Naming Babies “Ethnic” Names

You know what I find curious? Why do Asian families tend to name their kids mainstream “American” names while Indian/Pakistani (I use both because I can’t tell just by looking at a person whether or not they’re Indian or Pakistani) families tend to name their kids traditional “Indian/Pakistani” names? And not only do Asian families name their kids (what Hapa Papa calls) “white” names, they go for the trendiest, “elite” names (eg: McKenna, Mason, etc.).

I am pretty sure my parents named my brother and I with American names because they wanted us to assimilate (to a degree) and not stand out. We also had Chinese names and it was no big deal. I think that is part of what makes it so interesting to me to see I/P kids with their “Real” names. Not that my Chinese name is “Realer” than my American name. (I would actually say it’s the other way around!) I just assumed that I/P folks would have two names. Funny how our culture totally colors how we interpret things.

In a related vein, I am most impressed when I see I/P men and women wear their traditional clothing like it’s normal. I mean, of course it’s normal – but at the same time, it’s not in America. But it pleases me. I wonder if it’s because I/P folks come from a place that is already used to mixing Western and Eastern cultures, and that they are used to white people (due to being former colonies) being around and still being the dominant culture.

I don’t think there is any “traditional” Taiwanese/Chinese clothing that folks wear on a regular basis anymore. It does make me slightly sad, but at the same time, not really. It is just different.

Any I/P folks want to enlighten me? I would really appreciate your thoughts on the matter.

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3 thoughts on “Naming Babies “Ethnic” Names

  1. Clearly I cannot offer anything different. My parents did give us all mainstream Anglo names to make it “easier” on us –living in at that time small city with a German-Mennonite base /history in Ontario. But we’re glad they gave us Chinese middle names.

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