When you're black your name doesn't even have to be Marijauna Pepsi for you to be a victim of racial profiling

Dr. Marijuana Pepsi became a doctor against all odds
Dr. Marijuana Pepsi became a doctor against all odds

Now just imagine how much more worse this is when your name is Marijuana Pepsi. This 46-year-old woman from Winconsin does not have to imagine. 

The mother of four and grandmother of one has faced a lot of difficulty from a young age after her mother - who figured a unique name would get further in life - named her Marijuana Pepsi.

While Marijuana says she was teased often by her peers, she certainly has gone far, and is now a PhD graduate. 

Her dissertation titled "Black names in white classrooms: Teachers behaviours and student perceptions" is what earned her this doctorate.

READ MORE: SZA's Sephora incident triggers thoughts about our own experiences of racial profiling in South Africa's retail stores

Dr. Marijuana Pepsi compiled the dissertation using data collected from black university students, who she asked about any classroom experiences they may have had with teachers because of their distinctively "black-sounding" names.

Black America Web reports that many of the students she spoke to had confirmed that they were at the receiving end of bias and discrimination from their lecturers because of their names.

This can be backed up in this article first published in Huffpost about the finding in a recent study about black names and racial bias.

According to the article, students with black-sounding names were often labeled as "troublemakers" by teachers. They were also less likely to get a call back for a job application than other applicants with "white" names.

It was also found that students with typically black names were least likely to receive a response for a request of information from governmental institutes such as libraries or schools.

The study which was published in the journal of Evolution and Human Behaviour, found that males with black names were imagined as bigger built, dangerous and more violent than those with typical white names.

“The participant sample - despite being slightly left of center politically - automatically attributed violence to individuals based solely on having names like Darnell or Juan; whereas names such as Connor automatically led to expectations of prestige and status", Dr Colin Holbrook, the lead author of the study told Huffpost.

When taken into consideration, one can only imagine the life Dr. Marijuana was subjected to living by people assuming that just because of her name, she'd amount to nothing. However, she says the trials caused by her uncommon name helped strengthen her.

READ MORE: #BlackWomenAtWork: racism in the workplace is alive and well

“I’ve grown into my name because I am a strong woman. I’ve had to be,” Dr.Marijuana told the “Today” show.

So in light of this, we spoke to two black South African women who share some of the the things they've experienced as a result of their African names.

This is what they shared:

"I couldn't take the mean jokes and so I changed my name"

My first name was Pretty-Girl and I guess the other kids didn't think I was that pretty. As a result, I got laughed at and teased to no end. Eventually when I was able to, I changed my name.
Bridgette, 24

"I often use my English name because people can't pronounce my name correctly"

My first name is Mthuthuzeli and it has been the cause of a lot of confusion for many of my colleagues. Because of this, I've asked people to call me by my second name, Precious, which is a lot easier to pronounce.
Mthuthuzeli, 26

These aren't necessarily the worst cases of racial profiling based on names, but these women's valid experiences are definitely still relatable to black people all over the world.

We commend women like Dr. Marijuana Pepsi, who prove that names aren't indicators of intelligence or how far you will or won't go in life.

Are you also someone who has been at the receiving end of racial bias/discrimination because of your name? If so, please share your experience with us here.

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