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The Two Biggest Stories from the Annual Baby Name Data

September 7, 2020 LauraWattenberg 3 min read 5 Comments

The two biggest baby name stories of 2019 were more about substance than style. The top hitmakers—the late hip-hop artist Nipsey Hussle and the film The Hate U Give—made their marks across names as varied as Kross and Sekani, Ermias and Seven. In the process, they helped define a cultural […]

Vintage print ad showing "mammy" figure with pancakes, and a description of "old-time plantation flavor"

Brand Curse: The Name Jemima in America

June 19, 2020 LauraWattenberg 6 min read 10 Comments

This week the Aunt Jemima pancake brand name was “retired,” bringing an end to a 131-year advertising minstrel show. The brand’s current owner, Quaker, finally bowed to the reality that no cosmetic makeover could rehabilitate a character, and business, built on a romanticized fantasy of owning human beings as property. […]

Implicit Bias in Names: An Unintentional Case Study

June 15, 2020 LauraWattenberg 4 min read 8 Comments

As our nation confronts the massive toll of systemic racism, a viral video on the subject has been viewed millions of times. In simple animation, the video presents two hypothetical American boys, one white and one black. The two characters become avatars of the multigenerational effects of privilege on one […]

The Tradition-Shattering Names of Rural White America

November 6, 2019 LauraWattenberg 4 min read 9 Comments

It has become a familiar part of America’s modern political narrative. The white, small-town experience is portrayed as the most traditional American experience. Some elevate it as an ideal, the model for returning the nation’s culture to an earlier, prouder time. Others see it as just one element of a […]

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