Indians Schooling Americans on their Names After Kamala Harris Was Mocked, is the Most Desi Response Ever


Indians Schooling Americans on their Names After Kamala Harris Was Mocked, is the Most Desi Response Ever

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

As the race for the US presidential election heats up, candidates from both sides have been locked in a war of words to prove who is more capable of running the country. Well, some candidates, at least.

This weekend, Republican senator David Perdue made headlines for all the wrong reasons, after he intentionally mispronounced Democratic senator and Vice-Presidential candidate Kamala Harris’ name at a rally in his home state Georgia.

“KAH-mah-lah? Kah-MAH-lah? Kamala-mala-mala?! I don’t know, whatever,” he said to peals of laughter before introducing US President Donald Trump on stage. While the senator later tweeted that he meant “nothing by it”, his evident mockery caught the ire of both Indian-Americans and African-Americans on social media, who decided to hit back by educating the senator on their names.

Using the hashtag “MyNameIs” several people of colour shared the meanings behind their names to “push back at the bigotry”. The campaign was orchestrated by Amit Jain, presidential candidate Joe Biden’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Outreach Coordinator, hours after Harris’ press secretary called Perdue’s remarks “incredibly racist”.

Several immigrants of Indian-origin also took the time out to provide Senator Perdue the correct pronunciation of their names, so he wouldn’t make that “mistake” again.

Perdue’s “joke” has cleared backfired. Defending his remarks, his spokesperson said, “”Senator Perdue simply mispronounced Senator Harris’ name, and he didn’t mean anything by it.”

However, such everyday racism cannot be brushed under the carpet. Journalist Anushay Hossain wrote in CNN, “Even after living in America for over two decades, despite all the mockery and failed attempts at pronouncing my name correctly that still happen on a regular basis, I never submitted to the American need of giving anyone with a “difficult” sounding name a nickname. I am proud that I had the conviction and courage all these years to not allow people to call me ‘Anu’ or ‘Annie.’ My name is Anushay.”

What’s worse is that it’s almost always women in high positions who are at the receiving end of such disparaging statements. Many will remember a few years ago when Michelle Obama spoke about the racism she had to endure when trying to get ice cream for her two daughters. This is despite her having been the first lady of that country.

Clearly, some things never change.