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Business Man in Black Suit

From the NY Times:

Tahani Tompkins was struggling to get callbacks for job interviews in the Chicago area this year when a friend made a suggestion: Change your name. Instead of Tahani, a distinctively African-American-sounding name, she began going by T. S. Tompkins in applications.

vonne Orr, also searching for work in Chicago, removed her bachelor’s degree from Hampton University, a historically black college, leaving just her master’s degree from Spertus Institute, a Jewish school. She also deleted a position she once held at an African-American nonprofit organization and rearranged her references so the first people listed were not black.

The dueling forces of assimilation and diversity have long battled for primacy in the American experience, most acutely among African-Americans. It’s not clear that assimilation has gained an edge here in the waning days of the decade, but the women’s behavior — “whitening” the résumé — is certainly not isolated. Ms. Tompkins and Ms. Orr were among the more than two dozen college-educated blacks interviewed for an article about racial disparities in hiring published last week on the front page of The New York Times. A half-dozen said they had taken steps to hide their race, or at least dial back the level of “blackness” signaled in their résumés.

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