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Yesterday, New York City Department of Health revealed that the number one name Black parents applied to their baby girls was Madison, a name historically and traditionally given by White parents. By contrast, the number one boy name was Jayden, often considered a typical “Black name.” The juxtaposition of the contrast is striking.
It is no hidden secret that many Blacks in America for decades have struggled with the decision of whether to name their children a traditional African or African American name. The decision is based on how much they want to give away the race of their children on paper – that paper being resumes or job applications. Before the child is even born, some parents are concerned that a uniquely Black name – like Jayden, Aisha, Ebony, Jamal, Clarence or Tanisha for example – would lessen the chances of that child being cleared for a job interview, should the person screening applicants have any race-based biases.
With a president named Barack Obama in office, we would hope that the days of name discrimination are long over. However, it is hard to know if the person shifting through resumes to select interview applicants will be able to put aside any stereotypes he or she may have and consider only the credentials of an applicant. No one wants his or her child to be cut off from a chance to prove him or herself and his or her qualifications during an interview out of the gate.
A while ago, I noticed a trend among many of my Black American friends in that they were giving their children names that were more traditionally associated with Caucasian children, including some of which were distinctly androgynous. In fact, during the years that I took my children to Gymboree classes from 2002 to 2008, I was taken aback by the number of Black and Brown Kennedys, Morgans, Briannas, Masons, Madisons, Jordans, Carters, Paytons, Baileys, Haileys, Montanas, Regans and Brandis I saw running around.
I wondered if the parents so named their children because they had familial significance, because those were just very pretty names or simply because they may have been more “resume” proof.
There is some science behind the “resume” proof phenomenon.