Program Success November 2014 | Page 15

Demetria L . Lucas Having a Black Name Orlando , Florida November 2014
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Every Demetria I ' ve ever met has been black . So has every Lucas I ' ve ever heard of , except George of Star Wars and Indiana Jones fame . But most people don ' t know what race I am based on my name alone . about my " ethnic " or " urban " name . There have been plenty of confused looks anytime my name has been called and black me has responded , risen or shot my hand up to acknowledge my presence-but never from another black person .
Some black people have all sorts of creative names . Like " Keisha ," mine hardly registers as unique . Although I went to predominantly white schools my entire life , my parents kept me in positive and nurturing black environments otherwise . I credit those circles with why I can quickly brush off many challenging experiences that have happened in wider circles .
Early in my career , when I was working as a stringer for a national mainstream publication , I noticed that I kept getting assigned to stories with a Greek slant . Apparently the editor , whom I ' d never met , had figured out that my name was Greek and assumed that I was . One of the assignments was the release of My Big Fat Greek Wedding . I would show up in the hotel lobby to meet the film ' s publicist , who would take me to meet the stars of the film for an interview .
I walked up to the man , who was white , with the clipboard , assuming that he was the publicist , and introduced myself as the reporter . He gave me a once-over that all but said , " You ' re not the package I was expecting a Demetria to be in ," and then he asked , " You sure you ' re Demetria ?" Who else would I be ? I assured him that I was . In the elevator , he asked me if I was Greek . I told him I was " just black ." He nodded and quipped , " I didn ' t know black people had Greek names ."
I was 22 and eager to please and also didn ' t know what to say in response to something like that . I quipped back , " Well , my black dad did ," and that was that . Thinking about it now , I take no shame in the confusion my name might bring , but I am embarrassed for the publicist and his display of ignorance .
was waiting in the lobby for her and watched as a woman approached several people in quick discussions , but I had no idea why . She finally asked the woman next to me , " Hi , are you Demetria ? I ' m supposed to be meeting my editor ."
I piped up to introduce myself , and she gave me the same quizzical look that the publicist had . I was used to the reaction by then and just smiled , waiting for her to put two and two together . " Oh ," she said as recognition dawned . To her credit , she quickly composed herself and we had a fine dinner without incident . As proof of how unfazed I was by it , I hadn ' t thought about that encounter from 10 years ago until today .
Despite Kylie ' s mom ' s intent to raise her daughter as a " strong " and " proud " black woman , I have to wonder about her job performance . It takes more to raise a woman who is proud of her blackness than bestowing her with what Mom considers a black name . As far as unique black names go , " Keisha " is black-girl light , hardly an eyebrow raiser in any black circles , which I ' m not sure Kylie was part ofin Kansas City , despite its 30 percent black population , according to the U . S . Census Bureau . That her name and insinuations about it became such an overwhelming issue that could reduce her to tears as a young adult makes me wonder how " strong " or " proud " she is to be halfblack , which is the real issue here-not the name . □
When I was a kid and even into early adulthood , my name was mocked as " Dementia ." I have relatives who still mispronounce it . There have also been two occasions when I ' ve been asked why I don ' t go by my middle name to avoid stereotypes
On another occasion , long before my image popped up in search engines and Skype was an option , I was working as an editor at a publishing house . I was meeting an author who was in town for a conference . We had spoken plenty of times but had never met . I
Demetria L . Lucas is a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn : The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life .