I have a traditionally Hispanic first name. Of course, it’s also traditionally European, which has its cultural advantages. Yes, having a Latino first name can be an impediment, and if you don’t believe me, just ask this guy.
It wasn’t that long ago when Latino parents would name their children John and Mary rather than Jose and Maria. It was an attempt to fit in with mainstream America.
But as we know, contemporary Hispanic parents are less likely to be cowed, and they frequently insist on calling their kids Juan and Maribel and so on. The twist, however, is that white parents are now increasingly choosing traditionally Latino names for their children.
I bet you didn’t see that one coming.
The reasons for the decision vary. Some white parents believe that if their children have Latino names, they will better fit in with their future Hispanic buddies and their multicultural peers. This is strange logic, as a Latino is unlikely to say, “I’m only friends with Ramon Anderson because of his first name.” But it’s a harmless enough reason, I guess.
Yet other white parents simply like the sound of Latino names. Well, that’s a matter of personal taste, of course. When it came time for my wife and I to name our son, I have to admit that very few Latino male names made the first cut, based purely on aesthetics. We ultimately went with something Hebrew that we both loved.
The final reason that white parents give for naming their kids Guillermo instead of William is that most hoary and bizarre of myths: That Latinos receive unspecified “benefits,” and they want their kids to be perceived as Hispanic.
If the cold, hard facts of how difficult Latinos have it in this country aren’t enough to destroy the idea that Hispanics get all the good scholarships and great jobs — stealing them from better-qualified white people, no less — than I don’t know what to tell you. This idea is a pernicious lie that makes white people who have been stiffed by the system feel better about themselves and their rich overlords. And apparently, it is strong enough to persuade some people to deny their cultural heritage, which is just sad.
But let’s say that the mere presence of Latino name is enough to get your kid into an Ivy League school today (which it isn’t). Doesn’t it seem obvious that twenty years from now, when universities are swamped with Hispanics both real and fake, putting the name Esteban on the application isn’t going to matter at all?
Damn, maybe those parents should have went with their first choice (Mason and/or Liam).