Why My Parents Named Me Valerie

Me & Oma.

I was born in 1986, my birth name is Valerie Shannon Day. My parents wanted me to have an unrevealing, nondisclosure, not possible to discriminate against nomenclature. They didn't want my name to extinguish my opportunities. They knew what we still know,  that students with ethnic sounding names are more likely to be placed in remedial classes (before they even meet their teachers), be perceived as having behavioral problems, and graded lower. They wanted to shield me from having my resume pre-screened because of a hard to pronounce name. They excluded our culture to ensure I survived.

With my own children I took the more idealistic approach. We gave our children names filled with significant meaning, rooted in family and our lives together. Our children's names, while for some are hard to pronounce, ground them in who they are and where they came from. We know the research on names and discrimination but we want to change the world rather than force our children to navigate a broken system that panders to oppression.

31 years ago when I was born the best my parents could do was prepare me for a life of inequality. In 2017 I want my children to be able to unapologetically exist, names and all.