Society Wants Me To Hate My Name
This week I felt the need to discuss a common issue that many Black women face in the areas of employment, and networking opportunities. When society thinks a certain name is "too ethnic" they will instantly discriminate, and pass judgement upon that person. I originally wrote this article for My Black Matters, but here's a sneak peak of my story below.
I once read an article review that discussed the results of an experimental study completed in regards to discrimination in the workplace. It was revealed that applicants with non-ethnic names were called back 5 times more than those with ethnic names to move forward in the initial interview process. It was noted that the researchers deliberately chose to have all samples resumes identical except for the name difference. Thus meaning, qualifications, education, and credentials were overlooked due to an assumption made about someone’s name. An assumption based upon discrimination.
My name is Kisha, and society has taught me to hate my name. Society often associates all Kisha’s to be ghetto, on welfare, having multiple children, or the big booty video vixen in rap videos. My name has also hindered my career from advancing in the direction I would prefer. I struggle with being able to display to potential employers that I am a marketable candidate despite my name. I have also heard firsthand from friends that work in Human Resources that people with my kind of name don't get hired. They throw out the resumes of people with ethnic names.
I am a Social Worker for an outpatient mental health clinic, and although I feel lucky to have had job stability by working for the same company for four years, I have still been in search for something better. It is very discouraging to rarely receive call backs if any. I typically receive the usual “We regret to inform you that although your skills are impressive, we have decided to go with another candidate that is more qualified”. I have the experience, passion for my field, and a Master’s degree to follow; but no one will know if my name continues to stand in the way. I know I am more than qualified, but I will never have the chance to prove my skill set if I continue to be discriminated against. I recently decided if I was ever going to make it in the corporate America I had to do something about my name. I decided to use my middle name, Denise, on my resume instead of my “ethnic first name”. Society has taught me that Denise is more appropriate because it is less ethnic. I have also noticed that abbreviating my first name may be better as well. An example would be K. Smiley or K. D. Smiley.
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