Why I won't let you call me by name.
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Politics and Activism

Why I won't let you call me by name.

Call me Aku.

Why I won't let you call me by name.
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Names are how we identify everything. The people we meet, the places we go, the things we interact with, and the ideas we come up with. Everyone and everything has a name.

My name is more than a label. It's my identity. "Akshat" is a word from Sanskrit. It means "Unbroken", and is one of the names of the Hindu god of destruction and eliminator of evil. I was named in hope that I would vanquish evil from peoples' lives and that nothing would ever be able to break me. Throughout Asia, names carry a wish, a dream, or a life purpose. And I am very proud of what my name gives me.

As proud as I am of my name, there were times I wish I had a Eurocentric name, so I'd receive less racially charged abuse, both physical and verbal. Growing up, there were a few kids who'd regularly call me a terrorist or a thug. I laughed it off for the time, but it actually bothers me to this day and was also a major reason why I left my town. I've been jumped a couple of times, too. All of this insults my personal pride and self-respect that I gain from my name.

I feel a need to protect my name, too. I grew up tolerating people, mostly White Americans, butchering my name, and I decided that I've had enough. I'd been tolerating the number of ways my name was butchered. I turned to nicknames. I tried using a Eurocentric nickname in an effort to conform to my white surroundings, but it never felt right. With a white name, I felt dishonest to my identity. I wanted to save my name, but I didn't want to lose myself. I decided on a name used by my family since Childhood: "Aku." It was weird at first since it means Evil in Japanese, and it's the name of a villain in one of my favourite shows, but anything seemed better at this point. It felt really awkward at first, but the general response was positive, both from other people and my own conscience. Yes. This was what I'd call myself. Sadly, I couldn't just tell people to call me Aku my last year of high school, so I decided that when I went to UCSD, I'd only tell my real name to very few people.

To anyone with an ethnic name, be proud of it, live out its meaning in whatever way you can, and show just how powerful your name is. But do not be afraid to protect your name. Your name is too good to be marred.

Akshat is who I really am, but out in the open world, I'm Aku.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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