It is often joked that minorities are more likely to be hired because institutions want/need diversity, but the reality is research still shows that a White male with the same qualifications as a Black male is more likely to be hired for the same job. This bias specifically applies to resumes. “Ethnic” names and connections with Ethnic organizations (Latino United Fund, NAACP, HBCUs etc.) are seen as damaging for non-White applicants in corporate America. Thus, many Black candidates have chosen to remove or change information in order to “Whiten” their resume.
I cannot help but think of my own life experiences when I have felt as if it is necessary to assimilate to fit in and be accepted with White people in my school, college, neighborhoods and churches. Even if I did not assimilate, I let inconsiderate racial (and often political) comments go because I did not want to be the angry Black person that disagreed with everything. What is more dangerous is that I did not feel comfortable expressing my racial point of view, be it religious, social, political etc. (not all points of view are based on race, but race often mediates points of view). I knew that the only way to be “in” with the majority and the folks in power was to not rock the boat and to be as much like them that I could – even if I was not honest to them or myself.
This is not solely an ethnic-minority issue. Folks with Southern accents (notice the plural, there are a variety of Southern accents) are perceived as dumb or slow and females have their own set of roadblocks to overcome. The issue is one of culture. In this case, the acceptance of racial difference and the culture of those differences.
To a degree, it is understood that applicants must adapt to a professional culture. An applicant cannot interview in baggy jeans and a South Pole sweater (and one’s boss should view their employee or applicant differently if he or she sees them in the store with baggy jeans and a South Pole sweater), but when individuals feel as if they must augment or hide their legal name, educational background and ethnic identity we must classify this as ethnocentric and racist.
Nevertheless, even those who make it and are hired are often stuck. NPR also posted a story on Blacks not advancing to high positions within corporations. Even institutions that “celebrate diversity” and have a diverse staff often fail to mentor ethnic-minorities and women into places of senior leadership. Although U.S. companies of various ilks may appear diverse, their leadership is generally ethnically homogeneous.
We have gone far, but we still have a long way to go.