Love Island star Yewande Biala has hit out at the tendency of some people to mispronounce or ignore the names of individuals from ethnic minorities.
The Dubliner shot to fame in 2019 when she appeared in the reality TV series but her experience in the villa was not entirely positive; during her time there one contestant repeatedly refused to pronounce her name correctly - something that upset her immensely.
Such a phenomenon is called ‘racialised renaming’ and is something that Irish people have historic experience of - having been forced to abandon the traditional Gaelic spelling and pronunciation of their names for anglicanised versions while under British rule.
Nowadays in Ireland it is something most often experienced by ethnic minorities and Yewande is on a mission to change that:
“So racialised reclaiming is living in the western world, living in Europe and having a Nigerian background,” she explained to Lunchtime Live.
“There is this dismissal of names that aren’t seen as normal or European or people feel like they want to ascribe a nickname to someone because they feel like they can’t pronounce the name or they’re not really fussed about learning the name.
“And people don’t really understand the importance of what a name carries. It tells so much about you, your culture, your heritage, where you’re from.
“And racialised renaming is just that dismal of a whole culture because we live in a world that is so whitewashed and westernised.
“And the minority are just dismissed all the time.”
A book is born
It is a subject that Yewande first touched upon in an article after she left the Love Island villa but the article got such a strong response that she decided to write a book about her life, touching particularly on issues such as racism and mental health.
“There’s a bit of my monologues, within the book, my experiences but also experiences of everybody else with open and honest conversions,” she described.
“I like to think about it as a book with your best friend talking about issues that are topical and need to be talked about but also still speaking from a loving place at the same time.”
The book is called Reclaiming and hit the shelves of bookstores across Ireland last Thursday.
Main image: Love Island Star Yewande Biala at BBC Radio One