Teen changes her name from Keisha because she encountered so much prejudice | Mail Online


Image via The Daily Mail

According to the article:

A mixed-race Kansas City teenager called Keisha has changed her name to avoid what she believes are damaging racial stereotypes some people link with certain popular African-American names.

Gifted the name-change by her mother as an early Christmas present at the cost of $175, Keisha Austin, 19, hopes that by calling herself Kylie she will avoid being associated with the negative connotations she feels the name provokes.

Left conflicted and emotional by her decision to rename herself, the teen stood before a Johnson County Judge last week and made the change official - finally comfortable with her new identity.”

This is horrible. Why should I have to change who I am for others? The truth is as a consequence of living in a White supremacist country we do. We change how we talk, act and even think to survive and we shouldn’t be in denial about the social and economic implications it has on our livelihoods.

I have this kind of name because of my parents Black power movement fight the man phase. As much as I love my name, I can’t tell you the number of times that people assumed that I was one way because of my name only to find out something else.

A study in 2003 called, “Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination” by Marianne Bertrand any Sendhil Mullainathan
found when answering want ads in Boston and Chicago newspapers that,

“The results show significant discrimination against African-American names: White names receive 50 percent more callbacks for interviews. We also find that race affects the benefits of a better resume. For White names, a higher quality resume elicits 30 percent more callbacks whereas for African Americans, it elicits a far smaller increase.”

It’s real.

I also remember sending out my resume and receiving few call backs. As soon as I put my anglicized middle name as my first name I received numerous call backs.

Even a name due to racism can have tremendous social and financial implications. Has this affected you in any way? How do you deal with it?



  1. UppityBlackWoman 8 January, 2014 at 05:00 Reply

    My daughter calls it “surblack!” That look white people get, especially after they’ve talked to you on the phone and they realize that the person they thought was white, isn’t.


  2. Pip 9 January, 2014 at 10:26 Reply

    Yo Babe,

    Take the case of Cassius Clay. He made a big song & dance about his name being that of those who enslaved Blacks!

    So what did he do?

    He changed his name to Muhammad Ali!

    So what?

    Firstly, his Great Grand Daddy was an IRISH man, whose name was Abe Grady

    Muhammad Ali receives freedom of great-grandfather’s Irish home town
    Boxing legend becomes first man in 600 years to be given freedom of Ennis, County Clare

    Henry McDonald, Ireland correspondent
    The Guardian, Tuesday 1 September 2009 17.42 BST

    Boxing legend Muhammad Ali arrives in Ennis, Ireland

    After Barack Obama and Tony Blair, Muhammad Ali today became the latest world celebrity to reclaim his Irish origins.

    The boxing legend became the first man to be given the freedom of Ennis, County Clare, for 600 years.

    Ali visited the town, in the west of Ireland, to pay homage at the home of his Irish great-grandfather, Abe Grady.

    Thousands turned out to honour him as he received the civic accolade.

    The former world heavyweight champion also met four of his distant cousins during the closed ceremony, which was broadcast live on a giant screen into the middle of the town.

    Ali, 67, then drove through Ennis, taking in the Turnpike Road area from which his great-grandfather came.

    He attended a charitable function at Dromoland Castle before flying back to his home in Kentucky.

    Ali’s trip to Ireland came during a worldwide tour to raise funds for research into Parkinson’s Disease.

    The former champion, who is fighting the disease, once said he was a man who was descended from slaves.

    However, there is now no doubt that his great-grandfather, Grady, was a white Irishman who left for the US in 1862. He later married a freed African-American slave.

    The couple’s son, John Grady, had a daughter, Odessa Grady – Ali’s mother – in 1917.

    The boxer joins a long line of world famous figures who have either proven or claimed to be part Irish.



    Sahih Muslim, Book 10, Number 3901:
    Narrated Jabir ibn Abdullah:
    There came a slave and pledged allegiance to Allah’s Apostle (peace_be_upon_him) on migration; he (the Prophet) did not know that he was a slave. Then there came his master and demanded him back, whereupon Allah’s Apostle (peace_be_upon_him) said: Sell him to me. And he bought him for two black slaves, and he did not afterwards take allegiance from anyone until he had asked him whether he was a slave (or a free man).

