A girl named Ananya Vinay (yes, she happens to be Indian American and yes, that’s ten years in a row, fam) won the Scripps National Spelling Bee and in her CNN appearance after the fact, the anchors made her spell covfefe — an internet meme we’re all familiar with as adults who live on the internet but that a poor 12-year-old who just WON THE SPELLING BEE likely doesn’t know about at all — ostensibly just to mock her for comedic value.
— CNN (@CNN) June 2, 2017
When she asks for the definition, language of origin, and part of speech, they keep the prank going and eventually tell her to stop stalling. Stop stalling from spelling a word that doesn’t exist that you’re forcing her to spell because you think it will be good for your social media presence. This is such a horrible way to tease a young woman — when Beejoli first sent this to me I actually didn’t believe her because it’s such a cruel thing to do to a kid — and I can’t believe they opted to make a stupid, mean joke instead of letting Vinay have her moment OF GLORY because she just won the national Spelling Bee.
Okay, so are you angry enough? It gets worse because then anchor Alisyn Camerota (who has yet to apologize) goes, “…again, it’s a nonsense word, so we’re not sure that its root is actually in Sanskrit, which is probably what you’re used to using.” The anchor literally insinuated on air — on CNN! an actual recognized source of news that people rely on! — that Vinay is probably used to Sanskrit because she’s Indian. SHE’S FROM FRESNO.
She just was handed a trophy the size of her torso because she beat out thousands of kids from across the country (that’s America, if you forgot) for accurately spelling words in English and you’re reducing her to a basically dead language that it’s extremely unlikely she’s been exposed to at all except in the root of words like bandana and cheetah, and maybe some mantras or prayers if she happens to come from such a background. Can we not use the spelling bee to set America back 20 years?
Awful racism aside, Sanskrit words, while sure, yes, are often longer than English words, are much easier to sound out and spell because the language is so phonetic. There aren’t weird tricks like silent g’s and i’s-before-e’s — what you see is what you get, so if you take the time to look at a word you can usually figure out how to say it. Maybe slow down and take some time to pay attention to other cultures instead of teasing a poor kid on national television.
The worst part is that Vinay probably felt embarrassed or frustrated in the moment but didn’t know why or how to react, and this could be something that will stay with her forever when it should have been a time for her to be celebrated. Ananya: you’re awesome. I’m sorry people are terrible.
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