My name is Teressa. Not Theresa, Tressa, or Ta-race-a. When Kamala Harris, the first Black, Asian, Female Vice President of the United States was sworn into office, Justice Sotomayor mispronounced her first name.
While such incidents are often unconscious and unintentional, the recipient may experience the mistake as a micro-insult – a rude and insensitive act – a subtle attack on their identify. If you witness such a reaction, understand that most likely, the misspeaking of their name is a longstanding issue with which they’ve contended. Their patience may be thin, the hurt may be deep, their response may be sharp or convey a sense of helpless having grown accustomed to their name being mangled and not afforded care and conscious effort to get it right.
When colleagues or community members have a name that is unique to them, or common in their culture of origin but uncommon in yours, demonstrate respect. Learn it and pronounce it correctly.