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Multiethnic baby with Arabic name looks "white" and... - Page 2

post #21 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bekka View Post
So how do you you pronounce it? I rhymed it with Nadya in my head, which makes it "Shah-dya" (like Nadya in Russian).
Sorry I missed the continued pronunciation in your previous post. I admit that I am surprised about it being a short "a" sound; most European languages don't have that sound, which whether French, Spanish, German, or Russian (my exposure), I am unused to other languages having a short a sound.
post #22 of 37
i think you just have to own the reasons behind your children's names and ignore the ignorant. we are both white, but i grew up in a muslim country and intend on using a traditional muslim name for my next child. my daughter has a rare hebrew name that i have always loved. i would have used it regardless, but my husband has jewish ancestory, so i felt even more compelled. i get looks and comments all the time, but usually a very brief explanation of our reasons shuts most people up. if i'm getting a particularly unfriendly vibe, i usually don't explain it at all. it's not really any of their business...
post #23 of 37
Wow! I'm in EXACTLY the same boat, tho not in the US. DH is Lebanese, I am white. Our first DS has a saint's name (my FIL's first name) and looks very middle eastern, our second son is blond haired and blue-eyed and has an Arabic name that is quite uncommon (also with the short a sound that ALL anglophones mispronounce). We get some funny looks and the occasional comment. I tell people, "We each got a child who looks like us". And when asked how we picked DS2's name, I tell them the truth: it was the only name we could agree on.

Anyway. I feel you on the racism. It SUCKS to feel like your child is being treated as "less than" because of their heritage. And as a PP said, Arabs are a group everyone feels comfortable bashing these days.

Oh, and my DH would LOVE your DD's name, as he has the masculine version!
post #24 of 37
I, too, love your daughter's name!

Our boys both have Western first names and their daddy's (Arab) name as a middle name. My husband uses a Western name on a daily basis (although his legal name is still his birth name), so I think it would have felt strange for us to call the children by Arab names. We get a very hard name from the Arab side of the family for their 'strange' and 'difficult' names, even though each has a similar-sounding Arab name that we use when we visit. You can't win!
post #25 of 37
(I don't really belong in this section because I'm not in a multi-cultural/racial family.)

I used to teach high school. I've seen a lot of interesting names. I would state quite clearly at the beginning of the year that if I say your name wrong it is because of my ignorance not any problem with your name so please correct me quickly and often so that I don't get it cemented wrong in my head. I think that most people just don't want to admit how ignorant they are.
post #26 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post
Man, some people are messed up.

( I had a cab driver once who thought it was cool I knew my what my dd's name meant in Arabic. Her name is in lots and lots of languages which is really fun for me.)

ETA:People tell you that Shadia is a mouthful?? I must not be saying it right in my head, I'm only getting 3 syllables. Elizabeth and Isabella are both 4 syllables and no one ever has a problem with them.
Seriously. I don't get that either. I've joked with my husband that we should have named our son Abdul Rahman -- now "that" is a mouthful for Americans for sure.


One of my son's middle names is Osama, after his father. He hasn't been teased yet but I'm sure he will be. I tell him he's named after Daddy and there's no greater man on the planet than his father. We'll see how it goes. Fortunately, I live in a very diverse area so I don't think it will be much of a problem.
post #27 of 37
Thread Starter 
Marylizah,
Ah, I guess it takes a Lebanese speaker to understand the short a issue!

rightkindofme, thanks for the on-the-ground perspective on names.

And Addy's mom, I'm so happy to hear that you weren't too shy in naming your son. I vote Abdul Rahman for the next one!

Lately people who hear my daughter's name are always complimenting me on it. Maybe all your support here and made me speak it less apologetically or something! Thanks, everyone! I love this forum!
post #28 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by sky_and_lavender View Post
I'm white, my husband's Arab. My daughter has an Arabic name unfamiliar to most Americans. Strangers or acquaintances who meet me and the baby without my husband around give me looks and comments if they ask me her name or I tell them for some reason:

"Well, that's a mouthful..." or "What an unusual/interesting name..." or "What's that from?"(often said with a look of disdain)

and sometimes they don't give me looks and just say nice things:

"What a pretty name!" or "how unique!"



