We're a hawk on the issues.

Student Legally Changes ‘Black Name’ After Racist Bullying

A Kansas City teenager was so mercilessly taunted for her “black name” by school peers that she ended up changing it. 19-year-old Keisha Austin changed her name to Kylie after enduring racist bullying at her school in a predominately white neighborhood. One of her teachers even joked to Austin that they had a dollar sign in her name.

Austin, who is biracial, ended up legally changing her name last week from Keisha to Kylie, as an early Christmas gift from her mother. “They assumed that I must be a certain kind of girl….it always felt negative,” she said to the Kansas City Star. I wanted to change my name because it didn’t feel comfortable. I don’t connect to it. I didn’t feel like myself, but I never want any girls named Keisha, or any name like that, to feel hurt or sad by it.”

Her mother, Cristy, a white woman, said she was adamant about giving her daughter the name Keisha at birth because she believed it represented a “strong, feminine, beautiful black woman. I saw it as a source of pride. I wanted her to have that.”

Cristy said that while she is happy her daughter feels more comfortable with the new name, the change did hurt her. “It felt like a gift I gave to her, and she was returning it,” she said. “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. 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.”

(Photo: Kylie Austin)

 

About the author