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Ghetto Name

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"If you watch enough Maury Povich, you're going to run across an episode in which a guest comes on stage whose name is Shaneequa. Or Jamarcus. Or Trevian. I'm not even going to ask you what race you think these three people are, because we all know what everyone else is thinking, and right here is where some people start feeling uncomfortable."

The polar opposite of Preppy Name and Hayseed Name — but somehow, they're not that different...

Over the last 30 years of the USA's history, a trend has cropped up among the country's poor — many of whom are descended from Africans — to give their kids weird and wonderful names. Many of said names are oddly and perhaps intentionally misspelled, not to mention unusually pronounced, and grandiose. The media finds this endlessly amusing, and names like this are now firmly tied to poverty stereotypes.

Although it must be noted, not all of these names are just "made up out of nowhere". Most of these names, for example, may have a French/Creole origin or inspiration (using prefixes such as Le', De', Fa'), or may have been taken from Arabic (Latifah, Hakeem, Jamal) or even Swahili (Jabari, Imani).

The USA has several rather exclusive subcultures separated by racial distinctions, so expect poor people of white and African-American descent to have rather different names (the USA's white poor tend to have more plain, but no less strange and silly-sounding, names like "Cletus" and "Billy Bob"). If you see anyone with a name like "Sha'quayla Joniqua LeBrontayyy" in a comedy, she's almost automatically mockable — quite probably a Fat Idiot Sassy Black Woman with multiple kids who serve as an attempt at Plucky Comic Reliefand sometimes not even that.

Spanish-speaking countries, LatAm in particular, have their counterpart with English-originated names. It's become a meme that if you're named or name your kids Bryan/Kevin or Kimberly/Brittany, then it's indicative of poverty and identifying to the cholo/narco subculture. It's seen as worse if the name has been españolizado (Spanish-ized).

A possible Sub-Trope of Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?, Unfortunate Names, and Unfortunate Implications if the name is outlandish enough.


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  • Bob The Drag Queen's stand-up special, Suspiciously Large Woman, has a bit about Black first names in comparison to their last names.
    "Black people, we have fucked-up first names. Daquashia, Trelayna, Shaneequa, DeQuandre...It's always a really plain-ass last name. It's like Daquashia SMITH. Shelandria BROWN."
  • Finesse Mitchell has a bit about this, with hypothetical names such as Escalade (pronounced Es-ca-LA-day), Vaseline (VAZ-lin) and Gonorrhea (Go-NOR-ia). In another bit he actually discusses how Finesse is not his stage name, his mom was either going to name him that or Hairdresser.
  • After observing, regarding Our Gang, how he's never run into a black person named Buckwheat, Eddie Murphy riffed on what siblings and cousins might be in that branch of the family, all following the breakfast-cereal theme, down to Trix, who's a prostitute, and the gay brother Lucky Charms.
  • Bill Maher has an old stand-up routine criticizing the TSA. He mocks the idea that "Shaniqua" is going to stop a terrorist plot, playing on the perception that TSA jobs are low-skill, working-class jobs held by many a Sassy Black Woman.

