S1.B4 – What’s In a Name?

Miranda here, the podcast host with the whitest name on this show.

We have been sitting on this bonus episode one since the Oscars. Jimmy Kimmel, we have words regarding this annoying moment, right here. YULREE IS A NAME, JIMMY. We’re not going to let that shit fly.


(image: ABC/Daily Mail)

There is a culture of rejecting foreign names in America. Remember your occasional substitute teacher who would struggle with 1/3 of a classroom of kids with names like  ‘Nguyen’? What would the kid say in response? “You can call me Aaron.” I get it, make it easy, spare Mrs. Smithson from tripping over all of those consonants in succession and take on a Western Christian name. Well, what message did that send? Assimilate or you don’t belong.

Is it that hard? Really? Did the teacher or classmate try longer than a minute? What comes to mind is an interview quote from my favorite actress on the Netflix show, “Orange is the New Black”:

 My family is from Nigeria, and my full name is Uzoamaka, which means “The road is good.” Quick lesson: My tribe is Igbo, and you name your kid something that tells your history and hopefully predicts your future. So anyway, in grade school, because my last name started with an A, I was the first in roll call, and nobody ever knew how to pronounce it. So I went home and asked my mother if I could be called Zoe. I remember she was cooking, and in her Nigerian accent she said, “Why?” I said, “Nobody can pronounce it.” Without missing a beat, she said, “If they can learn to say Tchaikovsky and Michelangelo and Dostoyevsky, they can learn to say Uzoamaka.”

-Uzo Aduba


And if you can say Tchikovsky, you can say ‘Anju’ and ‘Puja’ too. Damn, if only I had a more Indian name. I’ll take that shitty Indian point.

Shameela, the LMFT/fellow shitty Indian guest host with the most (knowledge about linguistics), joins us again on this bonus episode to air the name pronunciation microaggressions we have dealt with and witnessed all our lives.

For those who do not understand what microaggressions are, Anju and Shameela lay it out. If you have trouble pronouncing foreign names, don’t worry, we are here to help. Included in this bonus is a handy “How to Pronounce Foreign Names” guide. I also (surprisingly) found a practical use for some of the information I wrote in my dissertation. I’m still shocked about that actually.

Fellow jilted Indians, If you have a name pronunciation microaggression story to share, please comment below.


Supplemental Reading:


Jimmy Kimmel having difficulty pronouncing Mahershala’s daughter’s name:


Jimmy Kimmel using Mahershala’s name as a call an repeat tactic (1:45 mark):


Jimmy Kimmel disrespecting Yulree / Yuel Rhee (5:50 mark):


Microaggressions as mosquito bites:


Name mispronunciation from Sisters:




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