Monday, May 25, 2015

Arabic Names That Begin With "Sh" or "Ch"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post presents a partial list of Arabic names that begin with the prefix "sh" or "ch".

This post is part of an ongoing series on distinctive African American names and naming practices. Other posts in this series can be accessed by clicking the "distinctive African American names" tab below.

The content of this post is presented for historical, cultural and linguistic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.

This pancocojams series provides examples and comments about African American naming traditions, including my speculations about why many African Americans have preferred and, in some cases, still prefer certain prefixes and certain suffixes. For example, it's my premise that the large subset of 19th century and, in particular, 20th & 21st century distinctive Black (African American) names that begin with "sh" or "ch" can be at least partially explained by 1. the existence of a large number of Arabic names and traditional African language names that begin with one of those sounds, and 2. the existence of pre-1960s mainstream American names and distinctive Black American names that begin with one of those sounds and 3. the mass media attention given to some people or products with those names from the 1970s on.

I was one of the African Americans in the late 1960s who was interested in finding lists of African names so that we could change our "slave names" (European or Hebrew language birth names) to "free names" (names from Arabic or traditional African languages.) In those early days of the Black power movement with its interest in African cultures there was no internet and lists of African names were hard to come by. I recall people in the Committee For Unified Newark, (the cultural nationalist group that I belonged to which eventually was headed by poet, playwright, activist Amiri Baraka, formerly Le Roi Jones), sharing mimeographed (reprinted) copies of African names that we happened to come by. Many of those names were from the Arabic language and others were from KiSwahili, which is largly based on Arabic.

I'm not aware of any book of African names that was published before The Book of African Names (As Told by Chief Osuntoki) was published in 1970. In 1972 another book of African names was published - Names from Africa: Their Origin, Meaning, and Pronunciation by Ogonna Chuks-orji helped introduce African Americans to names from traditional African languages. I owned both of those books, but unfortunately, The Book of African Names (As Told by Chief Osuntoki) has gone missing. Some names from that second book are featured in the pancocojams post on traditional African names that begin with "sh" or "ch" that will be published ASAP.

The history of the Arabic language in Africa is the same as the history of the spread of Islam in Africa. Here's information about that topic:
"Africa was the first continent, outside of Arabia that Islam spread into in the early 7th century. Almost one-third of the world's Muslim population resides in this continent...

Spread of Islam in Africa

On the advice of Muhammad, in Rajab 8BH, or May 614AD, twenty three Muslims migrated to Abyssinia where they were protected by its king, Al-Najashi, who also accepted Islam later. They were followed by 101 Muslims later in the same year. By Muharram 7H, or May 628AD, all those Muslims returned to Medina, but locals who embraced Islam remained there. In 20H/641AD during the reign of Caliph Omar bin al-Khattab, Muslim troops took over current Egypt and conquered current Libya the following year. Muslims then expanded to current Tunisia in 27H/647AD during the reign of the third Muslim Caliph, Othman bin Affan. The conquest of North Africa continued under the Umayyad dynasty, taking Algeria by 61H/680AD, and Morocco the following year. From the latter Muslim troops crossed the Strait of Gibraltar to Europe in 711. Islam gained momentum during the tenth century in West Africa with the start of the Almoravids movement on the Senegal River and as rulers and kings embraced Islam.[citation needed] Islam then spread slowly in much of the continent through trade and preaching.[4] By the ninth century Muslim Sultanates started being established in the Horn of Africa, and by the 12th century the Kilwa Sultanate had spread as far south as Mozambique. Islam only crossed deeper into Malawi and Congo in the second half of the nineteenth century under the Zanzibar Sultanate. Then the British brought their labor force from India, including some Muslim Indian nationals, to their African colonies towards the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries."
That Wikipedia article indicates that "African Islam is not static and is constantly being reshaped by prevalent social, economic, and political conditions. Generally Islam in Africa often adapted to African cultural contexts and belief systems forming Africa's own orthodoxies. [2]"
-end of quote-
Among those African adaptations are examples of certain Arabic derived personal names. For instance, in the Wolof language of Senegal, West Africa "Aminata" is the form of the Arabic female name "Amina" and "Abdou" is the form of the Arabic male name "Abdul".

[Male names]
Sha'ban - Eighth month of the Muslim lunar calendar
Shadi - Singer, enchanter
Shadin - Fawn, young deer
Shafi - Mediator
Shafiq, Shafeeq - Kind, compassionate, tender
Shahid - Witness
Shahin - Hawk
Shahir - Well-known, famous
Shakib - Present, gift, reward
Shakir - Thankful
Shams al Din - Sun of the faith
Shamal - Wind that comes from the north
Shamil - All comprehensive
Shamim - Fragrant
Sharaf - Honor
Sharif, Shareef - Honest, honorable, noble, distinguished
Shawqi - Affectionate
Shihab - Flame, blaze
Shihab al Din - Star of the Faith
Shihad - Honey
Shu'aib, Shu'ayb - A Prophet's name
Shukri - Thankfulness
Shumayl - Complete

[Female names]
Shadan - Young gazelle
Shadha, Shadhaa - Aroma
Shadhiyah - Aromatic
Shadiyah - Singer
Shafiqah - Compassionate, sympathetic
Shahd - Honey, honeycomb
Shahidah - Witness
Shahirah - Well-known, famous
Shahlah - Blush
Shahrazad - Teller of "Tales of 1,001 Nights"
Shakirah - Thankful
Shamilah - Complete, comprehensive
Shams - Sun
Sharifah, Shareefa, Sherrifah - Noble, honored
Shawq - Longing
Shayma, Shaymaa - to look out
Shifa' - Curing, healing
Shimah - Nature, habit
Shiyam - Nature, character
Shudun - Powerful, straight
Shuhrah - Fame, reputation
Shukrah - Thankfulness
Shukriyah - Of thanks
Shuruq - Rising, shining
Note that the Arabic name "'A'ishah, Aisha, Ayishah" (Living, prosperous; youngest wife of the Prophet) includes the "sh" sound. One form of that name is spelled with an apostrophe. A pancocojams post on apostrophe names from Arabic and African language sources will be published ASAP.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Comments About Distinctive African American Names (Which I Don't Call "Ghetto Names")

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is part of an ongoing series on distinctive African American names and naming practices. Other posts in this series can be accessed by clicking the "distinctive African American names" tab below.

