What’s in a name? I’ll tell you what: A job! My name is Tarvenia. What’s a Tarvenia? Where did my parents get that name? Well my mother has told me that when I was born she really wanted to name me Sabrina. That sounds normal enough right? I thought so too. Somehow though, after having me, my mother tells me that she couldn’t think of Sabrina to save her life and that the only name she kept saying is Tavena. She shared this Tavena name with the nurses at Beth Isreal Hospital in Newark, New Jersey circa 1971 and the nurses thought it was a cute name but thought it would be great to add an r and an i and thus I became Tarvenia No Middle Name Eddings.
You can imagine what it was like to grow up with a name that’s not even a normal black name like Tanisha, Precious or Raheem. I appreciate it that black folks like to give children very unique and interesting names. But my question is are we hurting our children by doing this? I remember when I got started working in reality and non-scripted television. I would send my resume out with Tarvenia Jones (married name) and the response would be crickets. I wondered what was the problem and decided to try a little experiment. I sent my resume out with simply T. Jones along with my list of credits and viola! I could hardly believe the response. I was called for several interviews because T. Jones on a resume is not black, white, male nor female.
Do I agree that a name should matter when you’re qualified to do a job? Absolutely not. But the experiment proved that there was something in a name. I was offended that the same companies I sent my resume to with Tarvenia Jones only responded when I sent my resume with T. Jones. I do have a confession, I’ve used it to my advantage. I use T. Jones as my professional name now. I actually like the ring to it. Some people say T. Jones Who? Like Mike Jones! I get a kick out of that. But do you know what I really get a kick out of? A paycheck! A career! Taking care of my ever growing son. Those things give me the giggles.
Again I ask, what’s in a name? Do we do our children a disservice when we name them Barackalina? Do they stand to benefit from a name like Liquidasia as if they were born in a bathtub or something? Does putting Mocha Latte Jones on a resume encourage employers to call them? When I was pregnant with my son, my almost ex-husband and I were thinking of names and I said Joshua. He said that’s not black enough. I told him well excuse me but Mufasa is taken and so is Kunta Kente. We decided on Joshua Tyler Jones. It’s a name you can put on a resume. Some folks may not like that but it’s the truth. I’m still very proud of my name Tarvenia. I even gave it a meaning. I tell people it means something deep like “black flower”. When in truth it has no meaning. My mom made it up with the help of some nurses 38 years ago. Chile Please!