…and neither does the Ataulfo Mango
I can’t tell you how many times I have been called Lisa, Melissa, Alissa, and, even, Carissa when various adults have had to read my name, Nissa, aloud. The very existence of the name Nissa (pronounced Niss like kiss with the soft “a” pronounced like uh = Niss–uh) baffles most Americans. Most people pronounce it like Lisa, fearing the mallet of mispronunciation, but I never mind when people mess up my name. In fact, half the world calls me Nee-sa because it’s easier for many of the world’s tongues. Many cultures struggle with the pronunciation of the sharp “i”. What I do mind is when, in order to avoid saying it wrong, they refuse to try. I imagine it’s all fear-based—fear of sounding stupid, fear of making a mistake. Whatever the case may be, it’s time for all of us to get to know each other’s names along with the accents and cultures they come from. To sound silly is a worthwhile sacrifice to make when learning new words—to try is to connect in all of our humanness. As Americans, we need rise to the challenge and embrace diversity in all its forms. To embrace, and celebrate, diversity is to be on the right side of history. We can start as simply as confronting our fear of mispronunciation, getting to know names we deem too ethnic and too unusual.