Last week the Kansas City Star published “Burdened by Bigotry, a Girl Born Keisha Changes Her Name.” A 19-year-old woman born to a single white mom (and a seemingly absentee black dad) explained to the publication why she opted to switch from what is widely considered to be a black name to a name—Kylie—that’s, let’s face it, stereotypically considered more “white.”
“[Changing my name isn’t] something I take lightly,” Kylie told the publication. “I put a lot of thought into it. I don’t believe you should just change your name or your face or anything like that on a whim. I didn’t want to change my name because I didn’t like it. I wanted to change my name because it didn’t feel comfortable. I don’t connect to it.”
According to the article, Kylie’s mother originally decided on the name “Keisha” because she wanted her daughter to have a name that “represented a strong, feminine, beautiful black woman” and wanted to “instill that confidence and connectivity to the culture.”
I respect that. Just as I do Kylie’s wish to change her name from “Keisha.” It’s her name, and she can do what she wants with it. But despite the tears of joy that flowed when the interviewer asked her how she felt the first time she was called by her new name, I don’t believe Kylie will get the desired result that she ultimately seeks, which is acceptance in her community. (The reporter described it as not diverse and not having a lot of black people.)
Kylie’s peers reacted negatively to her old name, associating it and, by proxy, her with ignorant stereotypes about black people. Kylie wanted to end that, and the name change was her solution. But what she doesn’t seem to realize yet is that it isn’t the name that’s the problem—it’s the black, which she can’t do anything about.
Read more: here