I Love Being A'nysha Fortenberry

Me and my grandmother, if she looks fed up it’s probably because she is (:

Me and my grandmother, if she looks fed up it’s probably because she is (:

As you can guess, the name “A’nysha Fortenberry” is AMAZING for SEO purposes. I’ve never had to be “A’nysha Two” or “A’nysha F”, because for the past 22 years I’ve literally been the only A’nysha in the classroom, and the WORLD (okay, maybe not the world, but it sure feels like it). I was able to snag anysha@utexas.edu (bless). The name also adds to the racial ambiguity that has carried me through life. Now that I’ve grown accustom to the name, I am so happy to have it, but this wasn’t always the case.

I have too many memories of begging my mother to change my name, for hours on end. I even had alternative names ready to go. “What about Daniella, Mom? Or Natalia?!?” I pleaded. My Mom’s response was that it would cost $1,000,000 to change the name, so I got to saving. I got to about $2 before I caved and spent the money on a lollipop.

I always felt like the name put an unnecessary spotlight on me. It wasn’t enough that I was one of the only Afro-Mexicanas in Los Fresnos, Texas. I was also the only Afro-Mexicana that didn’t have a “cool” last name like Garza or Vasquez, or any other common Latinx last name that would help me blend in. Oh, and let’s not forget that my Mom threw an apostrophe in too (for good measure, of course).

Now that I’m older, and I’ve MOSTLY let go of the fact that my high school counselor mispronounced my name during graduation, by mostly I mean not at all, (we still have beef LeeAnn), I’ve truly grown to love my name, and the resilience it gave me. That imaginary spotlight made me bask in every and an opportunity to be an individual, and made me grow into the person I was always meant to be.