When 7-year-old Dayvid Dixon introduces herself to new people, they either look at her mom or ask her to repeat herself.
She tells them again. “My name is Dayvid.” They ask her if she’s sure that’s her real name, or whether it’s prounounced “DAY-VEE,” suggesting the “d” in her name is silent.
“The words I hear mostly are, ‘Your name is Dayvid? That’s a boy’s name.’ That’s what I usually hear the first day of school,” Dayvid said.
“It’s a girl’s name to me and a boy’s name,” she usually replies. “And it’s my name.”
Even the nurse typing Dayvid’s birth certificate questioned her mother.
“It’s usually a shock to anyone we meet for the first time,” her mother, DeShannon Dixon said.
Dayvid Dixon, a West View Elementary second-grade student, and her mother, a health care consultant and life coach, co-authored an easy chapter book that was published in December. The book is about Dayvid going to school and battling the perception that her name is a boy’s name. When teachers write the names of the students on the black board, they put them in two lists – girls and boys.
Her name is almost always on the boy’s list. This time her name is on the correct side but she sees the name “Ashley” on the boy’s side. She tries to correct the teacher to save the girl from embarrassment, but the teacher tells her that there is a boy named Ashley in the classroom.
The book teaches that names have meanings and can be unisex.
“The story is her’s and mommy cleaned it up a lot,” DeShannon Dixon said. “But she wanted (readers) to know how it felt to her when people question if she’s a boy, and how it makes her feel when (her name) is always on the boys’ list, when clearly she is a girl.”
The two started writing the book in November and finished in a week. Dayvid would come home and tell her mom the encounters she had with other people finding out her name, and told her mother how it made her feel. Her mother would then write it down. DeShannon Dixon self-published the book on Amazon.
“Your name has meaning”
She said her daughter loves to read, but most of the books are not of black characters. She said she thought it would also be nice to have a black female that looked like her daughter on the cover of a book. So they decided to write one themselves.
She said it is important to accept people for who they are because children are affected by what others say.
“I want everyone to know that your name has meaning,” DeShannon Dixon said. “What people call you is what you become and Dayvid means great leader. So it doesn’t matter what circumstance or obstacle comes her way, the more we call her by her name, it ingrains in her and she becomes who she is. And she will be a great leader.”
She said the book has encouraged other parents to do the same thing.
They have now sold more than 200 copies of the book. The mother-daughter duo plans on writing another book in the near future.
Dayvid said she’s “excited to be a 7-year-old author.” She likes seeing her words and thoughts in the book. She said the only thing that doesn’t excite her is taking the time to sign every book.
She looked at her doll sitting next to her and adjusted it to sit up straight. Dayvid said she hopes the book will comfort other kids.
“I want them to learn that if they have an ambiguous name, then it’s OK to be different,” she said. “Everybody’s name is special.”