Celebrities, politicians and supporters of Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris rallied on social media after Georgia Senator David Perdue mocked her name.
The hashtag #MyNameIs took over Twitter over the weekend as people shared the correct pronunciation of their names as well as the meaning and origin of their names. Supporters included actor Kal Penn, US House of Representatives candidate Ro Khanna, former US attorney Preet Bharara, actress Debra Messing and team members Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar.
Meanwhile, Perdue is facing significant backlash for repeatedly mispronouncing Harris' name at a rally for President Donald Trump.
“The most insidious thing Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden are trying to perpetuate – and Bernie and others with them – and Kah-MAH-la, KAH-mah-la, Kah-MAH-la, Kamala-mala-mala, I put on me don't know whatever, ”Perdue said as the crowd laughed.
Many called the comment backhand racism.
"Well, that's incredibly racist," Harris spokeswoman Sabrina Singh tweeted. She added that Perdue and Harris have been colleagues in the Senate for more than three years and have interacted on the floor multiple times. The two are also represented jointly in the Senate's budget committee.
Senate candidate Jon Ossoff, who is in a close race with Perdue for his seat, shared the video on his Twitter account and tweeted, “Senator Perdue would never have done this to a male colleague or a white colleague. And everyone knows. "
Senator Perdue would never have done this to a male colleague.
Or a white colleague.
And everyone knows https://t.co/zi5Wxg0VYr pic.twitter.com/TEiAJGiAaV
– Jon Ossoff (@ossoff) October 17, 2020
Perdue's campaign tried to downplay the comment, but it didn't work. John Burke, the campaign's communications director, said the senator "just mispronounced Senator Harris' name and didn't mean anything".
However, the comment worked against Perdue when Ossoff's campaign announced that it had raised $ 2 million in donations the weekend after its release.
According to Business Insider, Harris taught how to pronounce her name correctly for years. When she ran for the Senate in 2016, one of Harris' ads showed children figuring out how to pronounce their names correctly.
In her 2019 book The Truths We Hold, Harris tried again to describe the correct way to pronounce her name.
"First, my name is pronounced like the punctuation mark 'comma-la'," she wrote. "It means" lotus flower, "which is a symbol of importance in Indian culture. A lotus grows underwater, its flower rises above the surface, while its roots are firmly planted in the river bed."
#MyNameIs Ilham, I prefer Ilhan. I never liked the M sound ????. It means "inspiration" in Arabic. My father called me Ilham and inspired me to live a life of service to others.
In his honor, I'm voting for an inspirational ticket over a desperate and crazy one. https://t.co/jSiatHsj2X
– Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) October 17, 2020