11 February 2022
#MyNameIs… My identity. My family. My culture. My history. My future. My name is me.
Hearing your name correctly pronounced immediately gets your attention. It reinforces a sense of self and identity.
When we don’t make the effort to call someone by their name – maybe we are unsure of how to pronounce it or we don’t think it makes that much difference – what is it that we are actually saying to them? Getting it wrong initially is ok, as long as there is a willingness to try and get it right. Our names matter.
Likewise, when we are in a new space, do we feel pressure to make things easier for others by shortening our name or allowing others to rename us for their convenience? Don’t get me wrong. It’s our choice what name we want to be known by. Someone else shouldn’t be deciding for us.
Our name is the one thing that no one can take away from us. But wait a minute. That’s exactly what did happen to the millions of people in the transatlantic slave trade. Not only were they up-rooted from their homes and sold into slavery, they were also given new names. Names that had no connection to their identity. To their family. To their culture. Or to their history. But it was a name that shaped their future.
So, let’s stop renaming people without their permission. Let’s take time to learn how to say someone’s name if it’s unfamiliar to us. Let’s ask how it’s pronounced or get it written down phonetically.
#MyNameIs Pauline Daniyan [paw-leen dan-ee-yan]