It’s the first day of school and you’re already dreading your first class. It’s not because of the workload or the bus ride to school but because of your name. How many times has a teacher mispronounced your name? Did other students laugh? Did you become the butt of jokes? Did you run to the teacher before class started to quickly give them a nickname so you won’t have to go through the humiliation of having your name mispronounced? This is a predicament far too common for many black people in America.

It’s no secret that there is a stigma surrounding black names here in America. Ghetto, ratchet, and uneducated are only a few of the slurs said to those of us with unique names. But the jokes on them because our names are the embodiment of black culture. Back in the 1960s as the black power movement rose to its prominence, black parents shifted from naming their children Anglo-American names to naming their children creative black names. The culture of black people is drastically different than the culture of other people so of course we will carry different values, norms, etc. My question is why are people who aren’t black concerned with the names of our children? Many of the names uncultured people might coin as “ghetto” (whatever that means) have African origins. Black people should be applauded for their creativity and uniqueness when it comes to names and pretty much everything else we created and they profited from.  No longer were black people trying to fit in, it was a time to embrace the culture and reconnect with our African ancestry.

Recently, many school across America have taken a pledge to “pronounce student’s names correctly” to avoid the “microaggression” of mispronunciation.  To some mispronouncing a name isn’t that big of deal but that’s because they aren’t looking at the big picture.  According to an article on, the mispronunciation of a child’s name can lead them to have anxiety and it can also lead them to resent the teacher. “According to ‘My Name, My Identity: A Declaration of Self,’ a national campaign launched in 2015 by the Santa Clara County, Calif. Office of Education (SCCOE) and the National Association for Bilingual Education, a teacher who mispronounces a student’s name can cause that student “anxiety and resentment”. If a child resents their teacher, he or she will not enjoy class or learn anything. The first day of school is the most impressionable day so teachers should make sure they have the correct name pronunciations before class starts.  Additionally, the mispronunciation of names happens most in a school where there is little to no minorities. Imagine your child being the only black kid in thier class on the first day of school. Now Imagine your child being humiliated when the teacher mispronounces their name and the other kids giggle. Not cool. Mispronunciation of names in school can lead children to feel less than. Its like the teacher is saying your ghetto name isn’t even worth trying to pronounce right.  If a teacher doesn’t even try to pronounce it right, or ask, then he or she has already failed as a teacher.

Your name is your identity, it is a part of you and you should always embrace it.

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