When José Zamora Anglicized His Name, He Revealed Something About "Post-Racial America"
Job searching sucks — the job boards, the Craigslist ads, the cover letter writing, all of it. But after months of looking unsuccessfully for work, José Zamora decided to anglicize his name by dropping one letter, just to see if that made things easier. And suddenly job offers started pouring in. That letter? The "s." In other words, when José became Joe, suddenly people wanted to hire him. What was that you were saying about "post-racial America?"
"I was applying for the same exact jobs," Zamora says. "The exact same resume, the exact same experience." He adds, "Sometimes I don't think people even know . . . that they're judging." But when the same jobs that don't want to hire José are interested in Joe, clearly people are judging.
Zamora's story, unfortunately, won't be surprising to anyone who knows something about hiring disparities and the subtle forms of discrimination that still go on in this country. After all, studies have shown employers are more likely to interview applicants with white-sounding names. People have also been shown to be less overly critical of white people's performance, even in supposedly objective tasks like proofreading. And even before hitting the job market, professors are more likely to want to mentor white, male students than anyone else.
Plus, women and people of color who do promote diverse hiring in their workplace are often seen as less competent, because that makes sense.
Given all of this, it's not surprising that, for instance People magazine is being sued for being a racist workplace. Or that Woody Allen doesn't want to hire black actors for his films, or that SNL needed to face hell and high water before they'd hire a black female comedian, all in spite of the fact that diversity is actually great for Hollywood's bottom line.
Clearly, racist attitudes persist, consciously or unconsciously, in our supposedly "post-racial America." Which is something that can hit people like José Zamora hard while out there on the job market.