Race

Is Your Last Name Affecting Your Job Search?

 

What’s in a name? Apparently, if you’re job hunting, it can mean everything.

Implicit Biases

As a nation and as individuals, implicit biases inform every aspect of daily life, from which neighborhoods we’re willing to visit to our job hiring practices. A good job correlates directly to improved living conditions, happiness, health, and a plethora of other positive incentives. However, as a minority, obtaining a quality job in a country rooted in predominantly white history and culture can be tough. Even people who are white-identifying, but have an ethnic-sounding surname, face this problem: they receive less callbacks and less offers for interviews, despite their resumes clearly indicating they’re qualified for the job. Why?

Otherness and Race

This phenomenon has been studied extensively in academia, whereby surnames that fall outside of an established norm (i.e. a culture of whiteness) inevitably elicit a knee-jerk response of distrust and “otherness.” A study conducted in 2003, “Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination,” by Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan, evidences this point.

In this study, fictitious resumes were sent out in response to wanted ads in Boston and Chicago. Each resume was rife with references, relevant experience, and deftness of form—the only difference was the name attached to each. Resumes had either stereotypical white-sounding names or stereotypical African-American names. The results were staggering.

For white-sounding names, callbacks for interviews occurred at a rate 50% greater than African-American names. And that wasn’t all: even when African-American names were attached to glowing resumes, they still received incredibly low levels of interest. White-sounding names attached to similarly stellar resumes received a 30% increase in callbacks. The conclusion? The amount of discrimination is uniform across all occupations and industries, and when an applicant has a white-sounding name, it is the equivalent of having eight more years of experience.

Unfortunately, phenomena haven’t changed since 2003. In 2014, another study was conducted that substantiated the findings of the 2003 study—proving that employers, in their hiring practices, are inferring something apart from race in a potential employee’s name.

In fact, it seems employers are making several assumptions based on preconceived notions about the cultures attached to ethnic-sounding surnames. When a white-sounding name is held as the golden standard, anything that falls outside of that realm finds itself faced with accusations of being unreliable, a less productive worker, or incompetent (i.e. an untrustworthy, “othered” individual). Certain ethnic names might carry with them the weight of assumed criminal responsibility, too, and be subject to excessive background checks or even more scrupulous Google searches for social media accounts.

Names Do Matter

In a culture like this, names are everything. Employers want the best candidate possible, and in that search, it is difficult, if not impossible, to detangle oneself from the web of preconceived notions and implicit biases that inform our culture of whiteness. As such, white-sounding names, names that are “easier to pronounce,” “more familiar,” and, most importantly, “non-other,”  unfortunately, take precedence, and equally talented minorities struggle to find a job they are more than qualified for.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Black Male College Student-Athletes and Race-based Stereotypes

College Basketball Player

(Photo Credit: Riverside Hawks Education)

In “Theorizing on the Stereotyping of Black Male Student-Athletes,” Hodge, Burden, Jr., Robinson, and Bennett, III (2008) explained that Black male athletes have been perceived as athletically gifted and intellectually inferior since the 19th century to the present day.  They disclosed that the purpose of their paper was to theorize about race-based stereotyping of Black male college student-athletes.  The scholars relied upon tenets of psychological critical race theory to explore racial, social, economic, cultural and psychological factors that impact Black male college student-athletes’ academic and athletic experiences.  Hodge and colleagues divulged that a substantial body of research has identified that Black males who have participated in sport have been stereotyped.  They informed the reader that race-based stereotypic beliefs have been proven to impact Black male college student-athletes’ ability to meet their full athletic potential.  Many Black male college student-athletes have been found to sabotage their own athletic performances to attempt to evade negative stereotypes about them.

