For those of you out there thinking about what to name your child—especially as most babies are born in July, August, September and October—check out this list of baby names that are making a comeback, released by the Social Security Administration.
The name trends reflect the growing cultural diversity in the US and the fact that there are some very imaginative parents out there. (Turns out there are a lot of parents who really really love "Star Wars.")
Naming your child can feel like a high-stakes game and few people feel prepared for it; its significance kind of sneaks up on you. You go from making funny lists of names to all of a sudden feeling like the name you choose for you child could affect their future. Could it help them fit in at school or be the source of their bullying? Would it have an impact on what jobs are open to them? If we all thought too hard about it, we'd all probably stick to conventional names. But thankfully, we don't.
How do multicultural families navigate this potential minefield? In my case, both of my children were given their West African Akan "day names" (a name given to a boy or a girl based on the day they were born) and a Western Christian name.
For example, my full first name is Ama Christabel. The first name is my Akan Ghanaian day name. The second is my Christian name. My Akan name isn't on my birth certificate, but it's the one that I'm most comfortable with, the one my parents and sister call me by and the one I have the most intimate relationship with. My Christian name is on my birth certificate. It's the name I use to introduce myself to new people and the outside world. I love it, but I don't think it suits me as well as my Akan name. But together, they both represent everything that I am: a British-born African Diasporan with a love for connecting global traditions.
My names have always attracted questions, so I've always been fascinated by names, their meaning and their impact. Here are a few recently popular ones from the list that stood out to me:
Anakin: As in Skywalker, the "Star Wars" protagonist/antagonist. Director George Lucas based the name on the surname of friend and fellow director Ken Annakin.
Langston: My association with the name comes from the legendary poet of the Harlem Renaissance era, but its roots are English and it means, "From the tall man's town or estate."
Khalid: This Arabic name comes from the word "khalid," which means "eternal" or "immortal." It's been said that the name was created by Khalid ibn al-Walid, one of the two famous Arab generals during the Muslim conquests.
Damari: This name has roots in Greece. Its comes from the Greek word for "calf." It's also the surname of two noteables: the soccer player Omer Damari and the Yemen-born singer Shoshana Damari.
Arjun: This beautiful Hindi name means "bright," "shining" and "white."
Zendaya: This beautiful name from Zimbabwe means "to give thanks." If it sounds familiar to you, it's probably because of the singer-actress Zendaya Coleman.
Freya: This Norse name means "noble woman."
Frida: I can't help but think of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo when I hear the name, but its roots are German. This name means "peaceful."
Amina: This Arabic name means "trustworthy" or "faithful."
Remi: This name is more unisex. I know Nigerian men with this name, and it's usually an abbreviation of a longer traditional name, like Aderemi. It also has roots in France. If you take the French meaning, the name means "oarsman."