    Films — Animation 
  • Bébé's Kids has Jamika, Kahlil, LaShawn, Pee Wee and Dorthea. Lampshaded in the scene where Leon, Kahlil and LaShawn are looking for novelty license plates with their names.
    Leon: Found mine!
    Kahill: How come we can't ever find our names?
    LaShawn: Yeah, I know four girls named LaShawn. How come we don't have a license plate?
  • Filipino culture has a rough equivalent in local names ultimately derived—but often radically respelled—from their Western origins; Hayop Ka!: The Nimfa Dimaano Story has the rabbit character Jhermelyn, whose name probably came from a Western root like "Germaine" or "Gemma" or such, with the "-lyn" suffix (common to many Filipino female names) added on. Pinoy names also liberally insert local modifications like the letter "H" after certain consonants (e.g., "Jhonathan") to accomodate local pronunciation and accents. Names like these tend to be somewhat more common among modern, urbanised, lower and working classes, but it's by no means exclusive to them.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Bring It On has Isis, Jenelope, Lava and LaFred from rival squad, the East Compton Clovers.
    • The musical version also introduces Nautica and LaCienega
  • Groans and eye-rolls were to be had when Loretta Divine's character in Crash, whose only trait was being a Sassy Black Woman, said her name is Shaniqua Johnson. Not only was the character annoying, but "Shaniqua" is usually the default stereotypical name when someone invokes this trope. Probably deliberate, as she's introduced talking on the phone to an angry customer who feels her name justifies his negative opinion of her.
  • DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story gives us Me'Shell (pronounced the same as Michelle), White Goodman's "fitness consigliere".
  • Rare male examples: main characters Durell (pronounced Darrel) and LeeJohn in First Sunday. The latter was named because his mother was seeing two men, Lee and John, and since she didn't know who the biological father was, called him LeeJohn.
  • Dissected and analysed in Freakonomics. A surprising inversion was of two brothers, Winner and Loser Lane. Loser, who now answers to "Lou", grew up to become a successful police sergeant. His brother Winner, on the other hand, wound up behind bars.
  • Evoked by Upgrayedd and names like Judge Hank BMW in Idiocracy. The two D's in "Upgrayedd" are for a "double dose of pimpin'".
  • Loqueesha is a blatant example already, but it's the name a white man invents for his black female radio persona. We'll leave it at that.
  • Parodied in Malibu's Most Wanted, where the very white Bradley Gluckman insists on being called "B-Rad G" and acting as if he's gangsta.
  • LaFawnduh from Napoleon Dynamite.
  • Parodied in Red (2010) when Frank and Sarah are breaking into the CIA Headquarters disguised as a general and his aide. The very-white Sarah (played by Mary-Louise Parker) glances at her cover identity and notices that her name is "Shaniqua Johnson". Frank sheepishly replies that she's adopted.
  • In Ted, when John is trying to guess Ted's new girlfriend's name, he runs through a list of stereotypical white trash names with hilarious speed. When he exhausts the list, he asks if it was any of the previous names on the list with Lynn at the end. He doesn't get far before Ted tells him it's "Tammi-Lynn".
  • Yonica Babyyeah, a Middle-Eastern pop idol in War, Inc. Subverted in that she turned out to be not only Caucasian, but the long-lost daughter of John Cusack's character.

  • Discussed in The Hate U Give, when Chris asks Starr and her friends why so many black people have "weird" names. After their initial response of, "Dude, c'mon," they explain that many so-called ghetto names are quite meaningful in various African languages — and, more to the point, when compared to some Preppy Names they've heard, most of them aren't that weird. Chris immediately concedes their point and apologizes.
  • Idoru has Chia Pet McKenzie. Her mother, who did not speak English, liked the way "Chia Pet" sounded, and her Canadian father was unfortunately absent.
  • One character in Nnedi Okorafor's Lagoon intentionally changes the spelling of his name from "Moses" to "Moziz" to distance himself from his religious mother and sound more badass.
  • Latawnya, the Naughty Horse, Learns to Say "No" to Drugs.
  • While the villainous philistine Thenardier in Les Misérables has Delusions of Eloquence, his wife demonstrates her stupidity and lack of culture by giving her daughters names from romantic novels.
  • One of the characters in NW by Zadie Smith is a black lawyer called Natalie. Her parents named her Keisha, but she didn't think that it sounded very professional.
  • The Outsiders: The protagonist is named Ponyboy, with another brother named Sodapop. (Eldest son Darry, short for Darrel, is the not-so-Odd Name Out.) When somebody comments, Ponyboy quips that his late father was an "interesting" person. Unlike most examples on this list, they're apparently white, though still lower-class.
  • In the Talba Wallace series of detective novels by Julie Smith, the protagonist, an African-American private eye and performance poet, choose the name Talba for herself because of how horrible her birth name is. Her mother asked a racist white obstetrician to suggest a name for her, and he maliciously said "Urethra". (This is an actual racist joke/urban legend in the South.)
  • The protagonist of The True Meaning of Smekday is named Gratuity. While she is black, the name was given to her by her white, Italian mother, who was an immigrant and didn't understand what the word meant. Her friends call her Tip.
  • Victoria: The mayor of New Orleans is named Mr. Tsombe "Big Daddy" Toussaint L’Overture Othello Jones. No, this book isn't a parody.
  • Lampshaded in Harry Turtledove's Timeline-191 series. Pretty much all blacks in the Confederacy have one name. When a white soldier asks why the names are always so fancy, he is told that "because we only have one name we have to cram as much into it as possible".