    It is just and commendable that Muhammad does insist on paying the owner, and that he (possibly even) frees this convert (though this is not mentioned), but what about those other two black slaves?

    This hadith reports that Muhammad had two black slaves at his disposal to trade in for the other man. And presumably these two were Muhammad’s own property. If he had to buy them first before he could exchange them, why would he not just give the owner the value in money or whatever else he would have given the man he got the two from? Also, it seems that the black slaves were worth less than this non-black slave, so that is the reason for the 2:1 rate. We do know this from historical documents (cf. Bernhard Lewis) about slavery in Islamic history that white slaves got a much higher price than black slaves.

    Malik’s Muwatta, Book 21, Number 21.13.25:
    Yahya related to me from Malik from Thawr ibn Zayd ad-Dili from Abu’l-Ghayth Salim, the mawla of ibn Muti that Abu Hurayra said, “We went out with the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, in the yearof Khaybar. We did not capture any gold or silver except for personal effects, clothes, and baggage. Rifaa ibn Zayd presented a black slave boy to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, whose name was Midam. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, made for Wadi’l-Qura, and when he arrived there, Midam was unsaddling the camel of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, when a stray arrow struck and killed him. The people said, ‘Good luck to him! The Garden!’ The Messenger of Allah said, ‘No! By He in whose hand my self is! The cloak which he took from the spoils on the Day of Khaybar before they were distributed will blaze with fire on him.’ When the people heard that, a man brought a sandal-strap or two sandal-straps to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘A sandal-strap or two sandal-straps of fire!’ ”

    Muhammad got a black slave boy (as a present?) and he starts working for Muhammad. No mention is made that Muhammad freed him.
    Sahih Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 91, Number 368:
    Narrated ‘Umar:
    I came and behold, Allah’s Apostle was staying on a Mashroba (attic room) and a black slave of Allah’s Apostle was at the top if its stairs. I said to him, “(Tell the Prophet) that here is ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab (asking for permission to enter).” Then he admitted me. … (cf. Bukhari 3.648, 6.435, 7.119)

    Note: It does not say “the black slave of Muhammad” it says “a black slave” which is an indication there were more than one.

    Sahih Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 73, Number 182:
    Narrated Anas bin Malik:
    Allah’s Apostle was on a journey and he had a black slave called Anjasha, and he was driving the camels (very fast, and there were women riding on those camels). Allah’s Apostle said, “Waihaka (May Allah be merciful to you), O Anjasha! Drive slowly (the camels) with the glass vessels (women)!”
    In addition to the above listed hadiths there are a considerable number of other black slaves mentioned which were owned by `Aisha or some of the companions of Muhammad.

    Finally, Sahih Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 15, Number 103:
    Narrated ‘Urwa on the authority of ‘Aisha:
    On the days of Mina, (11th, 12th, and 13th of Dhul-Hijjah) Abu Bakr came to her while two young girls were beating the tambourine and the Prophet was lying covered with his clothes. Abu Bakr scolded them and the Prophet uncovered his face and said to Abu Bakr, “Leave them, for these days are the days of ‘Id and the days of Mina.” ‘Aisha further said, “Once the Prophet was screening me and I was watching the display of black slaves in the Mosque and (‘Umar) scolded them. The Prophet said, ‘Leave them. O Bani Arfida! (carry on), you are safe (protected)’.”
    The highlighted term in the above hadith may suggest that there was a slave market (display for sale) in the mosque. Obviously, where there are slaves, there must be slave markets, but in this case this is a mistranslation.
    It is ‘Id time (a festival) and as in many parts of the world at festival times, there are people who entertain others. At the time of Muhammad one of these entertainments is playing with weapons. Like modern days circus dagger thrower or so. The above expression should correctly be rendered “the play of black slaves in the Mosque”. [The black slaves actually are called Sudan (sud is black).]

