The Name Project seeks to understand how our names shape our character and the role it plays in our identity.
Some reflect our cultural backgrounds.
Others are indicative of our parents’ values, interest and ideologies.
In this week's Name Project interview, writer, educator and visual artist Elise R. Peterson talks about being adopted by her stepfather in the 5th grade and essentially becoming a Peterson. Helping her to construct a new familial identity, her newly acquired surname would eventually star in her lovely brand ERP. "My dad officially adopted me, my dad who raised me when I was in the 5th grade so then I changed my last name from Ford to Peterson and I remember not being sure if I really wanted to do it but it seemed really important to my mom, so I was like okay, I guess we'll do this. So we went through the whole court system, she was so excited she cried. So it was this thing for her, I think it felt like we were unifying our family: we all had the same last name. Now that I've gotten older, something that I am dealing with this moment, is my younger brother and sister are coming into their adolescence and their teenage years and they don't know I've had this whole experience with my name. They don't know that my last name used to be Ford and that I have a different biological father. So as beautiful as it is and as unifying as it is, it is also really weighted and layered."
We all have a name that subsequently has a name story. Here is Elise's name story.
Directed, shot and edited by Antoinette Brock.