Editor’s Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of The Collegian.
I vividly remember wanting to change my name as a child. My name means “made in God’s likeness,” yet I always hated it. I let the people I had met make me feel like my name was unworthy. Teachers, coworkers and anyone else I have ever introduced myself to have all butchered the pronunciation of my name for as long as I can remember. Over the years, I internalized all of my peers’ exacerbated stares and the disregard for my frustrated corrections.
I almost always find myself correcting and recorrecting every white person who ever reads my name aloud. I sometimes find myself giving in and letting people around me call me everything but who I know myself to be.
I get called all kinds of variations of my name: my-asia, muh-si-uh, my-see-uh and my-ee-sia. None of these are who I am. I have grown to dread the first days of class; I hate having to correct professors who incorrectly pronounce my name. I hate the looks I get from my white classmates when I do so. I can only find solace in the text messages I receive from the one or two other Black student(s) in the class, trying to help me find humor in this misrepresentation of my identity.
I honestly try to empathize. I try to understand why the five-letter work of art that is my name is so impossible to comprehend. It is frustrating and disheartening to see how, for so many people, my name is just not worth trying. How is it that Katherine and Sarah and Hannah and Asia and Naomi seem so attainable to you? It has gotten to the point where I’d rather just have you give up. STOP RUINING MY NAME.
I had to learn to love my name because it has made me who I am. Now I try to muster up the strength that my mother has when correcting others on my name, though I always fall short. I try to minimally interject myself into lectures when corrections on the pronunciation of my name are needed, keeping the sweetest tone in my voice and attempting to shrink down so as not to seem aggressive. I’ve seen how my simple requests for proper pronunciation falsely confirm the stereotypical thoughts of my white peers. Despite my efforts to appear unthreatening, they see me as the angry Black woman regardless. I try desperately to remind my professors and peers of how to pronounce my name. I receive insincere efforts, and my identity is lost because of that. I feel forced to bring my “full self” to a classroom environment where I can never truly be seen.
Let me have the dignity of being called who I am, and if you cannot do that, don’t butcher my name. If you won’t say it properly, then do not say it all. My name is Mysia (my-zhuh), and I have learned that people would rather not work to properly pronounce those simple two syllables.
I have come to terms with the reality that some people just won’t get it. Some people will never understand why it is so important that I be called my name, pronounced the way my mother meant it to be. Nicknames are better than mispronunciation; my last name works too.
I don’t mind nicknames or my last name when you make the conscious decision to respect that my name is Mysia (my-zhuh), and I will only acknowledge my name being pronounced the way it was meant to be.
Contact contributor Mysia Perry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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