Program Success November 2014 | Page 14

Demetria L . Lucas Having a Black Name Orlando , Florida November 2014
D I ' '
BY : DEMETRIA L . LUCAS Guest Columnist
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 .
I have a unique name , at least in the United States . It ' s as common as " Mary " in Greece , and I was told by another " Demetria " ( also black ) who traveled there that our name can even be found on key chains in tourist shops . Long before I was even thought of , my father heard the name when he was stationed overseas in the service and decided that if he had a daughter , he would give her that name . Voila .