'It's another form of racism': Love Island star Yewande Biala on mispronouncing someone's name

Yewande Biala - Love Island contestant
Yewande Biala was a contestant on Love Island. Credit: @yewande_biala/Instagram

By Digital Producer and Presenter Rishi Davda

Our name is a big part of who we are as people and it's often the first thing a stranger learns about us - but for some it holds an even greater significance.

Love Island star Yewande Biala, who was on the ITV2 show in 2019, says that her name is "important" and "pronouncing it correctly is key to my identity".

Writing in The Independent, the 24-year-old scientist recalled her time at school when she would 'squeeze the seat' of her chair and pray that the substitute teacher didn't 'butcher' her name.

Yewande says intentional mistakes come across as 'malicious.' Credit: @yewande_biala/Instagram

Yewande and her family moved from Nigeria to Ireland when the reality star was very young.

She is now calling out people who purposely mispronounce her name or decide that they don't want to learn how to say it correctly.

Yewande says it's a form of "microaggression" which communicates "hostile, derogatory, or negative attitudes toward stigmatised or culturally marginalised groups."

The reality star says 'dismissing certain names as “too hard” is tied to racism'. Credit: @yewande_biala/Instagram

Yewande is keen to stress that she doesn't have any issue with "unintentional mistakes, but rather with how people recover from them."

The mispronunciation and unwillingness to learn evokes a "history of dominant groups forcing new names on people of oppressed groups," according to Yewande.

She added: "Dominant groups dismissing certain names as 'too hard' is tied to racism and other forms of oppression.

"History has taught us that slaves were forced to answer to their imposed names, impelling them repeatedly to acknowledge their own subjection and powerlessness."

Many people on social media have come out in support of Yewande's views and shared their own experiences, often using the hashtag #SayMyName.

Yewande's article comes in the midst of an argument between herself and fellow Love Island contestant Lucie Donlan.

Fellow Love Island star Lucie Donlan accused Yewande of 'bullying'. Credit: @lucierosedonlan/Instagram

Lucie alleged that Yewande had bullied her during their time on the show.

Yewande denied the bullying claims and took to Twitter to try to end the ongoing spat, drawing particular attention to the times Lucie mispronounced her name.

She tweeted claims that Lucie 'refused to call me by my name' and subsequently 'stripped me of my identity'.

Yewande's decision to write an article about her name highlights her belief that we are 'living in a world where our culture and heritage were abolished in order to make others feel comfortable'.

She ends her piece, writing: "When you address me, say my name - 'Yewande' - and yes, it is important."