Hodge and colleagues (2008) noted that stereotypic beliefs have been found to result in a number of Black males at a young age believing in their athletic prowess over their intellectual capabilities.  The scholars made clear that people can unconsciously employ stereotypic beliefs.  They cited scholarship that indicated a large proportion of students of color have low academic achievement as a result of damaging intellectual stereotypes “directed toward and perceived cognitively” by them (p. 210).  The article also provided research that revealed that students of color have a deep fear of performing in ways that will affirm deleterious intellectual stereotypes about them, and this significant fear often contributes to their low academic achievement in higher education.  The scholars contended that Black youths are often not exposed to Black intellects, so this further results in an internalization of the false notion of their athletic superiority and intellectual inferiority.  The article offered empirical evidence that Blacks aspire to be professional athletes more so than Whites, and this tends to operate as a means of reaffirming race-based stereotypes about Blacks’ athletic superiority.

Hodge et al. (2008) posited that vastly different experiences between Black and White youths in education and sports are impacted by structural inequities in school and community resources.  They state, “For Black students and athletes, their often inequitable educational and sports experiences, compared to their White peers, typifies the prevalence and magnitude of racism in the US” (p. 212).

The integration of Black male college student-athletes into predominantly White institutions’ athletic teams emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s because of a longing by these institutions to achieve significant economic revenue.  Hodge et al. (2008) asserted that Whites will “tolerate” and champion “racial advances” when they benefit from this tolerance and racial progress (p. 214).  When these Black male student-athletes arrive at these predominantly White higher education institutions, the scholars found that they are less likely to graduate than White student-athletes, and they academically underperform White student-athletes.  They demonstrated that many Black male student-athletes are placed at an academic disadvantage because of the limited resources available to prepare them for college at the high schools they attended.  The scholars argued that some Black male student-athletes devote too much attention to athletics and not enough to academics.

Conclusion

The article written by Hodge et al. (2008) evinces that higher education administrators and coaches have to engender policies and employ practices that fight against the toxic impact intellectual stereotypes have on Black male college student-athletes.  Before recruiting and admitting Black male college student-athletes, predominantly White institutions must ensure these student-athletes have the necessary preparation to graduate.  Predominantly White institutions must find ways to integrate Black male student-athletes into their academic culture, and don’t simply limit them to the fields and the courts they contribute their athletic labor.  With the dismal national graduation rates of Black male college student-athletes, more research should be devoted to helping higher education institutions develop ways to increase graduation rates for Black male college student-athletes.

Reference

Hodge, S.R., Burden Jr., J.W., Robinson, L.E., & Bennett III, R.A. (2008). Theorizing on the stereotyping of Black male student-athletes. Journal for the Study of Sports and Athletes in Education, 2(2), 203-226.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Examining Self-perceptions and Behaviors of Successful Black Male College Student-Athletes

Black Male College Student Athletes(Photo Credit: Black Entertainment Television)

In “Diamonds in the Rough: Examining a Case of Successful Black Male Student Athletes in College Sport,” Bimper, Jr., Harrison, Jr. and Clark (2012) investigated the self-perceptions and behaviors that enabled 7 Black male student-athletes to experience academic and athletic success.  A case study was used as the research method, and Critical Race Theory (CRT) was employed as the theoretical framework.  From the findings in the study, the researchers concluded that helping Black male college student-athletes to evolve positive identities as student-athletes and the ability to experience rewarding academic achievement are crucial to their academic success.  The findings of this study revolved around three core themes: complex identities, community, and liberation.

Bimper, Jr. et al. (2012) express that Black male student-athletes are being recruited to predominantly White institutions (PWIs) for their athletic abilities, but many of these student-athletes are experiencing tremendous difficulty with meeting their academic challenges.  They note that recent graduation reports promulgated by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) about 70 bowl-bound NCAA Division I football teams and NCAA Division I tournament-bound basketball teams reveal that the graduation rate of Black male student-athletes is significantly lower than their White counterparts.  In conducting this study, the authors explain that they want to improve knowledge about the distinctive experiences of Black male student-athletes who have been both academically and athletically successful in high-profile revenue-generations sports at PWIs of higher education.  The researchers also disclose that they concentrate their research on “the role in which race unfolds in the experiences and identity of Black male student athletes in this collegiate setting” (p. 108-109).  They assert that great differences in academic achievement between Black male student-athletes and their White counterparts indicate that issues associated with culture, identity, and social relationships could be important to the academic achievement of student-athletes.

