My name is Natasha.
For years, I was the only Natasha in my classroom. There were plenty of Latasha’s, but third grade found me with another Natasha in my classroom. So I became Natasha T., and the other Natasha was Natasha S. So for five years, I went from being just Natasha to Natasha T.
After graduation, I went to high school and college, where, once again, I was the only Natasha in my group of classmates, and I was able to drop the first initial of my last name, and just be Natasha. College was the same way, as was my first job.
Then I started blogging, and my name went on several tours in variation. Latasha, Natalie, Natash, and finally, Nicole. I’m not sure how the universe decided to land on Nicole as the agreed upon moniker for me when it comes to emails, greetings in real life, and talks about me. It’s always awkward when I’m introduced to someone as “the person I was talking to you about, last week” and they recognize me as Natasha and say something along the lines of “nope, you were telling me about and awesome NICOLE that you know, this is Natasha.” Never fails.
This doesn’t even bring into question the amounts of times that I’ve been mistaken for someone else, who is usually also black, and that’s about where the similarities end. It happens y’all.
However, this is not really to talk about the issues of people making the mistake once. Nope. It’s from the people, the REPEAT offenders who continue to call me Nicole despite the amounts of time that I correct them just lets me know that they don’t care enough to learn my name. See, I’m a big proponent of getting folks names right. I repeat it when you tell it to me, and if I forget it, I ask again. I never try to shorten it if that’s not how it was presented, and I never, EVER say, “Same thing” if I call you something wrong, and you correct me. This happened to me in Africa with one of the team members who called me Michelle. Not even close.
It’s tiring. To always correct something that identifies you. Something as simple as a name, but not really, right? I mean, I used to tell people “that’s okay,” but for me, it’s totally not. To ME, I hear that you don’t have enough in you to try to remember my name, and if I correct you and you ask me jokingly why it matters, then I’m going to REALLY be ticked. It’s my name.
Now. Among my colleagues – a cool several thousand, I may be known as the dancer, or Mrs. Houseful. At my son’s school, I’m known as Nate’s mom. At my mother’s job, I’m known as Mor Mor Baby’s daughter – or her twin. It’s okay, just as long as you remember to put some respect on Natasha.
Do you constantly get called the wrong name? Are YOU the person who constantly calls people the wrong name? If you forget, and try to figure out ways to get their real name, you get a pass, because you try. If you just forego all of that, and spit out whatever name you want, then you, dear are not nice.