The Meaning Behind Sunny Hostin’s Birth Name and How She Came To Terms With Her Racial Identity
Sunny Hostin’s ability to go up against strong personalities started long before her co-hosting gig on The View. The former prosecutor’s career expands decades and she continues to flourish in the criminal arena, as well as broadcast journalism. But Hostin’s talent has not made her exempt from the everyday struggles people of color face in corporate America.
Hostin is prepping for the release of her first memoir and in it, she takes readers on a journey of her personal and professional mishaps and triumphs. One of which includes her legally changing her name because her boss could not pronounce it correctly.
Sunny Hostin’s birth name and meaning
Hostin is very open about her biracial upbringing. Born in the South Bronx section of New York to an African-American father and a Puerto Rican mother, her parents named her Asunción Cummings. In Spanish culture, Asunción means “born during the Feast of Assumption.”
Also raised Catholic, the name is religiously symbolic. Celebrated on August 15, the day honors the occasion of the Virgin Mary’s ascension to heaven. Despite her name’s powerful meaning, Hostin struggled with her racial identity as a child.
“My Black family considered me an other,” she tells People. “My Puerto Rican and Jewish family treated me as other because I didn’t look like any of them either.”
Hostin says she did not fit in with either racial group nor could she identify with either culture outside of the comfort of her home.
Why Sunny Hostin changed her name and how she became accepting of her racial identity
Unfortunately, as Hostin’s career began to take off, the idea of feeling like an outcast did not subside. After studying journalism and law and beginning her career in television, she found that some found it difficult to pronounce her name, no matter how “hard” they tried. One of those people is Nancy Grace.
While working on Court TV alongside Grace, Hostin was encouraged by the legal commentator to start going by a nickname to make it easier on herself.
“She [Grace] struggled with it so much,” Grace recalls. “[She said to me] ‘Asunción, it’s not going to work, and you’re really good and you’re really talented. You should use a nickname.’ I just became Sunny Hostin, and I just went with it, honestly.”
Now, Hostin regrets giving into the decision.
“I think I allowed my identity to be stripped from me, for my job,” she admits. “I don’t think Nancy was trying to strip me of my identity, or you know, Americanize me, or colonialize me, or anything like that. Nancy’s my friend, and it wasn’t ill-intentioned. I don’t think people would question my identity as much if I stuck with my given name.”
Hostin regularly speaks on issues related to identity and race and is a public advocate for people of color. She now proudly identifies as Afro-Latina.
“I want to be seen in my complexity,” she says. “I am Afro-Latina; I’m many things. And it’s weird in this country. People can’t acknowledge that — they can’t see that.”
Hostin’s memoir, I Am These Truths, is available for purchase.