Representative Butchers Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal’s Name, Gets Corrected During Hearing

Pramila Jayapal

Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal asked Republican Congresswoman Debbie Lesko to pronounce her name correctly during a Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday.

In the video, Lesko retells Jayapal’s comments about zero takeovers in the autonomous protest zone in Seattle to Attorney General William Barr, NBC News reported. However, Lesko pronounced the U.S. Representative for Washington’s 7th congressional district’s name incorrectly twice during her questioning of Barr.

“Mr. Attorney General, is that your understanding of what happened there?” Lesko asks Barr. “Do you agree with Ms. Jayapal that there was no takeover, it was just…”

Before she could finish, Jayapal interrupts Lesko and confronted her for mispronouncing her name.

“Jayapal,” the first Indian American politician to serve in the House said. “If you’re going to say my name, please say it right. It’s Jayapal.”

Lesko then acknowledges the correction and repeated Jayapal’s name with the proper pronunciation.

Twitter users applauded Jayapal.

A 2012 study, titled “Teachers, please learn our names!: racial microagressions and the K-12 classroom,” discovered that mispronouncing someone’s name can affect their social and emotional well-being. It could affect children’s ability to learn in school, according to Harvard Business Review.

Mispronouncing someone’s name, which is a form of racial microaggression, can bring shame to the person on the receiving end and disassociation from their culture, the report said.

NextShark previously reported about a controversial email sent by Laney College professor Matthew Hubbard to a Vietnamese student last month, telling the student to anglicize her name. Catherine Ceniza Choy, professor of ethnic studies at the University of California, Berkeley, says names hold crucial significance to someone’s family and ethnic identity, NBC America reported.

“When instructors make the effort to learn students’ names, that simple act improves students’ learning because it acknowledges their history and presence,” Choy said.

“We live in a world, and an educational system, that is guided by a dominant culture and is racially/culturally hierarchical,” Rita Kohli, a race and ethnicity scholar at the University of California, Riverside, who also co-authored the 2012 study, said.

“Thus, when someone in a position of power, an educator for example, changes someone’s name because they find it inconvenient or challenging to their comfort — through that interaction, they are disrespecting, devaluing who that person is,” she said.

Feature Image (left) via U.S. House Office of Photography, (right) via @RepDebbieLesko

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