Having the name I do, for my entire life, I’ve had to engage in a two-step introduction process when meeting people that usually goes something like this…
Stranger: Hi, I’m Jennifer.
Me: Hi, I’m Foram.
*insert pause while stranger processes my name and questions whether she heard right and concedes she definitely didn’t*
Stranger: I’m sorry?
*insert pause while stranger decides on what question would sound least rude and most socially acceptable*
Stranger: …like the public, discussion forum?
Me: Yes, kind of. It’s said like that, but spelled F-o-r-a-m.
Stranger: Ohh, how interesting…!
I’ve had this conversation so many times that I can actually see the gears working in their heads now, while they process my name the first time I say it before they decide it’s too weird to be a real name; I can time it down to the exact moment when they’ll work their way to the oh-so-original, “…like the discussion forum?” comparison that I usually just fill in the blanks for them. It’s just quicker and makes it less uncomfortable for the other party, I find.
The thing is, I embraced my name many years ago. It’s a bit strange, but it’s unique; it’s a hassle to explain, and people have given me a basket full of fun, little nicknames (Forearm, Foreman, 4 a.m., Foreplay, Foprah — of course, and the list goes on…), but I truly would never change my name. To this day, I don’t enjoy meeting other Foram’s because I feel very tied to my name. It houses my identity, and for that reason, I feel a very powerful ownership over it.
Regardless if you’re a Foram or if you’re a Jennifer, a name is the flagstaff of a person’s identity; your sense of being is tied to your name, and everyone feels pride and a sense of self in a name — no matter how common or unique it is. So, when a person’s name is marred in some way, I believe it is an insult on that person and his/her identity.
For instance, for me one of the biggest annoyances and insults people commit is misspelling my name. Granted, it’s an odd name, and considering its very similar sounding relation to “forum,” I am very forgiving about anyone assuming it’s spelled the intuitive way if I have not spelled it out for them, or if they have not seen it in print. But, many, many times in my life, I have had my name misspelled in e-mails (even in response e-mails, when I had clearly signed my name in the signature) or letters, etc. Even — no, especially in professional environments, I find it a huge insult to have my name misspelled — especially when there are a million resources with my name written right there! (My emailhas my name in it!) Get it right, people — it’s just absolutely preposterous.
So, yesterday when I logged onto Twitter, while watching the 2012 London Olympic Games, and saw at two different times “Destinee Hooker” and then “Destiny Hooker” trending, I took a special interest in this for two reasons: 1. because people all over the Twitterverse were clearly talking about the same person and they were spelling her name wrong, and 2. this Olympic athlete is a University of Texas-Austin student and a fellow Longhorn, and I was watching her play in the Indoor Volleyball match against South Korea right then. I, instantly was super excited to see someone from my school trending, until I saw why…
As soon as I clicked on her name to see why her name was trending (at that point “Destiny Hooker” was trending, which is the incorrect spelling of her name), I was absolutely furious and disgusted with what I saw. People everywhere — even right here in the USA (some Team USA fans…) were actually talking about her after her name flashed on the screen. What was the big deal? Well her name of course, and the fact that it was DESTINEE HOOKER. It’s exactly what you’re thinking. Tweet after Tweet, all people could talk about was the fact that this amazing Olympic athlete had a name that seemingly sounded “erotic.”
Seriously?! Grow UP, people! On top of that, her name was trending for hours, but not even with the correct spelling. It just disgusts me so much that people have such little respect for someone, and then what happens — we have kids bullying senior citizen bus monitors and making them cry and issues like cyber bullying becoming real things we have to deal with in middle schools and high schools. Why? Because adults, real adults can’t be mature enough not to get online and on their phones to say something so idiotic about someone who has a perfectly normal name and who is doing something amazing with her life!
And you know what? I’m going to say it; I’m going to pull the race card. Destinee Hooker is Black, and her name is what it is — and so it became a topic of mockery and something to joke about. People thought it was perfectly alright to forget that she was an Olympic athlete and instead focus on the fact that her name sounded like she should be a hooker. This is the norm in today’s society, and I think it had a huge deal with why no one thought it was a big deal that for HOURS her name was trending misspelled and only because people were making fun of her name. Would it have happened if she was White? I honestly don’t think it would have been as big of an issue. People would have made jokes, but if you were on Twitter on July 28, you definitely saw this trend because it lasted for the entire day — even today people are still talking about her name (and I suspect it will be a topic throughout the Games).
Honestly, I couldn’t have been more annoyed and disgusted. Just grow up people; start showing people respect, and maybe we won’t be wondering why we let little kids bully adults on busses one day.
Here are some of the worst Tweets about Destinee Hooker I saw. I’m putting you guys on blast since you wanted the world to know how funny you were.