Monday, November 18, 2013

All I Want For Christmas.... a new name.

According to the article published in The Kansas City Star, a bi-racial girl of African-American and Caucasian descent desperately wanted to change her name from Keisha to Kylie. Reportedly, she wants to change it due to the ridicule, negative remarks and bad treatment she has received, as a result of her name. Personally, she believes the name Keisha is beautiful. It's just been uncomfortable for her to carry it, as it doesn't fit her.

Keisha/Kylie's mother, who is Caucasian, said she picked out the name Keisha for her daughter before she even gave birth. In her mind, the name Keisha represented a 'strong, feminine and beautiful' black woman and she wanted her child to carry it with pride. She hoped her baby girl, that she named Keisha, would feel proud and connected to black culture. Instead, the very opposite happened. Raised in a community where it's said to have a small black population, Keisha was subject to the ignorance of those around her who made negative assumptions and dead-wrong generalizations about her name. They asked if she had a 'La' or 'Sha' as a prefix to Keisha and they assumed she was 'a certain kind of girl.' She had to change her name, she said, because, with it, she just didn't feel like herself.


As much as our names can have an effect on how we are perceived and treated and be an indicator of what culture/racial group we belong to, it has nothing to do with how we are as a person. We are born with certain genetic markers, dispositions and characteristics but nowhere have I ever read that a certain name effects the kind of person you become or determines how you carry yourself. Names can be a source of pride or angst but it's not a source of character or state of being. People change their names for various reasons, and they have ever right to. Change your name, Keisha, but please be honest (with yourself, more than anyone else) about the reasons behind it.  

You didn't change your name because of how other people perceive it and treat you. No Keisha, you changed your name because you agree with those negative perceptions and generalizations. In the back of your mind, you think just like those who shamed, judged and belittled you. To you, the name Keisha represents the loud, ghetto, poor, unworthy, promiscuous, video-vixen wanna-be girl; it represents everything you don't want to be associated with, which boils down to (what you and the ignorant folk around you see as) 'blackness.' So you want to be Kylie. It's no wonder you chose a name such as that because it brings to mind privilege, beauty, class and all things good & white. Instead of embracing your name and showing the people around you that the name Keisha represents all the black and white goodness that you are made up of (as a friend suggested you do, according to the article), you opted to abandon the name in the hopes of abandoning the stereotype.

With your new name, you hope to be treated with respect and dignity, as you very well deserve to be. However, you're missing the part about people mistreating you due to their own issues with your being black, not what name you carry. Therein lies your real problem, Keisha/Kylie. You can never replace the black part of you. A name does not change the fact that you are and will always be (perceived and treated as) a black woman. As a black woman, sometimes you will experience discrimination, racism and prejudice. That's just a fact of your half-black life. You cannot control other people's behavior but what you can do is be the best half-black Keisha/Kylie you can be. No matter what name you choose to buy for yourself, you must make peace with, love and respect yourself, as you are, before anyone else will.