Moreover, Bimper, Jr. et al. (2012) explain how pernicious racial stereotypes lead to decreases in Black male college student-athletes’ academic achievement.  Although all student-athletes have to combat “the dumb jock” stereotype, this stereotype becomes even more problematic for Black male student-athletes, considering they academically underperform all of their peers.  The researchers inform the reader that Black male student-athletes have to fight serious pressure to construct a strong athletic identity before they are given the proper space to develop a constructive academic identity.  The authors discussed how Black male student-athletes who participate in high-profile sports experience a level of alienation far greater than that of the general Black student population.

The lead researcher in this study is a Black male and former student-athlete who participated in multiple revenue-generating college sports.  The lead researcher also has experience working with diverse student-athletes.  To ensure trustworthiness, the lead researcher maintained “transparent memos and notes throughout the data collection and analysis, member checked data transcriptions, and collaborated in a peer review process to check biases and discern the accuracy of findings” (Bimper, Jr., et al., 2012, p. 112).

The participants in this study are 7 Black male student-athletes who attend a southwestern PWI on a full athletic scholarship.  The classification of these student-athletes range from sophomore to graduate student: 1 sophomore, 3 juniors, 2 seniors, and 1 graduate student.  The graduate student finished his undergraduate degree in 3 years and had completed work toward a master’s degree when the study was conducted.  Only one of the participants came from a two-parent home.  All of these Black male student-athletes came from low-income homes, and they all attended public K-12 schools prior to enrolling in college.  A purposeful sampling strategy was employed to recruit them for this study.  Specifically, criterion sampling was used to recruit them.  Bimper, Jr. and colleagues (2012) make clear that the reason why Black male college student-athletes at PWIs were sought after is these institutions have proved in the professional literature to be sites where Black male student-athletes experience the lowest academic achievement.  To be selected to participate in this study, the student-athlete would have to have made valuable athletic contributions to the team and be first or second on the depth chart.  Additionally, the student-athlete had to have at least a 3.0 GPA or received some academic award by the institution, NCAA or the athletic department.

The main method of data collection was semi-structured individual and focus group interviews.  The initial questions asked during the individual and focus group interviews are as follows: “(a) ‘Will you describe your experience as a student athlete at your university?’ (b) ‘How have your experiences as a student athlete influenced your perception of self?’ (c) ‘What do you think contributes to your success as a student athlete?’” (Bimper, Jr., 2012, p. 114).

As mentioned previously, three dominant themes emerged from the data collected: complex identities, community and liberation.  The dominant finding that pertains to the complex identities theme is the student-athletes contended that their identity as Black male student-athletes played an instrumental role in their lives, and they provided a counter-narrative to the prevalent thought of them being only athletes.  All participants were proud to identify themselves as being Black and were conscious of their peers and instructors’ perceptions of their racial identity.  Most of the student-athletes posited that toxic stereotypes about being Black and being an athlete are concatenated.  All participants articulated that Black male student-athletes have to confront challenges associated with their athletic and racial identity.

The community theme refers to the participants communicating their ability to “engage a supportive community” that is critical to their academic and athletic success.  One of the participants explained that too many of his teammates attempt to perform well academically on their own, but they struggle mightily.  For this participant, he did not find the language of the recruiters that he would be coming to a “family” environment to be true.  These student-athletes contend that it was their ability to find a supportive community within the institution and use the available resources offered by the institution and athletic department, especially the academic center in the athletic department, that greatly contributed to their academic success.  Some participants felt that the athletic department created a culture where they expected their student-athletes to graduate, but others believed that there was not a true commitment to their degree completion.  All, save one, participants were linked with tutors to work with outside of the athletic department.  The student-athletes found that networking was essential to their academic success, especially networking with Black professors on campus.  In their opinion, one of the fundamental reasons why many Black male student-athletes struggle academically is they fail to network with others on campus, especially Black professors.  These student-athletes communicated that they were able to overcome the pre-college expectations for them to come to college to simply try to become professional athletes.