    Live-Action TV 
  • Reality Television is notorious for these; the more ridiculous name the black contestant has, the grosser the stereotype she will be. Examples are Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth from The Apprentice and NaOnka Mixon from Survivor — and it turned out in the last episode that NaOnka's mother is named Zena.
  • 30 Rock:
    • In the episodes "Queen of Jordan" and "Queen of Jordan 2: The Mystery of the Phantom Pooper", Angie has a Gay Best Friend named D'Fwan. This proves that the 30 Rock writers are geniuses, because this name manages to sound both ghetto and incredibly Camp (which D'Fwan is). This is used for puns when he makes his own wine, D'Fwine that you should d'fwink responsibly.
    • In a combination with Punny Name, we have Grizz's fiancé Feyoncé.

  • Angry Boys: The awesomely named Lasquweesha, Shwayne and D'Anthony send this up brilliantly, whilst all still sounding (scarily) believable.

  • Used in passing in Community, when Dean Pelton tries a money-saving scheme that involves texting only black students. He accidentally texts a French student named le Bron.
    • In Season 2, Chang attempts to pick up Shirley's kids from school, but gets the wrong kids. They inform him that their mom is named Laquanda, which Chang immediately says is "racist".

  • On Dear White People, Coco's real name is revealed to be Colandrea.

  • Invoked in Eastenders when twelve-year-old, white, lower-class Demi Miller gives birth and names her baby Aleesha Beyonce.

  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Frank tells a story in which he fell in love with a black singer named Shadynasty, pronounced "Shuh-Dynasty". When he names a club after her, people look at the name written out and ask who "Shady-Nasty" is.

  • Key & Peele:
    • The East/West College Bowl skit and its sequels. The names start out as the normal version of this trope, becoming more and more exaggerated as they go on until they're the most ridiculous names imaginable. Also note D'Jasper Probincrux III, who manages to blend this with Preppy Name. The later skits also tend to put in real life football players into the mix.
    • Inverted in the "Substitute Teacher Mr. Garvy" sketches, where the eponymous teacher has spent his entire career teaching in the inner city, so he assumes every name is like this, confusing his new class of suburban white kids when he calls out names like "J-Kwellen" (Jacqueline), and "Balakay" (Blake). When the kids correct his pronunciation, he assumes they're trying to play a joke on him because nobody could ever have such silly-sounding names. With each correction, he becomes increasingly enraged and hostile, demanding that the kids stop screwing around and say their names "correctly", and culminating in him sending a kid to the principal's office. Finally, he calls out one last ghetto-fied name... and the only black kid in class responds immediately, because it actually is his name (and he responds by saying "Pre-sent").
      Mr. Garvy: Ay-Ay-Ron! Where are you? Where is Ay-Ay-Ron right now? No A-A-Ron, huh? Well, you better be sick, dead, or mute, Ay-Ay-Ron!
      Student: Here!
      Mr. Garvy: Why didn't you answer me the first time I said it, huh? I'm just— y'know, I'm just askin', y'know. I said it, like, four times, so why didn't you say it the first time I said "A-A-Ron"?
      Student: ...Because it's pronounced "Aaron"?
      Aaron: ...Who?
      Mr. Garvy: O-SHAG-HENNESEY!
      Aaron: ...Principal O'Shaughnessy?

