May 19, 2024

Did you know that I am a famous Lilandra?

My username Lilandra Ra is listed on as a famous Lilandra. I suspect it is mentioned there because it is just basically me and my name inspiration alien Lilandra Neramani, Empress of the Marvel Universe’s Shi’ar and a few others you may not have heard of either.  The name is not that popular and, in fact, there have only been 26 Lilandras born since the 1880s.

Lilandra who'?
Lilandra who’?

And now that my husband has legally changed his named to “Aron Ra”, I can change my last name legally to Ra.  However, I cannot change my married name back to my maiden name (now it is just his father’s last name) without a court appearance. To change it fully to my username Lilandra Ra would also require a court appearance.

There are pros and cons to having an internet footprint particularly if you work in education. Especially if you happen to be a militant atheist, who lives in Texas. I have actually had people google me during a job interview. My legal name is practically invisible.

Which brings me to a more prickly quandary. My Vietnamese mother gave me an anglicized name on purpose for job prospects and my father’s last name wouldn’t raise an eyebrow. Before you think that we live in a color-blind world or even a country that shares a Coke and a smile, there are studies on this. My maiden name has many of the advantages that are corroborated by studies including being “white sounding” and “easy to pronounce”.  Are those advantages a product of bias and even racism? They sure are!

I also assure you that it has helped to mitigate that I don’t pass like my brother and sister do. In fact, a small town Texas cop actually suspected that I committed identity theft at a traffic stop because I had the same last name (but not the same white sounding first name) as someone in his database. Always, there is a sentiment from some that because I look Asian, I am taking jobs from Americans. Even though my father was drafted to defend America. Green card? I’m from East PA! (There is certainly nothing wrong with being born in Vietnam like my sister though she passes.)

My husband, I think, can pull off Aron Ra because he has established himself as a weird beard atheist with a large following. Although I can’t say living in the South and being a hairy scary, weird beard atheist has never caused him a problem. In fact, choosing a name to pass reminds me of the argument that you can cut your hair to get a job. However, names and hair cuts can be changed and ethnic traits can’t in order to pass, but there are some aspects of class that are difficult to change, as well. Not saying anyone should automatically kowtow to the dominant class. If  I ever apply at another school district how will the last name Ra or Lilandra Ra, searchable atheist activist appear?

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