- Posted May 7, 2012 by
Sewell, New Jersey
This iReport is part of an assignment:
What does your name say about you?
How Do You Pronounce Your Name?
I have spent a good portion of my life correcting people who mispronounced my first name. “No, not Nudean, Nadine…” I have never been a demonstrative person so on many occasions I just let the person mispronounce my name without contradicting them. It was just easier that way. I never felt like my name ‘fit’ me as I am not unique, beautiful or strong enough to own it. The name became a hindrance for me, not an asset. I yearned for safety in numbers, like being named something simple and common. If an authority figure accused me of doing something wrong I could never say, “oh no, you have the wrong Nadine.” You never fully realize how important your first name is until you feel uncomfortable living with it.
Racism was an issue I was not forced to wrestle with until I became employed in a big city. Prior to ever meeting me or any of the other new hires the company that hired me had its managers assign areas of the city to each new employee. The employees were expected to visit clients in that area. After only one week of employment I was pulled aside by my manager and apologized to. I did not understand why. He said he had assigned me to a predominately African American area of the city based solely on my first name. At the time he felt this would be the “right fit” since the other new employee’s first names were more “common” and they would be better suited in other areas of the city. He went on to say he did not realize his mistake until he met me. At first I was shocked and speechless. Over the next few days I became angry. My manager, whose parents should have named him Jackass, had made a racist assumption based solely on a name. I quit at the end of that week. I did not quit because of what area I was assigned as I had extended family living there. I quit because this manager was a racist. What kind of an employer could retain such a person or use such racist techniques? I did not want to stick around to find out.
I have spent 50 years with my name and I am happy to say I have grown to like it. But it took time. Today many more parents seem inclined to bless their offspring with unique names. I often wonder how these children will cope. I hope they will not feel separated from their peers. I hope they will feel unique, beautiful, strong and proud because of the name they were given. Most importantly I hope this generation will learn to never make false or racist assumptions based on a person’s name.