  • Jocelyn Jee Esien's sketch show Little Miss Jocelyn featured "Sharonisha", a lower-class "chav" London schoolgirl.

  • MADtv (1995):
  • Martin's crass neighbor Shanaenae.
  • Parodied on Mind of Mencia where the concept of Immigrant/Minority baby names are mostly based on Line of Sight Names such as "TopRamenisha," "USNavy",note  and "Shi-thead".note 
  • On The Mindy Project, Tamra's boyfriend is named Ray-Ron. Turns out that Ray-Ron is white.

  • Shaquan on The Parkers. She turns out to be Asian American.

  • Orange Is the New Black uses this for characterising several Rounded Characters rather than the expected targets:
    • Subverted by Taystee, a poor black woman with this kind of name - but it's actually a nickname for the more normal "Tasha". This doesn't stop someone comparing her name to a snack cake, though.
    • Subverted in the case of "Crazy-Eyes", who acts like a stereotypical, googly-eyed ghetto criminal and is only known by her nickname. Eventually her real name is revealed as "Suzanne", and it's revealed that she was raised by two white, middle-class adoptive parents.
    • Poussey. She is given the obvious Malicious Misnaming "Pussy", once standing up to someone by reminding them "[Poussey]'s a real place in France where my Dad was stationed and where kings were born and shit".note 

  • Played With in Parks and Recreation, where Donna Meagle (who explicitly comes from a wealthy family) has an estranged brother named Lavondrius and a slightly less estranged brother named George.
  • In one Christmas episode of Psych, Shawn imagines Gus’s life had Shawn not returned to Santa Barbara in the form of a sitcom titled “Wilin’ with da’ Gusters.” In this sitcom, Gus is married to a woman named Stranjay and has a stepson named Anfernee.

  • In Rescue Me the names of some of Firefighter "Black Shawn's" wedding guests in season 7 include D'brickshaw, Laqueefa and Shameerica.

  • Saturday Night Live: Finesse Mitchell's character Starkisha. He has a whole bit about Ghetto Names here.
  • Selfie has Charmonique (although averted with her son, Kevin), the receptionist. In the pilot, Henry asks Eliza if she knows Charmonique's name (Charmonique knows hers, and the two see each other every day in the morning). Eliza does not remember, and when Henry tells her, she says "In my defense, that's not a real name." Cue an offended noise from Charmonique.

  • The pilot of UnREAL (2015) has Quinn groaning furiously at a contestant named Shamiqua, saying that America would never root for a girl with that name.

  • Detective Shakima "Kima" Greggs in The Wire.

  • Eminem, as part of his Stereotype Flip aesthetic, parodies this by giving his Lower-Class Lout characters faintly antiquated white-people names like Tonya, Susan, Hector, Brian, Milo, Renée and Brenda.
  • A recurring character in Kendrick Lamar's music is Kdot's extravagantly trashy hoodrat ex-girlfriend Sherane, who gives him an STD and (in Loose Canon) caused one of her ex-boyfriends to drown by hiding him in the bathtub from a prying aunt.
  • Skee-Lo's "I Wish" contains the line "I would name my kids Ghetto Names Little Mookie, Big Al, Lorraine".
  • According to Word of God, the reason behind the naming of the titular character the very memetic Reggaeton parody "Yasuri Yamileth" was because it was the most stereotypically ghetto name her creator and singer, radio host Katherine Severino could give to her (and it has precedent as one Panamanian reggaeton singer did wrote a song about his girlfriend Yasuri). Severino created the character as a reply to colleagues joking about her preppy looks and tendencies, so when the song got popular and she was offered to film a video she realized she didn't look the part, so a more typically ghetto woman was hired to appear as Yasuri Yamileth.
  • The chorus for "Freek a Leek" by Petey Pablo lists: Shameka, Keisha, Zahra, Shonda, Sabrina, Crystal, Daronda, Theresa, Falicia, Tenisha, Sharon, Monica, Monique, Christina and Yolanda.

