Things That Matter

#MyNameIs: Twitter Hits Back At Republican Senator Who Mocked Kamala Harris’ Name

How often have you had your name mispronounced? In the U.S., if you don’t have a Anglo-sounding name, so often people think it’s totally acceptable to not even attempt to pronounce it correctly.

Well, one GOP senator took that even further by deliberately mispronouncing Sen. Kamala Harris’ name at a recent Trump rally in Georgia. And his ‘flub’ which his team is terming it was welcomed with loud cheers by the audience who welcomed his ignorance.

After a Republican Senator mocked Kamala Harris’ name, Twitter is standing up to ignorance and racism.

#MyNameIs has been trending on Twitter since the weekend, after a Republican Senator mispronounced Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris’ name multiple times at a rally for President Trump. 

Following the blatantly insensitive and even racist ‘flub’ by Senator David Perdue (R-GA), who was speaking at a Trump rally in Macon, Georgia, many derided the act as race baiting. Twitter users, celebrities, and politicians rallied behind Harris by sharing empowering anecdotes about and meanings behind their own names, plus instances where people have mispronounced them.

Sen. Perdue – who has worked with Kamala Harris for years – mispronounced her name to loud cheers at a Trump rally.

Sen. Perdue – who has been Harris’ Senate colleague for more than three years – repeatedly mispronounced her name during the rally ahead of the president’s arrival. 

“But the most insidious thing that Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden are trying to perpetrate — and Bernie and others with them — and Kah-MAH-la, KAH-mah-la, Kah-MAH-la, Kamala-mala-mala, I don’t know, whatever,” he jeered, prompting laughter from rallygoers.

Perdue’s remarks drew instant backlash from fellow politicians and other users on social media — including his Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff, who claimed his opponent’s mispronunciation of Sen. Harris’ name was a deliberate act of racism. 

It’s not the first time the Republican senator has come under fire over racial issues. In July, his campaign ran an ad on Facebook that featured Ossoff, who is Jewish, with an enlarged nose.

“This is the oldest, most obvious, least original anti-Semitic trope in history,” Ossoff tweeted at the time.

Perdue’s campaign said it was an “unintentional error that distorted the image.”

Many other politicians took to Twitter to explain the meaning behind their own names.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN-5) took to Twitter in response to a tweet from fellow squad member Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17). In her tweet, Omar explains how her name is actually spelled with an ‘m’ but she prefers the ‘n’ sound. She goes on to explain that her name means ‘inspiration’ in Arabic and that her father named her Ilham in the hope that she would one day lead a life of service to others.

The original tweet from Rep. Khanna says that her name is Rohit, which means ‘bright light’ in Sanskrit.

Plenty of celebs also chimed in with their own personal stories.

Celebrities are coming together to share the meanings and origins behind their names as part of the #MyNameIs hashtag on Twitter.

Comedian and actor and activist Kal Penn explained that he decided to change his name from Kalpen, in the hopes that it would help him more easily get a job. In a jab at Sen. Perdue, he adds in that he’d be happy to offer the senator “some tips on finding a new one [job] of his own.”

Olympic athletes also felt moved to share their names.

Even Michelle Kwan, the record-setting Olympic ice skater, was called to share the origins of her name. Her full name, in Chinese pinyin, is pronounced ‘Guan Ying Shan’ and it means beautiful, strong, and smart.

She also calls out people for mocking ‘foreign sounding’ names and asks her followers to join her in voting for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Others pointed out the obvious – people of color shouldn’t have to adapt their names to make it easier for white people.

It’s a shame that we have to state the obvious but that’s exactly what many were having to do on Twitter – and so often in our everyday lives. One Twitter user named Zara Ahmed explained that her parents picked out a name that would be easily pronounced by non-Indian people. But she rightfully goes onto explain that it shouldn’t be POC who have to limit their cultural identities to make life easier for white people. 100%!

Harris has even released a video on how to properly pronounce her name.

Kamala Harris, who could become the country’s first black Indian-American vice president if she and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden are elected next month, has previously described how to pronounce her name, which means “lotus flower” – a sacred symbol in Asian cultures

Harris, who is running alongside Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, is the daughter of Shyamala Gopalan, who is from India, and Donald Harris, who is Jamaican. In 2010, she became the first Indian-American-Jamaican attorney general in California, and she was elected to the Senate in 2016. She also ran for president before dropping out of the primary race in late 2019.

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