWN troubles as people without dragging or capitulating to Whites (as you accused me of doing ladyboss) as I rarely bring up Whites to describe our internal matters. Last time I checked, the drug dealers, gang members, criminals, those who vandalize and graffiti our property did not look like they were Klansman….being afrocentric means owning up to certain things and your ability to backward-rationalize is not only doing us harm but it’s getting tired. Let’s rise, start admitting some things and then move onward and upward. NO MORE EXCUSES IN 08!!

  • I have been following this thread and I am still lost. I do not dislike your opinions on these matters, however I do disagree with them to an extent.

    Since when does having a “ghetto” name mean that you are more likely to lead that type of lifestyle? People make choices that they feel are right for them regardless of name, class and/or upbringing. I know of several people that are from the projects that are now college students and professionals just like I know people who come from what some would consider A middle class upbringing and they end up drug dealers, criminals and the like.

    Just as she laid with all those men and created all of those children, she knew what she was getting into before hand, and if she didn’t she made the choice on her own accord, not because of her name or because of her background.

    I agree with you Desmond in that there is usually more than one way to solve a problem. However, some of the persons you mentioned may not have access to your means of solving the problem.

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