Monday with Ms. Marvel: it’s not hard to say Kamala


Morgan Kong

In her weekly column, Monday with Ms. Marvel, Wingspan’s Trisha Dasgupta reviews different political issues and relatable topics in everyday life.

Trisha Dasgupta, Editor-in-Chief

Earlier this week a video of Senator David Perdue mocking Senator Kamala Harris’s name at a rally for President Trump’s campaign went viral. 

“And then there’s Kamala or Kamela or Kamele or Kamamala or I don’t know, whatever,” Perdue says to the crowd in the video

He laughs through it all, and in doing so not only mocks Senator Harris but every single person of color with an ethnic name. 

First of all, let me make it very clear: it’s pronounced Comma-la. It’s actually a very easy name to pronounce once you are aware of the proper pronunciation, but even if it wasn’t easy to say, the polite and respectful thing to do is to learn. 

I think most kids of color can relate to having their names at one point or another mocked by their American classmates, and have felt the need to either change their name or anglicize it in one way or another. 

I’ve been told over and over again that I’m so lucky to have a name that’s not “totally Indian” by my fellow Desi classmates, and it always makes me sad to hear. Why are we made to feel embarrassed by our culture and heritage, just because our names aren’t in English? 

Asking for someone to learn how to say your name correctly isn’t a lot to ask for. It’s something that people of color should demand more often. Learning how to pronounce someone’s name correctly is a basic way to show respect, and it’s not just reserved for those in positions of power, like Senator Harris. 

When Perdue stood there on that stage and made fun of Harris’s name, it wasn’t just ignorant, it was racist. Mocking a woman of color’s ethnic name is a blatant way of letting voters and Americans everywhere know that you don’t respect other cultures and ethnicities, and Perdue should be held accountable. 

We’ve seen this pattern of Republican representatives mock and belittle their female counterparts across the aisle play out over and over again. We saw President Trump tell Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib to go back to their own countries last year, and Representative Yoho call Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a derogatory name just a few weeks ago. 

It’s time to take a step back and remember that it is possible to disagree with someone and argue against their policies without using racist and derogatory rhetoric. 

When leaders engage in that sort of behavior it sends a message to those watching that they are allowed to participate in those actions as well. Millions of people watched as Perdue mocked Senator Harris, and some walked away thinking that there’s nothing wrong with mocking ethnic names and cultures, while kids of color in his state saw their culture belittled by someone who is supposed to have their best interests in mind.