The legendary American showman P T Barnum once famously said: “I don’t give a damn what you say about me as long as you spell my name right.” Which brings us to Tahlea Aualiitia: an alleged journalist and, it seems, attention-seeker who as a victim of our times laments “The last person I had to correct for the misspelling of my name was someone from my own employer.”
“I was invited to join a panel on representation in pop culture by the ABC News Channel earlier this month, and because the name super (the strap with my name at the bottom of the screen) was added during production, I wasn’t aware my name was spelled incorrectly until after the interview had finished and I was informed by my family and friends.
Typos happen and I understand how a slip of the finger on the keyboard turned my surname from Aualiitia into Auakiitia.”
Ah, like a beer fart through silk, her forgiveness. How refreshing. An apology was forthcoming, too, so I’m sure we’re all ready to move on….
“But while it was the first time I had done a TV interview, it wasn’t the first time I had seen my name spelled wrong in the media.”
Scratch that. Incoming.
“Just a month ago, my name was spelled incorrectly by a producer in my own department, the Asia Pacific Newsroom.”
Yes, another misspelling of a phonetically unobvious Samoan name. That’s two whole times. A scarring experience, it would seem, one that “can have big impacts among communities that often don’t see themselves reflected in the media.”
“I knew I had to call them out. It’s no coincidence I’m speaking up about this during the latest wave of the Black Lives Matter movement….”
Ahh…the sweet chirpings of the young and enraged. Just enough understanding to accurately point out the failings of the establishment left but experience anemic and lacking sophistication.
“It’s hard to explain what racism feels like to someone who has never experienced it.For me, it feels like walking around with a big target hanging around my neck. You don’t know where the next attack — verbal, physical or systemic — might come from, and lived experience means you know it has to do with the colour of your skin.”
Systemic name misspelling. It’s a thing now. A racist attack. And when you’re on a public platform like national TV or social media, it feels like that target triples in size. A sense of proportion is not, I fear, Ms Aualiitia’s strong suit. We’re then informed, pointedly, that some people can be obnoxious on Twitter. Oh My!
As grounds for a drama of racial victimhood, it all seems a little unsteady, not entirely load-bearing. But apparently, we’re to believe that two occasions of an incorrectly spelled name constitute racial oppression – systemic racial oppression – and a basis for public weeping and some kind of corrective activity.
Perhaps she takes inspiration from artist Kira Puru who wrote a clause in her contract stating that her appearance fee doubles if they misspell her name, after two Australian music festivals spelled her name wrong in promotion material in 2018.
Such is the fearlessness of our heroine in her ongoing fight against racial bigotry.
“There are countless times where the POC talent I’ve met have audibly exhaled in relief when they saw that me, a brown woman, was the one interviewing them.”
And White People are fragile?
I’ll just leave that there, I think.