Black Names and Respectability Politics


By William J. Jackson

Trayvon Martin’s brother is Jahvaris Fulton.

He just graduated from college.

A big part of the white supremacist rhetoric used to argue in favor of his murder being a good thing was that he got in trouble in school.

We can’t predict the future.
What can see is the fact that somebody raised by and around the same folks as him is moved forward with his life and education.

Trayvon Martin doesn’t get to have that chance.

Sounds like one of those “black names”.
It sounds “Ghetto”.
He’s probably a “Thug”. 

Trayvon has a father.
Wait… What??? A black person has a father?
(I know, right).
His father’s name is Tracy Martin.
Though he wasn’t named directly after his father, his name is a bit of a modern remix on that name with a bit of an effeminate twist on it.

The “Von” makes it sound smooth and even a bit pretty.

We can pretend that if he had a name like Michael or Eric, he would have been seen different, but respectability politics don’t work and what folks would consider a “black” name doesn’t matter.

The arguments against his right to life were rooted in his blackness.
Everything around that are merely confirmation bias for those who already had their minds made up on him.

That said.

When I hear the name ‘Trayvon’, it doesn’t sound “ghetto” or “hood” to me.

It sounds like a beautiful name to give your little boy.



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