How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Dropping the 'Americanized' nickname

Photo by broken thoughts/Flickr (Creative Commons)


I've been catching up on my reading after a few busy days in Florida spent at the National Association of Hispanic Journalists convention, and among the great items I've sifted through is an interesting post on WAMU’s DCentric blog about ‘Americanized’ nicknames.

These are the first names that some immigrants and children of immigrants adopt, at least temporarily, to help them navigate mainstream America, the Henrys that take the place of Enrique, the Marys that replace Maria, the Western first names that replace Asian ones.

As adults, some people drop these and reclaim their given names - and DCentric blogger Elahe Izadi is among those who has done it.

In the post, she mentions the story of Fawaz Ismail, a Palestinian American recently featured in a Washington Post series on American Muslims enduring the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Growing up in Texas, Ismail was known to his friends as Tony. But in the wake of the anti-Muslim backlash that followed the attacks, he went back to Fawaz.

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