Emanuel is from Guatemala and has his father and mother’s surnames. Emanuel is studying geography at the University of Utah.
Emanuel described some of the hassles of having a double surname in the U.S. and what it means to him, and said, “Sometimes it’s just annoying that, you know, the format here only takes one last name. And, even in some cases, just kind of like, [I’ve been] forced to drop one of the last names, usually my mother’s last name. Maybe, usually, forced to drop that because the format doesn’t take that. Or people get confused when they’re typing, and I say “Vasquez Gomez,” they kind of like freak out and act like that is not possible to do… So that’s kind of challenging. And as I said, that, in the Spanish culture, where we inherit from our mother, the last name describes lineage, and when I’m not able to do both, I feel like I’m dropping, usually, the part of my mom that connects me to that side of my family. So, it feels, you know, weird.”
Expanding on why both last names are important to him, Emanuel said, “I think, for me, it’s important just to, I guess, as a person, as a son, always make my parents proud of what I’m doing. So I’m always wanted to give them recognition for their efforts to put me in school and give me the necessary education to succeed in life. So I think one way is to preserve my last names in any ways possible, so they feel like they are being recognized.”
When asked what he thought should be done about the problems with the systems not accommodating double surnames, Emanuel responded, “I think that, as you know the statistics [show] the Latino community in 2030 is going to be one of the largest groups in America, and [America] also is going to be the largest country speaking Spanish, which is going to be interesting. So I think the system should allow for those changes, should adjust for those changes in society. Not [only] for the Latino community but also for other communities that probably, their last names work in another way. And they probably have to change it because the system does not allow to change. So I think the diversity that we are, the changes in diversity that we are experiencing challenge the society to adjust for those changes. And [it should] just embrace that diversity and allow the system to just honor those last names, I guess, in any format they can come from many other cultures.”