This post features three excerpts of online articles/blog posts with comments about African American names and naming practices, with a particular focus on distinctive, and often newly created African American names.

The content of this post is presented for cultural, linguistic, and sociological purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.

This pancocojams series provides examples and comments about African American naming traditions, including my speculations about why many African Americans have preferred and, in some cases, still prefer certain prefixes and certain suffixes. For example, it's my premise that the large subset of 19th century and, in particular, 20th & 21st century distinctive Black (African American) names that begin with "sh" or "ch" can be at least partially explained by 1. the existence of a large number of Arabic names and traditional African language names that begin with one of those sounds, and 2. the existence of pre-1960s mainstream American names and distinctive Black American names that begin with one of those sounds and 3. the mass media attention given to some people or products with those names from the 1970s on.

I was one of the African Americans in the late 1960s who were interested in finding lists of African names so that we could change our "slave names" (birth names from European languages or from Hebrew) to "free names" (names from Arabic or traditional African languages.) In those early days of the Black power movement with its interest in African cultures there was no internet and lists of African names were hard to come by. I recall people in the Committee For Unified Newark, (the cultural nationalist group that I belonged to which eventually was headed by poet, playwright, activist Amiri Baraka, formerly Le Roi Jones), sharing mimeographed (reprinted) copies of African names that we happened to come by. Many of those names were from the Arabic language and others were from KiSwahili, which is largly based on Arabic. I'm not aware of any book of African names that was published before The Book of African Names (As Told by Chief Osuntoki) was published in 1970. In 1972 another book of African names was published - Names from Africa: Their Origin, Meaning, and Pronunciation by Ogonna Chuks-orji helped introduce African Americans to names from traditional African languages. I owned both of those books, but unfortunately, The Book of African Names (As Told by Chief Osuntoki) has gone missing. Some names from that second book is included in the pancocojams post on traditional African names that begin or end with "sh" or "ch".

More information about the presence of the Arabic language in African is included in the upcoming pancocojams post on Arabic & African language names that begin with "Sh" or "Ch".

These quotes are presented in somewhat random order. They are numbered for referencing purposes only. I also added a brief editorial comment regarding quote #1 & #2.
Quote #1:
The Quarterly Journal Of Economics "The Causes and Consequences of Distinctive Black Names"
Ronld G. Fyrer, Jr. and Steven D. Levitt
Vol CXIX August 2004, Issue 3
“In the 1960s Blacks and Whites choose relatively similar first names for their children. Over a short period of time in the early 1970s, that pattern changed dramatically with most Blacks (particularly those living in racially isolated neighborhoods) adopting increasingly distinctive names, but a subset of Blacks actually moving toward more assimilating names. The patterns in this data appear most consistent with a model in which the rise of the Black power movement influenced how Blacks perceived their identities. Among Blacks born in the last two decades, names provide a strong signal of socioeconomic status, which was not previously the case. We find, however, no negative relationship between having a distinctive Black name and later life outcomes after controlling for a child’s circumstances at birth.”
[The researchers] used data that covered every child born in California in the past four decades. “We first document the stark differences between Black and White name choices in recent years. For example, more than 40% of the Black girls born in California in recent years received a name that not one of the roughly 100,000 White girls born in California that year was given. Even among popular names, racial patterns are pronounced. Names such as DeShawn, Tyrone, Reginald, Shanice, Precious, Kiara, and Deja are quite popular among Blacks but virtually unheard of for Whites. The opposite is true for names such as Connor, Cody, Jake, Molly, Emily, Abigail, and Caitlin. Each of these names appear in at least 2,000 cases (between 1989- 2000) with less than two percent of the recipients Black. Overall, Black choices of first names differ substantially more from Whites than do the names chosen by native born Hispanics and Asians."...

Quote #2

"Question: Ethnic and Cultural Differences: It is relatively common for African-Americans to have given names that appear to have been coined by their mothers, whereas it is very uncommon for others. What is the explanation?"

Jon Pennington
"Answer: In his book A Matter of Taste: How Names, Fashion, and Culture Change, the sociologist Stanley Lieberson attributes the increase in unique African-American names during the 1960s to greater black cultural pride in the context of the U.S. civil rights and black power movements:
Throughout the twentieth century, black parents were somewhat more disposed than white parents to give their children names they had invented. The gaps, however, were modest. Beginning in the 1960s, there is an unprecedented rise in invented names for African-American children (daughters more than sons). Among African Americans in 1989, for example, 29 percent of girls and 16 percent of boys born in Illinois were given unique names (fig. 3.2; source: Lieberson and Mikelson 1995, 930). By contrast, 5 percent of white girls and 3 percent of white boys have such names.

This change in Illinois is not caused by the migration of blacks from south to north. And there is evidence to show that this taste for invented names is not a historic one—at least to this extent. In fact, as we shall see, the timing of this development suggests an influence stemming from the broad and intense social and political changes beginning in the 1960s, a period marked by intensified social protest, a renewed emphasis on a distinctive and valued African-American culture, and black separatism (Lieberson and Mikelson 1995).

Lieberson gives several examples of how black pride and black culture influenced naming practices among African-Americans after the 1960s, not just for invented names. When the African-American miniseries Roots became a ratings blockbuster in 1977, the character Kizzy, played by actress Leslie Uggams, was so popular that Kizzy became the 17th most popular name for black girls in the state of Illinois almost overnight. Marcus was the 164th most popular name for black boys in 1956, but became the 13th most popular name for black boys in 1970, as a result of increasing interest in the early 20th century pan-Africanist and black separatist, Marcus Garvey. Islamic names previously popular in the Arabic-speaking world also became popular among African-Americans, due to the increasing prominence of Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam. Finally, another factor was the publication of baby name books that encouraged African-American parents to choose distinctive names for their children, such as this book on African names originally published in 1970: [picture of the cover of The Book Of African Names As Told by Chief Osuntoki]."
While I agree that there has been a huge increase in the selection of what mainstream America views as "non-standard American" names since the 1ate 1960s/early 1970s, long before those decades African Americans had personal names that were different than the names that Anglo-Americans gave their children. Documentation of that is found in Eliza Dinwiddle-Boyd’s 1994 book: Proud Heritage: 11,001 Names For Your African American Baby (New York, Avon Books). In that book Dinwiddle-Boyd cites names from Newbell Niles Puckett's Names of American Negro Slaves (1937). Examples of some of those names -which Dinwiddle-Boyd often refers to as "unusual names" are included in an upcoming pancocojams post on distinctive African American names that begin with "Sh" or "Ch".

