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"Dear Abby" misses the mark entirely

Yikes. May feels like forever ago. I know I resolved to take this blog in a new direction, and truthfully, I've had a number of posts in mind. Yet the devastating state of American politics, children indefinitely separated from their parents at border jails, and the recent SCOTUS drama, have occupied much of my spare mental energy. I am no longer phased by the newest lows the GOP and 45 sink to on a daily basis. But it was this seemingly "coming from a good place" load of appallingly tone deaf advice from "Dear Abby" columnist Jeanne Phillips, that has angered me into cobbling together a few sentences. So here I am.

Let me start by saying I'm not trying to lump Abby or this particular advice seeker in with the MAGA pitchfork wielders. However, her thought process (however well intentioned it may be) is most definitely part of the problem. Per Phillips, “whiteness” is still the norm and reference point for everything, and all that deviate from this norm are to be ostracized as the Other. Newsflash to the advice seeker, Ms. Phillips, and everyone else: this is no longer the America we live in (truthfully, it hasn't been for some time). Reality may be a bitter pill to swallow for many (read: White people fearful of the ominous Other), but swallow it they must because our America is no more a homogeneous white, Christian population.

Full disclosure: with my name being Soniya, you’d think I avoided name issues despite being born and raised in the US. You’d be very wrong. I grew up in a town named for a Confederate general. Son-eye-a, Sania, I’ve heard them all. I've had the indignity of people's eyes widening at the appearance of an I AND a Y (shock!), balking at even attempting to say my name. My standard habit is to politely correct or provide the pronunciation, and moved on. I can honestly say that I haven’t felt limited in any way by my name. My three sons have beautiful, Sanskrit names. And the 5 year old has no problem insisting people say all of their names correctly.

I fully support parents naming their children whatever stirs their hearts; but I take issue with this advice columnist suggesting that foreign names are a burden on the child. We do not need to ease your burden of learning to say our children’s names. You may make the effort, you may fail and falter, but you will keep trying. ✌🏽

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