To Change Muslim Last Names or Not

Will it ever come as far as to Muslim changing their last names to sound less “Arab/Muslim”? Check out my latest post on The Huffington Post:


2 thoughts on “To Change Muslim Last Names or Not

  1. I am Puerto Rican, an American citizen by birth. I was born in 1952. My father served in the US Army for twenty years before he died of cancer in a military hospital in Ft Bragg, North Carolina. And yet, our name was Alarcon (pronounced like Al Larkin) for most of my life, not Alarcón (with the strong Spanish accent at the end). Because, to be Hispanic in the 50’s was still unacceptable in the great melting pot that was America. Finally, in the 80’s it became fashionable to be Hispanic in America. Gloria Estefan was all the rage, Julio Iglesias was taking America by storm, teaming up with the American heroes of the music industry and leaving a trail of devoted fans). Santana had blazed the trail in the late 60s at Woodstock, introducing America to the Afro-Cuban beats of “Jingo Ba” and “Oye ¿como va?”, mixing it with the all-American Rock n Roll. America was ready for Latin sounding names. Newscasters began introducing themselves with names pronounced in their Spanish dialect. It was now Jer-ahl-do Reevera, pronounced with a “j” not the “g” found in its spelling. America became our oyster.

    Jump forward to the 2000’s and suddenly – America is not so Latin centric anymore. The political climate that has vilified the Muslims has also turned against ALL immigrant people. And guess who is suddenly not so favored? Now I find myself forced back into the melting pot, becoming American once more. I’m not so sure I should introduce myself as Alarcón – maybe I should be Al Larkin again.

    My point: isn’t this what it has always been to be an American? We lose our ethnic identity and embrace the new culture that has invited us in. We melt into the pot. If we insist on our individuality, we may be understood as saying that we are better than those who have melted into the American way of life before us – the Irish, the German, the Swedes, the French, the Italians; the list is endless. People with foreign names that somehow now sound American.

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