We normally turn to BabyNames.com for everything from lists of the best names for twins to the trends that are gaining in popularity, such as nature- or geography-inspired names. But its latest published list is a huge pivot for the brand, and is by far its most powerful post yet. On Tuesday, June 9, visitors to the popular name search site were greeted with a pop-up post listing names of Black Americans who have been murdered in the United States.
“Each of these names was somebody’s baby,” the BabyNames graphic begins. It’s followed by a list — one that seems huge, but is really only a fraction of the names they might have included over this country’s centuries-long history of racial violence — of the names of Black Americans who have been murdered in the United States. Many of them, such as Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and many others, lost their lives due to senseless police brutality. Others, such as Ahmaud Arbery, were murdered by white supremacist civilians.
We spoke with BabyNames’ Jennifer Moss on how she chose to make this move — a first for the Baby Names brand, which has steered clear of making any statements that could be construed as political. But, of course, racism isn’t — at least, shouldn’t be — a political issue.
“It devastated me,” Moss told SheKnows of the recent killings of Black folks by U.S. police. “I wanted to do something with the names, but I didn’t want them to be just names. I wanted to show that these people had families, they had loved ones, and they were loved.”
And it’s clear the message resonated; within hours, the BabyNames site actually broke due to excess traffic. Moss is grateful: “We didn’t expect this kind of response,” she told us. “We hope it just furthers the conversation.”
Has the company received any backlash, we wonder? After all, if there’s anywhere the white supremacists love to hide out…it’s the internet.
“Yeah. A couple messages,” Moss says. But she adds that the feedback they’ve received has been “99.8% positive.”
She concluded the list of names with this statement: “BabyNames.com stands in solidarity with the Black community. #BlackLivesMatter.”
After so many years of fighting, so many voices unheard, and far too many unconscionable killings of Black Americans, it’s clear the culture at large has (finally) reached a certain turning point, one in which no one — nope, not even a brand that helps you pick a baby name — is exempt from the fight for justice.