On March 16, 2021, a series of mass shootings occurred in the Atlanta metro area, resulting in the tragic murders of eight people, including six Asian women: Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Yong Ae Yue, Xiaojie Tan, and Daoyou Feng, as well as Delaina Ashley Yaun and Paul Andre Michels, and serious injury of Elcias R. Hernandez-Ortiz. This tragedy follows a surge of anti-Asian hate and violence since the coronavirus first entered the U.S. in 2019, with the majority of reports coming from women.
While there is nothing that can undo the injustice of their murders, we can pay respect to the lives of these individuals by learning the correct pronunciations of their Chinese- and Korean-language names. Respect for a person’s name is respect for their life and identity. The grief from these racist and misogynistic murders is already so complex, and disrespecting them by not learning their names only compounds the violence.
There are many steps that we can and should all be taking to challenge and eliminate hate, racism, and misogyny. Showing respect for an individual’s name is a small step that we can take toward respect, inclusion and anti-racism. This respect should not be exclusive to those whose lives have been lost, but rather we must challenge ourselves to see others’ identities fully every day. As culturally competent ethical leaders we want to express value and humanity and should never do anything that makes someone feel ashamed or embarrassed, or that leads them to distance themselves from their heritage and cultural backgrounds. If we don’t put in the necessary effort to pronounce names correctly, that might be exactly what we are doing.
Learn more about respect and anti-racism related to the pronunciation of names:
- Asian American Journalists Association video pronunciation guide for the Asian victims of the Atlanta shootings
- Oregon Live article: Asian American community leaders urge people to ‘learn our names’ to combat anti-Asian racism
- KUOW’s RadioActive radio news story: The racist practice of mispronouncing names
- Education Week video: Getting Students’ Names Right: Why it Matters
(submitted by the Diversity Committee, Residence Life, Housing and Dining)