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What is in a Name

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Caveat: this was written in 2008
Every morning I start my day on my laptop, in front of my TV, watching one of the GMA/Today/Early Morning shows, kinda droning in and out, whilst I click away at the keyboard.

I perked up though when they (GMA) announced that Tyra Banks was doing a piece on names – about the stereotypes and judgments that people make when they hear certain names - yep, it seemed interesting enough to watch. Since I am not an avid fan of the Tyra Banks show, it took me a while to find the channel to program my TV so that I could watch, and I am glad I did.

Brief rundown of the show – Tyra groups the audience by race. She then has a panel of about 10 people sit in a back room where they are given several names over the period of the show, and they are to describe their impressions of the names. What was really interesting was what the Real person with the name looked like, in relation to the description.

Some of the names were Deedrica, Ashleigh, Jose, Sajida, Tuyet-Nhi. The common perception of the name Deedrica was African American, working at the DMV, with braids, and extensions, and a couple of “baby’s daddys”; The word Ghetto had sadly even been used.
Jose was considered to be in the Kitchen; Sajida a terrorist, Tuyet was in math, science, or driving taxis.

Deedrica, by the way was a Caucasian young lady, Ashleigh was Black, – Sajida was at least Second Generation American, very young girl. Many in the audience were upset at the panel for their stereotyping of these individuals, one actually stated that a member of the panel should step down, even though the show was based upon stereotyping. Strange huh? Or is it? Was it that it struck to close to home? I mean, the panel was just saying out loud what people actually think, are they not?

As one of the panel members said - American’s tend to pull away from what is not comfortable to them, to what they are not accustomed. Foreign names, well that really is strange is it not? What about made up names? Hey, one sister thinks that her sister Sold out because she named her black child Ashleigh instead of using an Afro name. Her sister, well she recognized that peoples will make judgments based upon names and she wanted Ashleigh to have a chance in life. She like many others believe that a name can be a disadvantage in society.

I tend to agree with her, and much of the panel did as well, especially when posed with the question, who do you think would get the interview first, Deedrica, or Ashleigh? If you guessed that the panel said Ashleigh, then you were right.

BUT………. Today, I wonder, are we really changing.  Why? well two words Barack Obama.

When I first heard his name I, Yes I too made a judgment, my biggest thought, there was no Way that America would be ready for an individual whose name sounded so similar to Osama, and to top that off, is a Black man as well. Yes, I knew that Barack Obama had a pretty outstanding background, is highly intelligent, and someone with whom I would cut off my arm to have the opportunity to interview and discuss the fate of our economy and the plight of the middle class .

Yet,  I am embarrassed to admit, I did indeed make a judgment on a Name, and our Fine Citizens

Michelle Obama said it well “For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country. Not just because Barack is doing well, but I think people are hungry for change.” –

Today, it is true, the impossible became possible.. and America it appears, is finally seeing beyond the color of a man’s skin, and the stereotype of a name.

There are some names that seem to do well even if they are different, Tyra, Charo,  Twiggy, Moby, Fabio, Bono, Oprah, Enya, Cher, Yanni, Chaim, Dumas, Barrack to name a few.. So I wonder, why do some, and why not others? Ah, that is another article in itself..

So, is it really in a name? or is it really true? Are the Times a Changing?

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ABOUT KAREN MATTONEN, CAC, CSP

Karen Mattonen started a career in Human Resources when she served as a Recruiter for Snelling Corporation. Leveraging her tenure with Snelling, Karen founded Advanced Career Solutions in 1997 focusing on the  HVAC and Mechanical Construction industry. Her reputation for excellence is echoed in the satisfaction of clients and candidates she has serviced nationwide. Furthermore, Karen is esteemed for sharing her expertise in Recruitment Education, Ethics and promoting self-regulation for the Recruiting industry.

She has a new and future-oriented vision of what recruiting can and should become: a profession we can be proud of for its ethical standing, professional conduct and ability to build great organizations. Her doing-well-by-doing-right philosophy is shaking up the status quo in an industry that needs to be shaken. She does this with conviction, leadership, and a distinctive voice that cries out for change.

Outside of the HR community, Karen Mattonen has been cited by Microsoft as a resource in how to use Microsoft Outlook as an ATS. She has also served as the Marketing and Public Relations Director for the 3rd largest city in Utah.

Her passionate and tireless advocacy has led her to create HireCentrix - The Pulse of H.R, Regulation, Retention, Recruiting and Risk Management www.hirecentrix.com.  Hirecentrix is a company dedicated to providing training to the HR, recruiting and staffing industries, which includes a special focus on the ethical and legal dimensions through offering a full service resource for individuals to share and communicate, obtain current and accurate information, acquire and provide education and learning within the quickly expanding, diverse and rapidly changing Recruiting and Human Resource climate.

Karen has achieved accreditation as a California Accredited Consultant (CAC) through California Staffing Professionals. She has also gained her Certified Staffing Professional Certificate (CSP) through American Staffing Professionals. (www.americanstaffing.net)

Click here to reach Karen via email.

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