This is part of a sponsored campaign with DiMe Media and Coca-Cola.
However, all opinions expressed are my own.
I’m Mexican-American, but because my father is Anglo, I grew up with a very American-sounding last name – Johnston. No matter how perfectly I spoke the language, the Latina girls in high school never saw me as one of them. I was just “that white girl who spoke Spanish,” because, after our skin color, our last name seems to be what society most commonly uses to identify our heritage. I found it so frustrating!
That’s not to say I’m not proud of being a Johnston! Your name is the first gift you receive from your parents and I cherish it. Over the years, I’ve researched my Scottish surname quite a bit, and hope to one day visit Scotland and dig a little deeper into the Johnston clan. I find history and ancestry so fascinating. Having said that, I have to admit that when I got married at just 20 years old, I was happy and proud to take my husband’s last name – Perez – because I could. While my father’s name was given to me, I took my husband’s name by choice. That’s a powerful thing.
I want my girls to be proud of their last name, too. Recently we’ve talked about names a lot, actually, and not just because it’s Hispanic Heritage month. They’re at that age where they’re asking lots of questions about where we grew up, how my husband and I met, what it was like being pregnant with them, why we named them what we did, and so on… so I looked into it.
It’s no secret that the Pérez name is very widespread across Spain and the Americas. After doing a little research, I found that it originated in Spain, likely in Castile, hundreds of years ago. It’s a patronymic name, which means it’s derived from a father or ancestor’s name, in this case, Pedro. While in English, son would be added to a name, in Spanish it was ez, oz, iz, and az, which are all suffixes that mean “son of.” It’s all very interesting!
As for the accent… my husband has lived in this country for over 20 years and can’t remember the last time he wrote his last name as Pérez, with an accent over the first E. This isn’t unusual, though. I’ve noticed that most Latinos in the United States tend to drop accents from their names, whether it be their first or last, or not use them at all to begin with. It could be because computer systems still don’t process accents correctly, or because non-Latinos wouldn’t know how to pronounce them, or a combination of both – I’m not sure exactly – but it doesn’t seem to make a difference when it comes to pronunciation!
Coca-Cola created a heartwarming film that not only celebrates Hispanics and Hispanic Heritage Month, but also explores family names and the pride that surrounds them. Take a couple of minutes to watch it – it’s such a great video!
The “Orgulloso De Ser” film does such a great job of capturing the profound feelings of unity and pride that come from our last names. And how cool are those Coca-Cola Heritage Tattoo cans?! Unfortunately they were created only for participants in Coca-Cola’s unique film and are not available for purchase, but you can visit www.coke.com/OrgullosoDeSer to purchase a ‘Share a Coke’ contour bottle personalized with your family’s last name to share that pride with the world, like I’ve done in the video below. It would make such an awesome party favor for a family reunion! My gears are spinning…
Be sure to join @CocaCola and @DiMeMedia on Twitter in a couple of weeks – October 7th – for the #OrgullosodeSer Twitter Party to share our #Latino pride and win cool prizes!