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"Do you have a nickname?"
"Can I just call you Key-Key?"
"Is that African?" (Because Africa is a country, you know.)
"That's an exotic name."
I go along to make colleagues comfortable, but I often find myself questioning my name and the stereotypes that go along with it, particularly in my career. Because, depending on the people who see my name, they see a black woman. And depending on their perspective, they see a certain type of black woman, with a certain type of education, and hopefully a decent Harlem Shake.
Shakespeare asked, "What's in a name?" Familial ties, cultural cues, and perhaps the city in which your parents conceived you (Hey, Savannah!) are a part of our names, but what if they become a hindrance toward finding a job, receiving equal pay, or building wealth?
While I was unemployed, my day job was applying for jobs. While I tried to remain positive about my name on my resume, there were times I considered using my middle name because it is racially ambiguous and easier to pronounce. I never went through with it and I did land a job with my real name, but there are countless stories about name discrimination during the application stage of the hiring process.
Last year, ABC's 20/20 posted identical resumes on a career website but used the "blackest" and "whitest names" as determined by the book Freaknomics. The resumes with the "whitest names" were downloaded nearly 20% more than the resumes with the black-sounding names. Two professional women, one African-American and the other Latina, frustrated by the lack of call backs and interviews, devised an experiment where they replaced their more "ethnic" names with "whiter names." Sadly, when they changed their names, they received more attention from employers.
Source: Black Voices / Kianta Key | The Daily Muse