Let’s Talk About Diversity (1)

One of the things that I am learning about myself, is how important diversity is to me.  So I would like to talk about things that fall into that vast category. This week I want to talk about names. What’s in a name?

Think about reading books with big words or complicated names.  Do you take the time to pronounce them correctly? Does it matter? How do you treat peoples names in real life. One thing I have learned in life is that if your name is too complicated, you get skipped over a lot. People want to change it to make it easier for them. But, what happens to the person who’s name has been changed? For me, well at first I was confused. You see the mispronunciation of my name goes all the way back to elementary school. Remember the forms you had to fill out, one letter per box, to ensure your file was marked correctly? Yea, why was it that my name was misspelled until my junior year in high school when my psychology teacher took the time to practice pronouncing my name correctly and she showed me the erroneous spelling of my name? Then I became angry. If you are intelligent enough to say “knife”, “know” or “knot”, shouldn’t you also be intelligent enough to say “Knanisha”? Then, I became frustrated. I took my name as a burden and swore that I would never do that to a child of mine.

But is it my burden to carry? Is it my fault people can’t figure it out? No, but I slowly became accommodating. I changed the name on my resume so I could get my foot in the door. I quickly suggested that people call me Starr as I saw them trip and stumble over that silent k.  Knanisha is the name officially given to me at birth. Starr is the name I earned through no act of my own, but something that my father spoke out of me. Does either name have any significant meaning behind the sequence of lettering or the path that they take as they cross over lips out into the world? Yes. My names are important to me because they are who I am. I am both Knanisha and Starr.

If you are unable to pronounce Knanisha, I apologize that your education has failed you or laziness has entrapped your lips- please use Starr for your convenience. If you  are able to pronounce Knanisha, I thank you for the effort and encourage you to use either at will. See, when you are armed with the sounds of silent and lyrical arrangement of letters you have a choice in what you call me.  There is power, not only in a name, but in the ability to speak that name.

I know my name does not hold some super meaning behind it, but I came across this video that sparked this thought about the significance of names. It also sparked the notion that I should wear my name like a badge of honor instead of a burden weighing me down.  I hope that it inspires you to consider person who’s name you speak or misspeak, whether they be characters in a book or someone you’ve just encountered.

Always Shine!

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4 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Diversity (1)

  1. I like this post. Believe it or not, but I’ve had folks pronounce Theresa incorrectly. And of course no one wants to spell it with an H. I tell people “Theresa with an H” and people aren’t sure where to put that H. One fella on the phone once even said “at the end?” And don’t assume I go by Terry. That makes me angry. I have plenty of nicknames if you want to use one. I have a fb friend who collects pictures of Starbucks misspellings of her name. I love words, but have trouble with pronunciations sometimes. I have a slight lisp and am a recovering stutterer and, according to the tongue piercer who refused, thankfully, to mutilate me, I have extra thick webbing under my tongue (which could have caused a small piercing to become a large hole). These things sometimes cause the sounds I’m hearing in my head to not come out properly (and why I’m much better at reading foreign languages than I am at speaking them). So sometimes I stumble over names or unknown words the first few times. But I always will try. Sometimes I need people to teach me how to say their name properly. Much power is in the naming of a thing, and I definitely want a person to feel the power of their own name.

    • Yea there is a stigma for people who have “ethnic” names. But in reality I have heard non-ethnic names butchered. My supervisor at CBW had her name butchered all of the time. Her name is Sonya, pronounced San-ya, there was someone who always pronounced it so-on-ya. A lot of times people feel a name should be pronounced a certain way and they refuse to change and that bothers me more than someone who just doesn’t know.There is nothing wrong with asking for help with a name.

    • Thank you and thanks for stopping by. Long names often receive similar responses to difficult names, and sometimes I don’t think people always realize the importance of trying out a name before you shorten or change it.

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