Put Some Respect on My Name

I’ve never felt negatively about my name, but I’ve always noticed the response I would sometimes get when giving my name or saying it to others out loud. My name is Marquita; pronounced MAR-KEY-TAH. In terms of origin, Marquita is a Spanish variant of the word Marquis. It means “a noble title”. It’s actually a common name in the Hispanic and African American communities. Years ago when I asked my parents the inspiration behind my name, they mentioned an African Queen named Marquita. They also mentioned a famous actress, Marquita McGhee.

I felt led to write this post for a couple reasons. A couple years ago there was a meme going around on Instagram along the lines of “Little girl with the big name…correct them every time.” I saw it reposted several times and it made me think about how many times I’ve had to correct people when pronouncing my name. It also let me know that I am one of many people who have dealt with this.

When thinking about changing my blog name, at first I wasn’t sure if I should rebrand it to Meet Marquita, because I thought it might be difficult for people to spell and pronounce. After all, that has been the case so often. I thought that if they couldn’t spell it, they couldn’t get to my website. It wasn’t until my website designer told me that my name is not difficult to spell or pronounce. Her saying that to me really opened my eyes. It’s really not that hard. Her validation inspired me to follow through with changing the name of my website.

I’ve had several awkward experiences with others when it comes to my name. One time on a couple’s trip to Utah, the ladies decided to enjoy an afternoon at the spa. The other two ladies had their name called correctly by their massage therapist. When my lady called for me, she pronounced my name as Margarita. I politely corrected her, and she said, “Oh, I wanted it to be Margarita”. SMH! My response to her was, “well it’s not”. What she said to me totally caught me off guard. I tried not to let it bother me, as to not let it ruin my mood and massage experience.

A couple years ago I attended a wedding as a family friend of the bride. The mother of the groom came over to our table to introduce herself. Everyone started saying his or her names. I repeated mine a few times and after the third time she said something along the lines of, “well that wasn’t simple”. All I could do was shake my head.

At work, we talk a lot about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). In one of the workshops, the topic of discussion was micro aggressions and micro insults. One of the examples given for a micro insult was mispronouncing a name multiple times. That workshop helped put a name to what I’ve experienced many times in my life when it comes to my name.

One day, we had a speaker, Chris Molina, who spoke on the topic of “Why You Talking White?” He mainly talked about code switching according to your environment (work, neighborhood, family, etc.). There was a point in his presentation where he spoke about names and how certain names are viewed as “urban”, “ghetto” and “not resume friendly”. He posed the question, “these names aren’t resume friendly according to who”? It really got me thinking. People shouldn’t assume anything about a person or judge them because of what their name is. Some people’s names are unique because of their cultural background, while others names may have been completely and randomly made up by their parents. Regardless of the origin, a person’s name is how you identify them, and should be respected.

I recognize that everyone’s name won’t be Karen or Chad, and that many will be unique. I could go on and on about different experiences, but my main message is to respect people regardless of what their name is. You may not care for it, like it or understand it, but it doesn’t matter. It’s not your business to understand. Mind the business that pays you. Let peoples name be their name, and make an effort to pronounce it correctly, while keeping your opinions to yourself.

Have you had any negative experiences when it comes to your name? Can you relate to any of this? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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