If you’ve used Microsoft Word, you’re probably familiar with the squiggly red underline that denotes spelling mistakes.
It can be a helpful tool that prevents embarrassing mistakes from finding their way into final documents. However, for people with non-Anglicized names, the red underline can be a jarring experience.
“It makes them feel like they don’t belong,” said Barbara Lee, founder and president of the Vancouver Asian Film Festival and Elimin8Hate — an anti-racism advocacy arm of the VAFF. “It makes them feel like they’re not a part of the greater community, that they’re a mistake.”
Elimi8Hate estimates that over 60 per cent of people who change their names to something more anglicized do so because of racism. In response, they developed a program encouraging Asian Canadians to reclaim their names. One of the latest initiatives is a downloadable dictionary of over 8,000 names and monikers from over a dozen Asian countries.
The dictionary is free to install and within minutes of downloading, will eliminate any trace of a red underline beneath names included. Lee said the dictionary is not an exhaustive list and more names are being added on a regular basis.
Elimin8Hate is calling on businesses, organizations, governments, schools and other stakeholders to download the dictionary to reinforce that non-Anglicized names are not a mistake.