Tuesday, January 4, 2011

B-School Minority

Let me preface this article by saying that Yes, I am half-Hispanic. Whew! There I said it. the cats out of the bag! Despite my hispanic-ness (or latino-ness? Chicano-ness? I never figured out what the proper nomencalture is...) ive never thought of my race as something that people thought of. I never thought it was a topic of discussion.

One thing that I love about being a US citizen is the wide spectrum of nationalities that make up this country. Its really a beautiful thing. Every metropolitan is carved into its own little Ethnic enclaves; Little Italies, Mexican Barrios, and China-towns are etched into every community. Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday, I heard Russian, French, Italian, Spanish, German and Farsi (Well, some Arabic language I think...what do I look like Rosetta Stone?). Its something Ive really come to love about America. Now this isnt to say America hasnt had its own problems with race, but all in all, Americans, I think, are pretty open minded about peoples race & religion (despite what Fox News might say).

But I guess being born & raised in this country, with a Europeon mother and a Hispanic father, growing up in an African-American community, and going to school in a rather affluent neighborhood, I never saw my racial background as anything, but well, a little part of my identity. Just one of the many little things that make me...well, me.

Sadly, this sort of changed when I started to go to Business School on the East Coast. First and foremost, the first thing I noticed is that there are very few hispanics in business-school. This in itself wasnt a big deal to me, but I think this was a big reason for  people, especially professors, to be a little more curious about me.

However, soon their curiosity turned into something a bit more...intrusive. How? Well Dirt readers, I present you with...

The 3 most akward (and perhaps, rude) questions i have gotten in Business School!

Number 3: 
Professor: *upon hearing my incredibly hispanic last name* "Oh...were you born here?"
This sort of threw me off, because, if my last name was McBoyle and I spoke perfectly good english, would you ask me If i was born in Ireland? Probably not...but this was the first incident and i just sort of shrugged it off.

Number 2:
Professor: You know, I have to say you speak English very well.
me: *confused look*
Professor: Well, your last name is _____, so....
Me: Yeah, well I was born here.
Professor: Really? *skeptical look*
Now im starting to get a little irritated by these little lapses in judgment. Still, i shrugged off the question. Then, the atom bomb dropped...

Number 1:

Upon recieveing a flu shot from the school nurse...
Nurse: *Looks at chart, reads my last name aloud to herself*
Me: Yes?
Nurse: So...are you a legal citizen?

Yes, this really happened. To be honest with you, it really sucked to be asked so many times to explain to people why I had such a hispanic last name yet spoke english so well. It was irritating, and the more I though about it, the more that it was sort of insulting. The last time I checked, there were a lot of Hispanics who have been born in this country. And then, I really started to wonder...

If professors are thinking this about me, despite that fact that I speak English perfectly well in class and often get very good grades, what are employers thinking when they look at a resume and have absolutely no idea who I am? Do they look at my last name and automatically assume I am not a native speaker? What other assumptions are these employers thinking?

I got so depressed about fielding questions about my background from professors and students, that at some point, I even considered dropping my last name from my resume and replacing it with my American sounding middle name. Yeah it got so bad that I actually considered changing my last name. This is still something i think about when submitting resumes.

Usually I wrap up my rants with an anecdote or some type of tip for all you fellow Dirt readers. But this time I have none. I still struggle with this question, and in 6 months, when I graduate from school, Im going to be faced with that ever-present question...Do I drop my last name from my resume, or not?

Until next time...


  1. That's incredibly sad and disturbing. America may be very diverse, but unfortunately that doesn't equate to being aware.

  2. It's important that we enlighten people who make ignorant comments so that the people who come behind us won't suffer the same fate.