To understand the importance of nameplate necklaces, one must also understand the significance of names to the African-American community. Most new world slaves were renamed after stepping foot onto American soil, often given a biblical first name and the last name of their master (remember, Kunta Kinte suddenly became Toby?). After slaves were freed at the end of the Civil War, a large number decided to cast aside their given names in favor of more creative, personal identifiers. The more unique, the better.
The practice of creating non traditional names continued through the Civil Rights movement, as African-Americans committed to resurrecting and recreating their cultural identity. Popular prefixes like Sha-, Ka-, La- and suffixes like -isha, -won, and -quan combined with more common names to create combinations like Latisha, Shaquan, and Lawon.
Nameplate necklaces married a historical need for acknowledgment and singularity with fashion. Just as gold rope chains were a way for a marginalized group to stand out and grab attention, nameplate necklaces similarly were worn to communicate the importance and individuality of its wearer.
As most things born in the urban community, mainstream outlets eventually caught on, as witnessed by Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie in the HBO series Sex and the City who frequently donned what she called a “ghetto gold” Carrie necklace to accent her designer looks.
What do you think of nameplates?