African-American names

Um, this is an urban legend. Everyone I’ve met has heard of black twins named Oranjello and Lemonjello. No one has ever met these people, but they will swear on the Bible that their best friend’s cousin’s next-door-neighbor has.

I can’t wait for this particular story to fade away.

I can’t wait for this particular need for non-black people to dissect why black people name their children whatever the hell we wish to name our children to fade away, personally. I believe this is about the sixth time in the last year or so that this topic has come up in one fashion or another, and it’s mindboggling to me that this can be discussed so frequently and with so little being learned from thread to thread.

That said, does it really matter where a name comes from? If it’s made up out of whole cloth or nicked out of a book or TV show, if it’s an attempt at reclaiming heritage or throwing off oppression, if it’s something handed down from generations or the result of a misunderstanding or misreading or whatever, people’s names are their names. You can’t change them, all you can do is learn them and use them properly. And really, your opinion of a name? Completely meaningless – whether the name is Taylor Maine or Lakashondria or Maddysyn or Frances Bean or Kelvin or Scout or Janie.

So really, what’s the point of going through this yet again?

Mark Lemonjello was the name of a pitcher for the Houson Astros in the 1970s, according to Snopes.

TeaElle, I asked this question because:

  1. I couldn’t find anything on it using “Search”. My apologies if I missed half a dozen other threads. I’m not keen on re-hashing.

  2. Because I was curious.

I always figured curiosity was a good thing. It leads to understanding. However, perhaps that only applies to non-racial issues?

I’m not American and don’t experience the gulf that appears to exist between African-Americans and regular-Americans (I can’t even understand that nonsense - everyone I know is just plain “Canadian”). However, the way I see it, African-Americans view themselves as distinct (much as Quebeckers here in Canada do). If they are distinct, there is something inherently different about them than there is about me, and that difference is deserving of understanding.

Given the vast importance that a name imports, I think my question was completely valid and reasonable, your unusual sensitivity to the question notwithstanding.

The Social Security Death Index lists 38 persons with the surname “Lemongello” who died in the period 1962-present, almost all of them from Massachusetts or New Jersey. However, they were Italian Americans, not African Americans. The name is probably pronounced le-MON-je-lo. A variant spelling is “Limongello”.

Where I work in Detroit, one of the staff members in our clinic keeps a list of the more wacky names we come across.

The first time I saw that list I thought to myself, God have mercy on us all.

One of items on the list is indeed medical in origin. Apparently, the mother saw the item on a printout of a blood test result, and liked the way the word looked.

So she named her daughter “Rhneg”. Pronounced “ruh-NEG”.

But the true winner on that list (among many candidates) were a pair of twins with the first names of “Beneatha” and “Betweentha”. The last names were, um, Sheets.

Say it out loud, and you’ll see why I groaned.