My name is Elizabeth, but everyone calls me Liz. Nice to meet you!
I’m from the suburbs of Detroit. I studied psychology at the University of Michigan before heading west to get a PhD in clinical psychology, as well as master’s degrees in psychology and theology, from Fuller Theological Seminary. In the past, I’ve been a therapist, a high school youth worker, and a consultant. After 13 years in California, I recently returned to Michigan and split my time among writing, teaching, speaking, co-running Progressive Asian American Christians, and raising my two young sons. When I’m not doing those things, I’m usually pursuing something related to pop culture, food, or college football.
The name of this blog comes from an experience I had at the beginning of grad school. I was at a small gathering in my next-door neighbors’ apartment, and I had written down my name and email address for one of their friends, whom I had met earlier that evening. Glancing at my info, she asked, “What’s your real name?”
I paused, puzzled; no one had ever asked me that before. “My name is Elizabeth,” I replied.
Sensing my confusion, she quickly jumped in to clarify. “I have all these students with these great Asian names who are like, ‘Oh, just call me Sue.'”
I paused again, surprised by what she was implying. “My name is Elizabeth,” I repeated, lacking the wherewithal in the moment to explain that I was born in Michigan and my legal name is, in fact, Elizabeth and not one of the great Asian names she was referring to.
I left that experience jarred — that in Los Angeles, in 2006, someone would make such a naive assumption about me based on my phenotype. It wasn’t the first or last time I’ve experienced something like that, but the phrase I kept saying — “My name is Elizabeth” — has stuck with me. I’m sure I sounded like an idiot in the moment, repeating it as if it were the only sentence I knew, but I’ve come to think of it as a mantra for asserting my identity. Yes, I am visibly Asian — and proud to be so — but I’m also American; I was born here, I belong here, and I am one of you. Interactions like this one have made me think a lot about race, culture, and identity and how they surface in everyday life, and that’s what this blog is about.