If you can't pronounce Yesika Salgado and Aman Batra's names correctly, don't bother saying their names at all.
In a powerful spoken word performance posted by All Def Poetry on June 21, the poetic duo recounted what it was like for them growing up with names that were constantly being mangled and mispronounced by others.
"When you’re American brown girl, with two languages growing inside of you, you ask yourself how your name fits into a world that doesn’t call you what your dead father used to you call you," they explained in unison.
In the poem, Batra recalled a time when a classmate disregarded a speech she made about how to properly pronounce her name. She apologized to him.
“My name is now a full-on apology," she told the audience.
Salgado admitted she was once tempted to lie to a boy who assumed she was white because she introduced herself as Jessica.
Nowadays, both women say they’ve come to not only embrace their names, but to insist that everyone else embrace them, as well. They explained:
“I get accused of being too complicated when I ask for someone to say my whole name, every syllable of it, as if I should apologize for the work that it takes. But why, when my name is the only thing that’s been given to me without the expectation of something in return. If we can’t go into every conversation speaking Spanish -- or Punjabi -- we can go into it demanding our names sound like the language we first learned to love.”
If anyone has a problem with that, tough!