When Raidel Moreno Almas moved from Cuba to the United States, he and his mother were surprised to learn that in this country only the father’s last name is used. In Cuba, a child receives its father’s last name first and its mother’s second. However, when Moreno Almas moved here, he became known as Raidal Moreno. When asked why the first of his last names was used as his last names, [instead of being used as a middle name] he responded: “when you do legal last name laws the last name is Moreno in this country because that’s my dad’s..” His Mom, whose surname is Almas Perez, now goes by her mother’s surname, Perez.
Raidel recounts his high school graduation in which he received his diploma with his dad’s name on it. He remembers, “my dad is still in Cuba and so I haven’t seen him around for like you know, 19 years… so it was my mom [raising me] and it was her name that I don’t use in her country.” He wished her name could be there, “kind of recognizing her, like all the hard work she did raising me.”
Raidel add, “…it does annoy me when I have to explain to [Americans] why there’s two last names. And what they mean. So “it does annoy me that people don’t understand, but like I understand them because it’s a whole different culture, so I’m like I’d rather explain to them so they understand and start appreciating different cultures.” Ultimately, however, Raidel concludes, “I know what my last name is…I know that it’s my last names, as long as I know and I’m proud of my mom and dad’s last names I don’t have to worry about what other people think.”