the original kStyle blog.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

What's in a Name?

"Maria" was briefly in the running for my first name. It was rejected on account of my last name: they almost rhyme and, together, the name would be too ethnic. I was to have a whole set of English-Irish-French genes in addition to my Portuguese ones, and moreover, my parents wanted to steer my life clear of discrimination.

When I became interested in my mysterious Portuguese heritage, in these people with their olive complexions and "sh" sounds ending words, I rather coveted the name Maria. I don't look especially Portuguese--my coloring hails mostly from the maternal side--and I felt like a pretender. In Portuguese class I took the name "Mena," the cute shortened form of "Filomena", a rather stuffy name we learned was my grandmother's given name only upon looking at government papers after she died. The woman who lived as Pheobe died, strangely, as Filomena.

The worry of anti-Portuguese discrimination isn't an issue now, the way it was in my grandparents' and maybe my parents' time. But now I find myself living in an area with many newly arrived Brazilians, generally a nice, upstanding group of people. The locals, for some unfathomable reason, often take issue with the influx of our neighbors from Brazil. I find myself understanding my folks' point about discrimination--a Portuguese name is easily a Brazilian name--and, as I'm applying for jobs, I'm very glad that my name isn't Maria.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home