Posted by: spazure | January 8, 2013





“I’m tired of people asking me to smooth my name out for them. They want me to bury it in English so they can understand. I will not accommodate the word for mouth. I will not break my name so your lazy English can sleep its tongue on top. Fix your lips around them. No you can’t give me a stupid nickname so that you can replace this gift of five letters.” – Hiwot Adilow (linked above, performing the quoted piece)

“Give your daughters difficult names. Give your daughters names that command the full use of tongue. My name makes you want to tell me the truth. My name doesn’t allow me to trust anyone that cannot pronounce it right.” – Warsan Shire

pictured above: Entitled white woman Jenny Johnson in all her ethnocentricity. I grew up with women like her, they were my teachers, classmates. They resent any self-possessed “other” as “arrogant” for attempting to access the same common courtesy and respect they might allow those as vanilla as themselves. These women view it as their birthright to decide what is “weird” and “obscure” from within a niche limited to “white women named Jenny.” They blame their linguistic inadequacy on our parentage while resting on the privileges of their own. These women never amount to anything beyond an ignorant bully forever isolating themselves from incredible people with spectacular names.

our insistence that you pronounce our names correctly = “arrogance”

your insistence that our names are too difficult for you & that we should just deal w/the way you mangle them = ????? (the answer is white supremacy)

Okay, normally I don’t say anything about a blanket statement about how fucking ignorant white folks are. Because they are, let’s face it.

But look. I’m white. My name is Elodie, and almost EVERY PERSON EVER mispronounces, mangles, murders my name, and asks if they can call me “el” or make jokes about how my mother didn’t know how to spell Melody correctly.

My name is French, and comes from my immigrant great grandmother, who was Belgian. My mother’s name is Jeanette, and her name, too, is mangled, mispronounced.

There are MANY names from MANY cultures of mostly-white people that get the same treatment.

What you mean in this instance is “non Anglo names”.

Because that’s what we’re talking about. Jenny? Jenny is Jennifer is an anglicized name. Like Robert, like Steve, like Anne, like all those simple easy names that bore me to fucking tears.

I have a LOT of feelings on making fun of people’s names, and I have a LOT of feelings about how my name relates to me, and it was a source of anxiety and stress for me as a child, and sometimes, still is.

Because my name sounds fucking ugly when people (especially white Americans)try and say it.

But it happens to us to. And it fucking sucks, and this Jenny is a total asshole.

^ That. Anglo names are common place because that is the dominant society. Unfortunately for them, the world is a bigger place than Europe and America. 

Names are heritage. Birthright. History. Calling that ‘weird’ and ‘obscure’ just makes Miss Johnson up there sound like someone well insulated enough to believe that her way of living is the right way, the only way, and that everything else is worthless. 

Everything. Else. Is bigger. Than. America. 

This is why my blog has a “how to say my name” section. 


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