Dear Queer White People,
I am still terrified that I won’t graduate with a job. No matter how many conferences and cases and interviews I get invited into, the lingering fear that a hiring manager is going to look at my name and pass my resume over is still there. The fear has personified itself into a phrase that sticks to a hidden and secluded part of my brain. And it’s as simple as this: I have to work twice as hard to get half as far. It’s the old Black saying that sticks to the back of my mind constantly. I always have to sit there and and wonder if it’s a true statement, or if my opportunity goes as far as I’d like it to. Every time I fill out a new application, or get told that a company will get back to me, or whatever else may happen, I wonder if this is the day that my application goes through. If this is the day I get an offer. Or is this another failure to add to the list?
I was born with the unfortunate circumstance that I can’t hide my blackness, or my culture, behind my name. And while some people say that it is more than just a name that goes into the selection process, I feel it is crucial to mention the countless amounts of studies that have gone into the difference between a culturally ambiguous name versus and culturally forward name. I also feel that it is important to mention that as a test, I would apply to companies twice: once with my full first name, and again with half of my first name, Elsa. I have never gone by Elsa in my life, but soon Elsa got calls back, and I didn’t. That only served to enhance my fears of graduation without a solid plan of what I was going to do next.
But then I have to consider this: in my life, I have had countless opportunities that have helped me grow into the person that I am today. And I received these opportunities with my name. No tricks or gimmicks, just me laid out on my resume, application, and LinkedIn profile. So clearly, there are employers who don’t get stuck on my name. There may be some, but the fact is there is something about me that people do respond to. Even more importantly, if I am getting blocked from opportunity for something as trivial as my name, is that a place where I want to be? After talking with other people at school in similar situations, I realize that we’re all in the same boat: scared, tired, and a little confused. We’re all hoping for the break that makes all the tears, long nights, and promise of crushing debt worth it and hopefully takes away most of our fears. But the question remains: why are there so many of us in the same boat?