Non-White Character Naming

This is a conversation I believe is ripe for discussion and debate, particularly in the setting of modern-day [name_f]America[/name_f]. I don’t know how others tackle this dilemma in their writing, but my naming of non-white characters is largely dependent on how strong the foreign cultural influence is upon them. For example, I’ve a Chinese American family who consists of the first-generation parents, Nushi [name_m]Chen[/name_m] and Xiuying [name_m]Chen[/name_m], and their second-generation daughter, Mingxia [name_m]Chen[/name_m]. Because of their recency to [name_f]America[/name_f], their culture is better preserved in their names without much, if any, American influence.

But when it comes to characters whose families or ethnic groups have resided in [name_f]America[/name_f] for far longer, perhaps decades or even centuries, it’s far more likely that American naming customs and culture have influenced them. For example, I’ve three ethnic groups that I tend to give Americanized names: African Americans, Native Americans, and Jewish Americans.

Here’s the names for one of my black families:
[name_m]Dontrell[/name_m] “Don” [name_f]Holland[/name_f] (father), [name_f]Trinity[/name_f] [name_f]Holland[/name_f] (née Williams) (mother), [name_m]Jahmari[/name_m] [name_f]Holland[/name_f] (eldest son), and [name_m]Zaire[/name_m] [name_f]Holland[/name_f] (youngest son).

As you can see, these names have root in contemporary African American naming customs, with the exception being [name_m]Zaire[/name_m], the former name of the Democratic Republic of the [name_m]Congo[/name_m] in [name_f]Africa[/name_f].

Here’s the names for one of my Native American (Cherokee) names:
[name_m]Robert[/name_m] Kingfisher Sr. (father), [name_f]Cynthia[/name_f] Kingfisher (mother), [name_m]Robert[/name_m] “Bobby” Kingfisher [name_m]Jr[/name_m]. (eldest son), [name_f]Magnolia[/name_f] “Maggie” Kingfisher (daughter), and [name_m]William[/name_m] “Willie” Kingfisher (youngest son).

The American influence is clear in their forenames, although their surname is purposefully distinct so as to convey their ethnic diversity.

Lastly, here’s the names for one of my Jewish families:
[name_m]Reuben[/name_m] Auernheimer (father), [name_f]Magdalena[/name_f] Auernheimer (mother), [name_m]Zane[/name_m] Auernheimer (eldest son), [name_f]Violetta[/name_f] Auernheimer (eldest daughter), [name_m]Gabriel[/name_m] “Gabe” Auernheimer (youngest son), and [name_f]Olivia[/name_f] Auernheimer (youngest daughter).

Now, this may be the most distinct collection of names I’ve listed. Both parents are written as Ashkenazi Jewish, and [name_m]Reuben[/name_m] is Judeo-German and [name_f]Magdalena[/name_f] is Judeo-Polish, so these ethnicities influenced the naming of their children ever so subtly.

I understand that not everybody may agree with this method, and frankly, I’d like others to provide their own input to tackling this issue in their writing, if your stories include non-white characters at all. Otherwise, thanks for reading and have a good day!