Quote #3:
"I Gave My Daughter A Ghetto Name And i Regret It" November 8, 2013
Summary: An African American mother named Diamonte writes that she was seventeen years old when she gave her daughter what she wrote is believes is "now considered an ethnic name (I think this is a politically correct way of saying “ghetto name". The mother wrote:
"My daughter’s name is Qui Ante’ (pronounced Kee-on-tay). It means brave warrior and is also a combination of my name and her dad’s name. For my moms who are also wine aficionados, you’ll notice it is very similar to Chianti. I assure you, that part is purely coincidental.

When I gave my daughter her name, I honestly wasn’t thinking about how it would look on a resume. I was 17 and wanted something unique that had meaning and a little pizzazz. Like my name, Diamonte, which means diamond in Spanish. Needless to say, her name has that in spades. At the time, it sounded cute, so I went with it. When I got older, and the bias in the world became more apparent to me, I began to feel a sense of regret and began researching the name change process. I haven’t done anything with the information because I felt it something she should decide for herself, but I still wanted to know what options would be available to her should the time come where she needs to change it."
There are 420 comments to date. I've selected 26 comments to re-post here that are somewhat representative of that discussion thread, although I admit that I selected more comments whose positions I agree with than comments I don't agree with. I believe that readers can probably guess which positions those are.

All but one of these comments are from 2013. These comments may not be in sequential order.

a. Candeice Llovely
"Allow her to be proud of her name, who cares what others think or say....she'll grow up with what you call a ethic name while pursuing her Master's degree and reaching for the stars : )) God bless"

b. DontAskStillTell
"You shouldn't put a social boundary on your child that she would have to fill out some resume. I have a unique name myself and I've had no problems finding great paying jobs. However, why not raise your child to be self-employed, innovative, fashion designer or more. There's a world outside of the 9-5 where a person doesn't have to change their name, ethnic root or personality to fit in. They make their own way. Let it go and let Qui Qui be.:

c. LouLouB
"I think a lot of people a missing the point. Being ashamed of a ghetto name doesn't mean you're ashamed of being black. There's a difference between the two.

To me names like Issac and Earl are black sounding names but they're not ghetto. La'Quisha etc sounds ghetto. A similar thing (to a lesser extent) can happen to white people. With a name like Kyleigh or Kaihden some people will assume they were born to teenage parents or are uneducated etc.

A name says a lot to many, whether we like it or not."

d. Betts
"My mother named my daughter Aneesha (Agnus of God) Charmon(charming), she closed her eyes & said yes this is beautiful to hear on the playground, or to call her from outside. Now, if she was teased or not about her name or her skin color, I still gave her the confidence she needed. She is 21 & constantly tells me I prepared her for the world & life."

e. Jessica-Lynn Sage
"sounds like another black woman focused on others' opinions. so you named your child an eccentric name.... it's not ghetto, it's different. and your child is an individual, unlike any other.

it seems when most people name their children they focus too much on "if they'll be able to get a job". why is that the primary concern?? whatever happened to naming your child based on the bond you've created w/ the fetus and what you intuitively feel suits them. Qui Ante may end up being a brilliant, game-changing entrepreneur not even remotely interested in getting a 'nine to five'. Qui Ante could be a trailblazer for women who have unique names and learn to step into their divinity rather than shrink and try to conform.

i say Mama did a great job naming her daughter and Qui Ante has big shoes too fill (based on the meaning of her name), but as long as her mother regrets her name then it could certainly make it difficult for Qui Ante to come into her own."

"There's nothing wrong with an ethnic sounding name but that is different from a ghetto name. I have an ethnic name and although the name was often mispelled and to this day still people have mispronounced it, i love it.

BUT there are names that have nothing to do with ethnicity just plain silliness like being named after luxury items or just trying a lil too hard to be original like Sha_naynay, Nyquila, Obamaneisha and even Taquila....why would we want our kids to stand out like that /??? I have given my kids strong names that are original and with meaning but that will not give anyone pause on if this child is 'hood'. This is of course my personal choice as it is another mom's choice to name her child Nyquila ...i just beleive that every choice i make for my child should not be to be to be cute or different but to matter and to help them int he course of their lives."

g. cantaloupe w you
"My name is La'Shanta Knowles and yes I have a ghetto name. I'm not going to change my name because some idiot assume that I'm a stereotype. So if an employer sees that I have 6 years experience in Graphic Design, has a 4 year degree, but fails to call me for an interview because of my name then I consider that a blessing in disguise because that company might not be a good fit for me.

I love me. I respect me and I respect the name my mom gave me. Perhaps I have too much pride, but I'm not going to change for corporate America."

h. Val > I cantaloupe w you
"I agree with everything you said except your name being ghetto. It's not ghetto, it's just an African American name."

i. StansArePsychotic
"My name is Omolara and I can easily shorten it to Lara and it will be no problem. All of my friends with ghetto names hate it and they use their non-ghetto names (Michelle, Linda, Lisa, Melissa etc) instead. Stop naming your children ghetto names that they late grow up to loathe. Almost all of my friends with ghetto names shorten them or use their middle name (if it's not ghetto)."

j. ogunsiron > StansArePsychotic [2014]
Your name may be foreign but at least it's a real name (yoruba, right?).
Those are way more respected than hood names that mean nothing except "my parents are stupid".

k. ohthatswhatyouthought
"Pizzazz"? I will never understand why people give their children ghetto names to make them feel special. You don't think your child is special enough already?

