Do you remember when Hasan Minhaj corrected Ellen DeGeneres on the pronunciation of his name?
It was around April, and it was one of my favorite moments from this year.
Ellen says Hasan's name wrong. Hasan says "No."
Ellen says "Yes." And then he teaches her how to say his name right.
It was a great moment and sparked a great conversation.
Hasan Minhaj Uses Timothée Chalamet's Name at Starbucks www.youtube.com
Recently, this moment was brought up again and contextualized on the Netflix show Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj.
Hasan received a question about using the correct pronunciation of his name, and how difficult it is to switch back after years of an Americanized pronunciation.
And the response is as touching as it is funny.
From there, he explains his history with his name in the entertainment industry. At one point he used the name Sean because a host for an open mic show told him no one would be able to pronounce it.
He's slowly reclaimed his name, moving from 'Sean' to an Americanized version of 'Hasan' to finally holding people to pronouncing it correctly.
Minhaj is now standing strong on having his name pronounced right.
It's funny because his father chastised him for spending so much time on his name. Which is understandable, but it's also understandable why Hasan would push to have people say his name right.
As he explains it:
"I think that's the big difference between our generation and our parents' generation. They're always trying to survive... But I'm trying to live."
"So I'm gonna go on Ellen, the most American show ever, and make you hit all the syllables."
This move encouraged others to share their own stories about their names.
It's understandable in our society to not have an immediate grasp on a name you aren't familiar with. Despite the mixture of cultures in the U.S. there is still an insulating effect we have on foreign cultures influencing us.
However, if you refuse to make an effort to learn someone's name, you're doing more damage than you might think. It ranges from microaggression to an active erasure of someone's history.
Take the time to learn the right pronunciation. It's the simplest act of respect you can do.