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Black Woman Considers Calling Coworkers Generic ‘White Names’ After They Keep Getting Her Name Wrong

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In life there are basic forms of respect humans can show one another on the daily.

Like calling one another by the correct name.

Why is that not a simple thing to do?

Apparently, it’s a bigger issue than most people realize.

Case in point…

Redditor tinanottiana wanted to discuss her experience and get some feedback. So naturally, she came to visit the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit.

She asked:

“WIBTA if I started calling my white coworkers by random ‘white’ names?”

The Original Poster (OP) explained:

“I moved from Georgia to the Pacific Northwest last year for a dream job after I graduated college.”

“It was a little bit of a culture shock because I went from being one of many black people around at any given time to often being the only non-white person in a room, let alone a black person.”

“There hasn’t been a lot of overt racism, but there’s been a lot of strange borderline situations that are amusing and race-related but not necessarily racist.”

“For example, every white woman I meet mentions Beyoncé to me within the first five minutes.”

“When I was sitting for my driver’s license photo the woman taking my picture opened with, ‘So… Beyonce.'”

“So the problem in the post title is that I am the only black woman at my office, and I am constantly, constantly being called the wrong name at work, and I’m coming up on my one-year anniversary.”

“My name is Tina, short for Christina.”

“Pronounced just like it looks, very easy name.”

“For some reason, a handful of people at work call me Tiana, Tiara, or Tia.”

“I think assuming that my name has to be more ‘black sounding’ than it is.”

“I am most often called Tiana, especially by one of the guys on our development team and by the ‘big boss’ for another team.”

“Which I think then confuses their team members back into calling me the wrong name again.”

“The other thing is that apparently another black woman (elderly, not in the same position I’m in) used to work there and I get called her name (Mary) sometimes too.”

“Sometimes people will look at my nameplate and ask me, ‘How do you pronounce that?’ It’s Tina!”

“I have tried politely correcting this and I correct it immediately every time.”

“From polite, ‘Just for the record, my name is Tina!’ to lighthearted, ‘Tina, like Tina Belcher!'”

“In e-mails from me that say Tina in a million places, including my e-mail address, I still get, ‘Thanks Tiana!'”

“Sooo… I’m considering doing the Twitter approach, where I just respond to coworkers who call me the wrong name with the wrong name. Like…”

“Chuck: ‘Thanks, Tiana…'”

“Tina: ‘No problem, Chad!'”

“Jessica: ‘Hi Tiara!”

“Tina: ‘Good morning, Jennifer!'”

“Would I be the a**hole if I did this?”

“I know it’s passive-aggressive, but every form of polite correction hasn’t worked, and I feel really disrespected by this.”

“So I may as well have some fun with it.”


Redditors shared their thoughts on this matter and weighed some options to the question AITA:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Many Redditors declared OP was NOT the A**hole.

“NTA, I’d go for Becky and Todd.” ~ aliquilts71

“OP do you guys have H[uman] R[esources]?

“I just don’t want you to face fallout if the boss gets weird and defensive/embarrassed by it.”

“Welcome to Well-Meaning Northern Racism!”

“It’s a very different experience from the extremes of the south – pockets of basically all black and all white.”

“You won’t be around more than two or three other black people unless you’re with family/the event is for P[eople] O[f] C[olor].”

“It gets treated like you’re disabled a little bit, a lot of condescending ‘helpful’ stuff and weird references like the Beyoncé thing.”

“People will touch your hair on the bus.

“We’re sort of a spectacle instead of simply undesirable. Weird sh*t.”

“One really big part of it is absolute flailing defensiveness and overcompensation at the suggestion that someone or something is racist.”

“Not that hardcore overt racists are usually into the label.”

“But the ‘well-meaning,’ progressive, liberal people who do racist stuff balk the most when you’re like ‘hey that’s actually sort of messed up.'”

“I guess it’s cause they’re trying?”

“But if you’re ‘trying’ and still calling me Janeesha instead of Janice we have a problem.”

“So just, sorry you’re dealing with this, and please protect yourself against whatever defensive-embarrassed response you may get.”

“Side note – Do they know it’s short for Christina?”

“I wonder if that would make a difference.” ~ moonjunkie

“White person from a northern state and this is all very accurate.”

“People get so embarrassed when they get called out for racism because we grew up thinking we were special/different from southern whites.”

