Do You Have a “Black Sounding” Name?

12 Jul

I love investigative reporting to the innermost bone. I do, I do. It’s investigative reporting that made me want to be a news anchor to begin with. As a kid I watched 60 Minutes just as intently as my grandmother, as Morley Safer or Mike Wallace would dig deep into the nitty gritty filthy dirty backdoor nastiness of a story. With hidden cameras sometimes.

Did I mention I love investigative reporting?

Enter 20/20 with an investigative report based on the bestselling book Freakonomics’ claim that black sounding names get–ahem–picked over for jobs by–ahem–white sounding names . This is fascinating stuff but somehow not so shocking. The news show put 22 pairs of names of what Freakonomics claims are the “blackest” and “whitest” sounding names (both male & female) to the test by posting identical resumes except for the names at the top.

Hmm, want to guess which names got rejected?

The “white sounding” names were downloaded and reviewed 17% more than the “black sounding” names by job recruiters, according to ABC News. Just what were some of those “black sounding” names?

For females:

Imani
Ebony
Shanice
Aaliyah
Precious
Nia
Deja
Diamond
Asia

For males:

DeShawn
DeAndre
Marquis
Darnell
Terrell
Malik
Trevon
Tyrone
Willie
Demetrius

For white females:

Molly

Amy

Claire

Emily

Holly

Madeline

Emma

Abigail

Hannah

And for white males?

Jake

Connor

Cody

Dustin

Lucas

Jacob

Dylan

Maxwell

Hunter

Colin

Fascinating, huh?

The National Bureau of Economic Research also did a similar study/report on the subject and stated that “a white name yields as many more callbacks as an additional eight years of experience [of those with ‘black’ names].”

Tragic.

Apparently there’s a (new) term or two for all this hoopla: “dialing back blackness”  or “whitening the resume.” On paper, at least. (Of course there’s the matter of showing up and the hiring personnel noticing that “Rebecca” on paper is actually not the white woman they may have expected.)  Ouch.

For other interesting reading on this subject, click here.

Oh, the world we live in.

Editing note: I don’t know why but the double-space on the “white” names lists will not correct itself; sorry for the inconsistency.

What about you? Do you have a “black” or “white” sounding name? Have you even had to take notice?

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