City of Brass

City of Brass


Asian American names are “too hard to deal with”

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This is probably more worthy of mockery than scorn:

A North Texas legislator during House testimony on voter identification
legislation said Asian-descent voters should adopt names that are
“easier for Americans to deal with.

The exchange
occurred late Tuesday as the House Elections Committee heard testimony
from Ramey Ko, a representative of the Organization of Chinese
Americans.

Ko told the
committee that people of Chinese, Japanese and Korean descent often
have problems voting and other forms of identification because they may
have a legal transliterated name and then a common English name that is
used on their driver’s license on school registrations.

Brown suggested that Asian-Americans should find a way to make their names more accessible.

“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?”
Brown said.

Brown later told
Ko: “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?”

God forbid that Americans learn someone’s name. No, if your name is too ethnic, then it’s your responsibility to make it simpler, i.e. less Asian. What is particularly ignorant here is that the whole point of the confusion that Ko alluded to is that Chinese and other oriental immigrants often do adopt english names in public to make things easier – my childhood Korean friend (citizen born in the US just like myself) Yongsuk goes by Dave, for example. Other asian friends and acquaintances of mine are James, Johnny, Phil, even a Rosemarie. The problem arises not because the legal, transliterated name is too complicated, it’s because new and/or elderly immigrants might get confused by the process because it is sometimes unclear what name to use. The desire is to have their vote expressed and counted; it’s easy to see why someone might be worried that if they used their real name, then no one mihgt know who they are, because everyone calls them Jim. It’s a matter of voter education and some effort at simplifying the registration process to accomodate this pootential confusion so no citizen – especially an immigrant – is excluded from this basic democratic function.

However we desis, admittedly, are pretty stubbborn about insisting on our full names in all their glory. So in the spirit of compromise, I am doing my part. Henceforth I will be known as Osbourne Piszczatowski.  Call me Ozzie P for short.



  • jestrfyl

    If we can survive with Polish names intact, then learning a few new names from other cultures should not be a great problem. Brown has betrayed his own laziness, and not a problem for the rest of the nation. Perhaps we should begin to adopt names based on the “Got’cha” secirity devices below!

  • http://phelps.donotremove.net Phelps

    Actually, shortened names are pretty common in Texas. I know several people whose families immigrated from Czech and German areas, and either shortened or anglicized their names. I also know several recent Vietnamese immigrants who wanted to take “American” names when they were naturalized. (One was my best friend in grade school. “Lemme get this straight… you don’t like “Kim” because you think it is too Asian, but ‘Mike’ is ok?” But, not my call, I’ll call you whatever you want to reasonably be named.)
    I think his remarks are crude and ignorant, but it isn’t like he is suggesting something radical for these parts.

  • GT

    I don’t see it as particularly racist myself. We’ve done the same thing in the past to unarguably white populations too.
    For example, I’ve been assured by one fellow, who’s last name is Loudermilk [no I'm not kidding], that his family name was something nearly incomprehensible to Americans when his family immigrated in the 1800’s.
    Now his last name is meerly funny.
    I’ve had Asians mangle my real name often enough and, got slapped one time with ‘nephew’ in their language instead. My only issue with it then was I couldn’t say the word they called me ^_^”

  • nahamee rasheedhia

    i think you should keep who you and and stand strong i dont let society deidate who you are or who you should become inshahallah (swt) ameen

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DotComGuy Aamer Jamali

    Wasn’t Texas also the home of Dotcom Guy? Wonder what he would say about that?

  • Your Name

    The Grand ‘Ol Party. Gotta love ‘em.

  • http://name TJJ

    My name has been pronounced with a D, or a P, but never correctly with a T, and it is so simple – just read is as it shows – Tasneem.

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