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 name wrong!)
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 name 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!”.
It makes me sick because your name is 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.
Have you ever had to change your name for people? If you have, share your story in the comments below.