Back in 2003, the University of Chicago's Marianne Bertrand and Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sendhil Mullainathan published a classic example of pseudo-scholarship: A study showing that, all other things being equal, job applicants with “African-American” sounding names are likely to suffer job discrimination compared to applicants with white-sounding names. (Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination, MIT Department of Economics Working Paper No. 03-22, May 27, 2003)
The researchers sent out application letters for imaginary job candidates in which everything was equal—grades, major, school—except their names. They found that “White names receive 50 percent more callbacks for interviews” than black-sounding names.
The “study” led to a blizzard of MSM “racism” accusations against corporate America, the same world which routinely hires unqualified blacks over qualified whites. Generating such accusations was, of course, the point of the “study”.
In 2009, for example, CNN writer Jessica Dickler opened a duplicitous story on this subject by focusing on whites with problem names (her first two examples were a white man named Glenn Miller, who has the same name as a WWII era bandleader, and a white woman named Colleen Rzucidlo, whose name cannot be pronounced without special training). Their pictures were shown in order to gull white readers, before Dickler turned in the tenth paragraph to her real subject: Discrimination against blacks with odd-sounding names.
And even then, Dickler continued her deception, by focusing on a Kenyan woman named Nakores Sameita.
(The only other person Dickler cited was a Hispanic man named Duram Gallegos who couldn’t speak Spanish. We’re supposed to see Gallegos as a victim, because prospective employers expect him to be a Spanish speaker, rather than as the affirmative action beneficiary that he is.)
And Dickler produced the Bertrand-Mullainathan study with a triumphant flourish:
For example, résumés with white-sounding names have a 50% greater chance of receiving a callback when compared to those with African American names, according to a study performed for the National Bureau of Economic Research by the University of Chicago's Marianne Bertrand and Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sendhil Mullainathan.
Can your name keep you from getting hired? These job seekers think their unusual names are getting in the way of their job by Jessica Dickler, CNNMoney, August 27, 2009.]
“Nakores Sameita” is not an “African American name.” Shiniqua Washington or Lakisha Smith are African American names.
Why do I boldly assert that the Bertrand-Mullainathan study was "pseudo-scholarship"? Because
Where blacks and whites are concerned, all other things are never equal. If a white and a black job candidate both have identical GPAs, even for identical courses at the same school, the white candidate will invariably be academically superior, because unqualified blacks enjoy massive privilege (here and here) in getting admitted to “selective” and “highly selective” universities, and massive college grade inflation, once accepted.
(In 1998, I pseudonymously published Making Up the Grade: Notes from the Antiversity, which was then the state-of-the-art study on college grade inflation, in the neocon journal, Academic Questions. I published a series on the Internet in 2001: here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.)
When I taught college, I also engaged in grade inflation for black students, though not to the degree that my colleagues did. I’d give black students who had earned a failing grade, Ds and Cs. But I had colleagues who gave As to black students for term papers as bad or worse than Michele Obama’s work at Princeton.
For over 40 years, everyone in academia, including Chicago's Bertrand and MIT's Mullainathan, as well as everyone involved in hiring college grads, has known this.
Anyone who has dealt with black employees in academia, the schools, or the non-academic work force also knows that the average black employee is less punctual, less diligent, and more troublesome than the average white employee. There is even an old phrase, that 20 years ago was still used in private by liberal, as well as conservative whites: “CPT”; “colored people’s time”, which refers to black educators’ notorious tardiness.
The real issue is what a “black-sounding” name says about what an employer can expect from a worker: Trouble.
It’s bad enough dealing with young blacks, whatever their names are. When sociologist William Julius Wilson’s researchers interviewed Chicago businessmen in the early 1990s for his book, When Work Disappears, the white bosses all gave dishonest, PC answers to the interviewers’ questions. But the black businessmen, who did not have to worry about extortionary civil rights lawsuits, felt no such constraints. They told the interviewers flat-out that they avoided hiring young black men because most of them were unemployable: They came to work late, refused to do an honest day’s work, and caused trouble in the workplace.
Beginning with the welfare revolution during the mid-1960s, leftist organizers and welfare officials (for example, New York Mayor John Lindsay’s social services commissioner Mitchell “Come and Get It” Ginsberg) got hostile, working-class black women with out-of-wedlock children to quit their jobs and go on the dole. Those women then served as role models for millions of young black girls who had never worked. The black illegitimacy rate went from 21.7 percent in 1965, when Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote his report on the black family, to 72.3 percent today.
Those hostile black girls and women led an underclass baby boom, during which ever-higher proportions of them gave their babies “black” or “African” names. (The scare quotes are because the names were often simply made up—many of the fathers of said children couldn’t even spell their own kids’ names—and hadn’t previously been considered “black” or “African”. And the names that were African tended to be Moslem, which made no sense, since African Moslems traditionally held blacks in contempt and, as a group, had been the most abusive of all slave traders and owners.)
The mothers of these children were expressing hostility towards whites, America, and Christianity. They inculcated this in their violent, criminal children, whom sensible whites avoided at all costs. The names became indelibly associated with the black criminal class.
That occasionally one runs into someone with one of these names who is bright, well-adjusted, law-abiding, punctual and a hard worker does not change the ugly norm.
In 1989, when I was a social worker, while making a home visit to one of my foster mothers, Martha B., I looked at the framed photograph of her young son, who was in school. When she told me, “That’s my son, James,” she saw the surprise on my face, read my mind, and answered, “None of that Shiniqua s—t.”
Which brings me to “S—tavious.”
S—tavious J. Cook, 15, stands under indictment in Illinois for burglary, first-degree murder committed during a separate crime, and a slew of other charges.
Was a time, when criminologists such as James Q. Wilson and John J. Di lulio used the term “super-predator” to refer to folks like “S—tavious.” Blacks and their white leftist allies tarred such usage as “racist”, Wilson retired, Di Iulio seems to have fallen silent, a loyalty oath to black criminals was imposed on younger criminology professors, and today what passes for “scholarship” in the field tells us that the “S—taviouses” of the world are nothing but the victims of a racist criminal justice system.
Now, my white leftist and black supremacist readers are going to complain that “S—tavious” is an extreme and thus uncharacteristic example. Then how about Lemaricus, Letalvis, Lovelle, Hydra, Jahmell, Latrine or Pimp?
The prisons are full of people with these sorts of names, and there are millions of violent people with such names walking around who ought to be in prison, but aren’t.
Avoiding socializing with, or hiring people with names like “Shiniqua” or “S—tavious” is a sign not of racism, but of wisdom.
Nicholas Stix [email him] lives in New York City, which he views from the perspective of its public transport system, experienced in his career as an educator. His weekly column appears at Men's News Daily and many other Web sites. He has also written for Middle American News, the New York Daily News, New York Post, Newsday, Chronicles, Ideas on Liberty and the Weekly Standard. He maintains two blogs: A Different Drummer and Nicholas Stix, Uncensored.