Yale lecturer suggests America is racist because Nikki Haley doesn't go by first name

A Yale lecturer and CNN analyst drew backlash after suggesting America is racist because Nikki Haley does not go by her first name, Nimarata.

The comment came after Haley said at the Republican National Convention that "America is not a racist country."

A Yale University lecturer suggested Monday night that America is racist, citing the fact that former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley goes by “Nikki,” rather than her birth name, Nimarata Nikki Randhawa.

Asha Rangappa, who is both a CNN analyst and lecturer at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, criticized Haley for claiming that the United States is not a “racist” country during her speech at the Republican National Convention. Haley, who told her family story during her RNC speech, lauded America for the opportunities it afforded her family.

”In much of the Democratic Party, it’s now fashionable to say that America is racist. That is a lie. America is not a racist country,” explained Haley. “This is personal for me. I am the proud daughter of Indian immigrants. They came to America and settled in a small Southern town. My father wore a turban. My mother wore a sari. I was a Brown girl in a Black and White world.”

Rangappa took issue with Haley’s statement that America is not racist, suggesting that because Haley goes by the name “Nikki” instead of her legal first name, Nimarata, America must be racist.


Saagar Enjeti, a commentator at The Hill, pointed out that “Nikki” is indeed a Punjabi name.


Enjeti pointed out that Rangappa also goes by her middle name, rather than her first name.


In 2018, Haley confirmed that the name “Nikki” is on her birth certificate.

“I was born Nimarata Nikki Randhawa and married Michael Haley,” she explained

Interestingly, Rangappa’s initial spelling of Haley’s first name was incorrect, according to Haley’s spelling of her own name.

On Wednesday, Rangappa took to Twitter once again, saying that “the idea that some (but not all!) Indians are really ‘white’ is not new. Unfortunately, this claim has a very ugly history of and association with -- wait for it -- racism, both in India and the U.S., which Nikki Haley, of all people, should know.” 

”So Nikki can identify as whatever she wants -- it’s her business. But in doing so, she should at the very least acknowledge that in doing so, she is invoking a trope that helped create the very racism -- in her parents [sic] homeland and her own -- that she now denies even exists,” Rangappa added.

Rangappa was not the only one to draw criticism over her response to Haley. 

South Asians for Biden tweeted, “If America isn’t racist, why did Nimarata Haley feel compelled to change her name to ‘Nikki’? Maybe just the Republican Party is?” The group added “#PhonyNikki.” 

The group later deleted the tweet, saying it regretted the “tone” of the message.


Campus Reform reached out to Nikki Haley’s advocacy group, Stand for America, as well as Yale’s Jackson Institute, for comment but received no response in time for publication. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft