1702hu.St.81

19-year-old Keisha Austin, from Kansas City, Missouri, will now and forever be known as Kylie Austin.  Kylie’s mother, Cristy, chose the name Keisha because it represented a strong, beautiful black woman and she wanted to instill confidence and culture in her.

“I saw it as a source of pride,” Cristy says. “I wanted her to have that.”

But a source of pride isn’t what “Kylie” received growing up with Keisha as her name.

In an interview with The Kansas City Star, Kylie explains how growing up in a mostly white area made her resent her name because of the racist comments she would always receive.

From The Kansas City Star:

“It’s like they assumed that I must be a certain kind of girl,” she says. “Like, my name is Keisha so they think they know something about me, and it always felt negative.”

Even a teacher once asked if there was a dollar sign in her name, like the singer Ke$ha. If she couldn’t even get through a class without a teacher taking a cheap shot at her name, what would happen in a job interview?

The more she shared these stories with her mom, the more it became apparent that Keisha was serious about changing her name — not different from the way some Jewish people change their last names to avoid anti-Semitism and Asians sometimes take traditionally American names in addition to their given names.

Not everyone was in agreement with Keisha changing her name. A friend suggested that she could keep her name, and show people she’s not a stereotype. Even Keisha’s mother felt saddened by the name change.

“It felt like a gift I gave to her, and she was returning it,” Cristy says. “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.”

As of a week ago, and $175 later, Keisha is now Kylie Austin.

Kylie, though?

One has to wonder if the name change was more of a self-esteem issue, rather than being teased about a name. There have been many times when I hated my name growing up as a kid, but that was because people wouldn’t pronounce it correctly. And then there was that song “Iesha”, by Another Bad Creation. I still can’t introduce myself to anyone without them mentioning that song. But did it ever dawn on me to change my name? Never. My parents gave me the name for a reason.

I hope in changing her name to Kylie, Keisha realizes that the ability to purchase a new name is easy, but self-esteem and pride can’t be bought, but that’s just my opinion.

143 Comments

  1. camille

    She looks more like a Keisha than a Kylie. Ijs

  2. noirluv45

    LOL!!! I’m watching NW News Today, and the Black woman anchor’s name is Shaniqua Manning! Her name didn’t stop her!

  3. simplyme

    To each her own. Maybe she had to do what she felt like she had to do to make life a little easier…. I just hope she understands that the problem was not with her name or those that share her name but the people who made assumptions about her because of her name.

  4. Kianga

    This story makes me think of my experience when I use my nickname Kiki. I used it while ordering food at a Black-owned restaurant and the person said no I cant use it,what is your real name. I thought that was rude! What if Kiki was my real name. So what! I left out but unfortunately ended up at a non Black establishment.

  5. Most of the “Keishas” I have ever known were white, not black. So I don’t understand had one name is more black than the other anyway. But changing her name to a more “white” sounding one is not going to change the fact that most white people will see her as black. But she’s young, so she will learn.

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