It’s probable that, like most other Bachelor Nation alums, Tahzjuan Hawkins agreed to be on Bachelor in Paradise to make a name for herself—but, somehow, her name caused quite the stir.
The 25-year-old business development associate was first
indoctrinated introduced into Bachelor Nation on Colton Underwood’s season of The Bachelor, where she received little to no air time and was sent home on the first night. So it was a surprise to Bachelor in Paradise viewers and contestants when Tahzjuan walked onto the beach for Season 6. Almost immediately, the Houston native made a beeline for John Paul Jones, who has, inexplicably, become a hot commodity in recent episodes. What followed was a whole lot of nonsense, including Tahzjuan incessantly complaining about the heat while on a Mexican beach in the summer, classifying people into categories of birds and screaming at the ocean. However, there was one moment in Tahzjuan’s series of unfortunate events that felt all too familiar.
Tahzjuan isn’t exactly a common name, which is especially obvious amid the Amandas, Hannahs and Laurens of Bachelor Nation. Trust, I get it. But I am also over how people treat and respond to people with uncommon names. We’ve had this discussion over and over and over, and yet it still doesn’t seem to stick. Yup, I’m looking at you, John Paul Jones.
To kick off their date, John Paul Jones raised a glass toast his first “Tahzjuan-on-one,” following Tahzjuan’s tendency to make puns out of her name. It’s how she introduced herself to Colton, saying, “I hope I’m the Tahzjuan for you,” and the Paradise producers followed suit, giving her a date card that read “Pick the Tahzjuan that you want.” Been there. I still introduce myself as “Ishani—it’s like Ashanti, but not.” For me, simplifying my name in a way that eased people’s immediate panic when they were presented with a collection of letters they weren’t familiar with was a survival tactic. It made meeting new people less stressful. It made me feel like, after years of people misspelling or mispronouncing my name, I could be in on the joke. It helped me regain power over how people referred to me and thereby, in a way, how they saw me. Hearing Tahzjuan create puns out of her name felt immediately familiar as a way to both stand out and control the narrative. (Numerous people on social media mocked Tahzjuan’s name and commented on its spelling, and some of the top Bachelor in Paradise Google searches in the U.S. and Canada immediately after the episode aired were “tajuan” and “tashwan.”)
— Kim Snowden (@KimSnowden73) August 27, 2019
What really got me, though, was when John Paul Jones pried a lil further and asked Tahzjuan for the “epytomology” of her name, by which he meant the etymology or the origin. It just seemed like a fancy way of asking the age-old question “Where are you from?” Tahzjuan explained that she was originally named Tahj and her father’s name is Juan, and eventually the two names got combined. That story, however, wasn’t the answer that JPJ was looking for, so he prodded a bit further. “Is that associated with a specific country?” he asked. There it is.
“How do I ask where the name Tahzjuan came from without sounding…you know…racist?” – JPJ, in his mind #BachelorInParadise
— Nathan Scoggins (@NateScoggins) August 27, 2019
JPJ definitely appeared to be a little sauced on this date, and Tahzjuan said her share of seriously questionable things, but I felt for her in this moment. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been asked what my name means, and, TBH, I still don’t know the exact answer. It’s just my name. It means me. Honestly, John Paul Jones has an unusual name, but you don’t see people approaching him and asking “John? Paul? What’s the meaning behind those names? Where did they originate?”
It may seem like a small thing, particularly since Tahzjuan’s name does stand out among other Bachelor Nation contestants, but questions like these only serve to position particular individuals as “other.” It emphasizes that she is different or not “normal” in a way that doesn’t apply to contestants like John Paul Jones. When Tahzjuan responded, saying that the name Juan is typically associated with Mexico, John Paul Jones proceeds to laugh like a deranged dolphin. “Oh, my name is John. The Spanish name for John is Juan. This is so funny,” he giggled while Tahzjuan kinda-sorta laughed along.
I felt for her in this moment. Having people laugh at your name, or aspects of it, feels like shit. I get that JPJ likely meant no harm by it, and maybe felt that he was laughing at the scenario of being on a date with someone with a somewhat matching name to his, but it still felt all kinds of icky.
In her short time on Bachelor in Paradise, Tahzjuan did a lot of things worth questioning, but having a name that is somewhat different isn’t one of them.