Amos and racial undertones

I love the name [name_m]Amos[/name_m] and have had it in mind for a while. I haven’t been sharing names with family or most friends, but baby is due in 3 weeks and I recently started sharing with people who are “distanced” from me (my dentist, the coffee shop guy, my friend’s aunt, my therapist, etc.) I was shocked when EVERYONE I mentioned it to said something like, Oh, that’s a black name! (I am white.) On the one hand I don’t really care, and really don’t want to care - it’s 2018, I can’t believe people still would say this! But on the other hand, I am from the South originally and live in Northern [name_u]California[/name_u] now. I neither want to give fodder to racist relatives (grrr) or be disrespectful/insensitive to African American friends/colleagues who I have now. (Could come off as tone deaf for a white lady to name a baby [name_m]Amos[/name_m], as if I didn’t know about [name_m]Amos[/name_m] & [name_u]Andy[/name_u]?)


I think of Famous [name_m]Amos[/name_m]- [name_u]Wally[/name_u] [name_m]Amos[/name_m] who is also African American. I’m from and still live in the Sacramento area which is one of the most diverse places in the nation, and I can’t explain why, but it does feel weird to give a white baby a “black name.” My little brother (who is bi-racial) suggested [name_m]Tupac[/name_m] for my baby and I just could not imagine my little white baby being able to carry it. I don’t know that [name_m]Amos[/name_m] would be impossible to get away with since the cultural icons associated with it are old and your kid’s friends will have never heard of them. In the end if you love the name that is all that matters.

There are some names that have racial undertones that I wouldn’t use for the reasons you stated. Yes, it’s 2018 and I wish any name could be used by anyone, but that’s just not reality yet. For me, it’s like a name that has deep ties to a certain culture or heritage. I’m not Russian and wouldn’t name my son Aleski or [name_u]Mischa[/name_u]. I’m not Latino so I wouldn’t name my son [name_m]Miguel[/name_m] or [name_m]Matteo[/name_m]. Some names have bridged these gaps, I see [name_u]Luca[/name_u] used on boys who are not Italian or Spanish, and I see many Sanskrit names used on white babies. But still…I would be aware of these perceptions and perhaps just steer clear of a name in a grey area.

What do your African American friends/acquaintances think about this?
I actually had no idea [name_m]Amos[/name_m] was considered to be a “black name”. My girlfriend has a white cousin named [name_m]Amos[/name_m] so the first thing that comes to mind is a white guy. In that sense, then after meeting your [name_m]Amos[/name_m] I’m sure others would associate the name with him. Of course you shouldn’t use it if it’s considered insensitive, but here it seems that the problem is that it’s more commonly used for black people, not that it’s offensive.
[name_f]Do[/name_f] you like [name_m]Amias[/name_m]/[name_m]Amadeus[/name_m]/[name_m]Ambrose[/name_m]?

As a white person, I’m not really sure. I think it’s best to ask African American friends about whether it would be racially insensitive.

I can’t say that I see it as a “black name” at all, when I see it I think [name_m]Amos[/name_m] [name_m]Diggory[/name_m] from [name_m]Harry[/name_m] [name_m]Potter[/name_m]

Another lover of [name_m]Amos[/name_m] here!

I did not grow up in the US, so I feel like any US-specific connotations of the name are inaccessible to me. I thought of the biblical prophet. But my (American) husband said it was “a black name” and somehow that rendered the name unusable for him. He also thought of Famous [name_m]Amos[/name_m] and that was another reason against it for him.

I really don’t understand why the cookie brand is such a big reason for many, it seems. The racial part I don’t get because afaik there was a TV show with a character with that name? I’m not familiar with the show so I have no idea why people are having strong reactions.

We did not use [name_m]Amos[/name_m] since my husband vetoed it. I still love the name.

To me I think biblical name first, which is fair game for any race? I am not sure it would matter either way. My “white” husbands name is Curti.s. His family also said it was a black name but honestly the only other people he has met with his name are white… So I think you should use it :slight_smile:

When I think of [name_m]Amos[/name_m] I think of the Biblical prophet. I don’t think of a tv show, or a brand of cookies.

What balderdash! [name_m]Amos[/name_m] has been used by myriad people, including [name_f]Louisa[/name_f] [name_f]May[/name_f] [name_u]Alcott[/name_u]'s father.

