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What’s in a name? Beneath the anglicized names people of color adopt




Kelly Marie Tran arrives for the 90th Annual Academy Awards on March 4, 2018, in Hollywood, California. Tran recently wrote a piece for the New York Times in which she references her birth name, Loan, and her struggle with identity.
Kelly Marie Tran arrives for the 90th Annual Academy Awards on March 4, 2018, in Hollywood, California. Tran recently wrote a piece for the New York Times in which she references her birth name, Loan, and her struggle with identity.
ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images

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Last week, “Star Wars” actress Kelly Marie Tran wrote a piece in the New York Times about how racist comments directed at her on Instagram led her to delete her old posts and leave the platform.

She quoted being called “Ching Chong,” and other racially demeaning names. In addition to writing about the hurt of being ridiculed for being Vietnamese-American, Tran shared her challenges over how best to express her identity.

Tran wrote that her real first name is Loan, and that using an anglicized name left her “aching to the core.” She described it as a “literal erasure of culture.”

The choice of a name is one many immigrants to America have dealt with for more than a century. Parents struggle with whether it’s better to choose a child’s name from one’s country of origin, despite potential mispronunciations or ethnic stereotyping, or whether it’s in the child’s interest to use a name more common in the US.

If you were given, or chose for yourself, an anglicized name, have your feelings about your name changed over time? If you have a name from your family’s country of origin, do you ever wish you would’ve anglicized it so people don’t mispronounce it or keep asking you how to pronounce it? Did you change your name to one that’s traditional in your ancestral culture as a way of better connecting to your family’s culture? What consideration did you give to this in choosing your child’s name?