    Finally, there are a number of traditions in which Muhammad comments on skin color:


    For the purpose of making Islam attractive to black people, and to support that Islam is the natural religion of Africans - in contrast to Christianity as the religion of the slavers (cf. Christianity, Islam and Slavery) - some have claimed that Muhammad was a black (African) man. This has no factual basis.
    Muhammad enslaved people, owned and sold slaves, including several black slaves.
    Muhammad was neither black nor African:
    • white thigh, Sahih Bukhari 1.367,
    • white armpit, Sahih Bukhari 2.141,
    • white man, Sahih Bukhari 1.63, 2.122, 4.744,
    • rosy color, Sahih Bukhari 4.747 & 748
    As the last two hadiths show, the statements about his white color are not absolute but a relative ones. He was not white as chalk, nor did he look like a Scandinavian. It means that among the people of Arabia, he was discernably of fairer complexion than most people around him. Otherwise, the above referenced hadiths where he is distinguished from his companions as “the white man” would not make any sense. Muhammad was not a white Caucasian but a Semite of relatively fair complexion, an Arab, and not a black African man.


    On the Day when (some) faces will be whitened and (some) faces will be blackened; and as for those whose faces have been blackened, it will be said unto them: Disbelieved ye after your (profession of) belief? Then taste the punishment for that ye disbelieved. (Âl ‘Imran 3:106)
    And on the Day of Resurrection thou (Muhammad) seest those who lied concerning Allah with their faces blackened. Is not the home of the scorners in hell? (Az-Zumar 39:60)

    Muslims usually try to understand these verses as being metaphorical without racist connotations.

    However, there are some hadiths that link black skin and creation with judgment day:
    Abu Darda’ reported God’s messenger as saying, “God created Adam when He created him and struck his right shoulder and brought forth his offspring white like small ants. And he struck his left shoulder and brought forth his offspring BLACK as though they were charcoal. Then He said to the party on his right said, ‘To paradise, and I do not care’, and He said to the party in his left shoulder ‘To hell, and I do not care’.” Ahmad transmitted it. (Mishkat Al Masabih, English translation with explanatory notes by Dr. James Robson [Sh. Muhammad Ahsraf Publishers, Booksellers & Exporters, Lahore-Pakistan, Reprint 1990], Volume I, Chapter IV, Book I.- Faith, pp. 31-32)

    Narrated AbudDarda’
    Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: Allah created Adam when He had to create him and He struck his right shoulder and there emitted from it white offspring as if they were white ants. He struck his left shoulder and there emitted from it THE BLACK OFFSPRINGS as if they were charcoal. He then said (to those who had been emitted) from the right (shoulder): For Paradise and I do not mind. Then He said to those (who had been emitted) from his left shoulder: They are for Hell and I do not mind.
    Transmitted by Ahmad. (Al-Tirmidhi Hadith, Number 38- ALIM CD ROM Version)
    For these traditions, it is much harder to resist the impression of racist overtones. They do not speak about people being whitened or blackened at the time of judgment, but link their original skin color with their eternal destiny, i.e. Allah decreed that blacks will enter hell in contrast to whites.
    In fact, other narrations even command that any person claiming that Muhammad was black be put to death!
    Ahmad ibn Abi Sulayman, the companion of Sahnun, said, “Anyone who says that the Prophet was black SHOULD BE KILLED.” (Muhammad Messenger of Allah (Ash-Shifa of Qadi ‘Iyad), Qadi ‘Iyad Musa al-Yahsubi, translated by Aisha Abdarrahman Bewley [Madinah Press, Inverness, Scotland, U.K. 1991; third reprint, paperback], p. 375; capital emphasis ours)
    Ahmad ibn Abi Sulayman, Sahnun’s companion, said that whoever says that the Prophet was black IS KILLED. The Prophet was not black. (Ibid., p. 387; capital emphasis ours)


  3. Blossom 9 January, 2014 at 13:23 Reply

    This is so sad. I can understand her pain. Being non-white can hinder you from certain opportunities. But I myself, cannnot deny who I am

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