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Old 09-21-2006, 09:17 AM   #1
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What's In A Name?

I can't believe 4 and 5 year olds have prejudices based upon names, and racial prejudices at that. That's very surprising to me, and depressing. The adult stuff is depressing too of course, but sadly not surprising.

http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=2463266&page=1

"Putting Names to the Test

In 2004, "20/20" brought together a group of young black professionals who doubted that the black-sounding names on their resumes made a difference. We put 22 pairs of names to the test, posting identical resumes, with the only difference being the name.

Since the content of the resumes was identical, it would make sense that they'd get the same attention. However, the resumes with the white-sounding names were actually downloaded 17 percent more often by job recruiters than the resumes with black-sounding names.

"You really never know why you don't get called back for that interview. I thought it's because of my job skills. But I never thought it was because of my name," said Tremelle, a participant in the study.

Jack Daniel, a professor of communication at the University of Pittburgh, has done research that shows both white and black children prefer white-sounding names.

Daniel asked a group of 4- and 5-year-old children a series of questions. The children were asked to answer the questions based solely on names. For example, "Who is the smartest, Sarah or Shaniqua?"

"Sarah," one boy answered.

Daniel asked, "Who would you like to play with, Tanisha or Megan?"

"Megan," another child said.

Daniel asked, "Who took the bite out of your sandwich? Do you think it was Adam or Jamal?"

Another boy said, "Jamal."

Inferring From a Name

Why do we discriminate based on names? It may not be about race but instead what some names signal about a person's background.

"A distinctively black name tells us that a person typically comes from a neighborhood that has higher poverty, lower income, more likely to have teen mothers, et cetera," Fryer said.

There's new research that shows names may even tell us about more than just social background; a name may affect future decisions about marriage and career.
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Old 09-21-2006, 11:26 AM   #2
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A place I worked at hired many people with "black names". Since it was a company that provided caregivers for the elderly, there were clients who would be upset just hearing the name of their caregiver...they had immediate prejudice. Skill had nothing to do with it...they would hear the name and get turned off...demand somebody else. I was responsible for most of the hiring, and I was told to really go after people whose applications had "white names". When I did phone interviews, I had to determine if they sounded black or white. If they sounded white, I was to bring them in for an interview ASAP, even if their application wasn't that stellar. If they were black, I was to only bring them in for an interview if they had a wonderful application and gave a nice phone interview. I understood where they were coming from...but it was 100% unfair, and I wasn't comfortable being in that position. That was just one of the reasons why I decided I had to leave that company ASAP.
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Old 09-21-2006, 11:34 AM   #3
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Wow, that is unbelievable Bonochick- thanks for sharing that. Perfect example for the topic.

You know it never even occurred to me, but my name is more common among African American women than it is among white women (well in my experience it is), and now I'm actually wondering if that has ever been a factor in being called back for interviews, etc.
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Old 09-21-2006, 11:37 AM   #4
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I dated a girl in high school that apparently had a "black name" but was white, and I had many people who I would have never thought to be racist cast judgement upon her before meeting her.
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Old 09-21-2006, 12:19 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by Bonochick
A place I worked at hired many people with "black names". Since it was a company that provided caregivers for the elderly, there were clients who would be upset just hearing the name of their caregiver...they had immediate prejudice. Skill had nothing to do with it...they would hear the name and get turned off...demand somebody else. I was responsible for most of the hiring, and I was told to really go after people whose applications had "white names". When I did phone interviews, I had to determine if they sounded black or white. If they sounded white, I was to bring them in for an interview ASAP, even if their application wasn't that stellar. If they were black, I was to only bring them in for an interview if they had a wonderful application and gave a nice phone interview. I understood where they were coming from...but it was 100% unfair, and I wasn't comfortable being in that position. That was just one of the reasons why I decided I had to leave that company ASAP.

Damn, no wonder you left. I'd have been extremely uncomfortable had I been put in the position you were in.
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Old 09-21-2006, 07:55 PM   #6
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The name of the guy who did research on children and names is funny.

I wonder if kids, young kids especially, can discriminate. At young ages they only can speak the truth as they see it, and that unfortunately includes saying rather loudly that someone might be very fat or very tall, or perhaps smells yucky from too much perfume. Mine told me recently that she wanted to marry a boy in her class named Ayal. She doesn't care where his parents are from, or if he was born here or in Greenland. I asked her once which boy he was, and she pointed and said "the one with the brown hair and blue hat". If I regularly pointed out people using race as descriptors, then she would too, I'm sure.
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Old 09-21-2006, 09:34 PM   #7
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Couldn't it just be a matter of these kids not being familiar with the "black names?" Meghan, Sarah, etc are probably a lot more common - names of their friends perhaps and the other names they just haven't encountered. Most kids wouldn't even realize that there are black and white names. To think that these kids already have preconceived notions about names is a pretty big leap.
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Old 09-21-2006, 10:33 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by randhail
Couldn't it just be a matter of these kids not being familiar with the "black names?" Meghan, Sarah, etc are probably a lot more common - names of their friends perhaps and the other names they just haven't encountered. Most kids wouldn't even realize that there are black and white names. To think that these kids already have preconceived notions about names is a pretty big leap.
Right, I agree with this for kids.


For adults, that's different.
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Old 09-22-2006, 06:22 PM   #9
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as to most of life's questions, the answer can be found in freakonimics

http://www.slate.com/id/2116505/
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Old 09-23-2006, 03:37 AM   #10
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This is really sad. Kids on the playground are generally mean-spirited and competitive anyway though without the racial typecasting.
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