l. Japera
"It is a very unfortunate reality that those of us with less racially ambiguous names have some sort of built in inferiority complex. Here's the real: If many of our ancestors in America had not been stripped of their identities, many of our parents and grandparents would not have to try so hard to "create" names that signify some desire for individuality and some sort of identity. My name is Japera... no one knows what the hell that means nor whether I am a male or female... most butcher the name when attempting to pronounce it.. and you know what.... I love it! Every time I get the opportunity to tell someone how to correctly pronounce my name, I give them this story: "My name is Jah-per-ay. I was named in a naming ceremony several days after my birth. In some West-African cultures people wait a few days to name children and name them according to birth order, personality, family history etc. In west african cultures it would be pronounced as phonically written, but my parents wanted to add a little flare. I was named Japera because I am the last of four children; my name means 'we are finished.' Although my parents are not clear from which West-African culture my name originates, they are sure one on thing... no more children after me!" I love my name! I love my story and if I had some multi-syllabic name that was a mixture of my relatives or my mom's favorite beverage I'd LOVE that too! All of our names have a story! Maybe ask your parents the story and embrace it! If WE are uncomfortable with who we are, we give THEM permission to be uncomfortable and discriminatory too!"

m. mimi
"Hmmm what sounds better a nice, respectable job with great pay? Or stuck at minimum wage place struggling to make ends meet working with La'Quisha and Anfernee? Sometimes you have to bite your tongue and swallow your pride, it's called growing up! Yes, it sucks to be profiled and sometimes being profiled over as something as little as a name. But I rather much take the job that's gonna look great on my resume and help me get by in life.

n. Truly S. > mimi [2014]
"OK then--don't ever name your daughter something like Condoleeza. She'll be behind a fast-food counter all her life. :-)"
This facetious comment refers to Condeleeza Rice, an African American female with a distinctive first name who was the United States Secretary of State under President George W. Bush.

o. ogunsiron
"Akintundes and Olabumni's don't have the bad reputation of deVandre and LaCoochia. There's a difference between being black and being a low class hoodrat. People discriminate against names that scream "hood" and that's very rational.

There are more classic names that are used almost only by black people like Karl or Clarence or Percy and I don't think those blacks have it hard because those names scream "middle class or upper middle class black" and, what do you want, that's probably a better origin than "projects".

If you dont want to hurt your kid don't name them "I'm from the projects and my mom was a single mom and we were 5 all with different daddies".
This commenter-whose name (or at least the first part of his name) is Yoruba (Nigerian) gives two other Yoruba names and argues that names from other languages aren't what he calls "hoodrat". His comments reveals the stereotypes that he holds for lower income Black people.

p. Guest > Val
[This was written in response to Val's comment which I'm summarizing as 'All names are made up and all names are ethnic; White names are also ethnic names although people don't refer to them as ethnic names.'.
"I get your point. Just as people have the right to raise their own kids as they choose, they should have the right to name them as they choose. But, I believe the thing a parent has to keep in mind when naming their children is: do I plan for my child to be with just me the rest of their life, or go out into a tough world and be around other people? People can do as they please; there are just consequences to everything we do. This is often what guides a parent's decisions in how they raise their children, or name them. Most people would probably make a different choice, if they could look into the future and see the grief their child would suffer because of their name.
It's not just "ghetto" names. Kids named, Apple, Moxie Crimefighter, and North West, are likely going to be pretty ticked off at their parents one day, for naming them like science experiments. There was a time when people thought it was cute - mostly in the south - to give girls boy mother included. Tommy, Billy, Jimmie, Frankie, etc. My sister's given name, is one of those names, and she never thought it was cute when her mail arrived addressed to Mr. ______. She was named in the traditon of women in my mother's family. But, my sister has always considered having to explain that she is a woman with a male name, a bane to her existence.

I try to imagine how the names preceded by Le, La, and De evolved into what are now considered ghetto names, I suppose that people originally thought those prefixes made the names sound French or Spanish. LeRoy is not a name you hear much these days, but at least it's a derivative of 'Le Roi', which is French for 'The King'. But, names can become fodder for ridicule, when someone begins putting prefixes that mean 'the' or 'of' in front of sounds that have no documented meanings. The...wait, what? Some of the names that other people have provided as examples of unusual ones, such as Condoleezza and Barack, actually mean something in other languages. A made up name, that's all flare with no content, musical without notes, initially comes across as pretentious. However, I do believe that people can validate their names. When my daughters were teenagers, I selected their gynecologist based solely on her name. It's a 15 letter name with all the bells and whistles...complete with the phony prefix and a 'Q' in it. I KNEW she was black. But, the woman is a doctor, and I felt that was an important lesson for my daughters. So, when some aspect of a person doesn't get taken seriously, such as a name, maybe it just means that person has to work a little harder to overcome the perceptions That may seem unfair to them, but that's the way life has always been."

q. Val > Guest
"I understand your point but my point was that this is more about perception. The perception being that if it's derived from Black folks (and White folks haven't figured a way to profit from it) then it's bad.

Let's look at an example you put forth, "Condoleezza". Most people think of success when they think of that name. But, the truth is, if that were not a former Secretary of State's name but the name of a teenaged Black girl from the South Side of Chicago people would dissect the name and call it ghetto.

If we really look at the name we'll see that it has no meaning. It's derived for the music term, "con dolzezza" which in Italian means 'with sweetness'. So, just like so many other Black women, Condoleezza Rice's mother took a word and made it into a name for her child. It's only that we perceive the name differently than other so-called Black names.

I just hate it that some of us are so willing to see others of us in such a negative way, while at the same time defending and endorsing White cultural norms."

r. mosambie > Val
"Val, "white" is not an ethnic group. It is a general term to describe people from many ethnic groups.

s. Reply
Val > mosambie
"I think you missed my point, maybe I should have been more clear but it was only a passing point.

Here's what I meant; Whites refer to all non-Whites as being ethnic. For instance White people refer to Chinese or Mexican food and cultures as ethnic cultures, right? But, in both cases, Chinese culture and food and Mexican culture and food, there are many different groups of people and types of foods that make up the whole.