  • Parodied in The Lenny Henry Show, in which a white CEO has hired a black woman from to prove how not-racist he is:
    CEO: Laquesha brings a wonderfully urban vibe to the office.
    Ruth: My name's Ruth.
    CEO: This is classic Laquesha. If I had to describe her in a word: sassy.

    Video Games 
  • LaShawndra from Dead Rising 2, one of the first survivors you can rescue.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series, the Redguards (Tamriel's dark-skinned human race) get some of these throughout the series, with exactly how many varying from game to game. By the time of Skyrim, this has been dropped almost completely in favor of giving them Arabic-sounding names instead. (Justified, as the medieval Middle East and North Africa are a large part of the Redguard Culture Chop Suey.)
  • Ironically averted in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, where, despite being set in the Black ghetto of South Central and inspired heavily by '90s hood films, the characters have conventional given namesnote . While most are known primarily by their nicknames, the protagonist CJ's real name is Carl, the gang leader Sweet's real name is Sean, the gang members Big Smoke and Ryder are actually named Melvin and Lance, and the terrible rapper OG Loc's real name is Jeffrey. The only one of CJ's closest associates who has something resembling a ghetto name is his little sister Kendl.
  • Saints Row 2: Two of your primary lieutenants are named Shaundi (who's white) and Pierce (who's black). The Brotherhood leader, Maero, also qualifies. Most of the other characters in the game either have fairly normal names, like Johnny Gatt, or obvious aliases.

    Web Animation 

    Web Original 
  • Ghetto Smosh rechristens Anthony as "Antwon".
  • MK of MK Loves took African-American culture to task over this, arguing that "If your name is worth more than 40 points in Scrabble" you should pick a different name for yourself.
  • Back in the 90's, The Onion put together a chart of the most popular baby names by ethnicity. Among the "black" entries: "Propecia" and "Sinutab".
  • This is parodied and combined with N-Word Privileges on This Is A Commentary, with one of Tré's characters being named "Watermelondrea".
  • In The Tourettes Guy, Danny demonstrates his ignorance of technology when he is told that his birthday presents were bought on Amazon, assuming it to be the name of the black woman from his son's job. Even after he is told "Amazon dot com", he just thinks they're talking about a different black woman.
  • The video sharing website Vine has a video with ghetto names that are actually brand names, like Degree (pronounced De-gree-ay), Polynesian and Lifesavers (pronounced Lifaysaviars).
  • "Watermelondrea" is also part of the Top 60 Ghetto Black Names, whose increasing mockery includes things like Koolaidria, Unidastazovamerikaliqua, Guuuurl and the number one, Courtney.

    Western Animation 
  • In Drawn Together, Foxy Love's overly-elaborate role play identity is named Chocolandra.
  • ZigZagged on The PJs, a claymation show revolving around a fictional housing development. Names range from the generically unremarkable (Calvin Banks, Walter Burkett) to the more old-fashioned (Thurgood and Muriel Stubbs) to examples of this trope (Juicy Hudson, De-Shawn).
  • The Proud Family:
  • Leshawna from Total Drama, although her cousin has the more over-the-top name "Leshaniqua".
    • Blaineley (who is white) has a name that manages to sound both like this and Preppy Name at the same time, since while it sounds classy upon first hearing, it also sounds a bit artificial (as a likely overextension of something like "Blake" or "Blaine", which are themselves not-uncommon Preppy Names). Actually kind of befitting a rather vapid celebrity host with an obsession for fame and glamour, especially since the name happens to be as fake as the rest of Blaineley's persona—her real name is the much stuffier-sounding Mildred.