Moreover, the theme of liberation that surfaced throughout the study refers to the participants becoming “self-empowered through education” (Bimper, Jr., 2012, p. 122).  The participants believe that it’s more important for them to be successful academically than athletically.  It is there hope that they can change perceptions about Black male student-athletes’ intellect by excelling academically.  They were deeply bothered about the negative perceptions on campus about their intellectual capabilities as student-athletes, especially as Black male student-athletes.

One disappointing aspect of this study is it does not offer any understanding of the academic preparation the student-athletes had prior to coming to college.  This study did not provide any understanding about where the participants’ strong self-determination emerged, and what helped them to not fall prey to simply coming to college to try to become professional athletes.  While this study has great potential for helping scholars to understand how to ameliorate the academic achievement of Black male student-athletes at PWIs, its failure to give insights into the pre-college academic and social preparation of the participants leaves many issues and questions unresolved.  Although it does explain that all of the student-athletes come from low-income homes, the reader is left without any understanding of how well the students performed academically in their K-12 experience.  It would have been helpful to learn more about their pre-college social lives and experiences.  Simply learning that the student-athletes come from low-income homes is not sufficient enough to provide essential background information about the pre-college factors that facilitate and militate against their college academic achievement.

The Black male student-athletes provided valuable insights about how important networking, especially with Black professors, was to their academic success.  It would have been helpful to learn specifically what those Black professors provided for them.  Future research should devote critical attention to how networking can aid in the academic success of Black male student-athletes and what can be done to mitigate barriers to Black male student-athletes being able to engage in networking.  Scholars need to investigate why many Black male student-athletes are not currently engaging in networking on-campus and off-campus.  The study offers promising insights about how academic support centers in athletic departments should adopt a culturally relevant pedagogical framework.  The study does not, however, give specific recommendations for accomplishing this.  Future research should provide specific recommendations for establishing a culturally relevant pedagogical framework in academic support centers in athletic departments, and examine the specific academic and social outcomes that result from implementing a culturally relevant pedagogical framework in these academic support centers in athletic departments.

Reference

Bimper, Jr. A.Y., Harrison, Jr., L., & Clark, L. (2012). Diamonds in the rough: Examining a case of successful Black male student athletes in college sport. Journal of Black Psychology, 39(2), 107-130.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison 

Professional Athletes Are Worthy of Their Pay

Black Athletes

Although many people think professional athletes make too much money, they deserve the money they earn.  Professional athletes provide professional team owners with the highest quality talent and skills available in the world for the positions they fill.  When you’re hiring the best available people in the world for the positions you have, those individuals are worthy of earning lucrative salaries.  Professional sports team owners are multi-billionaires who make billions more off of the athletes they employ.  Unfortunately, the significant income disparities between professional athletes and professional team owners are overlooked.  Many people see athletes making millions and fail to realize the owners are raking in billions by giving what’s pocket change to them to the athletes responsible for their continual prosperity.  Yes, many professional athletes are rich, especially baseball, basketball, and football players.  In comparison to money their team owners receive, these professional athletes are making minimum wages or less.

Deeply underlying many people’s arguments against professional athletes earning the lucrative salaries they collect is a racist critique of the perceived realities of the professional sports economy.  One of those racist critiques of the perceived realities of the professional sports economy is it’s leading to too many black male millionaires.  While black men are becoming millionaires in the professional sports economy, it does not compare to the way white men become millionaires in the larger national economy.  Many racists contend that the professional sports economy threatens to upset white economic dominance.  This is such a ridiculous racist postmodern anxiety.  The number of black males receiving million dollar salaries in the professional sports economy is analogous to throwing pebbles in a pond—the number is insignificant in comparison to the number of whites who are millionaires.  Many racists are simply uncomfortable with seeing a black millionaire, especially a black male millionaire.  They try to camouflage their racial hatred for black people by asserting that making millions for playing sports is unjustified.

Last month, Lebron James defended the many millions he makes as a professional basketball player.  Although he’s right in explaining why he deserves to be paid such a significant amount of money, it’s time to expose the racism, prejudice and unsubstantiated arguments offered by many who question the legitimacy of professional athletes earning multi-million dollar salaries.  One has to wonder would this be such a highly discussed topic if there weren’t a conspicuous number of black men getting multi-million dollar salaries to play professional sports.

