Republican senator draws outrage for mispronouncing Kamala Harris' name; supporters launch online campaign

Several people gave the origin and meaning of their names as they expressed outrage at the mispronunciation of Harris' name

Press Trust of India October 18, 2020 10:59:58 IST
Republican senator draws outrage for mispronouncing Kamala Harris' name; supporters launch online campaign

File image of Kamala Harris. Reuters

Washington: Outraged over the mispronunciation of Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris' name by a Republican Senator from Georgia, her supporters launched an online campaign with the hashtags ''MyNameIs'' and ''IstandwithKamala''.

During an election rally of US President Donald Trump on Saturday in Macon City in Georgia, a battleground state, Senator David Perdue mispronounced 55-year-old Harris' name.

"KAH''-mah-lah? Kah-MAH''-lah? Kamala-mala-mala? I don't know. Whatever," he told thousands of his supporters.

The mispronunciation outraged a large number of Harris' supporters and her spokesperson Sabrina Singh said, "I'll keep it simple: If you can pronounce ''former'' Senator David Perdue, you can pronounce ''future'' Vice President Kamala Harris."

Condemning Perdue, Amit Jani — the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Outreach Coordinator of the Biden campaign — launched the ''My name is'' campaign to "push back against the bigotry".

BuzzFeed on Saturday reported that Perdue, who is seeking his reelection from Georgia, is facing backlash for mockingly mispronouncing Harris'' name.

Spokesperson of Perdue said the Senator mispronounced the name and he did not mean anything by it.

Several people gave the origin and meaning of their names as they expressed outrage at the mispronunciation of the democratic vice-presidential candidate's name.

Preet Bharara, former attorney general for the powerful southern district of New York tweeted, "#MyName is Preet, which means love."

"#MyNameIs Meenakshi. I''m named after the Hindu goddess, as well as my great great grandmother. I come from a long line of strong women who taught me to be proud of my heritage and to demand respect - especially from racist white men like @sendavidperdue who are threatened by us,” tweeted Meena Harris, a lawyer and author.

Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar from Minnesota tweeted, "#MyNameIs Ilham, I prefer Ilhan. I never liked the M sound Winking face with tongue. It means “Inspiration” in Arabic. My father named me Ilham and inspired me to lead a life of service to others. In his honour I am voting for an inspirational ticket over desperate and maddening one.”

According to Erin Wilson, National Political Director at Biden for President, his name has Irish origin. "All of our names deserve respect," she said.

Indian-American Democratic fund raiser Shekar Narasimhan said his name means a Hindu God who represents a half man-half lion and exhibits courage and humanity.

"My son’s name was Sidarth to symbolise Gautama Buddha, the enlightened One. We are proud Americans and can pronounce others names correctly,” he tweeted.

Expressing support for presidential nominee Joe Biden and Harris, Indian- American Congressman Ro Khanna tweeted, "#MyNameIs Rohit, and my friends call me Ro. It means bright light in Sanskrit."

Khanna said in the upcoming election, he will vote for an "inclusive" America by voting for Biden and Harris.

"My great grandmother’s name was Kamala. Not ''Kamala-mala-mala, I don’t know, whatever''. #MyNameIs Gautam. It means bright light. The kind of bright light a Biden-Harris administration will represent," tweeted Gautam Raghavan, who is heading the transition team of the Biden campaign.

"#MyNameIs Zhao-Mei-Shin. It means ''beautiful heart'' in Mandarin. My grandparents risked it all & came here to offer their kids a better life. Now, their grandchild is the 1st Chinese American Congresswoman. #IWillVote bc Joe & Kamala know our diversity is our strength,” tweeted Congresswoman Judy Chu.

Perdue's spokesperson John Burke in a tweet said that he was making an argument against the radical socialist agenda.

"Senator Perdue simply mispronounced Senator Harris' name, and he didn't mean anything by it. He was making an argument against the radical socialist agenda that she and her endorsed candidate Jon Ossoff are pushing, which includes the Green New Deal," Burke tweeted.

Versha Sharma, a Twitter user, posted, “Imagine if your coworker of nearly 4 years did this to you. Perdue and Kamala Harris have served in the Senate together for that long. The disrespect is intentional."

"#MyNameIs Hiral. It means diamond, bright, full of luster. Sparkles My mom used to say that they picked it because she saw a bright light reflecting from me & a toughness that made me unbreakable. Glowing star It’s that strength my mom saw in me that gave me the courage to run for Congress,” tweeted Indian American Congressional candidate from Arizona, Dr Hiral Tipirneni.

Democratic fund raiser from California Ajay Jain Bhutoria said Harris was attacked by Senator Perdue for her Indian name.

"Please help us push back against this bigotry, will you join thousands of celebrities, elected officials and friends in all communities by tweeting or sharing #MyNameIs...," he said in an appeal.

"Ajay is an Indian given name originating in Sanskrit ''ajaya'', which means ''unconquered'', ''unsurpassed'', ''invincible''. ''I''ll keep it simple: If you can pronounce former Senator David Perdue you can pronounce future Vice President Kamala Harris.'' All of our names deserve respect," Bhutoria said.

Indian-American lawmaker Pramila Jaipal said her name comes from the Sanskrit word “prem”, which means love.

"The name is constantly mispronounced as is my last name. I only mind that when it is done willfully and continuously. Let’s build an inclusive America. Vote #BidenHarris2020. Our vote, our power," she tweeted.

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