So, my point was that it's not just people of color that are ethnic, Whites are ethnic too. But, we are taught to view this from a White point of view therefore many of us see ourselves as ethnic while Whites are seen as non-ethnic."

t. mac > Val
[This is written in response to Val's comment that if a number of Black people started giving their children the names "Tom" and "Becky" White people would stop giving those names to their children since those names would be considered "ghetto".
"Tom and Becky will become ghetto?
Lol you were making sense until that reach of a statement."

u. KamJos > mac
"Let Black mothers in the ghetto start naming their kids Tom and Becky"

v. Me
"Perhaps the young lady could go by a first initial and her middle name (hopefully mom didn't go all creative with that too)."

w. Blkbterf1y > Guest
"What's sad is, while you've evolved into a person who has been on fortune 500 hiring panels in the past, you've witness this form of discrimination and racism and apparently condone it by warning of these "exotic" or names with " a bunch of accents" like there is something wrong with these names. If the name Barak was made up would it be taboo? Of course, these "exotic or accented" names can cause a negative outcome for a prospective position. Yet, we should all understand that these only says that race and discrimination is still an issue; we are not 100% excepted for who we are (nor by our own). Simply put, the battle is not over."

x. guest > Val
"Look, folks can name their children whatever they want, from Becky and Tom to Marqueeshiante and Qu'Davionte. Just know that names come with connotations. Like it or not, they do. It's just a fact. And unfortunately, names like the latter are associated with every negative stereotype of Black folks one can think of. So if you're going to give your child a name with 26 letters and 17 syllables that she herself is still struggling to spell in 4th grade (yes, it happens), then do the work as a parent to help your child:
1. CONSTRUCTIVELY handle the teasing that is bound to come his/her way.

2. Build an academic/educational background that is so strong that someone will be inclined to overlook the name and give them a fair shot at an interview.

3. Teach them what the name means (if there actually happens to be a cultural meaning to the name) so they have a sense of pride rather than shame about it.

Just something to think about."

y. Val > guest
"You don't understand, it's not the names, it's Black people that are associated with everything negative by some. Including some people commenting here. So, name your kid Becky and it's not going to matter. As they say, wherever you go, there you are.

The people who are going to discriminate against a person with a Black sounding name are not going to start loving you because your name is Becky.

But, if you want to coddle racists and allow them to even choose for you what you name your child then that's on you."

z. Val > Guest
"Sure, some push the limits. But for instance that girl that hated the name Keisha, that's not an outrageous name. It's only problematic for her because it's considered a Black name. That's what bothers me, that many of us hate or make fun of names simply because they're Black associated names."

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

50 Most Common African American Surnames (Allegheny County, Pennsylvania (1992-2001)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post is a reprint of a page that was published on my now no longer active cultural website

In 2003 I requested information on surnames in Allegheny County from the Allegheny County Health Department. During that time, I was a member of that Department's Board of Directors. Upon receiving this information in 2003, I posted it for educational and research purposes on my now defunct website on names. Unfortunately (and ironically), I can't find the name of the man who voluntarily compiled this material. Regardless, I thank him for his efforts.

I'm posting this information on this page because it might be of interest to others, and because it might be beneficial to those engaged in research on the differences in surnames between African Americans and Non-African Americans within a given period of time.

The surnames listed here are those that were given to children born in Allegheny County during that period of time.

At the time that I requested this data for my website, I had done a considerable amount of work and workshops in the child welfare field (adoption/foster care), and I'm an adoptive parent, foster parent, and parent of a biological child, and a step-child. The only reason I mention these roles is to indicate that on a number of levels, I was familar with the practice of child welfare agencies in the United States of categorizing children as "biracial" when those children had one Black biological parent and one non-Black biological parent. Many persons in that field (particulary many White persons) considered (and may still consider) "biracial" to be a separate category from "Black" when it came to making placement decisions. I very much disagreed with that practice. Because I felt so strongly about that position, I definitely recall asking the compiler of this data on surnames to imake sure that he included all children with one Black birth parent in the "African American" category.

It should also be noted that the referent "Black" was used interchangeably in the child welfare system for "African American", but "African American" was considered to be a more formal referent for the same population. However, since "Black" includes persons from various regions of Africa, and all persons from any part of the African Diaspora, "Black" actually is a much broader referent than "African American". Nevertheless, it's likely that the surnames of any infant (born during the period of time covered by this data) who had at least one Black birth parent was included in this date, even if that birth parent wasn't "African American".

For context purposes, 1990 and 2000 US Census demographical information for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania (which includes Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) is included below.

Posted on Cocojams on March 8, 2011 by Ms. Azizi Powell, Founder/Editor
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Latest update [related links and excerpts] added - October 7, 2012

Introductory text slightly revised for the purpose of greater clarity - February 28, 2013

50 MOST COMMON AFRICAN AMERICAN SURNAMES (Based on Births among Allegheny County, Pennsylvania Residents) During 1992-2001

Note: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is the largest city in Allegheny County.

File: surnames

Rank/ Surname/ Birth Counts
1. Johnson (684)
2. Williams (620)
3. Jones (518)
4. Smith (507)
5. Brown (468)
6. Jackson (334)
7. Davis (301)
8. Thomas (296)
9. Robinson (259)
10. Harris (233)
11. Washington (197)
12. Wilson (190)
13. Taylor (187)
14. Green (175)
15. Thompson (169)
16. White (167)
17. Scott (162)
18. Walker (157)
19. Turner (155)
20. Moore (151)
21. Wright (144)
22. Mitchell (134)
23. Carter (132)
24. Lewis (125)
25. Hill (122)
26. King (112)
27. Lee (112)
28. Clark (108)
29. Howard (107)
30. Allen (106)
31. Martin (103)
32. Coleman (102)
33.Young (102)
34. Adams (98)
35. Anderson (94)
36. Freeman (94)
37. Miller (94)
38. Ford (93)
39. Morris (93)
40. Hall (91)
41. Butler (90)
42. Griffin (87)
43. Nelson (79)
44. Henderson (76)
45. James (74)
46. Brooks (73)
47. Parker (73)
48.Reed (73)
49. Bey (69)
50. Edwards (69)

50 MOST COMMON NON-AFRICAN AMERICAN SURNAMES (Based on Births among Allegheny County Pennsylvania Residents During 1992-2001)

