This reflection on names and naming comes from Isabella Diane Rizzo:
My name is Isabella Diane Rizzo.
My first name was given to me because “Isabella” was the only name on my parents’ list that had not been one of my fathers’ exes.
The list of girls’ names was short because I was supposed to be born a “Luke,” who is now my younger brother.
My middle name was given to me because it was given to my mother by my grandmother, and it was given to my grandmother by my great grandmother Maria Diane Saladino Penny, who immigrated to the United States from Sicily in the 1920s.
My grandfather on my father’s side is also Italian, and that is why I was given the surname “Rizzo.” The name Rizzo comes from the Italian word “riccio” which means “curly.” Our hair is now straight and blonde or red, and “Rizzo” which is supposed to be pronounced “reet-so” like pizza devolved to “ri-zo” or “ree-zo” so that Americans can easily spell it out.
If given the opportunity, I would not change my name because it is a beautiful name and it connects me to my grandparents and my Italian heritage.
Permission was given by the author to publish this work on The SALSA Collective website. Many thanks.