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Naga Munchetty, 45, revealed there was a point in her life where she almost changed her name. Recalling pinnacle events in her childhood where her parents would try and “play down” their cultural differences, Naga revealed she went by an English name for some time.
There was a point where I was going to change my name. I’m glad I haven’t
The BBC Breakfast presenter was born in south London in 1975.
Her mother is Indian and her father is Mauritian, and both are nurses working for the NHS.
Recently her father had to step down from his job working in a care home as the coronavirus pandemic threatened his health.
During a recent interview with The Guardian, she looked back on her childhood growing up in a multicultural household.
She told of a time where she heard her mother use an English name to describe herself when showing around potential buyers of their house in Peckham.
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Going by the name of Michelle, Naga remembered she challenged her mum at the time.
“I was eight or nine, and I said ‘Your name’s not Michelle, it’s Muthu.'”, she recalled.
But the reason behind it is all the more saddening.
“It’s because they were given English names by people who couldn’t pronounce or wouldn’t try to learn how to pronounce their names,” she explained.
“So my dad became David and my mum became Michelle at work. That upset me.”
Naga herself went by the name of Nadia for a while.
She said: “There was a point where I was going to change my name.
“I’m glad I haven’t. I feel kind of sad that I spent so much time agonising over it.”
But she remembered her mother’s exceptional efforts to make sure they all “fit in”.
“We’d come home [from school] and we’d have tea – egg and chips, something like that – and then at 9pm we’d have an Indian dinner,” Naga said.
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The TV presenter described how her mum was “obsessed” with making sure the back door stayed open while they were at home.
“She would make us change out of our uniforms – she did not want us to be those Asian kids who smelled of curry.
She added: “We fitted in as much as possible.”
It wasn’t too long ago that Naga was accused of breaching BBC guidelines for standing up against President Donald Trump’s comments.
In a series of tweets, he suggested four US Congresswomen to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
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The complaint against Naga was later overturned.
While covering the story on Breakfast, she said: “Every time I have been told, as a woman of colour, to go back to where I came from, that was embedded in racism.
“I’m not accusing anyone of anything here, but you know what certain phrases mean.
“Furious. Absolutely furious and I can imagine lots of people in this country will be feeling absolutely furious a man in that position thinks it’s OK to skirt the lines by using language like that.”
BBC Breakfast airs weekdays at 6am on BBC One.
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