Now to start off, I want to acknowledge the irony of someone like me writing an article with a headline like this. To list off the qualities that I possess that make it seem a little fun are I'm white, I have lived most of my life in America, and most of the people, for better or worse who I have surrounding me, are also white. I fully realize that there are lots of people who suffer the same issues and or have it much worse then me but I still believe that it is an important issue.
William Shakespeare once said "What's in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet." My last name has stumped almost everyone who has come across it. I could always tell when substitute teachers in school would reach my name during roll call because it was always accompanied by a heavy pause before the faltering attempt that was often followed by a rush apology. I will admit when you first read the name Reid Dolyniuk, it is not evident how it should be said.
The usual assumption when my name is first read is that I am a boy, so when they see me, a slight five-foot girl, pop up it's always a shock. There have been many times at job interviews that people asked me what I was there for and seemed fronted by the admission I was here for a job. Those were some of my first experiences with outright sexism, and it sucked. For people to seem less eager to have me despite my qualifications because I had missing anatomy.
For a while, I would let it go when people said my name wrong and just move on but lately, I have stopped letting it fly. A name is much more then what people call you. It defines you and is what you are remembered as. Your name associates to memories people have of you so wouldn't you want that to be correct for them to remember you properly? In high school, there was a P.E teacher that I had as a freshman who started off the year by doing the roll call. Now, I had heard about this teacher prior to taking his class and his reputation of being a hard ass preceded him. However, there was not a lot to be done about it and I went to class. When he got to my name on the sheet, there was the usual pause and attempt to say it. He pronounced it wrong and I raised my hand and said "That's me but is pronounced Dolyniuk (the correct pronunciation) " and he had the gall to ask me if I was sure. Of course, I was sure. But being the shy person I was, I didn't really stick up for myself and said nothing. For the rest of the year, he pronounced my name wrong and looking back, I really wished I would have said something.
To say someone's names correctly shows respect. When you don't take the basic steps in order to accomplish something as simple as pronouncing a name it says a lot more about you then the other person . It is my opinion that if we can learn how to pronounce the spells in Harry Potter, the names in Lord of the rings and game of thrones then it is more then possible to pronounce the names of our peers around us. While it might be embarrassing to ask and maybe a little awkward I can guarantee the people who have tough names will appreciate it more then you just saying something like " Can I just call you like... Reid D?"