This week, the Twitterverse exploded when Chrissy Teigen—supermodel, social justice activist, wife to the first Black male EGOT winner, John Legend, and Twitter bad-ass—
confessed, that for the last 10 years, she has been
too scared to correct people on the pronunciation of her name! Teigen's, last name is pronounced “Tie-gen” not “Tee-gen.” For me, a Black girl with a uncommon name and spelling, I totally feel Chrissy. I don’t think I have ever in my life corrected someone, even best friends
and family members, who has spelled my name incorrectly. For the record, ShaRhonda is pronounced “Sha-Rhonda” not “ShaR-honda,” also the “R” is capitalized and lastly there is no space between “Sha” and the “Rhonda.” It is ShaRhonda not Sha Rhonda or ShaRonda or Sharhonda; it’s ShaRhonda. https://twitter.com/chrissyteigen/status/1041537000589783040 Whew, that felt good to write that out. But the truth is, like other people with non-European names, we simply accepted our fate—a lifetime of incorrect spelling and pronunciation of our names. Yet, the one place children should have the confidence to say their names and have them pronounced and spelled correctly is school. The hard part, is that so many of us, like Chrissy and I, have let people mispronounce and spell our names for years. So, here is my idea, a, “Say My Name Right,” or “Spell My Name Right” challenge. Similar to the
Monica Challengehere, or the
Kiki Challenge, using the instrumental to “Say My Name” from Destiny's Child” rap about why people should say your name right. Afterwards post it, using the hashtag, #saymynamerightchallenge or #spellmynamerightchallenge. Watch me do the “Say My Name Right” challenge below! https://youtu.be/rp2pQKscnLw Even if you aren’t brave enough to publicly do a name change, I still encourage all teachers and students to respect the names and pronunciations of students. Here some tips to help you along the way:
Correct people when they say your name wrong.
Correct people when they spell it wrong.
Don’t allow people to give you a nickname because your name is hard.
Don’t apologize when someone says your name wrong.
Refuse to call/spell people the correct name if they don’t say your name right.
ShaRhonda Knott-Dawson is the mother of two free-spirited, strong-willed girls and has a husband who should be appointed a saint for co-existing in the madness that is their life. She writes on politics, education, current events and social justice. She is also a taco enthusiast, a proud member of the Bey-hive, and truly believes that she will be receiving her letter from Hogwarts any day now.