Another entitled white US professor is “winning friends and influencing people,” this time demanding that a Vietnamese student anglicize her name because he finds it offensive. (Above is a screenshot of an email exchange between professor and student.) Why? Two reasons: 1) It’s easier than learning to pronounce the student’s name and even learning what it means; and 2) because he thinks he has the power to force her to accommodate him.
The professor Matthew Hubbard added, “Your name in English sounds like Fk Boy. If I lived i Vietnam and my name in your language sounded like Eat a Dk, I would change it to avoid embarrassment both on my part and on the part of the people who had to say it,”
Unfortunately for him and those who are like-minded but fortunately for the rest of the world, times are a-changin’ in the US. As Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, posted on Facebook, “If names like Trump and Schwarzenegger and Obama and Kissinger have become American names, then all our Vietnamese names–including Phuc Bui–can be American names, too.”
Learning to pronounce a person’s name is a sign of respect, a quality that is obviously missing from Matthew Hubbard’s social skills repertoire. The good news is that people like Hubbard can’t get away with this kind of discrimination. There’s too much on- and offline pushback.
Hubbard was placed on administrative leave by his employer, Laney College in Oakland, CA. This should give him time to reflect on what he did and said, and compose his apology. My guess is that he will say “I’m so sorry” not from the heart but because his only other choice is too unpalatable to contemplate.
This incident was reported in the Vietnamese media and discussed on social media shortly after the story appeared in the US media.
Postscript: Be sure to drop Matthew Hubbard a line and tell him what you really think: firstname.lastname@example.org
Shalom (שלום), MAA