What’s in a Name? Ask Kylie, Formerly Known as Keisha


For some teenagers, being multicultural can be daunting enough, but to be teased for having what some call a “Black” name was too much for Keisha Austin, 19, of Kansas City, Mo. who now goes by Kylie Austin.

The name change was made official by her mother, who went to court to change it as an early Christmas gift to her daughter.

Born to a White mother and a Black father, the biracial teen, who graduated from Shawnee Mission North High School last year, said she was repeatedly teased for having the name, according to the Kansas City Star. Now that she is in the adult world, where job seeking can be influenced by a name, she wanted to change it.

“It’s like they assumed that I must be a certain kind of girl,” she said. “Like, my name is Keisha so they think they know something about me, and it always felt negative.”

Cristy Austin, the teens’ mother, said she named her daughter “Keisha” because she thought it represented a “strong, feminine, beautiful Black woman.”

“I saw it as a source of pride,” she said. “I wanted her to have that.” She told the Kansas City Star that Keisha was the only name she thought of when she was pregnant with her daughter. “When I talked to my belly, I talked to Keisha.”

But Keisha—Kylie—didn’t see it that way. Not growing up in a diverse community, she was ashamed.

She said that she was constantly teased and her peers asked her if there was a “La” or a “Sha” in front of her name.

"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," she said in an interview with the Kansas City Star. "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 said she is still the same person, regardless of her name.

“I love and support her and whatever she has to do to feel good on the inside, I have to be okay with that,” she told the Kansas City Star of her daughter.

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What's in a Name?  Ask Kylie, Formerly Known as Keisha

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