I have often been bewildered by how Americans really see themselves. I am not sure that there is one viewpoint on that, but I am sure that if asked people will give descriptions of what they think an American is. Without that it’s hard to fathom how one can talk about people who look like illegal aliens. But that is another topic.
One of the things I heard being discussed yesterday on National Public Radio (NPR) was how to make your resume rock. One of the issues raised by the interviewer was how there may be discrimination because people had ‘names that made them seem like foreigners’. For the love of Pete, I had no idea what that could mean. Given the background of the American population, there is no doubt that Anglo-Saxon names may dominate: I do not have statistics on that as I write. But, at any given time I can encounter a very popular and public American who has a name that is not Anglo-Saxon. Let’s look at some apple pie examples, chosen somewhat at random, but all in the news over the past few weeks.
Ben Roethlisberger; Austan Dean Goolsbee; Laura Catherine Schlessinger; Usher Raymond IV; Prince Rogers Nelson; James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix; Michelle A. Rhee; Troy Aumua Polamalu; Mohammed Ali.
You get where I am going? Is the problem not about ‘sounding American’ but sounding like a certain body of people of whom there is fear or about whom there are racial presumptions?
Like with much bad journalism, the interviewer introduce the topic but never gave any terms of reference for a line of argument that may be plausible but could mean all things to all men.
I know that in some people’s minds, the current US president does not seem like ‘one of us’ because he has the name Barack Hussain Obama. Sounds very American to me.
I am headed to a dine, meet and greet for something described as a Diversity Committee. That too, begs many questions, in a country that is totally interwoven with diversity. I have a feeling about who I will meet there and I suspect it will not be as diverse as it should be. Maybe, I will be surprised. Be back on that tomorrow.