Sometimes I feel compelled to "explain" her name, and I say it's Arabic because my husband is from Lebanon. This usually gets me even more disdained looks from those who were originally unhappy. The others say things like, "Oh, wow!"

Schlownik?? :-) I write the following with all respect , concern and jaded humor!
Love that one! Got that for my last name all my life and my cousins get their multi-syllabic Armenian names seriously farbled!

I know people will sometimes "explain" a name or reveal some other element of their person in order to find out if the person they are talking to is prejudiced , and so find out early on if they want that person in their life or not.

I definitely do that, a lot.

Because I , like your daughter, am very light-skinned/white West Asian European mix in the US south , ( okay, I glow at night, LOL!) I have done much explaining in my time , so I anticipate she may get quite good at it.

Based on my experience and others like me, I would also suspect that either in the US or other places, she might in the future experience racism without colorism ,if that makes any sense ( unless some miracle occurs and the hatred, racism , exotification and othering of Muslims and or Middle Easterners/West Asians magically disappears in the next two decades in the US !)

Also, because of being female, she may possibly get the whole exotified Orientalist sexism from males here and in maybe even Lebanon. The belly dancer /exotic object stereotype where she is treated like an exotic bird, as well as the stereotypes in Lebanon.


I have some good snappy come-backs and one-liners saved up that she can throw back at the boys or others if she ever needs them !!!



When Shadia was six weeks old, I took her to the library to sign her up for something. The librarian was being so friendly to me. And then she saw Shadia's name on the form, and she stopped being nice.

As a white person, I've rarely had to contend with racism. (Once my husband and I experienced housing discrimination and had to file a complaint to be able to stay in our apartment.) It's a new experience for me. I realize that by giving Shadia an "ethnic" name, we've made it impossible to hide her heritage. I don't regret that, but I do feel sad that she will likely experience some discrimination as a result.
I'm with you: many people have your back!
post #29 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by sky_and_lavender View Post
Marylizah,
Ah, I guess it takes a Lebanese speaker to understand the short a issue!

rightkindofme, thanks for the on-the-ground perspective on names.

And Addy's mom, I'm so happy to hear that you weren't too shy in naming your son. I vote Abdul Rahman for the next one!

Lately people who hear my daughter's name are always complimenting me on it. Maybe all your support here and made me speak it less apologetically or something! Thanks, everyone! I love this forum!
Go ahead and own it. It's a gorgeous name. I'm surprised I never came across it when pouring over the baby name books when I was pregnant. I was looking for names that fit both in my husband's home country and here, and I think Shadia absolutely does that. It sounds pretty global, actually, fitting into most cultures.
post #30 of 37
love the name

Have to admit that ease of use in American culture is why DD's birth certificate reads "Sophia" and not the Arabic spelling and pronunciation. (though with our last name, she'll probably not escape racism)

I'd already known for 10-plus years by the time she was conceived what her name would be....I informed DH of this and fortunately, he agreed.

This one, if she is a girl---which everyone seems to think she is---is getting a much more Arabic name. First born DS has a name that is from DH's culture but does not sound Arabic and gets confused a lot with a common American boy's name.
DS2 has a more Arabic sounding name, but it's short and nobody's ever had trouble pronouncing it.

The few people I have told future baby's name to have liked it. (I'll probably tell once we find out and finalize it....in my mind though it is who she is so this might be another case of DH agreeing )
post #31 of 37

My DH is Iranian.  We gave our daughters Persian (of Arabic origin) names, but we also gave the older one a Western name because the first letter (ghayn) in her name does not exist in English, so her name (Ghazal) would end up sounding like "guzzle."  It's actually not confusing this way, because everyone around us can manage one name or the other without trouble.  Our second daughter is Nassime (naSEEM), which ends up being easy for everyone to pronounce, once they get used to it.  The only challenge with that is that it is apparently a boys' name everywhere else in the Middle East except Iran.

 

Why should we shy away from our children's heritage when Americans make new "American" names all the time?

 

I am American with a Western name but have a mixed background and darker features.  The racism has definitely worsened since I married an Iranian BUT I think the people who were racists are going to be racist no matter what we do, so we might as well do what suits us.  If someone acts nice and then changes their behavior - that person is two-faced.  Why deny children their heritage out of fear for people who are close-minded?