“Because slavery happened ‘over there’, not ‘over here.'”

“Northern states are racist in…. quiet ways?”

“Racist in the sense that a city doesn’t allocate the same funding to schools in black neighborhoods but gold star for us because we didn’t say the N-word???”

“I don’t have any advice but NTA especially because this has gone on for a YEAR.” ~ oniraa

“NTA. My favorite to use is JerrrRRRRrrrry.”

“Don’t have many female co-workers so I don’t have a generic female name I use.” ~ Baconninja3

“I love it but I think it has to be mad specific, like if it’s someone who has indeed called you by the wrong name, especially consistently, then NTA.”

“But if you just do it generally to everybody then YTA.”

“Doesn’t make it not funny though.” ~ yung_bakunin

OP came back with some deets…

“I am pretty overwhelmed by the responses so I just want to add a couple of things…”

“A lot of people have suggested that I gently and firmly remind people of my name.”

“That’s what I’ve been doing, and was my first line of defense!”

“A lot of people have suggested I go to HR.”

“This is the kind of nebulous thing HR doesn’t really help with, and it isn’t as serious as it could be.”

“A lot of people who identify themselves as white have informed me that this isn’t race-related. It is.”

“I have been black for 25 years, and I have a lot of firsthand experience with racism, and I can identify it in my own life.”

“It isn’t overt racism, like a slur or an assault, but it is still race-related.”

“I feel like a few people are ALMOST getting it.”

“A lot of people are referencing that Key and Peele sketch with the substitute teacher, which is literally a joke about how white people do this to black people, turned on its head!”

“And finally, a few people have asked why I don’t use Tina Turner as an example, since she’s also a black Tina.”

“First, I thought young-ish white people would be more familiar with Tina Belcher.”

“But I used ‘Tina Turner’ as an example for our Dean and he then ‘affectionately’ nicknamed me Tina Turner.”

“Which took deprogramming from his assistant to get over.”

Reddit continued…

“NTA. It might not be the most professional but neither are those people not bothering to learn your name.” ~ prplehailstorm

“I would say NTA, but… I also wouldn’t do it, just because it could be seen as unprofessional.”

“If it was in your social life, totally.”

“I’m Chinese/Filipino and have a pretty chill name for both my family and for my people.”

“Which I shorten to ‘Lucy,’ and I still get people calling me ‘Lucky’ (?!) or assuming my last name is my first name.”

“It’s infuriating but all you can really do at work is politely correct, over and over.” ~ RealisticSandwich

“NTA but I am not sure they’d get the joke. You know them better than I do.”

“I would get a name badge with TINA on it with the pronunciation spelling in brackets beneath it or maybe (Teena).”

“And a happy face and a flower on it so they know it is good-natured not *itchy.” ~ implodemode

“NTA. I also had a boss that would do this exclusively to POC who worked under her.”

“Always trying to make their names sound more ‘ethnic.'”

“One of the ladies actually went the same route as OP. It took one time and suddenly the boss was no longer ‘forgetful.'”

“I was not so passive.”

“I just asked her what her boss’s name was, bosses boss, the CEO.”

“Then I pointed out that she had no problem remembering those names because THOSE people were important to her and her employees obviously weren’t.”  ~ infinityflash

OP swung back around…

“No, I don’t have a southern accent.”

“I’m from Atlanta, and black people from Atlanta don’t really have an indecipherable country twang.”

“Plus, my ‘working in an office’ voice is pretty practiced/neutral.”

“More to the point, no accent makes the name ‘Tina’ sound like ‘Tiana’ or “Tiara.'”

“No, the people I work with aren’t just ‘idiots.'”

“As annoying as this is, they are not stupid people.”

“No, I can’t wear a ‘Hi, my name is’ sticker or a nametag. We have a business professional dress code!”

“Yes, I correct them every time.”

“No, it’s not because I’m not ‘memorable’ or a bad employee!”

“Responding to this post saying, ‘Okay Shaniqua’ or some other racist caricature of a name truly misses the point, as this is already what my coworkers are doing.”

“Tiana’ being the ‘Shaniqua’ in this instance.”

“Several people have alarmingly said, ‘Okay, Trayvon’ and invoking the name of a dead black child at the idea of me calling a white guy ‘Chad’ is VERY WEIRD!”

Reddit understands your frustration.

You deserve to be called the correct name.

Hopefully, people in your office will start to catch on quickly.