No file name provided

Rank/ Surname/ Birth Counts
1. Smith (806)
2.Miller (671)
3. Brown (357)
4. Williams (345)
5. Jones (329)
6. Johnson (294)
7. Davis (280)
8. Kelly (280)
9. Martin (252)
10. White (251)
11. Wilson (240)
12. Thomas (222)
13. Taylor (209)
14. Thompson (198)
15. Anderson (184)
16. Synder (180)
17. Lewis (176)
18. King (172)
19. Moore (170)
20. Scott (166)
21. Wagner (160)
23. Walker (154)
24. Stewart (149)
25. Young (149)
26 Clark (148)
26. Baker (145)
27. Evans (144)
28. Hoffman (142)
29. Murphy (141)
30. Sullivan (140)
31. Cook (139)
32. Adams (137)
33. Phillips (133)
34. Campbell (132)
35. Collins (131)
36. Harris (129)
37. Jackson (127)
38. Fisher (122)
39. Graham (122)
40. Hall (120)
41. Mitchell (117)
42. Lang (116)
43. Bell (115)
44. Wright (114)
45. Hill (111)
46. Walsh (111)
47. Schmidt (110)
48. Kennedy (109)
49. Maorgan (106)
50. Ross (106)


Demographical Information
As a means of providing some context to this data on surnames, I've provided excerpted data from Census reports for Allegheny County Pennsylvania for 1990 and 2000. These charts are best reviewed by clicking the hyperlinks that are provided.

Excerpt from DP-1. General Population and Housing Characteristics: 1990
Data Set: 1990 Summary Tape File 1 (STF 1) - 100-Percent data
Geographic Area: Allegheny County, Pennsylvania




American Indian, Eskimo, or Aleut

Asian or Pacific Islander

Other race

Hispanic origin (of any race)

Total housing units


Excerpt from: DP-1. Profile of General Demographic Characteristics: 2000
Data Set: Census 2000 Summary File 1 (SF 1) 100-Percent Data
Geographic Area: Allegheny County, Pennsylvania


One race
1,267,901 Percentage -98.9

1,080,800 Percentage 84.3

Black or African American
159,058 Percentage 12.4

American Indian and Alaska Native
1,593 Percentage 0.1

21,716 Percentage 1.7

Asian Indian
7,487 0.6 Percentage

5,903 Percentage 0.5

1,189 Percentage 0.1

1,143 Percentage 0.1

2,068 Percentage 0.2

1,638 Percentage 0.1

Other Asian 1
2,288 0.2

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander
335 Percentage 0.0

Native Hawaiian
88 Percentage 0.0

Guamanian or Chamorro
59 Percentage 0.0

85 Percentage 0.0

Other Pacific Islander 2
103 Percentage 0.0

Some other race
4,399 Percentage 0.3

Two or more races
13,765 Percentage 1.1

Race alone or in combination with one or more other races 3

1,091,899 Percentage 85.2

Black or African American
166,731 Percentage 13.0

American Indian and Alaska Native
5,419 Percentage 0.4

24,722 Percentage 1.9

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander
758 Percentage 0.1

Some other race
7,430 Percentage 0.6


Total population
1,281,666 Percentage 100.0

Hispanic or Latino (of any race)
11,166 Percentage 0.9

3,568 Percentage 0.3

Puerto Rican
2,216 Percentage 0.2

622 Percentage 0.0

Other Hispanic or Latino
4,760 Percentage 0.4

Not Hispanic or Latino
1,270,500 Percentage 99.1

White alone
1,074,129 Percentage 83.8

(Excerpt from a list of 1000 surnames from

*Source: 2000 U.S. Census, Genealogy Data

Name Rank - Number of occurrences - Overall U.S. rank for all races
1 WILLIAMS 716704 3
2 JOHNSON 627720 2
3 SMITH 527993 1
4 JONES 514167 5
5 BROWN 476702 4
6 JACKSON 353179 18
7 DAVIS 329957 7
8 THOMAS 271273 14
9 HARRIS 247092 24
10 ROBINSON 221835 27
11 TAYLOR 199326 13
12 WILSON 198269 10
13 MOORE 188082 16
14 WHITE 175099 20
15 LEWIS 172509 26
16 WALKER 171297 28
17 GREEN 149803 37
18 WASHINGTON 146520 138
19 THOMPSON 145176 19
20 ANDERSON 137688 12
21 SCOTT 135521 36
22 CARTER 126856 46
23 WRIGHT 120484 34
24 MILLER 117404 6
25 HILL 117025 41
26 ALLEN 116491 32
27 MITCHELL 115815 44
28 YOUNG 110849 31
29 LEE 105480 22
30 MARTIN 102925 17
31 CLARK 101613 25
32 TURNER 98383 49
33 HALL 98265 30
34 KING 96665 35
35 EDWARDS 95787 53
36 COLEMAN 91440 102
37 JAMES 88835 80
38 EVANS 85730 48
39 BELL 84138 67
40 RICHARDSON 81772 74
41 ADAMS 79313 39
42 BROOKS 78653 77
43 PARKER 78111 51
44 JENKINS 76881 95
45 STEWART 74564 54
46 HOWARD 73096 70
47 CAMPBELL 71155 43
48 SIMMONS 71102 103
49 SANDERS 70468 88
50 HENDERSON 69751 101

From "Washington: The 'Blackest Name' In America" by Jesse Washington
"George Washington's name is inseparable from America, and not only from the nation's history. It identifies countless streets, buildings, mountains, bridges, monuments, cities – and people.

In a puzzling twist, most of these people are black. The 2000 U.S. Census counted 163,036 people with the surname Washington. Ninety percent of them were African-American, a far higher black percentage than for any other common name ...

Washington was listed 138th when the Census Bureau published a list of the 1,000 most common American surnames from the 2000 survey, along with ethnic data. The project was not repeated in 2010.

Ninety percent of those Washingtons, numbering 146,520, were black. Only five percent, or 8,813, were white. Three percent were two or more races, 1 percent were Hispanic, and 1 percent were Asian or Pacific Islander.

Jefferson was the second-blackest name, at 75 percent African-American. There were only 16,070 Lincolns, and that number was only 14 percent black.

