‘Dear Abby’ response to question about giving babies hard to pronounce foreign names sparks outrage

“Dear Abby”columnist Jeanne Phillips is under fire after agreeing with a man who said he’s worried because his wife, born in India, wants to give their children Indian names.

The offending advice prompted a New York Times article and was shared online by Dr. Simran Jeet Singh, an educator, writer and activist.

“Dear Twitter, A famous advice columnist is telling people to whitewash their kid’s names if they want to be accepted. How should I tell her that’s wrong and racist?” he tweeted.

“Not only can foreign names be difficult to pronounce and spell, but they can also cause a child to be teased unmercifully,” Phillips wrote in her response. “Sometimes the name can be a problematic word in the English language. And one that sounds beautiful in a foreign language can be grating in English.”

The daughter of Pauline Phillips, who founded the “Dear Abby” column back in 1956, Jeanne Phillips was quickly reminded that we are now in the 21st Century.

“Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi called the column “deeply racist and problematic.”

“Names have meaning,” she tweeted. “They have history. They tell us who we are and where we come from. The first step of colonization is to erase the heritage and culture of indigenous people. Advising someone against giving their child a ‘foreign name’ is deeply racist and problematic.”

Not that everyone was in agreement with the belief that Phillip’s response was racist.

“It’s not racist to acknowledge reality; pretending otherwise is asinine. Names shift across time and across continents; acknowledging that a “unique” or “foreign” name adds a complication is a simple statement of fact, and it holds true whether in the USA or in India,” a social media user tweeted.

Another insisted that Phillips was correct: “She’s right, get over it.”

The reaction online showed that Phillips’ take on the matter reinforced the left’s myth of systemic white supremacy. Some opted to take what could have been an educational moment and used it to further divide Americans.

Here’s a sampling of the responses from Twitter:



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