Matthew Hubbard, a professor in Oakland, California, insisted that his student, Phuc Bui Diem Nguyen, anglicize her name, arguing that her name sounded insulting in English. He maintained his request even when the student stated his request was discriminatory.
Associate Professor of History and Director of Asian American Studies Dr. Ellen Wu commented on the case, noting that the pressure students feel to anglicize their names is often related to becoming truly American. Being considered “foreign” and incompatible with American culture creates pressure to assimilate into the culture to lose that stigma. However, this forced assimilation often comes with a sense that students cannot be themselves and embrace important parts of their heritage and identity, which includes names. This incident is not isolated but part of larger obstacles the Asian community faces with discrimination and hostility in the United States.