I’m just going to call you Ra-Ra” – Microaggression?

I did not just hear that! Was my first reaction.

My kids were on a zoom call for a Public Speaking Merit Badge class & the counselor, for the second week, was struggling with my son’s two syllable name. The previous week, my son had pronounced his name a number of times, his twin sister had corrected the counselor several times, & I had texted it to her phonetically. And this week, she was still struggling with it. He patiently pronounced it several times, his sister did the same. And then the counselor said, “I’m just going to call you Ra-Ra”.

My kids were appalled. I emailed the teacher & explained why it was not OK & asked her to apologize to my son. She did not take responsibility for her behavior & her email to the group was that “some people don’t like nicknames”.

She missed the point. A name is part of someone’s identity. They get to choose what they go by…you do not randomly assign someone a nickname. And really, “Ra-Ra”?

This is a microaggression…a conscious or unconscious act of disrespect. Something that is often laughed off by the perpetrator but not by the person on the receiving end. And it happens multiple times a day. Especially mispronouncing someone’s name.

Learn to say names properly. If you don’t know how to pronounce it, ask. Don’t assign someone a nickname. If they want to use a nickname, they will let you know.

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