After eight months of marriage, I’ve legally changed my name from Sara Emilia Morishige to Sara Morishige Williams. I’m proud to have Evan’s last name, yet I miss the contrast my maiden name has always provided.
“I’m Chinese, Japanese, and half Mexican.” The amount of times I’ve said this in my life seems endless. The perpetual stream of inquiries about “what I am” is because my appearance is not entirely any one of my three ethnicities.
Morishige. If you can pronounce vowels, it rolls off the tongue like butter from pancakes fresh off the griddle. I’ve theorized that people struggle with the pronunciation because they see it’s foreign and don’t want to embarrass themselves. Translated, mori means forest, and shige, abundant. I appreciate the beauty and fluidity of my maiden name both in sound and meaning, yet it is only a nod to one quarter of my whole. Nonetheless, it has historically distinguished the fact that I’m an ethnically diversified American.
The politic of what it has meant to grow up American with mixed ethnicity has been a delicate balance between being American, and managing the influences of each culture. The obligation of not letting culture die with my parents, or their parents has influenced my life and unwittingly defined my character. Customs linger on the periphery, interjecting when I allow them.
And so, here I am, with what seems to be the plainest name in the world: Sara Williams. I'm happy with it. I will remain the same person I've always been, having only lost a perceived identity, and gaining anonymity that is the antithesis of mixed ethnicity in America.