Mocking unfamiliar names contributes to bullying

Mocking unfamiliar names contributes to bullying

Mocking unfamiliar names contributes to bullying
July 29
09:07 2018

If you ask a person whether or not they want to be treated differently because of their inherited name, their answer would likely be no. Yet when a celebrity is about to have a child, many people are at the edge of their seat in anticipation to see if the name is unusual enough to warrant mass ridicule.

Unfortunately, “unusual” is but a seldom-used term with no connotation of judgment and only implies statistics. In reality, people tend to use adjectives like “weird,” “dumb” or “unfortunate,” which imply cultural preference.

Ethnocentrism is defined by Google as “evaluation of other cultures according to preconceptions originating in the standards and customs of one’s own culture.” The term is not meant to convey any racial implications, rather, it refers to a composite of opinions gleaned from the surrounding culture that influences the individual’s idea of what other cultures should be like. On the other hand, culture often goes hand in hand with race, as it is a deeply embedded institution in America.

Let’s not play coy. Anyone who has lived in a predominantly white area has heard someone overreact and talk down on a black person pronouncing “ask” as “axe” even though they fully understand what they mean. There have been studies proving that humans can read entire paragraphs with various letters either taken out or switched inside every word, yet people act as if society cannot function with different dialects. At the end of the day, people who comprehend a word or phrase, but deem it as “wrong” or “unintelligent” are stooping to a petty level of ethnocentrism.

“Kulture: Is Cardi B’s name for baby worse than Stormi?” reads a headline for a story on The Mercury News. Now, “Kulture” is not a name common to any race, so I won’t act like this is a white people deriding people of color type of situation. What I will say though is this type of judgment stems from the same human impulse that leads us to be unaccepting of things that are “unusual.” The mentality that drives grown adults to criticize something as simple as an assortment of sounds used to identify a person will trickle down into the classrooms and playgrounds where these children are bullied.

The effects of these petty impulses stemming from ethnocentricity range from a child having a bad day at school to psychological trauma that impacts long term self confidence. Making people feel like they are fundamentally different because of their name or the way they pronounce words only discourages them from participating in the “ideal” and dominant culture.

There is nothing wrong with traditions. If anything, it is a respectable act to name a child something that is special to the culture that helped shape you and your persona.

Remember there was a first for names like Jessica, Joe and Nick.

You can say anything 20 times in a row, and it will sound weird because there is no meaning in the sounds themselves, only in the identity association we experience when hearing them. Those who truly appreciate life as it is see value in learning why things came to be and encourage pushing boundaries. It is only those who value their own standards over others’ who will gladly sacrifice societal enrichment in order to feel superior in a world where all life is productive, destructive and eventually dies.

Featured Illustration by Allison Shuckman

About Author

Patrick Cleath

Patrick Cleath

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