As someone with a tricky last name, I’ve had a lot of experience with choosing when and how to correct mispronunciations. However, as a middle-class white person in the United States, I’ve never worried that someone saying my last name wrong meant that they were glossing over or ignoring my culture.
The people in this NPR article, though, have spent lifetimes of time and effort just trying to get their names said properly by the people around them, rather than replaced by “easier” nicknames.
It’s remarkable and wonderful that we can meet people from many different backgrounds in the course of our lives. Taking the time to really learn how to say each other’s names shows respect.
And if you’re not sure what to do?
“If you’re not sure how to pronounce someone’s name, just ask, says Ruchika [Tulshyan], the founder of Candour, an inclusion strategy firm. And there’s no need for a dramatic apology or drawn-out explanation if you’ve made a mistake. Pronouncing names correctly is ‘one of those ways that you can really practice anti-racism and practice allyship in the moment,’ she says.”