By Yessenia Hernandez-Perez, College Student
Culture & Equity Project Blog
Hello, my name is Yessenia. My name is important to me because it is my identity, the name given to me by my parents, and the name I respond to. It is special to me because of its meaning, and it symbolizes my cultural identity. A person’s name represents who they are and where they come from. It is not just common courtesy to be able to correctly pronounce someone’s name, it is much more than that. When educators disregard a student’s name, we are choosing our linguistic preference over the importance of their identity. We also make the student feel inferior, belittled, and disrespected.
Throughout my educational journey, my name has been butchered countless times by past educators. Not only butchered, but also changed. I have been told, “You seem like a Veronica, I’ll go ahead and call you by that.” By doing so, educators stripped me of my identity. I felt like I was not valued as a student in my own classroom, and I felt invisible even more so when peers referred to me with the name the teacher had given me, rather than my own. Although my name may not be the most difficult to pronounce, it is important for educators and everyone else to take the time to learn how to correctly say someone’s name. When we correctly say a student’s name, it shows respect, creates an inclusive environment, and demonstrates that they are a valued person. This encourages peers to do the same with one another and more importantly, sets an expectation to respect one’s background and cultural identity. As educators we have the important task to bring awareness to such topics that promote a learning environment where all students can thrive and feel respected to build positive relationships.