Note from WIRe in Color program chair Marion Elliott: "The purpose of this new blog series is to capture the unique experiences, expertise, and perspectives of the global WIRe in Color community as they happen. Reflecting on last year and this one, one cannot help but to remember that our lives have been changed forever. Equity, Inclusion and belonging remain at the forefront of discussions. Adjacent to those is Change, Advocacy, and Growth. As a member of the Market Research and Insights community I encourage others to speak, listen, and share their knowledge and experiences. The importance of this blog is to offer another medium for knowledge and culture share. This is an opportunity to spearhead change and promote growth within and outside our industry. We will continue to network, host our webinars, and connect globally. Feel free to share your stories on impactful studies, martech, and your experience or thoughts on change in our industry. Share our blog and encourage others to submit."
For almost 38 years, I have gotten called everything under the sun when it comes to pronouncing my name. As a child it was difficult coming from a Caribbean island and starting school in the Northeast; where my name was not the only thing that made me stand out. However, over the years as I became an adult and started my career, I took power in my name and used it as a conversation starter at networking events.
Typically, the conversation would go like this after someone looks at my name tag:
Person: “Apologies, how do you pronounce your name?”
Me: “Take a guess?”
Person: Tries to pronounce but never gets it just right.
Me: “Its pronounced Melissa”
Most times after that its followed with comments such as “I would have never guessed that!”, “Wow, I love the spelling!”, “Tell me more about how your parents decided on this?”, etc.
Fast forward to this year. My company is providing a sales training course that has been every other week for a few months now with one trainer. Every time the trainer has tried to pronounce my name, he has gotten it incorrect. Every time I have corrected him as well as one of my female colleagues.
This week (after missing a few trainings due to PTO) the trainer again said “Hi” to me and mispronounced my name, which at this point was not surprising to me. By the time I was able to take myself off mute, the same colleague that has before corrected the trainer, was already correcting him on how my name is pronounced. I also corrected him. The trainer then said “It’s not really my fault it’s not spelled the way Melissa is spelled, so I would never get that right” and a few other comments that came off ill-mannered. While I do not think that was his intent, my uncomfortable feelings were warranted when other colleagues quickly messaged me on the side in astonishment at his response. All I could do was smile and hope the conversation would move away from my name.
During that entire training, I kept replaying what I should have said. How in the moment I should have spoken up and made it clear how the comments, while off the cuff, did affect me, but I did not.
What it really came down to is my name is more than just a word with seven letters. It is who I am, the word that people hear first without knowing anything about me. The security blanket I have had since birth and more specifically the pride of the person that I have become. In an instant I felt like it was belittled to something that is wrong and not correct. Something that didn’t belong.
Let’s be more deliberate in our comments, our words and our actions to those we may not know and come in contact with each day. The joy of this industry is that every day we meet folks from all walks of life; whether it be our clients, our colleagues or our industry partners. Let us choose to learn from each other and enjoy what makes us different. If the last few years has taught us anything, it is to appreciate life and each other; each and every day.
Hi, my name is Maleica, pronounced Melissa and its spelled the correct way.