I recently considered embarking on a social experiment both career enhancing and bubble bursting in equal measure. Apparently, people (especially women. You've foiled me yet again, labia) are being encouraged to 'white up' their names in pursuit of employment. With a name like 'Rebecca Johnson' you're likely to receive a job response after 9 CV's. With a name like 'Sapna Parekh', after 16. What a bummer. Yes, as pretty as ethnic names may be, it seems its all sherbet and seashells until somebody is actually trying to get employed. (But don't worry EDL, we'll still steal all the jobs you're entitled to some way, somehow)
When I first about heard this I was all 'Challenge accepted'. I was all 'I'll give you fuckers a name that will have you thinking the royal baby was named by Vicky Pollard and Lauren off of Catherine Tate in conjunction'. I was all 'It's going to be so fucking posh, Katie Hopkins is going to buy a DeLorean just so her kids can travel back in time and play with me'. I would sign it with a tiny doodle of a teacup and raised pinky finger. They weren't going to know what hit them. The yoloist in me turned my 'I Love Haters' snapback sideways, Ash Ketchum stylee and stuck an acrylic tipped middle finger in the air. The me that actually occupies this earthly realm turned slightly to one side on the couch and briefly thought about changing it to Coronation Street. But didn't because I couldn't be assed.
My name is Yomi Adegoke, and probably couldn't sound more ethnic if I was called Yam Rubicon Afro-Pickson. Yomi is a name in Nigeria and a term meaning something about hell in Japan. That's like, super exotic. Like Rubicon Mango advert exotic (anyone else wondering what 'the lychee taste like' right about now? Great advertising campaign). Even if I go by my actual first name, Evangeline, employers will be torn between the idea that I have aspirational Nigerian parents or think I'm a just saucy WASP who ran off with a ticket inspector.
The worst part is, women are actually being encouraged to use British sounding monikers, showing that Katie Hopkins isn't the only one to turn her massive nose up at name choices. Maybe I should just got for it and improve my employment prospects by almost two fold. This goes against absolutely everything I believe in of course, but if I'm honest I really do want to see if its true. (Or to gain work experience from GQ Magazine. Whatever, I'm not the one at fault here). I'd be truly loathe to personally confirm companies would turn somebody down based on the fact they tan really awesomely.
Just take that in. Not being employed because your name sounds too ethnic. Not being employed because you are an ethnic minority. (A phrase that is problematic in itself anyway, because I don't see how 'not being white' can honestly be considered a legitimate way of grouping people. It's like calling everything that isn't a Bourbon a 'biscuit minority'. Piling together Chocolate Chip and Jammy Dodgers and Shortbread and Fortune Cookies and Macaroons and Rich Tea and Party Rings; simply because they aren't Bourbons?! Gosh, got me thinking about biscuits now. Anyway, another post for another day.) It genuinely boggles the mind. To think, they could be turning down the white girl of their dreams whose parents just happened fall in love whilst travelling the planes of Africa and named their first kid after their tour guide. Or they could be turning down a -gasp- perfectly capable black person! I wonder how recruiters actually go about this. I imagine it's something like this:
Twat 1: 'Hm, this girl got two A*'s and an A at A Level and is studying at a top ten University. Her names a bit 'Um Bongo' though, if you catch my drift'
Twat 2: 'Oh I see. [Looks at my CV, perplexed by the G and K and TWO entire E's in my surname] Well, how can we be expected to pronounce that? It simply won't do. Imagine the awkward introductions by the water cooler. Unless she lets us call her something else. Like...John or something. Something simple.'
Twat 1: 'Oh no, imagine the fuss. The PC brigade will have a field day with that.'
Twat 2: 'Well sorry then, it won't do. I already have a hard time enough trying to pronounce the lunch lady's tongue twister of a so called name! You know, I'm sure it gets longer and harder each time I see her.'
Twat 1; 'That's what she said!'
Twat 2: 'Oh Twat 1, you are hilarious! [they chortle] Anyway, let's have a look see again; Yo-mi. Nope. Too hard'
Twat 1: 'You're right. We're all educated folk with degrees and brain cells and functioning eyeballs and the like, but we're hardly members of MENSA are we! And don't get me started on the surname...'
Twat 2: 'Ade-go-saahcaskj? Can't be assed. Pass me Katie Jackson's over there, she has the exact same grades and a name that hasn't been conjured at random from Alphabetti Spaghetti. Right; let's go to lunch lads. The Tikka Masala's are on me'
Man, racism is stupid.
So should I do it? Call myself Jane Janeson or Katherine Blondeington? Tick the Caucasian box on applications and pull up to the interview straight faced? Is this what it has come to, in 2013? This honestly shows how flimsy the concept of race truly is; nobody can tell me I'm not white if I say I am. How can you tell somebody what race they are? Its not the same as biological sex, where if you get someone to wear tight enough underpants the jig is up. If somebody told you Barack Obama was black, you wouldn't question them. But he's not. He's ebony and ivory at its finest, a living testament to Hannah Montanna's 'best of both worlds' ethos. And proof I can just decide to be Persian tomorrow if I feel like it. Why not? Jake Gyllenhall did it.
But unfortunately, I have never been one to yield to peer pressure. When I finally intern at Vice I want to know my black ass got there because I was wanted, not because I duped them into thinking I looked like a Hitler Jugend pin up. My name is Yomi and I watch as much Jeremy Kyle, eat as many Kit Kats and spend as much time queuing for Tiger Tiger as any Judy or Beth. Lord only knows why my transcribing skills will be apparently better if my name was Karen.
Fie on't you employers, fie I say! I love my name, it's kickass meaning and even the fact that when I get chatted up and tell guys my name is Yomi they say 'I know you're yummy, but what's your name?' and I proceed to cry blood and have a mental breakdown at how horrific that chat up line is and how so many people have managed to use it during my lifetime. It's a damn shame (Both the chat up line and whole racist recruitment process thing).
Race is a very powerful yet very stupid social construct. Don't believe me? Jason Biggs isn't even Jewish. And with that, I've just rocked your fucking world.