Jackson was 53 percent black. Williams was the 16th-blackest name, at 46 percent. But there were 1,534,042 total Williamses, including 716,704 black ones – so there were more blacks named Williams than anything else.

(The name Black was 68 percent white, meaning there were far more white Blacks than black Blacks. The name White, meanwhile, was 19 percent black.)"
In the 2003 Allegheny County surname study posted above, the last name "Washington" is #11 on the list of the 50 most common last names for African American children born during 1992-2001 and does not appear on the list of non-African American children born during that time period.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Viewer comments are welcome.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Martin TV Show's Elroy Preston Sings "Don't You Know No Good" (video clips & comments)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases three video clips from the 1990s American television show Martin that feature Martin Lawrence performing as the character "Elroy Preston". In these featured clips Elroy Preston sings Don't You Know No Good". Information and comments about that show & the Elroy Preston character are included in this post along with my transcription of the second version of that song which was performed on that television show.

The content of this post is presented for entertainment purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those featured in these videos & thanks to all those who are quoted in this post. Thanks also to the publishers of these videos on YouTube.

"Martin is an American sitcom that aired for five seasons on the Fox network, from August 27, 1992, to May 1, 1997. Reflecting the rising popularity of the Fox network throughout the 1990s, Martin was one of the network's highest-rated shows during the sitcom's five-season run.

Set in Detroit, the series stars Martin Lawrence in the role of Martin Payne, a disc jockey with a girlfriend named Gina Waters played by Tisha Campbell-Martin. Martin works for the fictional radio station WZUP and later for local Public-access television station Channel 51. A common theme of the series is Martin's ornery and wayward nature. Episodes often center on Martin's inconsiderate behaviors and incessant smart mouth towards his friends, neighbors, and whoever else finds themselves in his presence. When all is said and done however, Martin loves his family and friends—it just takes dire situations for him to show it...

One of the trademark running gags of Martin, especially early in its run, was Lawrence playing multiple characters, utilizing various costumes and prosthetic appliances. This was often done as a plot device or comic relief. Season four was the last season to feature Lawrence as multiple characters on a regular basis. This technique was rarely used in Season 5, which was the final season of the series. The only characters that appeared in Season 5 were Sheneneh, Roscoe and Elroy...Most of the other characters were last seen in Season 4 and the episodes they last appeared in seemingly wrote them out of the series...

[Description Of Elroy Preston]
Elroy Preston: The fictional "Godfather of Black Surf Music" who is now completely forgotten and washed up. Preston works as an auto mechanic, and is best known for randomly breaking into song while performing his mechanical duties. He often distracts himself and irritates others when reminiscing on things that involve his trademark song, which consists only of Preston singing "Don't you know no good!" over and over. He is seen mostly in the first three seasons. He makes one appearance in the fifth and final season."
Actually, the version of "Don't You Know No Good" that is song in the Godfather Of Surf music clip contains other words besides "don't you know no good". My transcription of those lyrics is found below. Additions and corrections are welcome.

From Martin Season 2 Episode 5 "Baby, It's You" Aired Thursday 8:30 PM Sep 19, 1993 on FOX
"Martin agrees to help host a baby shower for some of Gina's expecting girlfriends at his apartment,but he doesn't expect one of the expectant mothers to go into labor. With the help of Tommy and Cole, Martin safely delivers the baby. Meanwhile Gina and Pam can't make it to the shower because they're broken down in an alley, while a lyrically challenged mechanic sings to them and works on their car."
The clip of Elroy as "the Godfather Of Black Surf Music" singing "Don't You Know No Good" with Gina and Pam is from Martin Season 2 Episode 20. "Arms are for hugging".

The character "Elroy Preston" is a spoof on Elvis Presley, who is often called the King of Rock And Roll. The name "Elroy" is a reformation of the once common and sometimes negatively stereotyped "Black male name" "Leroy" - for instance, Leeroy Jenkins in the World of Warcraft video game.* The prefix "El" in the name "Elroy" is the same as the prefix in the name "Elvis" and the last name "Preston" is quite similar to the last name "Presley".

Elroy Preston is characterized as a down on his luck auto mechanic who (according to a subsequent Martin show) was once known as "The Godfather of Black Surf Music". The "Godfather of Black Surf Music" title borrows from one of Soul/Funk superstar James Brown's nickname - "The Godfather of Soul" and Elroy's movements while he sings his song while Gina and Pam are in their car are somewhat reminiscent of James Brown's movements. But portraying Elroy Preston as "the Godfather of Black Surf Music" is humorous because "surf music" isn't a musical genre that is associated with Black people. Perhaps that's the reason why Elroy Preston appears to only know one song "Don't You Know No Good".

Although the name "Elroy Preston" is a take-off on Elvis Presley, I don't think that the song "Don't You Know No Good" is a spoof on any of Elvis' songs. However, just as a matter of record (no pun intended), the Elvis Presley song "Doncha' Think It's Time" has a similar title. Elvis also recorded four other songs with the word "don't" in their title- "Don't", "Don't Ask Me Why", "Don't Be Cruel", and "Don't Cry Daddy".

The first version of "Don't You Know No Good" that is sung at the mechanic shop only consists of those words, sung in call & response patterns. My guess is that that line means "don't you know any (thing) good?" The longer version of "Don't You Know No Good" that Elroy sings along with Gina & Pam in Hawaiian outfits suggests that the song is sung to Elroy's woman who constantly critized him and then left him. In the end of the song he is begging her to come back.

*Click for information on the fictitious character Leroy Jenkins. Also click for the pancocojams post "World of Warcraft 's Leeroy Jenkins & Black American Names & Memes".

It's interesting to note that the last name of the World of Warcraft character "Leeroy Jenkins" is the same last name as the Martin television show character "Sheneneh Jenkins". Sheneneh is portrayed by Martin Lawrence as a stereotypical "ghetto" Black woman.

(as sung on the Elroy Preston Godfather of Black Surf Music with introduction by Martin:

Martin (introducing the act) - "Elroy Preston! He's on a roll. He's bad. He's bad".

Elroy - It's ah Wahoo in the house.
Well look dere. I'd like to say "Aloha" to all Kamainos

1,2. 1,2,3.
Don't cha know no good.
Gina & Pam - [Don't cha know no good.]
Don't cha know no good.
[No no no no no]
Don't cha know no good.
[Don't cha know no good.]
Don't cha know no good.
[No no no no no.]

