Racism in Hiring

Racism Today

Tony Mantelli, December 2014

Although racism has decreased over the years, it is not completely gone and it is still possible to identify some negative actions towards a particular race. A specific controversy that will be the main focus of this paper is the limitations in employment today due to racism. The relevance this topic has with the theme of the class, American Citizen, is to show how citizens are still not treated equally in today’s day and age due to race. Before discussing racism today and ultimately examining the main focus of this paper, limitations in employment, one must explain how racism developed. Racism can be defined as “the practice of denying people access to their rights, and the belief that one’s own race has the right to lead others because their race is more superior to another’s” [3]. One form of racism that was easily identifiable a few centuries ago was slavery, which can be defined as a person who is referenced to as property under the domination of some influence or person. In history, much of today’s racism can be tracked to the colonialism time era that occurred in the 1400’s. During the colonization period, white settlers included in their beliefs that they were a superior race and whoever they encountered could be utilized as slaves. In result, this belief grew as the years and decades went on, and ultimately began to affect more and more people.

One example of how it continued to affect a particular race group can be seen with the Native Americans and the Trail of Tears. In the early 1800’s, Native Americans lived among hundreds of thousands of open land in America. By the end of 1830’s, few Native American’s lived anywhere in the eastern part of America. Another example of how racism affected a race group was with African Americans when many came to America as slaves. African American slavery began in 1619, when the people of Africa were brought to the North America colony for labor such as tobacco harvesting. Sadly, slavery continued for a couple of centuries and finally came to a stop in the middle of the nineteenth century. On January 1, 1863, the emancipation proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln was declared to abolish slavery. When analyzing the class readings and reflecting on our ancestors actions, it is interesting to see how the world has changed. It is also very interesting to see how people showed little to no empathy towards a different race group that was still human beings. After slavery was abolished, many whites participated in groups or hate crimes such as the “ku klux klan” to instill fear in African Americans lives and to treat them unfairly. Another ruling that is astonishing to look back on is how many people felt “separate but equal”. This was a common term used to describe how the race groups, White and African American, were supposed to be “equal” but they were “separated” by segregation. The segregation took place in every part of society, from transportation methods to bathrooms and schools. Thankfully, people began to realize what was going on and how they were mistreating others and in today’s day and age, racism has reduced and is nowhere near what it used to be.

Although racism has decreased over the years, it is not completely gone and it is still possible to identify some negative actions towards a particular race. A specific controversy that will be the main focus of this paper is the limitations in employment today due to racism. As discussed previously, the main form of racism in the past was slavery. In today’s day and age, there are more subconscious acts of racism such as racial prejudice decisions and bias opinions. Racial prejudice can be defined as a bias against, or hostility towards people of another race. In a university study, graduate students researched the racial inequality and prejudice in the United States labor market. Their main research question focused on, “Do employers actively discriminate against African-American job applicants?” [1]. Their first method to answer this question was to develop four fictional names of people in order to submit a resume. The fictional characters were strategically given names to put down on the resume so when the employer received the resume, they could distinguish a race by name. The question then remained, “Are Emily and Brendan more employable than Lakisha and Jamal” [1]. In the study, there were more than 5000 resumes submitted over a year period of time. The results that the authors found were, “applicants with white-sounding names are fifty percent more likely to get called for an initial interview than applicants with African-American-sounding names” [1]. Another interesting result was in order to get one call back, a white applicant had to send in ten resumes whereas African American applicants had to submit fifteen. Through this specific study, it is possible for one to recognize that there is indeed a limitation in employment due to racism but the question on why still remains.

When analyzing this question, “why is there a racial bias in employment selection?” one is able to give opinionated explanations. From the author’s standpoint of this study, they believed that this was occurring because of the awareness level of the employers. Like stated previously, some of these actions on who to hire may be subconscious decisions. Meaning, the employer may receive a resume with an unfamiliar name on it such as “Lakisha” and automatically think that they are from a different place than the United States. This may then cause the employer to turn to the next resume with a familiar name such as “Brendan”. The authors of this study explained, “For us, the most surprising and disheartening result is seeing that applicants with African-American names were not rewarded for having better resumes” [1]. In order to prevent this from happening, the authors of the study suggest that employers need to be more informed of this situation in order to hire more equally. From a personal standpoint, one reason why this could happen is because of poor previous experiences. In example, if the employer were to have a poor experience in the past with an African American or someone named “Lakisha and Jamal”, then they are less likely to hire the individual. After examining this question thoroughly, one is able to explain one way to help fix the issue at hand. One way that could possibly fix this problem is to create a more elaborate higher process.

Another problem with the hiring process is that applicants may be chosen for their jobs based on their race and abilities. In example and specifically with policing, there was a significant increase in hiring among females, Latinos, and African Americans. One reason why this was occurring was because the policing field mainly consisted of males and little to no females. Another reason why this occurred was because with all the males in the department or agency, most were non-Hispanic Caucasian males. The reason why policing agencies and departments began to hire more females, Hispanics, and African Americans was to become more diverse. Therefore, for a period of time Caucasian males were being looked over because they were not females and were the ones who could not speak another language.

In conclusion, after analyzing the problem of limitations in employment due to racism, one is able to understand how and why it occurs while also suggesting a way to resolve the issue. From our earlier readings and classes on racism, it is possible for one to demonstrate how this problem evolved by annotating the history of slavery and explaining how racism continued after slavery was abolished. After explaining how slavery and racism developed a problem, one is then able to explain why it occurs and how remains to be an issue. As stated previously, racism today can be seen as a subconscious action or decision that affects someone else’s life. These actions then become an issue in topics such as employment selection because people of different race than Caucasian have a more difficult time receiving a job. Overall, in order to fix the problem employers must be educated in order to raise awareness while the development of a new and more detailed hiring process may be beneficial.

[1] “Chicago GSB | Capital Ideas.” Chicago GSB | Capital Ideas. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Oct. 2014. http://www.chicagobooth.edu/capideas/spring/racialbias.html
[2] Davis, Edward J. “History of Racism and Immigration Timeline.” (2007): n. pag. http://www.racialequitytools.org/resourcefiles/racismimmigration-timeline.pdf. Web.
[3] Griffin, Larry J., and Peggy G. Hargis. “Still distinctive after all these years: trends in racial attitudes in and out of the south.” Southern Cultures 14.3 (2008): 117+. U.S. History in Context. Web. 6 Oct. 2014

Further Reading
“Arizona Recruiting More Women and Minorities in Effort to Diversify Police Forces.” PoliceOne.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2014. http://www.policeone.com/women-officers/articles/93674-Arizona-Recruiting-More-Women-and-Minorities-in-Effort-to-Diversify-Police-Forces/.
Bendick, Mark. “Background on Racial Discrimination.” Do Something. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Oct. 2014. https://www.dosomething.org/tipsandtools/background-racial-discrimination.
“Racism.” – Global Issues. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2014. http://www.globalissues.org/article/165/racism.
“Racism In America: Racism Is A Disease That Needs To Be Cured.” CBS Charlotte. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2014. http://charlotte.cbslocal.com/2013/05/24/racism-in-america-racism-is-a-disease-that-needs-to-be-cured/.

Worcester State University Fall 2022