Asian-American Children's Names: Just White People's Names From the 50s?
Or, I Am Not A Racist
I'll lay this out very simply. It is my contention that many names given to Asian-American children of my generation are simply white people names from the 1950's; that is, names like Henry, Frederick, Eugene, Carol, and Joyce. Or Hubert, My parents, both born in the 50's, have two such names: Dennis and Sharon. If I were to meet another Dennis or Sharon, I would assume that they were either white people over the age of 45, or college students majoring in Engineering or possibly Biology.
To be fair, some Asian-American teenagers have names that began to die out in the 1930's or 40's. Someone named Esther will either be an elderly white woman in a retirement home, or a Korean teenager.
What are the reasons for this? Several come to mind. Many Asian-American parents, some unfamiliar with American customs and names, will select their children's names based on the names of their American contemporaries. Due to the Baby Boom, said contemporaries will likely be white people born in the 50's. I am sure that, should there be a Caucasian diaspora to Asia, white people would similarly flounder in choosing baby names.
Also, there's the Bible. Both white people from the 50's and religiously-minded Asian-Americans of today might well embrace names from the Good Book, like Esther, Judith, Joanna, Mary, or Felix. By the 1970's, the Bible had become less of an inspiration for white people names than the television program The Bionic Woman. The secularity of today's white people names only makes the retro nature of Asian-American names stand out even more.
Finally, contemporary white people names make no damn sense at all. There's names based on countries, seasons, ancient Celtic words, state capitals, presidential middle names, and virtues. I doubt that these trends will remain consistent, but if so, in 2053, we may many Vietnamese teenagers named Austin, Dakota, Madison, Britney, and Taylor. And I for one will be proud to have my own children - Melancholy, Winnipeg, Milhouse, and Michael - play badminton with any one of them.