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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Let's All Change Our Names to Betty Brown

I just read an article about a North Texas legislator who suggested Asian-descent voters should adopt names that are “easier for Americans to deal with.”

“Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese — I understand it’s a rather difficult language — do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?” Betty Brown said.

Brown adds: “Can’t you see that this is something that would make it a lot easier for you and the people who are poll workers if you could adopt a name just for identification purposes that’s easier for Americans to deal with?”

Apparently, Ms. Betty Brown thinks it's too difficult to say Asian names, especially those of Chinese, Korean and Japanese background and her hands are tied to create a system that's not going to screw up her voting identification program. We all run into situations where names are difficult to pronounce but the thought of blatantly disrespecting other cultures, to ask that they disown the name they were given at birth takes us backwards as Americans. As an Asian American, it saddens me that ignorance like this continue to exist. Ms. Brown desperately needs media training in multicultural communications.

Link to the article:



Anonymous said...

There was a time when people who immigrated here wanted to become "Americans" as quickly as possible. To do so they changed their last name to one that was American. Many of the common American names today are abbreviated or distorted versions of their European originals. Where to you think all those Smiths and Jones came some anyway? Today it seems that many of the people coming to America want it to change to suit them. In some places they print elections ballots in over 20 different languages. I see Brown’s point and to an extent I agree with it. Is changing a last name to fit in better with your neighbors all that bad? It doesn’t change the person. Our founders chose to call it he United States for a good reason.

Anonymous said...


While I appreciate your perspective it denies the one thing that has made America so rich, flexible and successful - our diversity. In the 20s, fearful white cultures (did I hear any one say minutemen) passed laws denying non-Europeans to own land, marry, use public services. Is it any wonder that immigrants might change their name. Hopefully we've evolved and realized that the richness of America is not in our similiarity but in our diversity. This is nation is remarkable not because of the Smiths and Jones, but because of Kolzowzkis, O'Learys, Lees, Moons, Felixs and, yes, even the Obamas. What fools we would be to try and hide that richness behind a facade of Jenny Jones, Sandy Smiths and Betty Brown!