What’s In a Name?

All rights to this photo belongs to Eviatar Bach via Wikimedia Commons.
All rights to this photo belongs to Eviatar Bach via Wikimedia Commons.

Written by Ijeoma Unachukwu

It’s like the set up for a cheesy joke: a white guy, an Indian, an African, and a Hispanic walk into a job interview.
John Smith, Srithi Patel, Chukwuike Akaba, and Arturo Ramirez to be exact. They all share the same credentials and have all graduated from our wonderful Rutgers University Summa Cum Laude. Who gets the job?

Unfortunately in today’s day and age, the first response would be to assume that John Smith gets the job. The clean cut all-American guy whose parents have steady jobs and a summerhouse in the Keys. He simply “looks” like a better representative for the company, so he gets the job. Luckily such is not the case anymore. More and more, we are seeing companies hire more diverse workforces, which represents the changing demographic of the American people. This is due in part to the rise of affirmative action programs which whether you believe it or not, is very alive and present. Affirmative action in the workplace pushes employees to not only hire the “Smiths” of the world, but gives the Patels, Akabas, and Ramirezs a chance. We are witnessing businesses beginning to embrace diverse people and unique perspectives and that could have long term benefits for the company.

Villagelife.org found the following to be true: “Organizations which excel at leveraging diversity (including the hiring and advancement of women and nonwhite men into senior management jobs, and providing a climate conducive to contributions from people of diverse backgrounds) will experience better financial performance in the long run than organizations which are not effective in managing diversity.” The bottom line is that your international and hard-to-pronounce name is an asset rather than a hindrance to your resume. So why are people still changing  their names to sound more “Americanized?”

Think about it like this: Barack Hussein Obama— is possibly one of the most powerful men in the world with one of the most controversial names in the country. Americans have said that his name reminds them of a terrorist attack they’d rather forget. A blog off of pjmedia. com said that his name “signifies something bizarre, something nomadic, extraterritorial, and domestically
ineffable, something unusual in the roster of commanders- in-chief.” Basically, because his name was not the typical Washington, Bush, or Kennedy, he was deemed unfit for the job as the president of the United States. During the struggle in becoming our 43rd president Obama had to overcome hurls of racist remarks, debates that had less to do with his policy and more to do with his surname, and other non-necessities. Just when it should have been over, after being elected into the office, Obama faced another
wave of nomenclature backlash during his 2012 reelections. In his own words, “When your name is Barack Hussein
Obama, getting elected is difficult,” he said in an interview with ABC. Keep in mind that despite all of those obstacles,
Barack Hussein Obama still won the presidency and the reelection.

So what does that mean for us regular citizens? EMBRACE YOUR NAME. There will always be haters and people who will still attempt to give you an “easier” nickname, but at the end of the day your name will set you apart from any Mary Sue and Greg Jones out there. Your name is your pride, don’t ever forget that.


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