My name is Martín Paredes. It is spelled with an accented i. It is pronounced as Marteen, and not as the English Martin. For years, and even today, I have been called by different variations of my name. Not all of it is intended as malicious and many times individuals do not realize that their misuse of my name is offensive to me.
I have a name and it defines me.
I have been addressed as “Mr. Walls” on several occasions. Why? Because my last name - Paredes - is walls in English. People calling me “walls” likely thought it was funny or endearing. Why, I am not sure.
Sometimes my name is spelled “Martine” and sometimes it is pronounced with a long “i”.
Although the accent on the i makes a difference in the pronunciation of my name, it was impossible to add the accented i on typewriters, so I have had to accept the i without the accent. Computers, for the most part do not have an easy way to use letters in other languages.
I do not expect English speakers to roll the r in my name, or perfectly pronounce my name, but to purposely distort it or translate it to “walls” is white supremacy disguised as a joke or as an empty endearment.
As a Latino in America there are many times things get lost in translation. This is common when two languages end up together. For many, it is a way of life in America. It is my way of life.
But my name is Martín and I expect people to attempt to pronounce it correctly.
What is in a name?
It is my identity.
It is who I am.
Pronouncing my name properly signals to me that you value my worth.
Not bothering to use my name correctly tells me you have no interest in valuing my identity.