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New Dad Accused Of Cultural Appropriation For Giving His White Baby An Indigenous Name

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What’s in a name? Parents spend time choosing just the right name for a new baby.

Many times parents select something meaningful like a family name, or something reflective of their culture.

What happens when you find the perfect name for your baby and your friends deem it cultural appropriation? One conflicted new dad recently dealt with this.

The Redditor going by the name THROWAwaybabynam turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subreddit and asked: 

“AITA for using an Indigenous name for my White baby?”

The OP, or Original Poster, went into deeper detail about their family roots and baby name:

I (28m) am White as snow born in Switzerland. My wife(25f) comes from Paraguay where they keep their Indigenous culture present in their everyday life.”

”The Indigenous language is recognised as official, is taught in schools, is used and mixed with Spanish and I saw it even in my wife’s passport. The whole country is considered a mix because of the historic context but if you’re White, brown, Asian or Black you’re still Paraguayan.”

“So my wife moved to Spain when she was 11 and now she has the two nationalities. I have two other nationalities that are not Spanish. We decided that our kids are taking the Spanish and Swiss nationalities.”

”Wife still wanted to honor her culture so we chose the name Arami (Ara for short), which means little heaven and has more special meaning to us but doesn’t sound so weird that it could be awkward when she’s an adult.”

“The Paraguayan family loves the name. The European family also loves the name and they already know about the language.”

”When we posted about Arami’s arrival we used her name and I received some comments from European friends about the name being uncommon.”

“When I mention that it’s my wife’s language some of them told me it’s cultural appropriation because my daughter is not Latina and definitely not Indigenous and we’re contributing to the harasment of Indigenous people.”

”Also apparently my wife doesn’t look Latina enough despite being born there. Yes she is White and people assume she was born here until she tells the details but she is proud of her origins and we fully intend to teach it to our kids and visit enough to be connected to that side of our family.”

“I don’t know if we did the right thing now. I don’t want to hurt the Indigenous community but also the language and traditions of that country are present in our lives so when we chose the name cultural appropriation never crossed our minds.”

“Are we the aholes or are people overreacting?”

Redditors were asked to pass one of four judgements: 

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors thought OP was NTA for honoring his wife’s roots. 

“NTA. Cultural appropriation is a serious issue when symbols or designs are stolen by non-Indigenous designers or companies and they profit from it. When people buy from those companies, it’s cultural appropriation.”

“People who buy from these culture vultures don’t learn the meanings of what the thieves stole and only the thieves are getting rich off the Indigenous culture they’re cheaply knocking off.”

“If an Indigenous person had a problem with the name, I’d hear them out to understand why. But you aren’t profiting from it, you know the meaning and it’s part of your wife’s culture.”

“That’s appreciation on your part, not appropriation.”

“If random White people have a problem with the name, tell them an Indigenous woman said they can STFU.”

“Cultural appreciation is buying a rug with Navajo designs from a Navajo. Cultural appropriation is buying a ‘Navajo inspired’ rug from a big company with no Navajo ties who stole their design from the Diné people and is profiting off their culture.” ~ LakotaGrl

NTA,NTA,NTA. As a white latina I HATE when non latinos doubt my ethnicity based on the colour of my skin. Dude,I was born and raised in Latin America, I still live in Latin America, but I’m not latina enough because my skin doesn’t match what YOU believe latin@s skin tone should be!?”

”Hell no. Grab a history book and educate yourself. I actually believe Paraguay to be an example to be followed when it comes to keeping native culture and languages alive.”

”And I’m glad that you and your wife decided to go even further and express that culture in an european country. So DO NOT pay attention to their white knight activism crap.”

”It’s your wife’s culture, that you both want your child to appreciate and partake in. PS: English is not my native language,so between that and the anger running through my veins,I apologize for any mistakes. Feel free to point them out.”~Interesting-Issue475

Wheeww so lemme get this right— a bunch of Europeans are trying to block the flow of indigenous culture from one generation to the next? Like, haven’t y’all done quiet enough of that? Serious tho, NTA.”~peterbiltbaby00

”Light skinned Indigenous person here – we keep our cultures alive in the face of colonization by passing on our names, language and tradition to our descendants regardless of what they look like.”

”From my experience, I will tell you that you are doing your daughter a service by imparting HER culture into her every day life. Anyone who tells you differently is inadvertently trying to contribute to the ongoing destruction of our peoples, regardless of how ‘woke’ they want to appear. NTA.”~vaguelyambiguous1

NTA Tell your friends that it’s super racist for white people to tell a latina that she’s appropriating her own culture because they think she’s white passing.” ~DumpsterPhoenix93

“NTA, your wife has actual roots to the indigenous people just that it’s not obvious. For those who still don’t accept this, you can tell them to bug off for overtly PC since you and wife has legitimate claims and roots to the indigenous people.”

“Also to be fair, the name Arami doesn’t give off it’s an indigenous naming convention, that’s why many commented it’s an unusual name only till you explained the background of it. Essentially there is not enough facts to justify the culture appropriation claims by overzealous dumb dumb and you and wife did nothing wrong at all.”

“Ps that sounds like a great name, good choice.”~denasher

NTA, and those people are virtue signalling in the worst kind of way. If your wife was totally disconnected from her culture and had nothing to do with it, or her family, then perhaps it would be, but as things stand, your wife chose that name, is if that culture, and has family there. She birthed your child, and you both have the right to honour your wife’s roots.”~Skyward_Dork

NTA. How exactly is your wife appropriating her own culture? And why do your European friends think they’re qualified to be the gatekeepers of another culture that they know nothing about?”

”Your wife was born in Paraguay and grew up there, so the fact that some Europeans think that they can tell her that she’s “not Latina enough” is absolutely laughable.” ~RebelScientist

Congratulations on the new baby OP, it’s a beautiful name.

Written by Heidi Dockery

Heidi Dockery is a Maine artist & nature enthusiast with an affinity for libraries. She studies Criminal Justice with a special focus on psychology & sociology at the University of Maine. When not studying, painting, or re-reading the works of Terry Pratchett, she volunteers & enjoys various activities most would label nerdy.