The Maine Campus
Kamala Harris, the first female, Black and Asian American to serve as the vice president of the United States, has been a near constant presence across media sourcesover the course of a primary and general election cycle, and yet the correct pronunciation of her first name remains a mystery to many. To be clear, it’s pronounced comma-la. It’s not long, not immensely diffocult to remember, and certainly not hard to Google. However, the phonetic complexity of the vice-president’s first name has overwhelmed pundits and politicians alike, including Tucker Carlson, former Georgia Sen. David Perdue, and former President Donald Trump. Colorful renditions such as “Ka-MAHH-lahh” and “Kamala-mala-mala,” delivered snidely and played off with Bill Clinton-esque “oh, who? Me?” innocence may seem harmless, but they speak to a past and present culture in America of othering and delegitimizing identities and experiences that are unfamiliar to a majority white culture.
Poole, Nate, "Confronting Microaggressions: It’s not just what you say, it’s the way you say it" (2021). Social Justice: Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion. 301.
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