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Hot take: Mispronouncing unconventional names 'has a long and racist history'

Thank goodness for public radio, huh? We’ll just kick off this post inspired by KUOW the same way they kick it off: with a question. “Keya Roy is used to people mispronouncing her name. She usually brushes it off, but should she?”

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Turns out mispronouncing names is a racist practice with a long and racist history. Plus it’s racist.

KUOW reports:

You know when you’re standing in line at a coffee shop, trying to figure out what to order? Your mind races. How much caffeine can I handle today? Should I get that overpriced bagel?

Many people with “unconventional” names experience a different kind of anxiety in this moment: figuring out what “safe” and “easy” name they should use that day.

Having a name butchered happens beyond coffee shops. This same anxiety peeks its head in the workplace, the classroom and many other aspects of life.

Spoiler: This practice of mispronouncing names isn’t just embarrassing. It has a long and racist history.

What are we talking about here, exactly? People with conventional names from other cultures, or parents who decided to give their children deliberately unpronounceable names? We’d have to listen, and we’re just not up to it.

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Oh, and yes, Keya should brush it off.


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