When Irma Herrera gives her name its correct Spanish pronunciation, people sometimes assume she’s a foreigner – never mind that the native English-speaker’s family has been in South Texas for generations, or that she is an award-winning social justice activista, lawyer, and journalist.
Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name? is one woman’s journey from a small segregated South Texas town to California’s multicultural mecca.
"It has a lot of things from Alice," Herrera said.
Herrera said the play keeps the audience laughing and many people can relate to the show.
"All we are doing is being ourselves," she said.
What part of Irma’s identity is she asked to give up for the sake of fitting in and getting along? How can a simple introduction turn into a potential battle to be heard and seen? Weaving history and comedic insights into stories about names, this solo performer invites us to consider how open and welcoming we really are.
Herrera, born and raised in Alice, Texas and is a San Francisco Bay Area-based writer and solo performer. Irma’s writing, including her solo play, Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name, explore themes of identity and the many ways in which ethnic and racial group members claim their rightful place in the United States, while maintaining cultural and linguistic ties to their communities of origin.
"It's not an issue for just Latinos," she said. "Our names are really important."
Beyond her three decades as a lawyer, she has also worked as a free-lance journalist and on staff with New America Media.
A proud feminista she was the Executive Director of Equal Rights Advocates, a San Francisco-based legal organization advancing the interests of women and girls, for 15 years. Irma started her legal career representing Spanish-speaking farmworkers in Washington State’s Yakima Valley prior to joining The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund’s San Francisco office. She also spent several years working in a corporate law firm.
The one-woman play is on Friday, July 21 at 8 p.m. at the Guadalupe Theater in San Antonio. Tickets range from $10 to $20.
"Why do we disrespect people from just our names," Herrera said. "They want you to conform to English names, but why should we."