Not long after the long-awaited announcement of the heralded selection of former presidential candidate, Senator Kamala Harris, as presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s official running mate, there was a deluge of supportive statements, and less favorable reactions from both sides.
Donald Trump held his low-energy, messy news briefing, minutes after the confirmation of the Biden/Harris ticket, and his response to the breaking news was exactly what you would expect from a bullish, sexist, racist oaf, who is particularly vile in his dealings with women of color, who dare to call out his bullshit.
Remember this is the dude who attacked Yamiche Alcindor, the White House correspondent for PBS NewsHour, merely hours after the 2018 mid-term elections, and during Trump’s combative press conference, where he cruelly accused a Black woman of being “racist” after she asked the Racist-in-Chief about his racism.
While campaigning on behalf of Senator Ted Cruz in Texas, Trump boastfully declared he was a “nationalist” to the roaring crowd, and the boldness of that choice reaffirmed the mission statement of #MAGA in ways that have resulted in a substantial increase in hate crimes.
Yamiche Alcindor, April Ryan, and a bevy of other Black women reporters have been forced to accommodate this season of normalized hostility, stemming from a rogue administration and the white nationalist president who spews out insults when his deplorable behavior is promptly challenged.
And now with the anointing of Kamala Harris, a woman of color with an East Indian mother and Jamaican father, who has more than earned her entrance into the highest level of government, with the keys to the kingdom, it’s expected that conservative media along with their supreme leader will hit below the belt with racist references.
It’s already happening with Trump’s childish rebuke of his challenger’s recent feat as the future Vice President with a bright future for a repeat 2024 presidential run.
The Liar-in-Chief seized the ample opportunity during his laughable news conference to phonetically mispronounce the first name of the woman who has promised end his dreams for reelection in November.
Truth be told, Donald Trump, the man who proudly never reads, isn’t alone in his failed quest to correctly pronounce what seems simple enough to undertake.
The main difference is how those of us who butchered it the first time, made the effort to learn from our mistakes, while Trump and his henchmen revel in the power of mocking what they consider to be a strike against a woman of color who claims to be American.
The respectful approach would be to admit defeat and apologize for getting it wrong, while making sure that you’ve got it right.
As a young child who lived in the States from birth until relocating to Nigeria at the age of eight, I was acutely aware that my name was different because of the dreaded roll call, that placed me at the bottom of the roster, which led to the agonizing wait for what was surely coming.
The confused silence and stunned look on the teacher’s face would prompt me to offer the westernized version of my Nigerian name in an attempt to minimize the unwanted attention on the strange Black girl.
Those were the moments when I secretly wished I was blessed with a “normal” name, and I made that dream come true during my first day at Sunday school, as we went around the circle for introductions.
When when my turn came, I blurted out “Sandy” without blinking.
But when I returned to my birth country for college, my ethnic name took on a different meaning with a more complimentary reception, served with mix of both fascination and conformed ignorance, that forces names that are “different” to be classified as “beautiful” in order to appease the bearer.
As irritating as it is to keep making corrections, especially when folks have no issue saying “Schwarzenegger” as if it’s their native tongue, it does help when efforts are being made to achieve the correct pronunciation.
We already make it as easy as possible by diluting the real thing, which is something I’ve come to regret, and actively dissuade the younger generation of Nigerian-Americans to avoid doing if they can help it.
Unfamiliarity with foreign dialects is understandable, but what’s unacceptable is the offensive approach to massacring the name of someone who is easy prey to that level of abuse from racist pigs, who weaponize their white privilege to dehumanize targets of color.
Trump’s calculated mispronunciation of “Kamala” is an unsightly preview of what to expect in the chaotic months to come, as his campaign managers ramp up on the signature messaging, seeped in the bigotry that won him the presidency.
As per usual, compromised white anchors at Fox News have also begun the assignment of dehumanizing a highly accomplished woman of color, who’s poised to assume the same role that Mike Pence has laid to waste.
The other night, the worst of the lot, Tucker Carlson was firmly chastised for his refusal to take correction from Democratic political strategist, Richard Goodstein, who stopped by as a guest, but ended up being a frustrated instructor to a man-child.
“Her name is pronounced ‘Comma’ — like the punctuation mark — ‘la.” “Seriously, I’ve heard every sort of bastardization of that. That’s how it is. ‘Comma-la.’”
Carlson retorts, “Ok, so what?”
“I think out of respect for somebody who’s going to be on the national ticket, pronouncing her name right is actually kind of a bare minimum.”
Tucker Carlson had a lot to say in return, and it left his infuriated guest flabbergasted at the notion that a so-called “seasoned journalist,” would choose to anchor his primetime show with the selling point of how a potential future VP’s first name isn’t worth the hassle of an accurate pronunciation on the air.
“You’re not allowed to criticize ‘Ka-MAL-a’ or ‘KAM-a-la’ or whatever it is — “
“On this show, nobody in power is immune from criticism. Our political leaders must be held to account — that’s our job.”
Tucker Carlson & Co. are employed to advance the nefarious agenda of the criminalized establishment that’s spearheaded by a rogue presidency, that continues to be an active threat to our national security.
Donald Trump enjoys the unyielding loyalty of Fox News, and that dangerous practice has led to the preventable deaths of thousands of viewers, who were vulnerable enough to get infected with the deadly virus, that was formerly peddled as “a hoax” by overpaid anchors who can afford gross negligence.
Carlson’s inappropriate display of nonchalance when Goodstein held him accountable for the racism directed at a Black woman with a name that’s distinct to her cultural heritage, which the Fox News staple venomously ridiculed, is exactly the kind of programming that his millions of ignorant viewers relish.
This form of harassment by conservative bigots is unfortunately the kind of derogatory assault that Kamala Harris will have to face in the months leading up to the victory lap, after what will certainly be the most contentious and high-stakes election in the history of this country.
But while we can’t control the orneriness of white folks in influential positions, who are simply living up to the legacy of hate that’s been passed down from generations, we must raise the alarm about these specific attacks, that Trump has helped elevate for public viewing.
When we ask “what’s in a name?” the answer is almost always damning.