Teen Changes Her Name From Keisha To Kylie Due To Bigoted, Racist Name Associations
This story is so fascinating to me because as a white girl with a pretty boring name, I don’t take a lot of time out of my day to ponder what implications the names of black girls have on their day to day reality. I think I always assume that a name is a name, unless your parents name you something like “Adolph.” But this young teen in Kansas changed her name because she was receiving a whole lot of flack for being a bi-racial girl with the name Keisha. From the Kansas City Star:
When her mother, Cristy, found out she was pregnant with a girl, there was never a doubt what her baby’s name would be. The single mom chose Keisha because to her, it represented a strong, feminine, beautiful black woman. As a white woman who would be raising a biracial daughter she wanted to instill that confidence and connectivity to the culture.
“I saw it as a source of pride,” Cristy says. “I wanted her to have that.”
Pop culture changed things. And so did systemic racism. Studies have shown that job applicants with black-sounding names are half as likely to get a callback than those with white-sounding names and similar resumes.
The article goes on to explain how even one of Keisha’s, now Kylie‘s teachers, asked her if her name has a dollar sign in it. I can see her peers being jerks, because teens are too dumb to know any better, but adults really shouldn’t tease kids about their names.Cristy said that by gifting her daughter with the name change, she felt like her daughter was giving back to her a gift she gave her:
“Keisha was the only name I ever thought of, and when I talked to her in my belly, I talked to Keisha. But she’s still the same person, regardless of her name. But her happiness is what is most important to me. I love and support her, and whatever she has to do to feel good on the inside, I have to be OK with that.”
What a sweet, sweet mom. I’m glad Kylie is happy with her new name, but it’s still absurd to think a teen had to go to these measures because she felt having a “black” sounding name would affect her future career choices and she was sick of kids teasing her for her name. It’s also absurd I never consider these things, because I’ve always assumed that not liking your name is something a lot of people go through, mainly because they feel like their name doesn’t fit their personality or how they want the world to perceive them. Knowing that Kylie changed her name because she felt it would hurt her future employment chances because of her race makes me realize how very little I know about being black or mixed race in the world we live in today.
It’s one thing to consider how kids are teased for their names for whatever reason, but when you stop and realize the potential a birth name has to affect someone’s entire earning future and their career advancement opportunities, that’s a whole other pile of racist garbage we all need to spend a lot more time thinking about and addressing.