Twenty years ago, I wrote African American Names and their Meanings to fill a void and to bring respect and pride to the names melanated men and women were giving their children.
Some among our Melanoid Nation laugh and call these appellations “ghetto” and “hoodrat” names. Should we follow in the footsteps of the European colonists of this landmass—once called Turtle Island—who castigate and discriminate against these children based on their color as well as their names and continue to throw away generations of our melanated children just because we don’t like what their mommies and daddies named them?
Actually, the sounds used by these parents to create so-called ghetto and hoodrat names emanate from the pleasing sounds and spiritual systems found in African and autochthonous American languages. For example, the sound “sha” in the name Shakia is the same sound found in Orişas, the collective name given to the deities among the Yoruba people. And chi in the name Chikeesha is the same sound found in the Hitchiti language of the Yamassee people and means “you”. Chi is used to form the name Ookeechi--and its corrupted form Geechee, the autochthonous melanated people who fled their enslavers along the Sea Islands and established numerous autonomous settlements in Florida and fought and won three consecutive wars against the United States. Ochi in the Hitchiti language means water. Ookeechi, is not only the name of the people, it is the name of the river and its tributaries that flow through Georgia and parts of South Carolina where the Ookeechi or Geechee people resided for millennia prior to the coming of the Europeans and their unfortunate enslavement. Moreover, “chi” in the language of the Igbo people of West Africa means "God". Chi also means life force in the Kemetic language.
Whether we like it or not, if we are smart, it will be Freequan and Quoquoneisha, and the like, who will lead our people forward. In my opinion, we should embrace these names and the meanings I have given to the names listed in my book. Then the skilled etymologists among us should provide meanings for the others that have been created. As a nation, we need to take charge of the education of these children, prepare them for leadership roles and help them to meet the challenges of twenty-first century living. Or should we continue to scoff at and shun these children based on our displeasure with the names that were given to them at birth and prepare them for the prison industrial complex or an early grave.