That's Not My Name

In primary, school, college and at work I have had to constantly correct people, when it comes to pronouncing my name correctly.

Forever sounding out my name and adding in the necessary letters when my name is spelt incorrectly. I know there's a lot of a's but that how it's spelt so put some respect on my name.

At first I laughed it off and I understood that my name wasn't common, especially in predominately white settings.

I've never wanted another name, my name seemed as normal as Sarah, Robert and Jamilia. I was surrounded by family members who called me by my rightful name. Sure my grandparents would call me Amina (my sisters name) but that's just a grandparent thing right?.

My dad wasn't keen on nicknames. At the time it didn't quite understand what the problem was, but my parents wanted their children to have names with meanings. So from my parents point of view it was an insult, not only to me but also an insult to my parents, who had spent time choosing the name that was right for me. Now I'm older I'm able to accept nicknames from my nearest and dear rest without feeling any type of way. Family members and friends naturally call me Saabs.

It never really bothered me when my name was spelt or pronounced wrong because I was aware of the confusion on non-white people's faces when I say my name out loud.

"Saabirah?" They'd say

Followed by
"Oh that's an interesting/unique name"
"Where are you from?"
"That's an Arabic name"
"Are your parents Muslims? Are you Muslim?"

My mum always tells me to just - "tell them your parents wanted their children to have names with meaning". But I always end up explaining that my parents once were Muslims. Probably none of their business but whatever lol.

I was watching Muslims Like Us and in Episode 2 the ten Muslims had some English visitors who were curious about Islam and the views of Muslims. Ferhan mentioned that Jason, one of their English guests couldn't pronounce his name.

Ferhan: "Jason couldn't pronounce my name and he needed help. So he wanted to just call me Ferdinand"
Naila: "This is what English people do"

Naila went on to say that English people are able to pronounce some rather "difficult" names when the person is white, so why can't they pronounce our names?. Naila then said "make a little effort. Get to know how you might pronounce it". She also said that she thinks asking someone if they can call you by another name is arrogant. I think it's laziness to be honest.

Naila:"I thought there is an arrogance in saying can I call you Ferdinand. Well only if we can call you Jalaluddin".

It's definitely an English thing to either ignore the pronunciation of names and say whatever pops into their head first.

Only recently I've been thinking about the way Brits love to comment on their multicultural country, but it's all just for show. It's not a genuine care for the people within the cultures, it's more about what they can take from those cultures. It's not like all these people of colour have only turned up in the past two years so everyone is still getting used to all the new names. We've been here for ages, when will the Caucasians learn our glorious, meaningful and regal names?

I would of been laughed at if I wasn't able to pronounce English names, but when the situation is flipped, it's then for me to either let it go and let them call me whatever they fancy or its up to me to give them a nickname pass.

Ask me a thousand times if you have too, that's a lot better than being called Shakira, Sabrina and/or Siberia. I guess people do go with the most familiar sounding names before they get to grips with my actual name.

I get it, I understand, however I'm over it.

The same embarrassment I feel when I mix up or forget someones name is the same embarrassment you should feel when you call me Siberia.

I'm always shocked when people get my name right the first time, especially when they read it. If I had a pound for everytime someone got my name right the first time they meet me, I'd be homeless lol. - ok I'm being dramatic now, so let me end this post.

I didn't want to do this post because I felt like it would just get me mad and the next time someone at work called me anything other than Saabirah I would bite their head off and most definitely get fired *sigh. So I decided to make it slightly light and bantery instead (I know bantery isn't a word....yet).

Moral of the story (post) is pronounce people's names correctly, thankyou and good night.

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