“Each of these names was somebody’s baby.”
Choosing a baby name is one of the biggest decisions faced by new and expectant parents. It’s unsurprising, then, that baby name websites continuously prove to be some of the most-visited sources on the internet.
BabyNames.com is one such website. But, while it usually serves as a source of inspiration to mums and dads, its homepage is now dominated by a stark black box.
Inside the box can be found dozens of names. Each of those names belongs to a black American who was murdered, either at the hands of law enforcement or a civilian. Each of them, the site notes, “was somebody’s baby.”
“BabyNames.com stands in solidarity with the black community,” reads a statement from the website.
The first of the names listed, of which there are well over 100, is Emmett Till, a 14-year-old who was lynched in 1955 after a white woman made up a story about him touching her.
Other names on the list include; Ahmaud Arbery, who was killed in February while out for a jog in the city of Brunswick early in the afternoon; Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot by police in her Louisville, Kentucky, apartment in March; Tony McDade, who was fatally shot in the Leon Arms apartment complex by an officer of the Tallahassee Police Department in May; and Jamel Floyd, who died earlier this month after being pepper sprayed inside a Sunset Park federal prison
The last name on the list, of course, is George Floyd, who was killed in Minneapolis on 25 May 2020 after a police officer was filmed kneeling on his neck for over eight minutes.
Over on Twitter, the BabyNames.com account has dedicated itself to the anti-racism movement by tweeting out each new name of a black person killed by police added to the website, along with the #BlackLivesMatter tag.
And, as people have responded with names omitted from the list, the site has acknowledged and added them.
BabyNames.com’s effort to honour those lives lost has been widely praised on social media, with The Verge’s Bijan Stephen tweeting: “ok baby names dot com go off.”
Former US Attorney Barb McQuade, writing on her own Twitter, added: “All parents give deep and loving thought to their baby’s name. They never imagine seeing it on a tombstone or a headline about victims of police violence.
“They were all someone’s baby.”
Addressing the initiative with TODAY Parenting, BabyNames.com CEO Jennifer Moss explained that the issue of racial injustice is important to everyone who works on the site.
“We knew we wanted to make some kind of a statement…” she said. “I didn’t want it to look like a platitude, because we are all very moved by this, and we wanted to support the black community.”
Moss added: “I don’t think people realise that when you see all the names in one place, it’s overwhelming. When things happen little by little, we don’t notice them as much as when you put it all together and say, ‘Look what’s happening.’
“We wanted to show that these were somebody’s children.”
How to be a better ally in the fight against racism
To paraphrase what we’ve said before, it’s worth remembering that non-black people need to educate themselves, listen more, and learn how to be a better ally in the fight against racism.
Here are just a few of the ways we can all do this:
How to support Justice for George Floyd:
- Donate to the official George Floyd memorial fund, a GoFundMe page set up by Floyd’s brother.
- Support the Black Visions Collective, an organisation working specifically on racial justice within the state of Minnesota.
Further charities and organisations to engage with: