Raven-Symoné mocks names she can’t abide

October 12, 2015 17:13:59 Posted at October 12, 2015 17:13:59
Duana Posted by Duana
Joseph Marzullo /WENN.com

The other day on The View, Raven-Symoné said she would be discriminatory towards people with certain names. You know which kinds of names. The kinds of names people laugh about, that become punchlines. Never, ever, say, Phillip.

To be clear, the hosts were referencing a study about racism in judging names, and in a decision I question to begin with, illustrated their point by showing a 2009 viral video skewering allegedly ‘ghetto’ names. Raven first said the boys in the video were “my boys”, and then agreed that yes, people are and, she implied, should be, judged on their names. 

“I am very discriminatory against words like the ones they were saying in that video…I’m not going to hire you if your name is Watermelondrea. It’s just not going to happen. I’m not going to hire you.”

Put aside for a second that I suspect she thought she was being truthful or clever – the woman’s name is Raven-Symoné. If she were not a famous-since-the-age-of-three, formerly adorable tyke, she, too, would be vulnerable to mockery. I don’t use this word often, but it’s the height of privilege not to see that, but for an accident of fate, your name would be just as harshly judged for clearly not being Sarah.

My favourite aspect of this story, if you can have a ‘favourite’ thing, is that she goes on about how ‘I’m not going to hire you’. What if she was telling the truth? The idea that she might have rejected – even subconsciously – people with unusual names is one thing. But I can’t shake the feeling that she might have rejected people who would have thought they’d have an extra in, hoping that someone named Raven-Symoné might look past their nontraditional name. Given that she has one herself. 

She’s since apologized, of course. "My comment was in poor taste. My lack of empathy towards name discrimination was uncalled for....As an equal opportunity employer, I have never discriminated against a name....even though I said I would, it's not true,"

You’re rolling your eyes, right?

As always, I have to end on a caveat. If you’re going ‘but I’ve heard my very racist boss say the same thing…’? First of all, it’s still bullsh*t discrimination. Secondly, it’s never, ever the fault of the named person. So to get ahead with your boss, they have to eschew the name they were born with? Thirdly, do you really think this kind of racism applies only to ‘created’ names that are skewered in viral videos? Or do you think there are people who find a way to mock the kinds of names worn by your family, or your friends – or by you? 

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