Asian-Americans prompted to change name for “American” friendliness

May 12, 2009 — by Sulmaan Hassan

At the crux of America is its plethora of cultural diversity that is sometimes referred to as a “melting pot” or “salad bowl.” However, surprisingly (or, perhaps,not so surprisingly), Texans of Chinese descent were recently faced with a dilemma that utterly contradicts this foundation of coexistent acceptance. These citizens were turned away from the polls because the names on their IDs did not correspond with those on the incompetently assembled voter lists.

In an attempt to propose a solution, Texas State Rep. Betty Brown proposed that Chinese -Americans should legally alter their names so that “Americans” can manage them better. According to Brown, if these people don’t classify as “Americans,” then why should they get to vote?

Many celebrities have given their kids profound names such as “Apple,” “Pilot Inspector” and “Bronx Mowgli” for the sole purpose of differentiating them and drawing attention to their individuality. Native Chinese names are also different from stereotypical American names and deserve the same respect.

If the government is seeking to discriminate and single out just one group of people to change their names, then there should be an all-encompassing law requiring all ethnic groups to change their names. Sound ridiculous? It’s the next logical step in Brown’s argument.

Instead, the government needs to make a standard for non-standard people’s names. The problem that these Chinese-Americans encountered was that their transliterated names that appeared on the voting rolls were different than their adopted names used for ease in communication with society. To solve this problem, government workers should be trained to properly transliterate names so immigrants, who are unfamiliar with the standards of America, do not just make up their own spellings and cause confusion.

Government officials need to either grow a brain or stop being ignorant and insensitive to foreign cultures, since their ineptitude is affecting the lives of citizens of various ethnic groups and is going against much of what this nation stands for.