Republican Sen. David Perdue willfully mispronounced the name of his Senate colleague and Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris on Friday, and the “incredibly racist” stunt gave rise to the #MyNameIs hashtag on social media over the weekend, which drew attention to the diversity of names found in the U.S. and called for the creation of a more tolerant and inclusive nation.
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) explained that his name Rohit means “bright light” in Sanskrit, while Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) noted that “Ilham” means “inspiration” in Arabic.
Omar said that her name “inspired me to lead a life of service to others,” and that she, like Khanna, is voting for Harris and her presidential running-mate, Joe Biden.
— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) October 17, 2020
#MyNameIs Ilham, I prefer Ilhan. I never liked the M sound 😜. It means “Inspiration” in Arabic. My father named me Ilham and inspired me to lead a life of service to others.
In his honor I am voting for an inspirational ticket over desperate and maddening one. https://t.co/jSiatHsj2X
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) October 17, 2020
“That’s right! Righteous Rashida,” tweeted Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), explaining the meaning behind the name given to her by her Palestinian father.
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) October 18, 2020
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wa.) noted that her first name, which comes from “prem,” a Sanskrit word meaning “love,” is frequently mispronounced, as is her last name.
“I only mind that when it is done willfully and continuously,” Jayapal said. “Let’s build an inclusive America.”
#MyNameIs Pramila. It comes from the Sanskrit word “prem” which means love. The name is constantly mispronounced as is my last name. I only mind that when it is done willfully and continuously. Let’s build an inclusive America. Vote #BidenHarris2020. Our vote, our power.
— Pramila Jayapal (@PramilaJayapal) October 18, 2020
Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, a physician, epidemiologist, and public health expert whose 2018 gubernatorial campaign in Michigan was endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), explained the meaning behind his name, Abdulrahman.
“It means ‘devotee of The Most Merciful.’ It reminds me how important mercy is in this world.”
#MyNameIs Abdulrahman. It means “devotee of The Most Merciful.” It reminds me how important mercy is in this world.
For a long time, I thought it meant I couldn’t run for office.
Then I did. Because my name is as American as apple pie…and baklawa.
— Abdul El-Sayed, MD, DPhil (@AbdulElSayed) October 18, 2020
“For a long time,” El-Sayed said, “I thought it meant I couldn’t run for office.”
“Then I did,” he added, “because my name is as American as apple pie… and baklawa.”