D Dipasupil/Getty Images for WE tv
D Dipasupil/Getty Images for WE tv

By now, I'm sure most of you are aware of the comments Raven-Symone made last week on The View in reference to "Black-sounding" names. And, I'm also sure most of you are aware of the swift pushback she received. One, for gleefully admitting that she, a Black person, would willfully discriminate against Black-sounding names. And also for saying this while being named Raven-Symone — quite possibly the Blackest name in pop culture today. Her own dad even weighed in, basically saying "That's my baby and I love her, but she says some dumb shit sometimes."


She has since apologized. From her Facebook fan page:

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


Anyway, Raven-Symone's statements came as a response to a study showing (again) that people with Black-sounding names are often assigned negative characteristics; a topic where, regardless of people's feelings about certain types of names, there's a consensus that having a Black-sounding name is not a good thing when attempting to get a job. The disagreement on this topic comes when people debate whether Black parents should be mindful of this when naming their children. Some people say no, some people say yes, but both sides tend to agree that "Kim" would be more effective on a resume than "Watermelondrea."

I don't.

One, because if a company passes you over because they've assigned negative characteristics to your name — despite your resume proving your qualifications — all this tells you is that you dodged a bullet. You, Black person, do not (or, rather, should not) want to work for a company that openly discriminates against people they assume to be Black, and they just did you a favor. The presence of a Black-sounding name on a resume seems to be quite an easy way to weed those types of employers out. Also, people with Black and ethnic sounding names do actually get jobs. It's not like every Bombqueesha Jenkins with a Ph.D is forced to work at Starbucks. Which means that there are employers out there who do hire them.

And, more importantly, Watermelondrea is an awesome fucking name. If I'm an employer, and I get two resumes with the exact same qualifications, except one has Watermelondrea Jones at the top and the other has Kim Jones, I'm choosing Watermelondrea every damn time. Because I already know enough Kims. And I don't need any more Kims in my life.

For the record, I have nothing against Kims. I love Kims. I went to high school with Kims. I "dated" a Kim in college for 12 hours. I have a cousin named Kim. I met a very lovely and talented Kim (Foster) on a panel earlier this year. I'm 90% certain the woman I bought a Nantucket Nectars cranberry juice from Friday had "Kim" on her name tag. But, again, if I never met another Kim again, I'd be fine. My lifetime Kim quota is complete. No country for more Kims.


But Watermelondrea? Who doesn't need a Watermelondrea in their sphere of influence? Who wouldn't rather interview Watermelondrea? Wouldn't you be more interested in Watermelondrea's story than Kim's? Assuming both had the same level of education and experience, wouldn't you be dying to know how a woman named Watermelondrea received a Master's from Carnegie Mellon? Wouldn't you want to know everything about her? Her story, her parents, her favorite foods, her nicknames, her feelings about subprime lending? Wouldn't you assume that a woman named Watermelondrea would have had to overcome more obstacles to succeed than a woman named Kim? Wouldn't you be more interested in seeing how Watermelondrea interacted with watermelon at the company picnic than how Kim would?

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm the only one who'd be more interested in meeting (and hiring) one Watermelondrea than the 217th Kim or the 189th Brittany or the 3264th Megan. Who knows? All I know is that if anyone out there knows a Watermelondrea, tell her she has a friend in Damon.


(And, apparently, a Watermelondrea Jones does actually exist, so my day is made.)

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a columnist for GQ.com, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

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