An advocacy group in Vancouver, Canada, has created a custom dictionary that adds thousands of Asian names to Microsoft Word.
Elimin8Hate (E8), the advocacy arm of the Vancouver Asian Film Festival, developed ReclaimYourName.dic. The plug-in, which can be downloaded for free on the campaign’s website, includes over 8,000 unique names from more than 12 Asian countries and can be installed within minutes. It prevents a red underline from appearing under specified names while Microsoft Word is being used.
The campaign’s website states that ReclaimYourName.dic is “the first custom dictionary to normalize thousands of Asian names in the world’s most popular word processing software, where non-English identities are arbitrarily targeted as errors.”
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According to Elimin8Hate founder and president Barbara Lee, the red underline that Microsoft Word uses to denote spelling mistakes makes people with non-Anglicized names “feel like they don’t belong.”
“It makes them feel like they’re not a part of the greater community, that they’re a mistake,” Lee explained.
Based on Elimi8Hate’s estimates, racism and hate push around 62 percent of people with ethnic names to prefer using something more anglicized. Therefore, the new dictionary provides a way for these individuals to “reclaim their names.”
As Elimi8Hate do not have an exhaustive list of names, they are continuously adding more to their dictionary. Users whose names are currently not part of the database are encouraged to contact the advocacy group so that they can add their names to the custom dictionary in future updates.
Elimin8Hate is urging businesses, organizations, governments, schools and other groups to download the dictionary to help spread the message that ethnic names are not a mistake.