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My name is Lachrista. Not "LaChrista" or "La Christa." Get it right or pay the price. My name literally translates from Italian to the female Christ, which I think is fitting, not because I'm "Christ-like" or anything, but because I'm a strong, feminist woman. My name really couldn't get any more religious. My middle name is "Marie," which is the French form of "Mary." My last name, however, means Greek person in Italian. So, I guess it could have been more religious had my last name been something else.

As a child, I hated my name, mostly because other kids made fun of me for it. I remember roll-call being my own personal hell, because the teacher would call my name and everyone would snicker and laugh. It made me feel so embarrassed and it also made me give my parents grief for choosing such a name. I was named "Lachrista," because I come from an Italian family and my parents' friends (who were also Italian) just named their daughter "Lachrista." I could have been named "Gabriella," but my mom didn't want people calling me "Gabby," so out that name went. I was always jealous of my brother's name, "Michael," because it was "normal" from my adolescent view.

Kids are really cruel when it comes to names that differ from the norm. I remember one boy, in high school, saying to me: "Your name would be better without the "L-A." During this time, I was finally accepting my name and then, of course, this asshole says that.

I left high school feeling better about my name and its uniqueness. Once in college, however, I started to get more frustrated. Many, usually, white girls, would openly ask me if I was "black" or "mixed," because of my name and my curly hair, or such was their reasoning. Others would comment, saying they thought my name was "ghetto." I wasn't sure how to feel, but I knew these labels/terms were problematic to say the least. People were always trying to "figure" me out, in terms of my ethnicity/racial background. I usually let them think whatever they wanted, but sometimes I corrected their assumptions. This also coincided with the confusion regarding the spelling and casing of my name. People told me I had a "black girl's name." Again, the people who told me this were most always white, upper class individuals.

The issue I have with the misspelling and mis-capitalizing of my name is that, by writing "LaChrista" or "La Christa", it takes away my true ethnicity and identity. I am not a "LaChrista" or a "La Christa." Those names don't match up to who I am. I understand people make mistakes, especially if I don't tell them how it is written or spelled. However, I get extremely frustrated when this happens via email as I always sign my name "Lachrista" at the bottom. Thus, it makes me feel as though the person writing me back either doesn't care or isn't paying attention. I know plenty of people who would get upset if I misspelled their name, so I make a conscious effort to correctly spell their name. I feel like people should be doing this more. If you have a "common" name, you probably think I'm overreacting by writing something like this, but if you truly think that, then you really don't get it. Put yourself in my shoes or anyone's shoes who has a "different" and unique name. I demand, after I first demonstrate to someone how to write my name, that they make a conscious effort to write it correctly from then on.

In ending this, I ask that you please make a conscious effort to spell and captitalize my name accordingly. If you ever are confused, you may ask me or simply write "lachrista" in all lower-case.

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