Mispronunciations, Importance of Names

May 19, 2019

“You will never understand how I feel or another student in here feels,” Chang expresses her frustration with this experience.

Why doesn’t a student with first-hand knowledge of the issue intervene instead?

To start, having to confront another student makes minority students uncomfortable and feel that they’re being perceived as rude. It will make it seem that the student is being asked for input solely based on the “way they look even if some students may not have connections to that issue.”

In addition, mispronunciation of names is a common issue that the group has experienced. Claudio remembers how in sophomore, junior and senior year, the same teacher pronounced her name incorrectly, which prompted laughter by the class. However, Claudio did not share that laughter.

“It hurts me a lot because that’s my name,” Claudio explained.

This mistake follows her outside of the classroom, and when people see it as a joke, she feels her name is undervalued. It is a name she loves. It is her identity.

Soriano followed up by sharing her own experience in ASB last year when she was called “Carol,” the name of a former member of ASB. She states how Carol and she look different for the most part; the only similarity is that they are both Latina.

She even thought she was “not thinking straight” or over-analyzing the situation. However, when she talked to other ASB members, they also noticed the mistake.

Garcia shared a similar grievance of hers regarding her name.

“There are six Jocelyn’s in this school and [people] are always like, ‘was that a famous Mexican name back in that year?’” Garcia recounted.

Comments such as these undervalue the importance of her name that was given to her because of her grandfather. She points out their ignorance by stating that “there are white girls who have the name, Jocelyn.”

There are six variations of the traditional name Jocelyn.

Salas has experienced a similar issue when a teacher “called me ‘Xino’ for like three months straight,” Salas added on with frustration on this mistake from a teacher. Her full name is Xiomarra, and even shortens it to Xio for ease, yet mistakes like that frustrate her.

After all, Claudio believes when someone is part of a class and have attended “multiple times, yet [the teachers] are still not making the effort to remember your name” it makes her feel insignificant.

Furthermore, “it is important too because our names are our identity,” Beharry stated. “That’s so important to us.”

However, Claire Renar ‘19 feels “like a lot of teachers don’t really have negative intent. They are making their best judgment of someone’s pronoun or their name.”

Guzik concurred with Renar and gave his own anecdote as a teacher who has made similar mistakes. He recalls immediately feeling “bad about that and [he] apologized about that.” In addition, “we all make mistakes,” Guzik continued.

On the other hand, he sees it important that they “share how [they] feel because I think teachers don’t realize that these things go a long way” to affecting people.

Another instance of a mistake that affected a student was during a discussion on AP and Honors classes when a teacher said: “raise your hand if you are not 100% white.” Which Beharry immediately saw as a problem in the wording and that being the focus of the discussion.

Beharry remembers thinking “what we can do to fix it” would be a better focus.

A lack of willingness by teachers to listen to students is a personal experience for Chang who has been told twice by teachers that she was overreacting. They justified their reasoning by saying that based on their 50 years of experience “what [Chang is] thinking is wrong” but to her, those are “50 years of experience being a white person.”

“That person with 50 years of experience is never going to understand what any of us in this room are going through because every single one of us has their own background,” Yliana added on to Chang’s experience

The group sees that the best solution is to educate the staff on how to deal with certain situations.

Beharry remembers being told by the assistant superintendent that they are working on addressing these problems. However, he’s still confused.

“Why do the same things keep happening?” Beharry questioned. He believes that students shouldn’t have to teach “grown adults who are college educated” what is wrong or not.


Editor’s Note: Article was updated May 24, 2019.

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