Friday, August 3

Hispanic Trending: Leave your name at the border

Most people miss the fact that Hispanics do not consist of a single ethnic group. Besides that, the heritage that each one of the many nationalities represented in our immigrant population is diverse in itself. As I read Manuel Muñoz's post on his assimilation experience, I can tell you mine was nothing like his.
But I can relate to this paragraph. My niece's name is Katie Belle (Sierra).
It's intriguing to watch "American" names begin to dominate among my nieces and nephews and second cousins, as well as with the children of my hometown friends. I am not surprised to meet 5-year-old Brandon or Kaitlyn. Hardly anyone questions the incongruity of matching these names with last names like Trujillo or Zepeda. The English-only way of life partly explains the quiet erasure of cultural difference that assimilation has attempted to accomplish. A name like Kaitlyn Zepeda doesn't completely obscure her ethnicity, but the half-step of her name, as a gesture, is almost understandable.
My wife and I plan on giving our children English language names, and work to instill in them an appreciation and value for their Hispanic heritage, but I fully expect them to identify themselves as Americans, and nothing else. I know many of my Hispanic friends and associates would probably not agree with this perspective, and perhaps later on I may change my mind (or call my kids by their Spanish name equivalent, the way my parents called me by my English name equivalent).
I just don't think its a big deal either way. I'm pretty assimilated, and yet enjoy and value my heritage just fine. I am not afraid that my children will not grow up to be loyal Americans, nor am I afraid that my children will be embarrassed or ashamed of their Hispanic heritage.