- Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is a presidential candidate in the 2020 election.
- Over the years, people have pronounced her name wrong.
- It's "COMMA-LAH," not "KUH-MAL-UH."
When Sen. Kamala Harris announced she was running for president, the nation began to pay more attention to the Democratic senator from California, including on-air reporters discussing her political background and the issues she plans to focus on during her campaign.
However, as most of us know, when women are leading the way—specifically women of color—there tends to be a lack of respect for common courtesies like learning how to pronounce the person's name. President Trump is a prime example of someone who recently butchered her name, reportedly pronouncing it as "Kameela" in a New York Times interview.
Harris has struggled with the public pronouncing her name over the years, so much that she even created a video having kids pronounce her name when she was campaigning for her senate seat in 2016.
As the kids say, it's not "CAM-EL-UH." It's not "KUH-MAL-UH." It's not "KARMEL-UH."
It's pronounced, "COMMA-LAH."
Here's another video that explains where Harris' name is derived from, and how not to pronounce it:
It's actually derived from the Sanskrit word for "lotus," and the explanation sounds gorgeous and meaningful. "The symbolism is that the lotus flower sits on water, but never really gets wet," she explained at a book event at George Washington University. "Its roots are in the mud, meaning it is grounded. One must always know where they come from."
The View host Whoopi Goldberg actually asks Kamala how to pronounce her name at the beginning of this video, after initially mispronouncing it in her introduction—but, the effort to get it right helped Kamala advocate for the right way to say it, particularly among media professionals. She also gave them the handy "comma" plus "la" mnemonic to help people remember.
Mispronunciation and questions about her name are apparently so common that Harris wrote an entire paragraph about it in The Truths We Hold, her memoir written in January 2019.
Now that we've cleared that up, learn more about the 2020 presidential candidates here.
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