I was saddened to read in this tight job market some black applicants are whitening their names and deleting Historically Black Colleges and Universities from their resumes. No one should ever have to deny any part of themselves to be accepted by others. I certainly understand why a job applicant would like to eliminate as many barriers to landing a job as possible. I am not sure, though, changing the name on a resume or removing information from it will be effective. At some point, potential employers will meet applicants for an interview and see who they have shortlisted.

I could not help but think about a study released before Simone was born. The authors found when applicants had comparable experience those who had ethnic names were 50 percent less likely to receive a callback than those who had white-sounding names. I had a sophisticated name as a child and had to grow into it. I kept that in mind as Ken and I chose Simone and Nadia’s names. I did not want to give them a name only for them or someone else to shorten it. I wanted their names to be feminine, and I wanted their names to fit them as children and as adults. We found all of those attributes in the names Simone and Nadia. I hope we have given them names they can be proud of their entire lives, names they will not need to change on their resumes or on any other documents.

5 thoughts to “Whitening Names

  • Nikki

    That’s really sad. I hope my children never have a problem with their names.

  • Joyful Mom

    It is very sad and troubling that job applicants have to go to the extreme measure of denying major parts of their identity just to land an interview. I’m not sure how effective that ultimately is either.

    I think you chose lovely names for your girls.

  • Ernessa, author of 32 Candles

    Hmm, I’ve often wondered about this myself when I didn’t get calls for jobs for which I was perfectly qualified. But then again, I will say that at my old job I called in applicants with obviously black names only twice. This wasn’t b/c of their names or the schools they went to. This was most often b/c their cover letter wasn’t up to snuff. In fact, when we were looking to staff during a recession, I was shocked in general by how many people just don’t put the effort into cover letters that they should have.

    I’m not looking to gloss over this problem, but I will say that “being outstanding” in general often opens locked doors. I used to find it tiresome that white people didn’t have to be outstanding to get places, but now that I have gotten to the places that I want to go, I find working harder has it’s own rewards outside of race or politics.

    • Percola

      I hear you, Ernessa. There are multiple reasons why someone may not receive a call back. There’s also no excuse for sloppy errors on a resume.

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