Tag: Hebrew

Name of the Game

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.

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A survey by a baby-naming website found that many white parents are eschewing Dylan in favor of Diego, and skipping Madison for Esmeralda.

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).

 


Oy Vey

I’ve written before about the bond between Latinos and Jews. There’s even an official alliance to foster this connection.

And now we have statistical evidence that this bond is growing stronger. According to a study by the Anti-Defamation League  (ADL), anti-Semitism is on the decline among Latinos. About 14 percent of American-born Hispanics hold anti-Semitic views, which “represents a welcome decline” from 2011, when 20 percent of Latinos had issues with people named Goldstein and Silverman.

Of course, 14 percent is still way too high, but at least it’s moving in the right direction.

Now, if you had any doubts that Latinos and Jews are strongly linked, consider this related news story out of my home state of Wisconsin. Apparently, a few weeks ago, a severely inebriated man in Janesville exited a bar late one night and “overheard two men on the street speaking Hebrew. He confronted them, demanding they speak English.”

The drunk guy then hit both men “because he believed they were speaking Spanish.” This member of the English-only league has since been charged with two counts of battery with a hate crime enhancer.

No, it’s not an uplifting story. In fact, it sounds like an Onion headline. But clearly, to some Americans, it doesn’t matter if you’re Jewish or Latino — you’re marked for a beat down.

It’s a good thing, then, that Hispanics and Jews have each other’s backs.

mymexicanshivah


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