The Musings of

Something full of magic, religion, bullsh*t.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Tarquin Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim Bus Stop F'tang F'tang Ole Biscuitbarrel

Ever the dutiful husband, I let Mrs. Centinel control the TV remote for awhile last night. I'm not a big fan of reality shows or docu-dramas, but my wife loves anything that has cooking, shopping, or medical procedures. As such, I was forced to watch some show dealing with the trials and tribulations surrounding several difficult births. I feigned interest through most of it, but one thing did set me thinking. I kept getting two of the story lines confused because the mothers looked very much alike -- they were black, heavyset, and had the same facial features -- but when they spoke you could tell that one was more educated than the other. Eventually, both had their kids and the educated one named hers something simple, I think it was Eric, while the other one was named something uniquely black, like Rayneesha or LaQuinta. This prompted a brief conversation between my wife and I as to the social impact of naming your child LaVan instead of Mary. We both agreed that, simply put, by adopting some unique, non-traditional name, black parents were starting their kids in a hole. I think my comment was, "I don't think there are too many brain surgeons named Shaniqua."

It turns out that I was not far from the truth. In two recent studies, economists have been attempting to get a grip on the cost of racial identity. They have designed a test whereby they submit similar resumes to employers where half have white-sounding names and half are black-sounding. What they found was that the former group need to send 10 resumes out to get 1 callback while the latter must send out 15 -- a 50% difference. The estimate is that a white name is worth 8 years of additional work experience.

It comes to mind that names can be a funny thing, depending on time, place, and race. I look to my own family tree and can pull down such fruit as Eunice, Guyula, Alphaeus, and Bird. However, these were common, simple folk whose names have long since dropped out of favor. Equally odd and amusing is the current, matching trend among whites to give their children racially distinctive names. Gone are the Franks and Jennifers, replaced with Masons and Kaitlyns.

It will be interesting to see how these trends continue and whether they have a lingering effect on the economic well being of the community. Whatever the case, it appears that currently blacks are paying a high price for racial pride and independence.
Centinel 2:18 PM #


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