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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)


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  • Rini6

    Sad… why are people such idiots that they would treat a kid this way?

    • Debby Berg

      It was the teacher that made the crack about a dollar sign in her name that should be ashamed.

  • Maria Leoncapone-Lavalais

    sad indeed…my kids are biracial and have experienced being taunted for their ethnic names

  • Ida Malone Jackson

    If they have African American blood, they are not bi-racial. They are multi-racial. ALL African Americans are of mixed blood. There are no more pure blooded Africans in the African American culture. Black is our race. African American is our culture. She no different from the rest of us. She was given an African American cultural identity and reared in an Anglo American culture. By all accounts, she is of the Anglo American culture. Let her be. Kylie is a beautiful name also. One of these days, she’ll come to love and respect that part of her blood that is of the African American culture.

    • my_two_cents

      Let’s hope so… 🙂

    • Debby Berg

      Well spoken Ida

  • gosford

    Unfortunately, it is a fact. If one has an African American sounding name, eg. Aliyah, Tyrone, Malik, Shanice, Jamal, Imani, Deshawn , the
    job market is going to be twice as hard for that individual.

    • rcwblessed

      I couldn’t agree more. It is disgusting and unfortunate, but people with ethnic names will be passed over for jobs, at the application level. With many companies, they will never reach the interview level. As a Black woman and former hiring manager, it saddens me, but I’ve seen this practice in the workplace for years. It could be said that parents of Black children are doing them a disservice by giving them ethnic names at birth. I don’t think it’s fair, but we still live in a very racist society. Personally, I would have to go with what is best for my child, especially since they’ll most likely have this name for life.

  • Harris Caroline

    This poor silly girl. From one mixed race person to another. She is still going to be tan with curly hair. My name is Caroline. And when I talk to the phone with employers, they are crazy excited about my educational background, my past work and volunteer experience, practically have the “in the bad”. They hear my high pitched voice, proper grammar and name- and assume I’m white. Every damn time. and they are horrified when I walk through the door. I’ve even been asked for ID before an interview. It’s like the SWV song goes “Now attitude, why even bother? Can’t change your mind, can’t change my color? “

  • my_two_cents
  • chocolatedrop

    She can change her name but she can’t change her looks. As a multiracial person with many in my family people should not let others be the judge of your feelings. This is sad. In the 60s we fought for who we were. What happened to young people today? Why are they giving in to bullying? Bullying has been around since the beginning of time. It should make you strong. Now kids have become weak giving in to bullying. A name should not be what defines you. I know plenty of girls with this name who are educated and working good jobs. It’s all about YOU!