Hello, My Name is _____

By Grace Martin, Blog Staff

When you first saw my blog post, you probably didn’t have trouble with my name.  It’s likely you know other Graces, or other people whose last name is Martin.  It’s easily pronounceable, recognizable, traditional – and I’ve always taken that for granted.  In classrooms during roll call, I’ve never broken palpable silence to correct teachers.  I’ve never had to explain who I am. 

Experiencing freshman year during a pandemic, college consisted of Canvas orientations and asynchronous lectures.  When I entered virtual classrooms, my full name automatically appeared: Grace Ming An Martin.  Ming An – roughly translating to “Understanding Peace” – is the Chinese name given by my grandparents.  Zoom was the first time my full name was displayed with frequency and visibility.  When I found myself in classrooms where I was one of – if not the only – student of color, I immediately deleted Ming An.  

Once again, I was Grace Martin.  Easily pronounceable.  Recognizable.  Traditional.  

Names are fundamental tenets of identity, carrying deep cultural, familial, and historical connotations.  They reveal who we are and the communities to which we belong.  I’m aware of the privilege I hold in deleting my middle name – by reverting to Grace Martin, thereby remaining white-passing.  I can choose which aspects of my identity I want to present, a privilege in institutions where whiteness connotes power and respect.  Honestly, I’ve found it difficult to resist the urge to remain white-passing because that option is available.  But as I learn to embrace my heritage, I won’t revert to Grace Martin – and simplify my story – because I understand how important that visibility and representation is, especially in wake of rising anti-Asian hate.  I’ll also hold space for those who don’t have that same choice.  In doing so, I hope to create safe spaces of respect within classrooms, our university, and our wider community.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s