My name is Maria, and for my whole life people have constantly assumed that I'm Hispanic just because I'm half black and half white. "Are you sure you're not Dominican?" Yes, I think I would know, thanks though.
Fatema Tuz-Johora Alam
My name is Fatema, which is originally an Arabic name, as well as a Muslim name, and I was named after Fatema, the daughter of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). It's a very common name worldwide, but not really in the U.S. I used to dislike my name because I was teased for it, and how it sounded like "Fat-ema", and it was an insecurity of mine when I was younger. I've gotten over that, but still taking the opportunity to #reclaimthename!
KATRINA: My father named me--he says he just liked the name, but my mother says he named me that because he thought the Russian skater Ekaterina Gordeeva was cute. GONZALES: People often assume that I'm Mexican, and crack inappropriate Mexican jokes, or assume I'm Hispanic--I'm not! The Spaniards conquered the Philippines, and made Filipinos take their last names.
My name was given to me due to my survival as a premature baby. My name means God is big, which thanks him for bringing me through this situation. I go by 'Tobi'. So if you decided to call me "Big", I would be obliged to respond. My name is in the Yoruba language, which shows the importance of possessing Nigerian heritage. Itis a reminder and testament of the miracle that is my life. My name implies that I have a thick African accent when I speak English, which is nonexistent. Frequently, people write the latter portion of my name as "Toby" instead of "Tobi", and it irks me because the last letter makes a huge difference. Even though my name is popular within the Yoruba community, in other environments, I think my name is a unique and direct acknowledgment of both my religious beliefs and my ancestral origin.
My name means "gentle breeze" in Hindi. My mom was raised a Hindu and my dad was raised a Muslim so their marriage (and my existence) is kind of taboo in our family. For my parents, "gentle breeze" and "peace" (my brother's name is Aman, which means peace in Urdu) was wishful thinking; to counteract the controversial nature of their marriage, perhaps naming their children as they did would be a self-fulfilling prophecy. To me, my name is a humorous reminder of exactly what I am not-- if anything, I am the antithesis of a gentle breeze (radicalism, feminism and leftism aren't really compatible with the connotations of a gentle breeze). Beyond that, however, "gentle breeze" is a reminder of my immediate family and our indefatigable unity.
Mia Natalia Ramirez
My parents chose my name because it's something both sides of my family can say. "Mia" and "Natalia" are pronounced the same in Spanish, English, and Croatian. People have made assumptions based on my last name that I'll look and speak a certain way. I'm half white European, half mixed race Latino, but since my last name is "Ramirez," people don't expect me to look white and 'act' white. I'm protected from a lot of negative assumptions people make about me based on my name because I am white/white passing, so I'm not "afraid" of the assumptions people make. But that's a privilege many other people don't have, and I try to be conscious of that when going through my life.
I was born in NYU Hospital, right on Madison Avenue. I owe my name to my aunt, who thought to look out the window and down at the street signs. One of the reasons love my name is because it connects me to my home; I can barely go a week without someone informing me that my name is the same as the famous avenue of NYC.
Levi Jesse Orenstein-Wolf
People always say they like my name because it either "sounds cool" or is unique. And while I agree with the latter of those two statements, I don't necessarily think that the name reflects who I am, or what I look like. In short, I have been given a name that has an extremely white, Jewish ring to it. There's nothing wrong with that, except for the fact that when people meet me they're surprised to see how far away from that I look. I don't identify with either of those identifiers because I was adopted. My name on a job application would probably come to benefit my prospects of getting that specific job, but nonetheless I don't feel as though it tells anything more about me other than the fact that those sounds are the sounds uttered in order to get my attention.
Jordan Xinling Cheng aka Hunter Shi Xin Wang Cheng
Jordan is a Hebrew name that means "downflowing." Typically, it is used for boys, but my parents named me Jordan in hopes that my heritage will flow down from me to my children. I go by Hunter because Jordan is a name from the Bible, the Jordan River. The Jordan River was used to cleanse people in the Bible, and I don't like to use it because of the biblical association, the constant reminder that I am not "clean" because of my sexual orientation and gender. My middle name is Xinling, which translates to "Soul" in English. Most transgender people change their names, and I also want to change my middle name. The association I have with it is negative, and I want to choose a different name, like Shi Xin Wang, which translates to Lionheart. Lionheart is the name of an English king, Richard the Lionheart, and it reminds me to be brave no matter what might happen to me because of what I am.
My name is a mouthful. I've always felt embarrassed when people couldn't pronounce my last name, even more so because I'd have to explain that I'm half Chinese, which is where Beh comes from. Then, they usually ask if I can speak Mandarin, which I can't. Not being able to speak Mandarin means that I can't pronounce my own Mandarin name, which makes me feel as if I don't deserve my name.
Thipoke Plai Ravangpal
Thipoke means born to be a leader. Plai means the end, because I was the last child in my immediate family. Ravangpal means to be wary of evil. All Thai people have a first name and a nickname. My nickname is Plai, but it's not on my actual birth certificate. Even though it has no legal legitimacy, I have barely ever thought of myself as Thipoke. I used to go only by Thipoke when I was younger, but switched to Plai when I was in 4th grade. From then until just a few years ago, I was embarrassed of my first name, as nobody could pronounce it correctly and people always made references to thigh poking. I've grown comfortable with it again though, it's part of my heritage and part of who I am.