Why you g.o.o.d
[Don't you know no good]
[Why you g.o.o. we]
[No no no]

Why you make me beg
[Why you make me beg]
Till you went away
[Till you went away]
Why you act like a mug
[Why you act like a mug]
You can kiss my butt.
[You can kiss my butt.]
Oh-o Oh-o Oh- o Oh-o
[Oh-o, Oh-o, Oh]
Martin joined by Gina & Pam - Don't you know no goooooood.
Martin [speaking while Gina & Pam continue to sing "goooood" until they fall down because they are out of breathe] - Baby come back, baby please, on, and on, don't you know no good, don't you know no good. I'm pleading and you know. Don't you good od od od gooood ood ood ood ooood. ood ood. ood ood. [Gina claps] Martin says - Thank you. Thank you. very much.
*This is my transcription of the video clip given as Example #3 below. Additions & corrections are welcome. The responses are given in brackets.
Here are my explanations for some of the words & phrases that are found in the video given as Example #3 below.

"He's on a roll. He's bad. He's bad" = [something like] He's really doing well now. He's very good. He's very good."

"Wahoo" may be Elroy's attempt to say the Hawaiian word "Hoaloha - Friend"

"in the house" = African American slang for "I'm here"; in this place.

"Aloha" - Hawaiian for "greetings", "hello"

Kamainos = may be Elroy's attempt to say the Hawaiian word "Kama‘āina- Commonly referred to a long-time resident of Hawai'i"

"cha" = you

"Don't you know no good" = Don't you know anything good you can say to me.

"Why you g.o.o. we = why did you go away from me

"act like a mug" = act like an ugly person (someone crazy)

you can kiss my butt = a dergatory dismissive statement made to someone you are angry with

Example #1: Martin - Elroy the Mechanic

tebbytee Uploaded on Sep 23, 2006

Don't you know no Good.
Selected comments
rentheadtammy, 2006
""Don't you know no good!"

LMAO! classic!
Now I'm gonna singing that all day. LOL!"

54spiritedwill54, 2008
"good!! these folks were just straight crazy back then!! I love elroy and king beef!!"

Dre7Guevara, 2008
in reply to 54spiritedwill54
"Otis, Jerome & Dragonfly Jones were some characters also"
"Sheneneh Jenkins is another character that Martin Lawrence played on that show. A pancocojams post on the name "Sheneneh" and other so-called "ghetto names" will be published ASAP. When that post is published, I'll add that link here.

UniQueLyEviL, 2009
"Lmao omg this will randomly pop up in my head, and no one EVER knows what i'm talking about or laughing at XDDD

I can't believe I found it XDDD"

kjb4evahotmail, 2009
in reply to UniQueLyEviL
"lmao!!! you too?? lmao *smh*..but yo, what does that mean though? i never knew what "dont you know no good" actually meant lol"

robynsegg, 2009
"That whole song got 1 LINE IN IT! LOL!

(walks off singing to herself...)

"Don't ya know no good... don't ya know no good!""

Lexii Kidd, 2010
"saw this episode one night, and had EVERYONE (even the teacher) singing dont u kno no good allll day!!!!!! haha 4 like a month or longer hehe"

shomemo37, 2010
"Yes! My husband still sings this song when he gets someones car started! Lol we just got a good laugh from this video! Thanks!"

FreshJordanKicks, 2011
"The funniest part when he was pointing and paused and was like ........good good good"

Eric Nulph, 2012
"Both Pam and Gina were 2 of the 3 women singing in Little Shop of Horrors. Fun Fact"

Example #2: Elroy Preston - Know no good

dasavv, Published on Dec 3, 2012

Do the people want the song? Classic scene from Martin Lawrence's hit TV show, Martin.

Elroy the mechanic sings Don't you know no good!

Example #3: Martin as Elroy Preston - Black Surf Music

steadythinkin, Uploaded on Dec 31, 2009

one of Martin's crazy characters from the Martin show
Selected comments from the discussion thread of a slightly shorter video of this same video uploaded by k1handsome, Uploaded on Jan 13, 2008:
StevenC32, 2008
"Martin is great at creating different characters. My favorite 3 Martin Characters are Elroy Preston, Otis the Security Guard, and Jerome."

Nicole P , 2009
"this will NEVER get old lol"

UniQueLyEviL, 2009
"Lmao omg this will randomly pop up in my head, and no one EVER knows what i'm talking about or laughing at XDDD"

aimat700, 2009
in reply to UniQueLyEviL
"ROFL ME TOO!!! I'll be at work and be like "don't cha know no gooooooood." I wish they were a real group. I'd buy all their albums and go see them in concert."

KiiyahSings__, 2010
"I have played this on my dvd and danced along with it so many time you would think that I am crazy. But HEY it's funny what do you want me to do man? I have every season. I wish it never got cancelled."

kedeeky, 2010
"dontcha know no other song elroy? Lol"

catolog96, 2011
"Ha! Ha! How many of you were expecting some important figure to come out? Don't lie!"

Lee Bronx, 2011
"l always loved these two gals since little shop of horrors"
Click for a clip of Tisha Campbell [Gina on Martin show], Tichina Arnold [Gina on Martin show], and Michelle Weeks singing the intro song in the Little Shop Of Horrors movie.

DJLMovieGuy, 2011
"Elroy sang Gina and Pam out of breathe, they clapped for him, and then he left them there LOL! I love the Martin Show! EPIC long lasting comedy!"

SweetAva87, 2012
"Whenever I hear this, it gets stuck in my head for a good 2 hours or so."

ODUBBZYA777, 2012
"Tichina n Tisha's choreography was on point. Plus they look mad good!!"
mad = a African American Vernacular English intensifier meaning "very"

King CJ, 2014
"Elroy Preston" The first auto mechanic with a hit song that never reached the Billboard Charts. Get out cha seat & Give it up for LLLLLL Roy..... LOL!!! Hahahaha! #smh #stillfunny

RBG Brother, 2014
"A lil comic relief. Don't You Know No good lol"

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.