Sunday, June 28, 2020

They Misspelled My Name! Racism! Oppression!

My name is Tahlea (or Tali) Aualiitia and as someone who — through unsolicited commentary — has always been told how "different" and "difficult" my name is, this quote has always resonated with me.

In fact, the last person I had to correct for the misspelling of my name was someone from my own employer, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

I was invited to join a panel on representation in pop culture by the ABC News Channel earlier this month, and because the name super (the strap with my name at the bottom of the screen) was added during production, I wasn't aware my name was spelled incorrectly until after the interview had finished and I was informed by my family and friends.

Typos happen and I understand how a slip of the finger on the keyboard turned my surname from Aualiitia into Auakiitia.

But while it was the first time I had done a TV interview, it wasn't the first time I had seen my name spelled wrong in the media.

Just a month ago, my name was spelled incorrectly by a producer in my own department, the Asia Pacific Newsroom.

It was pretty disappointing especially given it was a Pacific story from my own newsroom.

Now, I want to be clear that in both instances my colleagues reached out and apologised and I hold no ill feelings towards them, but these small errors can have big impacts among communities that often don't see themselves reflected in the media.

I'm not alone in having my name spelled wrong — my mum's Italian maiden name, Boccuccia, has been misspelled on her Australian birth certificate.

However this is not just about the spelling of my name; I've also been told by a radio presenter I pronounce my own name wrong, and I've heard my name laughed at on a Mamamia podcast.

It's no coincidence I'm speaking up about this during the latest wave of the Black Lives Matter movement.

It's hard to explain what racism feels like to someone who has never experienced it.

Do you how many ways there are to misspell my last name?   Kramer, Crammer, Craymer?  Anglophone oppression.  Time to loot and burn.  German Names Matter!

If your list of racial oppression starts with misspelling an unusual name (twice! oh, the horror!), it tells me that your list is not terribly meaningful. And the woke wonder why their complaints about racial oppression do not get much traction in much of America.  Two white police officers and two people of color police officers kill a suspect.  Real problem.  Being followed around a store because you are considered likely a shoplifter because you are black?  Humiliating and unfair but not in the same category as being killed by a police officer, or being lynched, or not getting hired because of your color.  Misspelling your name tells me you have no idea what oppression is.



  1. It's especially annoying since the woke twit in question even straight up admits that first example she gave was nothing but a basic typo.

  2. When I first joined the US Air Force, the computers used (B3500's) simply could not handle my last all official documents, my ID cards, certificates, etc all are misspelled...

  3. Harold Ghoti, a man of German ancestry could make the same argument, and also one for always being mistaken for an East Indian (If we still have to make that distinction). I believe it was the originator of "Shavian Wit" who pointed out that "GHOTI" was pronounced as "FISH", "GH" as in "tough", "O", as in "Women", and "TI" as in "Motion".