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Is My Name Too Ethnic? How I Discovered What My Name Means

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Raven- Symone’, former Disney actress turned talk show host, spoke about her discrimination against “ghetto” names on The View. After watching a video about the top 60 ghetto names to name your child, Raven stated: “I am very discriminatory to words like that [alluding to the names in the video]. I’m not about to hire you if your name is Watermelondrea —I’m just not going to hire you.” As she shrugged her shoulders with laughter, Raven’s views on what she considers “ghetto names” sparked an interesting conversation not only on Twitter but among many teens across America.

The topic specifically resonated since I’m a teen who’s steadily applying to jobs as we speak, but it makes me ask myself: is my name too ethnic?  Does my name make this company look good? How does “Dallas” really sound? From my perspective, it doesn’t. However, do employers believe the same?

My full name is Dallas Le’Dawn Gordon. Upon researching the origin of my name, I asked my parents where exactly it came from when they began to name me. While many parents think long and hard on what to name their children, my parents did not. Around my birth, there was a Dallas Cowboys football game on and of course they were winning. That’s when my father turns to my mother and says, “What about Dallas —Dallas is a cute name, right ?” My mother chuckled, as she told me the story, at the fact that she thought about it for a while. When I was born she said, “She looks just like a Dallas.” Dallas is a Scottish name and means “From the Meadow Dwelling.”

I didn’t want to stop at my first name, so I researched my middle as well. When I look at my middle name, the first thing I have always noticed was the apostrophe. While unique to some — it seemed really “ghetto” to me. I was always ashamed to say what my middle name was. My middle name came from my grandmother and was passed down from my mother (who shares the same middle name with me). Though I couldn’t find the name on “,” I was able to ask my grandmother what it meant; she said Le’Dawn is french for  “a new awakening.” Pretty right?

My last name comes from my father’s family. While it is not very astonishing it is very common. Gordon, per, is a “Scottish favorite.” It derives from Jordan and means “Great Hill.” Ironic how both my first and last name have something to do with locations!

Raven-Symone’s discriminatory comment made me think less about what employers might say and more about what my name meant and even more so, how it made me feel. This is my first time publicly acknowledging it, but I love my name. There are not too many people I know by the name of Dallas, let alone Dallas Le’ Dawn Gordon.

It encourages me now to tell others to research the meanings of their name and embrace it. The empowerment you achieve from understanding alone is one that I found significant within itself.


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