A soon-to-be college graduate is calling out the criticism of ethnic people who adopt white-sounding names.
Julia (@talkswithjewlz), a student at the University of Texas at Austin, recently used her platform to discuss the backlash that Indian immigrants, as well as people from other ethnic groups, tend to receive when they choose to use a “whitewashed” name in place of their legal, original name in social settings.
“Something I will not stand for is y’all criticizing those people with Indian names or ethnic names, and them introducing themselves in the whitewashed version that’s easier for others to pronounce,” she says. “I cannot imagine how hard it is to have a name that A, people will just not put in the effort to pronounce correctly, but B, will just not learn who you are as a person because they think that name is hard to say.”
A 2017 study conducted by Xian Zhao, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto, and Monica Biernat, his Ph.D. advisor and a psychology professor at the University of Kansas, found that white professors were more inclined to respond to an email from a Chinese student “when they went by Alex, as opposed to Xian.”
Similarly, Guillermina Jasso, a sociology professor at New York University, shared the “three stages” first-generation Americans go through with regard to naming their children.
“In general, the names immigrants give their children go through three stages from names in the original language, to universal names, and finally to names in the destination-country language,” Jasso told The New York Times in 2009. “Because of the increase of second- and third-generation Hispanics in the United States, the national trend in most Hispanic states (except for Texas), is that Hispanic names are becoming less common, and more Anglo names are used in their place.”
“If someone is pronouncing their name whitewashed, it’s probably ’cause they are a victim of, like, dealing with very ignorant people,” Julia continues in her TikTok. “So, can y’all have some empathy for them?”
“I swear I’m going by Sara next year”
TikTokers who’ve either adopted Anglo names or have struggled with people failing to pronounce their names correctly have shared their experiences in Julia’s comments.
“My Japanese name Sakura became SakOra in the U.S., so I introduce myself as “Sephora with a ‘K,’” one user revealed.
“I swear I’m going by Sara next year,” a TikToker claimed.
“Thank you. Adding to the RIDICULE doesn’t help. They have more vitriol and hatred for those growing up subject to prejudice than the prejudiced,” another said.
“some teachers would literally say ‘im not even gonna try’ like you dont even respect me enough to TRY for me ??” someone asked.
The need immigrants feel to assimilate into their new country, so much so that they willingly forego a name with cultural ties and significance in favor of a “more palatable” one, is indicative of their desire to fit in. Julia’s call to action serves as an imperative reminder to treat one another with more grace and kindness.
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