I’m not going to front: I’ve been known to toss a side-eye or two at some of the more, shall we say, “creative” names our people gift their children when they’re born. I’m not saying every Black child should be called “Becky” and “Mike,” but when assumptions about economic, social and employment status is driven, in part, by the numbers of “q’s,” dashes, apostrophes and vowels in the name that appears at the top of the resume, I’m more prone to support baby names that can be easily spelled and pronounced. Which brings me to Crazy Eyes Uzo Aduba, the SAG Award-winning actress on the hit Netflix original series, “Orange is the New Black.”
Uzo, whose full name is Uzoamaka Nwaneka Aduba, is the daughter of Nigerian-Americans, thus her African name. Though it is a perfectly lovely name, it was not lost on her as a kindergartener that maybe the fellow students at her elementary school in Massachusetts might have a tad bit of an issue pronouncing “Uzoamaka,” so she made a very simple request of her mother: “Can you call me Zoe?”
Her mother’s response? Priceless. I’m still not a fan of names that are difficult to pronounce and spell for no good reason (I’m looking at you, Quvenzhané Wallis’ mama) or picked on a whim and a ridiculous trend (seriously, I’m still praying for all the babies that were named D’Jango back in 2012), but Uzo’s mama picked well and has a fine point. Press play up top to see Uzo’s mom’s comeback. It was well played, ma’am. Well played. And I can’t say I’m mad at it.
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.