76849699Among African Americans, the practice of whitewashing the résumé is a long-held strategy, and a practice that is increasing in the current job market. Apparently, Black applicants strive to “dial down the Blackness” in the hopes that it will improve their odds at securing a job interview.

The New York Times reports that measures such as altering ethnic sounding names (Bonquisha J. Smith reemerging as B.J. Smith) and omission of  ones affiliation to an HBCU or other connections to the Black community are standard practice for many on the job hunt.

Yvonne Orr, who excluded her alma mater, Hampton University, was advised to do so by her mother, a one-time Black Panther. She discouraged her daughter from presenting a résumé that declared aloud: ‘I’m Black.’ ”

Proof of Affirmative Action’s limited reach, this bleach-like tactic is viewed as a method to prove to potential employers that this one can be relied upon to keep his or her proverbial head down. NYU law professor Kenji Yoshino adds, “My notion of covering is really about the idea that people can have stigmatized identities that either they can’t or won’t hide but nevertheless experience a huge amount of pressure to downplay those identities,” he said. Mr. Yoshino says that progress in hiring has meant that “the line originally was between whites and nonwhites, favoring whites; now it’s whites and nonwhites who are willing to act white.”

Human Beings have already established that most of us will do just about anything for money. Today, the value we place on money is far outweighs what Wall Street dictates. In this fragile economy, we’re not keeping up with the Joneses anymore; we’re getting by alongside of them. We ask you this Clutchettes & Gents: At what cost?

Dig the Times’ succinct summation:

John L. Jackson Jr., a professor of anthropology and communications at the University of Pennsylvania and author of “Racial Paranoia,” said he wondered about the “existential cost” of this kind of behavior, even if the adjustments were temporary and seem harmless.

“In some ways, they are denying who and what they are. They almost have to pretend themselves away.”

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  • Anthony White

    I believe that we honor our ancestors by wearing our names with dignity and pride, even if those names aren’t exactly African, Arabic, or Muslim in origin. It’s easy to say that we have pride in our heritage…until our beliefs are tested by struggle. If we truly want to be seen as a proud race, we must stand up and be seen as who we are instead of shielding our true selves for the sake of money. I would much rather work for McDonald’s, knowing that I held firm in expressing who I really was, than work for a fortune 500 company via disguises and misleading info, shearing away some of my identity in the process. Yet, being able to form sentences correctly has nothing to do with the color of our skin, but our willingness to learn how to pick up a book, apply ourselves, and get educated! By the way, my father is a Black man, and I carry on his last name, which is White!!!!!!

  • I am who I am. I’m very proud of who I am. I will never try to omit anything about myself just to get a job or gain anything for the matter. When I send off my resume I’m sure my name clearly states that I am Black. It also gives clues that I’m a feminist and I’m a part of the LGBT community. When I send off my resume I have a “take it or leave it’ attitude. If someone doesn’t want to hire me because of any reason that has nothing to do with my skills and experience then I don’t want to work for them anyway. It’s as simple as that.

  • Gina

    If we continue to follow this trend (hiding our blackness), the issue will never be resolved. If more people embraced their ethnicity, then the more other people will be forced to migrate to embrace other cultures. If you continue to band-aid the problem, the problem will never get fixed.

  • T. Kennedy

    If you have bills piling up and children to care for “you gotta do what you gotta do.” I think it is okay to change whatever you need to change (remaining honest of course) to get your foot in the door and get the interview or job. If your parent(s) named you “Tamileesha BooBoo Jenkins”, I feel it is probably a good thing to shorten it to “Tami” just for the job. Once you have the job you have an opportunity to educate employers and to challenge their prejudices. Your stellar performance at the company will hopefully speak for itself and if it doesn’t there are always HR folks to solve issues.


  • Sexy Jess

    I’ve never consciously “whitened” my resume, but I understand why people do it. I happen to have a “white sounding” name and voice, and I don’t think I have any credentials that reveal my race. Employers are surprised to see that I am black when they meet me for an interview. Of course, they don’t say it, but I can see the look on their faces. I often get questions like… Do you have reliable child care? How will you be getting to work? I don’t like those questions because I think the answers are obvious. Why would I apply for a job if I won’t be able to get there? I have a feeling that they ask me these questions because of stereotypes they may have about black people.