Many moons ago, when I was pregnant teenager and totally clueless about how the world works, I gave my daughter what is now considered an ethnic name (I think this is a politically correct way of saying “ghetto name”, but whatever). Recently, a young biracial woman living in Kansas City, where there is a relatively small population of black people, decided to change her name from the Keisha to the more ethnically neutral name, Kylie. She was bullied because of her name and she said the name just didn’t ever feel right to her.
After reading story, I thought about how I have long regretted giving my daughter an ethnic name. Not because it would allow others to immediately classify her by race – I have no issue with that. My concern is that I may have possibly given her a name that is deemed ghetto. I have to wonder if giving her this unconventional name, have I set her up for another unnecessary stigma? I would hope not, but given the reality of racial bias in this country, it does concern me. There is also research to support that job applicants with a black sounding name are less likely to get a call back.
My daughter’s name is Qui Ante’ (pronounced Kee-on-tay). It means brave warrior and is also a combination of my name and her dad’s name. For my moms who are also wine aficionados, you’ll notice it is very similar to Chianti. I assure you, that part is purely coincidental.
When I gave my daughter her name, I honestly wasn’t thinking about how it would look on a resume. I was 17 and wanted something unique that had meaning and a little pizzazz. Like my name, Diamonte, which means diamond in Spanish. Needless to say, her name has that in spades. At the time, it sounded cute, so I went with it. When I got older, and the bias in the world became more apparent to me, I began to feel a sense of regret and began researching the name change process. I haven’t done anything with the information because I felt it something she should decide for herself, but I still wanted to know what options would be available to her should the time come where she needs to change it.
If she ever decides to change her birth name, she would always be known to family and friends as Qui Qui. But, when she applies for a job, the resume would reflect a more ethnically neutral name like Quinn. This is actually the name I started to give her and decided not to. But like they say, hindsight is 20/20.
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