By Louis Chan
AsAmNews National Correspondent
It’s common knowledge some Asian Americans avoid listing their ethnicity in their college applications, fearful that it could hurt their chances of getting into the university of their choice.
Not as well known, but apparently taking place for years, is the practice of resume whitening.
People of color, including Asian Americans, have been removing any references on their resumes of their race. That means removing any awards from racially identifiable organizations or even changing their names to sound less ethnic.
A google search found an article written in the New York Times about the practice in 2009. More recently, resume whitening became a topic in the news after a University of Toronto Mississauga researcher released her study on the practice.
Sonia Kang found that among Asian applicants in the U.S., 21 percent heard back from employers after changing their resume versus 11.5 percent who got call backs who did not whiten their resume. The pattern was the same for African Americans. 25.5% received calls backs if they whitened their resumes versus just 10% who did not whiten them.
Kang sent out 1600 fabricated resumes to employers in 16 metropolitan regions of the United States to reach her findings. She also interviewed 59 Asian American and African American candidates between the ages of 18 and 25. 36% admitted whitening their resumes and two-thirds said they knew somebody who does.
Do you blame these applicants for resume whitening? My gut reaction is yes. How can they hide such a big part of who they are. Then again, maybe if I was in their situation, I would be doing the same. It’s hard to know unless you’re in their shoes.
It’s sad that people feel that they have to resort to whitening their resumes. Anyone who says discrimination no longer exists in this country is living with their eyes closed. Discrimination, while often subtle, is real. It’s a reality people of color face every day.
What has been your personal experience? If you’re a minority, is resume whitening something you would consider or possible have done? Share your experiences in our comments section.
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