I am named after a character Kira from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. My parents are big Star Trek nerds and admired her for her bravery and kindness. They changed Kira to Kyra because they preferred that spelling but kept the pronunciation key-ra instead of kie-ra.
My parents chose my name because I was born 9 days after the death of my grandfather. I have the same initials as him (SHB). My name is really meaningful to me because when I think of the origins of my name I think of my pop pop's spirit and his enthusiasm. This drives me everyday and while I'm upset that I couldn't meet him, I try to capture his enthusiasm.
I was named after my paternal grandmother, Carmen Amelia Silva Betancourt. When I was little, my nickname was Amy. I didn't like Amelia because of the Amelia Bedilia books. Also, back in the 70's, Amelia wasn't too common. Amy was quick and easy and I went by it for about 20 years. Then, I finally started enjoying the sound of my name and I went by Amelia.
Ailie Judith McGregor Strauss
My name is Ailie but it's originally spelled Eilidh, which is Scottish Gaelic (my mom immigrated from Scotland). My parents gave me the middle name Judith to honor my paternal grandmother and the Jewish tradition of naming someone who's passed away. My second middle name, McGregor, is my maternal grandmother's maiden name. McGregors are descendants of the Scottish MacGregor Clan, which is known to have existed as early as the 800s.
I had always assumed that my parents named me after the angel Gabriel, and because I'm not very religious, I preferred to be called by my nickname, Gaby. Names based in religion often come with negative connotations, and I was self-conscious about the assumptions people might make. But last year, I was talking to my mom about her favorite writers, and I discovered that she had actually named me after renowned Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Since learning this, I have grown more comfortable with my full name because it feels more personal.
When I got my first job out of college they asked me what I would like printed on my business cards and I said 'Joe Napolitano'. I gave my father one of the cards and he asked why I "changed" my name. I didn't see it in the same way. I look back and think it was one of the first times as an adult where I was identifying myself and connecting to my name.
Sean Anthony Dunnsue
My first name is Irish, representing my heritage stemming from my mother's side. My middle name, Anthony, comes from my father's father, and I feel helps to account for my Asian roots. I like to think that my last name, Dunnsue, serves to unite those two aspects of my culture, as it is a compound name from my mother (Dunn) and father (Sue). My parents' choice not to use a hyphen brings together my diverse backgrounds more seamlessly. My name does not belong to one side of my family or another, but belongs to me.
Aviva is Hebrew for "Spring," so naturally everyone I meet is confused -- am I adopted? part Asian? Jewish? The truth is none of those choices apply to me.
My name is my identity. I love my name not only because my parents gave it to me but also because of what it means - a lotus flower. I identify with the lotus flower also because it is a symbol of peace and purity.
My last name is Pong, but it's actually supposed to be Yee. When my great grandfather arrived at Angel Island, the immigration officer did not know that in Chinese you say your last name first. Therefore, when my great grandfather said his name was Yee Kay Pong, we became Pongs. We have not changed it back because it reminds us of our family history.
Shamsa Christmas Derrick
Shamsa is a Swahili name that means sunshine or sunlight. People have a really difficult time pronouncing it and spelling it, even though it seems like two simple syllables to me. Introductions often include a "where are you from?!" Or "that's a cool name!" I can often tell that my name is next on an attendance list by the hesitant fear on a teacher's face. Christmas is my mother's maiden name, and we have traced it all the way back to slavery. It makes for a good fun fact during two truths and a lie.
My name is Italian and means "blonde" or "golden". No one in my family has the same name as me, and my parents chose it because it's really uncommon even in Italy and fairly easy to pronounce compared to other Italian names. When I was a child, I didn't really like my name and preferred more traditional ones, but as I grew older, I began to appreciate its uniqueness more and more and I really enjoy telling people about its origins.
I was named after President Reagan because he helped to improve Eastern Europe/Western relations and my parents liked that. My last name was changed from Baluti to Balutiu due to a clerical mistake that happened three generations ago.
When my parents got married, they made a deal in which my dad would name the boys and my mom would name the girls. After having three boys already, my mom was pretty frustrated by the time I was born and decided to name me. My first name Robert is based off her grandmother's name Rebecca and my middle name Gabriel was the name of her grandmother's brother.
When I was a child, I was mildly annoyed that my official Chinese name had so many strokes. When taking an exam, other kids with simpler names could get started faster. The older I get, the more affection I feel for my Chinese name, because it is my parents' gift to me, their hope that I will be wise and at peace.
Although everyone knows me as Sammi, my mom reminds me that’s not my name about every time I introduce myself. My grandparents named me Samragyee, which means empress in Bengali and although I love the meaning, I hated that my name was weirdly lopsided and clunky. But I guess it wasn’t only me that thought that because my 4th grade teacher didn’t even try to pronounce it the first time and said instead, "Hmm, let's go with Sammy instead."
When I was younger I hated the spelling of the name Lynda because it was different from all of the girls who spelled Linda with an "i" . I wanted to be like everyone else. Some of my friends would tease me and change the pronunciation of my name because of the "y". Today, what I like most about my name is the different spelling because it makes me feel like an individual.