Lebron James

Professional athletes have elected to devote themselves to careers in sports and their career choices should be respected as you desire to have your career choices respected.

Do you believe professional athletes make too much money?  Why or why not?

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Georgia Schools Lay Unequal Foundations for College”: A Response

Classroom with Students

On November 18, 2012, The Atlanta Journal Constitution published an article entitled, “Georgia Schools Lay Unequal Foundations for College.”  One of the authors of the piece who visited Wilcox County High School in Rochelle, Georgia to cover this story, Jamie Sarrio, failed to discuss the lack of faculty diversity at Wilcox County High School, which significantly contributes to the academic underachievement at this high school—especially among the large Black student population.  Currently, Wilcox County High School only has one minority teacher: a Black female English teacher.  Last year, the school had only two minority teachers: a Hispanic female Spanish teacher and an African American male English teacher.  Both of those teachers were fired.  The Black male English teacher, who the current Black female English teacher replaced, was terminated due to Superintendent Steve Smith’s bias against him because he was an outspoken voice against practices and policies employed at the school that have a devastating impact on the academic achievement of all students, especially Black students.

About 50% percent of the student population at Wilcox County High School is Black.  Again, the school only has one minority teacher and this teacher was only hired as an attempt to camouflage the unjust termination of the previous Black male English teacher.

During Jamie Sarrio’s observations and interviews with students and teachers at Wilcox County High School, one would think that she would see something wrong with the reality that this school has about a 50% percent Black student population and only one Black teacher.  Superintendent Steve Smith established parameters for her school visit geared toward painting a rosy picture and that would avoid allowing a substantive investigation of a serious issue like the lack of faculty diversity at the school.  One has to, therefore, give Jamie Sarrio the benefit of the doubt about why she left out a discussion of the lack of a diverse faculty at the institution.  While doing her journalistic work for this story, Jamie Sarrio did have knowledge about the lack of faculty diversity at the school, considering she saw it absent firsthand and knew about the following article published in The Cordele Dispatch: “Citizens Want Teacher Back Next Year.”

As long as Superintendent Steve Smith continues to fail to address the lack of faculty diversity at Wilcox County High School, the school will continue to be considered a failing school and will produce students who perform at the bottom at the state and national level.  Yes, Wilcox County High School has economic issues that schools in metro-Atlanta and Atlanta don’t have to face.    Superintendent Steve Smith, however, cannot blame his failure to hire a diverse faculty on where he’s located, especially when the school is located about 50 miles from Albany State University, a prestigious historically Black university in Albany, Georgia.

Minority students need to benefit from a diverse faculty to aid them emotionally, socially, professionally and academically.  When minority students are able to have a minority teacher in the classroom, they are much more likely to relate to that teacher and, more importantly, it’s more likely that the teacher is going to employ culturally relevant pedagogy, which not only leads to success for minority students but also White students.

Reread and/or rethink “Georgia Schools Lay Unequal Foundations for College” with the lack of faculty diversity in mind and see how differently it makes you think about the problems Wilcox County High School and other schools without a diverse faculty face.  One will discover that the problems at Wilcox County High School are much more about race than they are about economics.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison               

Tim Wise is Passionate about Racial Justice

If you are looking to read a blog that features a man who is passionate about racial justice, you will love to read Tim Wise’s blog (http://www.timwise.org/). I have to inform you that Tim Wise is a leftist writer and thinker. If you are a conservative or moderate, what he actually says on his blog will not comport with your thought. This reality, however, should not prevent you from reading his blog. One of the best ways for us to become better writers and thinkers is to read the positions of those we disagree with. By reading the positions of those we disagree with, we learn more about why we believe what we believe and learn more ways to attack the positions of our opposition.

This White man has more zeal about racial justice than many African-Americans I know. He has devoted his life, writing, and research to racial justice. Tim Wise understands the complexity and importance of race and racial dynamics in America. I can assure you that his blog will provoke serious thought for you—whether you agree with him or not.

I encourage you to take a look at Tim Wise’s blog (http://www.timwise.org/). He has some important things to say, and you will love his passion.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison