There's a reason why I chose a French class student list for that image up there, and you can guess why by taking a peek at the title of this post. Need a hint? It's the first word.
It has been a common practise for non-Western families to name their children common Western names so as not to ostracize their poor children in school, and to allow them to adopt a presentable name to ease their way into Western society. But more and more, I'm seeing students bearing (both with pride and with resignation) names of their own ethnicity, of their own culture—at least here in Canada. As multiculturalism moves away from being a fad and toward being an unquestioned part of society, names that would previously have made their bearer a bullying victim are now being normalized.
I'm not talking about exotic spellings (how many ways can we think of to spell
"Churan" and "Kalika" are actual names of POC (people of colour) kids I am acquainted with, and seeing how I am Chinese, I could list you a dozen Chinese acquaintances who have chosen to keep their original names rather than take the "easy" way out and go for a more "socially acceptable". Why are those words in quotation marks? Because—good news!—now other kinds of names are socially acceptable too, not just Molly or Abigail or Heather or other "white-sounding" names.
But wait! you say. What's wrong with POC kids having commonplace names? And I say: nothing. I am certainly not condemning any parent who chooses to name their kid "Jacob" or "Edward"
Writing diversity might be harder than normal, since we all tend to default to white male characters (check out Megan Crewe's great post on defaulting to white male characters). But is that an excuse for avoiding diversity? Well, in the words of Ellen Oh: "Being called a racist is nowhere near as painful as dealing with actual racism." We all can stand to be a little more thoughtful when it comes to diversity. So why not start with the names?