Originally published on The Black American News Network website Aug. 2012 Updated June 27, 2015
‘…impulse to call Johnny back for a job interview but not Jamal’ President Barack Obama June 26, 2015 during eulogy of Reverend Clementa Pinckney
For African-Americans, name means everything. Your name is the one thing post emancipation that cannot be taken away, not easily anyway. Together with a social-security number, your name identifies you as unique. It sets you apart. It is reasonable then to assume that until you have done something to taint your name or that attaches to your social-security number, no one would have any reason to deny you opportunities before meeting you, right. But hold on folks, there’s a new sheriff in town and he’s policing by a new set of rules.
While minorities of all kinds have wrestled with whether to celebrate their culture by giving their children distinctive names, or help them "blend in" with a name that won't stick out, blacks have chosen increasingly distinctive names over the past century, with the trend accelerating during the 1960s.
Research in the U.S. shows that as a result, employers now use these names to identify ethnicity. Names like DeShawn and Shanice are almost exclusively black, while whites, whose names have also become increasingly distinctive, favored names like Cody and Caitlin. Roland Fryer of the Cambridge-based National Bureau of Economic Research says, “It's not really that you're named Kayesha that matters, it's that you live in a community where you're likely to get that name that matters."
However, in another paper entitled “Are Emily and Greg more employable than Lakisha and Jamal?” Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal … The University of Chicago's Marianne Bertrand and MIT's Sendhil Mullainathan appeared to find that a black-sounding name could be an impediment. For many blacks this presents a peculiar problem. On the one hand, they do not want their children robbed of their ethnicity, on the other they believe a distinctively black name could end up being an economic impediment.
'Black' Names A Resume Burden? - CBS News
Written by Jay Arrington, The Maryland Daily Examiner
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