If you’re here, you probably know my name is Kennetha. Go ahead, try to pronounce it if you don’t already know how.
It’s pronounced Kuh-nee-thuh. Kennetha. Almost like it’s spelled Kuhneetha. I am not complaining or crying if you pronounced it wrong. It’s basically been the story of my life.
Before I was born, I was supposed to be a Hannah. (Les was supposed to be a Scott. Hannah and Scott Hopkins. Weird.) I somehow magically became Kennetha because my dad thought it was awesome. His name is Kenneth. See the appeal? Hence the explaining began…
In Kindergarten, I had the longest name BUT I knew how to spell it already so there wasn’t some sort of identity-crisis issue. I was also consistently the teacher’s pet, so at least the teachers all knew my name by the time I got to their class. Then I went to middle school. Nobody knew me there. My life was suddenly full of Kenneth-ah, Ken-neth-ah, and a strangely lovable Konichiwa, thanks to a fellow drummer in band. (I actually liked that one. He still calls me that to this day.) By the time I got to 7th grade, teachers were finally starting to hear about me and knew my name.
Then high school. Thank goodness I had started high school band a year early and at least a good portion of the seniors knew me and could run interference. It got a lot better after my second semester. My junior year, a miracle happened. I met Les and his friends, and they christened me Neetha. It was a good day.
College was a totally different story. Nobody cared enough to know how to pronounce my name. It was a little sad. But then I started meeting people and even if the teachers didn’t know me outside class, those little groups of people could say my name! It got so much better after I started in the teaching program… people just started correcting the professors for me.
Work has always been interesting. Name tags make for great conversation starters. I also love answering phones and giving my name – the reaction of the people on the other end is always good for bringing me joy. I always get so excited when customers say it right!
I’d say the best story comes from Les at his Bible college. Everyone there was under the impression for a month that I was a woman of color. He didn’t bother to correct them – let’s just say I’m a shade beyond pasty. They were totally shocked when I showed up for my very first visit to campus and I was a little white girl! Oh, I’m rolling on the floor just thinking about it.
I’ve had a ton of nicknames. My great-grandmother called me by my middle name from the time I was born because she could never say my first name properly. Before 2003 and the birth of “Neetha”, there was Kenny. Kenny has always been sort of dear to my heart, since that is also my daddy’s nickname. People still call me this from time to time. From Kenny came Kenners, which is also very special to me. I still have one wonderful friend who stills calls me that, and she first started that almost 13 years ago! I’ve mentioned Konichiwa, which was around at approximately the same time as Cornneetha (another drumline moniker).
I’ll admit, I really hated my name for a few years just because of the trouble it brought. I’m proud to say that I came to love my name and how unique it is. Nevertheless, let me just state: my children will have short, pronounceable, gender-specific names!