It is a gorgeous name and I’m a big take back the name person.

Go for it!

Frankly, this actually sounds like casual racism on the part of the people who have made comments to you. I don’t know the full context, but since people often make this statement as a way to deter someone from using a name, it feels like a problem with them, not the name you’ve chosen.

I encountered this with my family when talking baby names.
Specifically my mom suggested the nickname “Des/Dez” for my son because she wasn’t as keen on the nickname Archie, and my dad proclaimed, “That’s a black name!” To effectively shut the suggestion down.

It was an assertion that had no real basis in reality to begin with, but more importantly the argument being made was that the name’s supposed proximity to blackness was a negative. It was extremely uncomfortable to say the least.

Amos is great and you should absolutely use it!

I agree with this. [name_m]Amos[/name_m] is a good name and available for use by anyone. To suggest it belongs to one group- and is negatively associated with that group- is racism.

To me [name_m]Amos[/name_m] can be either race. Names shouldn’t be decided by race anyway.

I am aware of the cookies, the TV show and the Biblical prophet (who was probably middle eastern, so does that mean only people from there can use the name?). It’s not clear to me if the negative feedback is along the lines of a) that name is so ghetto you have to be black to wear it or b) if you name your child that, black people will perceive it as a microaggression. A sounds racist to me. B sounds careful and uncertain. I personally think the references are so dated that it wouldn’t be much of a problem either way and if you love it, I don’t see any reasonable reason to avoid it.

I have never met an [name_m]Amos[/name_m]. Never encountered [name_m]Amos[/name_m] in media and the first thing that came to mind was it kinda sounds like the lumos spell from [name_m]Harry[/name_m] [name_m]Potter[/name_m].

My son is a [name_m]Lincoln[/name_m] and we get “haha like [name_m]Abraham[/name_m] [name_m]Lincoln[/name_m]?” And we just say no.
People are usually too taken aback to comment further. He’s actually named for [name_m]Link[/name_m] in the legend of [name_f]Zelda[/name_f] games but if they make a comment and think they’re being funny they don’t deserve to know the origin of his name or what it means to us.

I know a little girl that goes to school with my sister, ghost white with freckles and strawberry blonde hair called [name_f]Ebony[/name_f]. I’m sure no one has ever said to her face that her name means black or mentioned ebony and ivory.

And likewise for [name_m]Amos[/name_m]. If you love it, use it! And if any one says anything to your little boy or yourself just look them dead in the face and say no.

I know three people named [name_m]Amos[/name_m]. All of them are white. I’ve never thought of this as a black name so much as a biblical name, and I’d say those are fair game.

This, 100%.

I am also a big fan of the name. The only person I’ve met with the name [name_m]Amos[/name_m] is a white man, and he sings in a punk band. I think it has that cool and quirky “grandpa chic” feel, and is totally worth a comeback.

I’ve never heard of [name_m]Amos[/name_m] being a predominantly [name_m]Black[/name_m] name at all, the only ones I’ve ever seen/met were white, but honestly why does it matter? I hear the same comments when I bring up the name [name_f]Jasmine[/name_f], but I still love the name. I think it’s very socially conscious of you to ask for advice on this since I can see that you genuinely don’t want to offend anybody, but I really don’t think this name in particular would cause any issues in this regard.

I find it much more bizarre when white people name their daughters [name_f]India[/name_f], for example, since that seems like a much more direct instance of using a name from another culture (literally). That’s a name choice that you (and she) will have to explain sometimes, and might get weird looks from people about since [name_f]Indian[/name_f] people would probably wonder why the hell a white American girl is named after their country. But a name that’s just often used by certain demographics for no distinct reason? You’re probably fine.

I think it if was cultural appropriation, and it was a name with specific religious/ethnic connotations to a specific culture, you would need to step carefully and make sure you understood the significance before choosing it.

But isn’t [name_m]Amos[/name_m] a biblical name? It’s entirely possible that if you broke down the figures for the 20th century that it’s been used predominantly by black parents, but it’s an extremely old name with a history that predates any of that - so to me it sounds like your casual acquaintances are being casually prejudiced?

But I’m not black and neither am I American, so my cultural reference points are very different and I wouldn’t consider myself an expert by any means.

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