Even when we don't even realize we're doing it..... : Bemusements
Barbara Kapetanakes, PsyD
239 North Broadway
Sleepy Hollow, NY

Even when we don't even realize we're doing it.....

by Barbara Kapetanakes, PsyD. on 09/05/14

Most of us would not want to admit to prejudice of any kind--racism, sexism, ageism, etc., and most of us have the best of intentions and would not be lying when saying "I don't consider myself to be prejudiced against others."  Yet time and time again studies and anecdotal evidence indicates that prejudice is something that is present even when we don't realize it. 

Take, for example, a story that has been going around the Internet the past week or so....

Jose Zamora had been looking in vain for a new job, sending out up to 100 resumes a day, with no response.  He changed the name on his resume from Jose to Joe, and the responses started pouring in.  Same resume, different name.  See article and video here 

In the past there have been formal studies where resumes were sent with either men's names or women's, traditionally sounding black or white names, and researchers sorted through the responses to determine that men were offered interviews more, and whites more than blacks, even if the resumes were identical. 

We all have preconceived ideas about groups, whether male/female/black/white/tall/short, etc.  Some stereotypes about groups are based in truth, and some are not.  Some stereotypes are positive and some are not.  We cannot help having ideas about people--it helps us to be able to categorize people, things, places, objects, concepts, etc.  But we have to be aware when those ideas get in the way of really getting to know an individual, or in Jose's case, passing over a candidate who may be perfect for the job because of some idea we have of Latinos. 

Once we start to really talk about cases like this, we may really start to understand each other; not become blind to our differences, since our differences are part of what weaves the tapestry of our lives, but to see people as they are, rather than in the image we want them to be.  Jose may or may not turn out to be a good employee, but what a shame to not even be given the chance until he removed one letter from his name and made it more European and less Latino. 

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