- Posted May 3, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
What does your name say about you?
Blond boy with a brown name.
- mannynyc, CNN iReport producer
As a blond haired, blue eyed young man with white skin, I fit in quite well with the local population. No one gave me a second look. After school, I started looking for white collar positions in the local job market. When I started submitting applications for employment, I realized something was wrong, when I wasn't getting a single response from prospective employers. It made me wonder if maybe racism had anything to do with it. I shrugged off that thought as being ridiculous and paranoid. After months of fruitless searching, my wife suggested, as an experiment, that I try 'Americanizing' my name on future job applications to see if it made any difference. I changed 'Raphael' to 'Ray'. I hated doing it, but I thought, "what the hell, give it a try".
The result of the name change was immediate. All of a sudden, I was getting calls for interviews. I went from almost a zero response to my applications to over 50%. I accepted a very good position within 2 weeks of job hunting with my new name.
After a few months, I decided to try the experiment again, changing the name on my applications back to 'Raphael'. Out of over 30 applications I received one call for an interview. This is the part that really opened my eyes. I went to my appointment, signed in, and was seated in a reception area with 3 other white gentlemen, all applicants. Intermittently, for the next 45 minutes, a women poked her head through the door and would call out the name of one of the other applicants. I found myself to be the last applicant waiting for my interview when the same woman poked her head through the door, but instead of calling my name, as she had done with the others, she turned back into her office while saying to someone else behind her, "I guess he's not here". I quickly jumped out of my seat and asked if there was a problem, at which point she asked if I had an interview scheduled. When I told her I did, and what my name was, she gave me a startled look and said "well, you don't look like a Raphael".
That was a real eye opener for me, as I realized how tough it was for minorities in my mostly 'white' community to get an even break. I think things have changed quite a bit for the better, but can't help but wonder how many people still judge someone they've never met simply by what kind of name they have.