 

 

post #32 of 37

i have to explain my kids names all the time, and everyone wants to know where it came from and honestly i am proud of their names so i let them know, their names do sound like something we just made up and through together type, but they have very deeper meanings and i let people know. My ds is actually named after his grandfather, it is a variation of fil's middle name and i let people know, that no we did not pull this out of a hat, that he is named after someone etc. dd has my moms name as her middle name so her first name isn'ut after anyone, but it is still from dh's culture...I think our kids would seem strange to have a plain name like john or mary though...

post #33 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Owen'nZoe View Post

I, too, love your daughter's name!

Our boys both have Western first names and their daddy's (Arab) name as a middle name. My husband uses a Western name on a daily basis (although his legal name is still his birth name), so I think it would have felt strange for us to call the children by Arab names. We get a very hard name from the Arab side of the family for their 'strange' and 'difficult' names, even though each has a similar-sounding Arab name that we use when we visit. You can't win!



dh goes by western name at work etc but insisted the kids have indian names, go figure, I okayed it, but only because i got the ultimate call on the names we choose...

 

post #34 of 37

Honestly I have always found the term "white" to be confusing. My Lebanese in-laws consider themselves to be "white". So do any other Middle Easterners,Southern Eurpeans and many hispanics.    I think what people really mean when using the term "white" is Northern European.

post #35 of 37
Thread Starter 

Many Arabs identify as white. I personally don't buy into skin color or any physical characteristics as being the main source of one's "racial" identity. Just as some Arabs identity as white, other Arabs who could also claim that label, don't. It's more about personal identification with particular groups and their stories than about anything else.

 

In my husband's and my family, "white" means born Americans of Northern European origin and of a certain stream of American culture, but also carries some other nuances as well. I guess it's kind of a slang term for us. But I understand for others it is different.

 

In my original post a couple of years ago, my goal wasn't to have a discussion about the meaning of the term "white." "White" was for me at the time a shorthand way to say that people expected that my baby be completely typically American from a sort of middle class "white" conception of what it means to be a "white" American.


Edited by sky_and_lavender - 7/9/11 at 5:54pm
post #36 of 37

am quite baffled about the term "white" .... not American but gave birth to last child in the US

 

... and had to fill in a form (with the clerck being a person of color, so I would never have dared used the word "white" in that interaction, am not sure how to navigate all these discussions in the US about the colors/race that people are, english not my mother tongue ... just talking about it can appear racist in a way for me .... the idea being that you don't talk about it because it doesn't make a difference to the way you interact with a person, so no point mentionning color  ...)

 

but I was not asked if I was "white" or not, I was asked what race I was

(didn't see that question coming, it would be considered VERY racist in a maternity where I live now to dare ask such a question to someone about to give birth ...)

so baffled that my answer was "what are my options ?"

 

it was suggested to me "caucasian" ... so do you still have "white" as an option in forms in maternities or on the census form ????

or is it just in use in everyday language, as a short easier form to talk about the subject of race ...?

post #37 of 37

I just wanted to share my experience. I am "white" and married to a man from India. When we got married I changed my name to an Indian first and last name for spiritual and personal reasons. Ever since I have had to face people who want to know where I got my name, what my name was before, and so on. When I was job searching recently I submitted my app to a place where a friend works. She overheard the supervisor saying that my credentials were great, but she was wondering if I spoke English??

 

I wonder if that had a lot to do with my tough time finding a job when others of my graduating class found jobs easily. We all have similar resumes and mine is actually stronger than some. Finally I chose a nickname that was American sounding and used it on my resume. Maybe coincidence but I started getting calls for interviews finally.

 

On the job applications it asks for the optional race question. I have started putting "two or more races." This is true as I have strong Native American ancestry but don't identify with the culture. I look "white."

 

When people ask me about my name I now just say "my family is very multicultural and there are members of us from all parts of the globe." That usually stops any further questions. It's really no one's business but people will continue to ask. It's just part of having a unique name that doesn't go with your looks.

 

BTW my daughters both have Indian names and they just get a lot of compliments. But of course they "match" their names.

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