Searching for Shaniqua: What’s in a Name?

My name is pretty basic (Tonya). I have been surprised at how common the name is across non white/white communities.  The spelling is tweaked at times (Tonia, Tania, Tanya, etc), but  I have met lots of Latina, Asian, Biracial, etc., “Tonyas.” The name is also pretty popular with white folks (usually the Tanya version), so I think I’ve been spared the racial assumptions about my name that some other black women suffer. In his new film, “Searching for Shaniqua: What’s in a Name?” producer/director Phill Branch looks at the discrimination some black women face, simply because of their name.  He has started an Indiegogo campaign to fund his project. Support if you can:

“When you hear the name Shaniqua, what usually comes to mind first? I’ve found that in my social and professional circles, the words ghetto and tacky were often associated with that particular name. A few years back, after a conversation about baby names that spiraled into a deconstruction of race and class in America, I began to question why so many people have discomfort with certain names.  After having similar conversations with people from all walks of life, I began to realize the importance of naming as it relates to profiling, bullying and self-esteem. As a professor at a HBCU, I ran across every kind of name that you can imagine. In academia, a place where race and class intersect, my awareness of how names impact people’s lives became even more heightened. In classrooms that were diverse, but largely black, students were sometimes surprised by how much of their thinking about themselves was based on negative stereotypes. In rooms filled with people of color, race wasn’t a dividing line, but social class was.”

Author: Tonya J.

I enjoy reading, writing, and traveling!

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