Friday, January 17, 2003

Does it help to have a White Name?

This article seems to indicate that this statement is true. Whether it is true or not I have no idea, because statistical and research analysis can be manipulated to give us whatever answers we want to hear. However, I think that there may be some truth to this matter. On the whole we must first look at what exactly a name is. It is a syllable, or string of syllables that identifies us. When we meet someone in person this string of words follows a handshake, a scowl, or a smile...it identifies us, and later that name becomes synonymous with the attitude that people have toward us. Of course in the perfect world, the only way that someone forms an opinion about us is because of our actions.

Do I think that it is justified that someone may want to interview a "D. Kelly" instead of a "Dedrick Khalil"? No, I don't think that it is justified at all, but do we all tend to do that sometimes. Think about the height of the Anthrax Terror after the World Trade Center, who would you want to come work on the ventilation system in your home? "Emir Al-Kaseem's Air Conditioning Service", or "Ben Ross air-conditioning and heating"? Come on....don't lie. I hate the idea of racial profiling, but to a certain extent haven't we all done it? The reason being is that we tend to form pemanent opinion's from a limited or nonexistent scope of exposure.

Does this disparity in granting interviews mean that the person necessarily has the opinion that someone named Tyrone or Jamal is less intelligent and capable than someone named Lance or Eric? Maybe...maybe not. Who knows? That is on an individual basis. This leaves us with important questions about ourselves. Are we all somewhat prejudicial to some degree? Do "Black-Sounding" names inhibit our kids from getting a fair shake in the job market? Is there a difference between a "Black-Sounding" name like Lakeisha, Laquita, Raekwon, and DeShawn and actual African names? Does one name have more credibility because it is actually a name and not something that the parent created. Personally I think that it is good to have a unique or interesting name. However, I think that if you are too unique or too creative you will encounter barriers. Nobody wants to be repeatedly asked how to spell or pronounce their name, and that will cause problems in the workplace. My opinion? What you name your child is a personal choice that should not be influenced by anyone, but just think about the long-term.

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