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Not using someone’s given name because you can’t pronounce it: expert comment

Evidence given by cricketer Azeem Rafiq today about his experiences at Yorkshire, included claims India batter Cheteshwar Pujara was called 'Steve' by coaches, players and on the team website, because a teammate couldn’t pronounce his name.

Dr Jane Bryan, a Reader in the Warwick Law School and lead of the University of Warwick Community Values Education Programme (CVEP), comments.

She said: “Our names are a key part of our identity, often chosen with care and laden with personal meaning. Being called by our name is powerful: it can make us feel us feel noticed and can encourage a sense of connection. However, if our names are routinely mispronounced, avoided or forgotten, it can have a negative impact on our sense of belonging. When names are intentionally mocked, mispronounced or abused, this can be an act of harassment – a direct attack on someone’s identity, race or ethnicity.

“There is still a widespread lack of sensitivity to the importance of names to a person and their sense of identity which means that microaggressions, or bullying, often go unacknowledged and unaddressed.”

Dr Jane Bryan, along with Puja Laporte, runs the ‘Say My Name’ project, which has explored the importance of names through surveys and interviews with over 800 staff and students.

The Say My Name project website gives further resources and guidance on this topic for teachers and leaders.

16 November 2021

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