Addressing thousands of supporters at a campaign rally in Georgia for US President Donald Trump on Friday, Republican Senator David Perdue mocked Democratic vice president nominee Kamala Harris for her name.
“KAH-mah-lah? Kah-MAH-lah? Kamala-mala-mala?! I don’t know, whatever,” the senator said about Harris, the first Black and South Asian American woman to be a vice-presidential candidate in the US. The audience laughed at the repeated mispronunciation.
A day later, a spokesperson for Perdue tweeted that the first-term senator “didn’t mean anything by it”. But his taunts sparked an intense flood of criticism of the senator, who is running for re-election this year.
By Saturday, scores of people of colour in the US – particularly Indian Americans – had taken to Twitter, condemning Perdue’s remark. with the hashtag #MyNameIs. According to The Hindu, Amit Jani, the Joe Biden campaign’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Outreach Coordinator, launched the online campaign to “push back against the bigotry”.
As they expressed their support for the Democratic ticket, South Asian Twitter users explained the meaning of their own names.