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Say my name, say my name: Would You Change Your Name if You Were Asked to At Work?

It’s no surprise to me that Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) people are being asked to change their names at work. I have worked in several sectors and my name has always been an issue for my colleagues. I recall working in a high-end department store, where my then-manager insisted on calling me AID instead of Ade. This is pronounced Ah-day (for those of you that haven’t met someone with a Nigerian name before). This manager called me AID for nearly over a year only to stop when a former colleague corrected him. (Which confuses me because during the countless times I did correct him, he continued to say my it wrong!)   

What’s happening…

The whitewashing of BAME names is still happening despite the surge of diversity on our screens. Billions of pounds have been poured into telling stories from minority perspectives in movies and TV shows; a big chunk of celebrity athletes and musicians are BAME people– there is no avoiding us. 

Yet, people still seem to have difficulties with pronouncing non-western names. According to ITVNews more than a third of employees from an ethnic minority background are being told to change their names to something more English.  

I, on several occasions, have had requests to change my name. When it comes to having a supposedly “unique” name, English people, in my opinion, are the worst at even attempting to say your it correctly. I’ ve had people who willfully ignore how to pronounce my name. Telling me: “I will pronounce your name how it’s spelt, darling!”.

Final Thoughts….

It makes me sick because your it’s your identity; if someone can’t have the respect to even try to pronounce your name correctly. It says more about them than you.   

I’m still learning but I have now learned that my name is who I am, and if you can’t learn to give me the common courtesy to pronounce it properly you don’t deserve to speak to me. You should be proud of your name and don’t change it for anyone.  Read – Don’t TOUCH, Ask Q’s About MY HAIR

Have you ever had to change your name for people? If you have, share your story in the comments below. 

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  • Ricardo Da Costa
    September 10, 2019

    Sorry but whoever experienced this needs to visit HR but then I understand why people wouldn’t bc it’s something so small, yet so big if that makes sense and you can’t prove that it has malicious intent.

    I haven’t changed my name but
    I’ve had people call me Richard (the English version of my name) or Richardo or Riccardo which is incorrect

    • Adebola - MyBreakingViews
      September 10, 2019

      Hey Ricardo,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog post! I agree it is a small issue, but it’s only tiny because people have minimised their names being said correctly. I can emphasise on your name being pronounced incorrectly – please love remixing people’s names and it actually irks me. Maybe more people should go to HR, but would they be taken seriously?

  • Nina | Lemons and Luggage
    September 11, 2019

    OMG!!! I have never been asked to change my name, but people mispronounce it all the time. My last name that is. My dad had already experienced being a minority in his home country so when he left and settled in another country he figured that he’d give his children more international sounding first names. But yea, my last name has been mispronounced so often. We used to even mispronounce it to make it easier for German people, but even then they still got it wrong, so eventually, my siblings and I decided to pronounce it correctly since people are not even trying to get it right in the first place!
    And at the same time, these people have their own super long and weird names that they expect us to pronounce correctly.

    • Adebola - MyBreakingViews
      September 12, 2019

      Hey Nina,

      Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post! I totally get that I have it every single time, people pronouncing our names wrong is one thing, but to be asked to change your name is a completely different issue. I am really sorry to hear about your dad because I can imagine what he went through was difficult. I like that you now have the confidence to pronounce your name correctly because at the end of the day your name is your identity and you should always be proud of that.

  • Jo | ALittleBitofJo
    September 14, 2019

    This erks me so much. I haven’t experienced it personally in the way that you have but being African as well (Zimbabwean) I’ve gotten comments about why I had a “white name” if I’m African. People actually have the audacity to feel like they have authority over your identity. They could easily learn your name and understand the uniqueness in it but instead they want to erase your identity and stamp an easy label on you for THEIR convenience.

    • Adebola - MyBreakingViews
      September 15, 2019

      Hey Jo,

      Thank you for taking the time to read my post! I can see that happening, I changed my name to an English name and was teased for that for a long time! People don’t get it – your name is your identity and should be treated with respect.