After Years of Bullying, Girl Changes Name from Keisha to Kylie

November 5, 2013  |  
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When a mother choose a name for her child, it’s not a decision she takes lightly. So imagine how a mom feels when she finds out the name she gave her baby girl was causing her so much pain? That’s how Cristy Austin felt when her daughter Keisha began begging her to legally change her name. But Keisha, now Kylie, said years of bullying and racial stereotypes have made her life hell and she’s just done with it.

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

Now 19 years old, Kylie finally got her wish, even though it initially hurt her mother. But her classmates spent so much time doing rude hoodrat impressions, it was too much. Some friends, in addition to her mother, encouraged Kyle to keep her name, to prove you can’t paint girls named Keisha with the same negative, brown brush.

In fact. Cristy originally hoped the name she chose for her daughter would be a source of pride:

“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.'”

In a perfect world, Kylie would’ve been happy being Keisha, but that’s not the way things are. There’s plenty of systematic racism at work that makes someone who loves their “black” name harder to move through the world. The KansasCity.com article acknowledges, “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.” So maybe Keisha never really stood a chance.

What would you do if your child wanted to change her name? Have you ever worried you’ve made your kid’s life harder by choosing a “black” name?

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