Monday, September 25, 2023

The Real Truth About Blacks and Unemployment…

October 6, 2011 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Sista Talk, Weekly Columns

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( Before I begin, let me quote the late, great, Booker T. Washington who said, “Of all forms of slavery there is none that is so harmful and degrading as that form of slavery which tempts one human being to hate another by reason of his race or color.”

For two years, I have been unemployed.   In the beginning, I applied to more than three hundred open positions in the insurance industry—an industry that I’ve worked in for the previous ten years.  Not one employer responded to my resume.  So, I enrolled back into college to finish my degree. After completing school this past May, I resumed my search for employment and was quite shocked that I wasn’t getting a single response.   I usually applied for positions advertised on the popular website I’d used it in the past and have been successful in obtaining jobs through it.

Two years ago, I noticed that had added a “diversity questionnaire” to the site.  This gives an applicant the opportunity to identify  their sex and race to potential employers. guarantees that this “option” will not jeopardize your chances of gaining employment.  You must answer this questionnaire in order to apply to a posted position—it cannot be skipped.  At times, I would mark off that I was a Black female, but then I thought, this might be hurting my chances of getting employed, so I started selecting the “decline to identify” option instead.  That still had no effect on my getting a job.  So I decided to try an experiment:  I created a fake job applicant and called her Bianca White.

First, I created an email account and resume for Bianca.  I kept the same employment history and educational background on her resume that was listed on my own. But I removed my home phone number, kept my listed cell phone number, and changed my cell phone greeting to say, “You have reached Bianca White.  Please leave a message.” Then I created an online account, listed Bianca as a White woman on the diversity questionnaire, and activated the account.  

That very same day, I received a phone call.  The next day, my phone line and Bianca’s email address, were packed with potential employers calling for an interview.  I was stunned.  More shocking was that some employers, mostly Caucasian-sounding women, were calling Bianca more than once, desperate to get an interview with her.  All along, my real account was open and active; but, despite having the same background as Bianca, I received no phone calls.    Two jobs actually did email me and Bianca at the same time.  But they were commission only sales positions.  Potential positions offering a competitive salary and benefits all went to Bianca.

 At the end of my little experiment, (which lasted a week), Bianca White had received nine phone calls—I received none.  Bianca had received a total of seven emails, while I’d only received two, which again happen to have been the same emails Bianca received. Let me also point out that one of the emails that contacted Bianca for a job wanted her to relocate to a different state, all expenses paid, should she be willing to make that commitment.  In the end, a total of twenty-four employers looked at Bianca’s resume while only ten looked at mines.  

Is this a conspiracy, or what? I’m almost convinced that White Americans aren’t suffering from disparaging unemployment rates as their Black counterpart because all the jobs are being saved for other White people. 

My little experiment certainly proved a few things.  First, I learned that answering the diversity questionnaire on job sites such as’s may work against minorities, as employers are judging whom they hire based on it.  Second, I learned to suspect that resumes with ethnic names may go into the wastebasket and never see the light of day.

Other than being chronically out of work, I embarked on this little experiment because of a young woman I met while I was in school.  She was a twenty-two-year-old Caucasian woman who, like myself, was about to graduate.  She was so excited about a job she had just gotten with a well-known sporting franchise.  She had no prior work experience and had applied for a clerical position, but was offered a higher post as an executive manager making close to six figures.  I was curious to know how she’d been able to land such a position.  She was candid in telling me that the human resource person who’d hired her just “liked” her and told her that she deserved to be in a higher position.  The HR person was also Caucasian. 

Another reason that pushed me to do this experiment is because of the media. There’s not a day that goes by in which I fail to see a news program about how tough the job market is.  Recently, while I was watching a report on underemployed and underpaid Americans, I saw a middle aged White man complaining that he was making only $80,000 which was $30,000 less than what he was making before.  I thought to myself that in this economy, many would feel they’d hit the jackpot if they made 80K a year. 

In conclusion, I would like to once again quote the late, great, Booker T. Washington when he said, “You can’t hold a man down without staying down with him.”

The more America continues to hold back great candidates based on race, the more our economy is going to stay in a rut.  We all need each other to prosper, flourish, and to move ahead.

Staff Writer; Yolanda Spivey

Also connect with this sister via Facebook; Y. Spivey.


27 Responses to “The Real Truth About Blacks and Unemployment…”
  1. soubriquet says:

    I live in a culturally and ethnically diverse inner city area in britain. I can tell you that if you look at businesses around here, you’ll find white employers tend to give jobs to whites. Asians employ asians. Black business owners employ black people.
    I can go further. Trinidadians employ Trinidadians, they won’t consider hiring Jamaicans. Pakistanis will not employ Indians. Chines? Guess who they hire?

    Women? Well, a female business owner will typically favour women over men, unless they want someone to shift heavy things. What a surprise.

    Yes, there are exceptions, but the general trend seems to be that we tend to want to hire the people who most resemble ourselves. That’s not racist, that’s just humanity.

    Commenter Correll, You’re so right, and Harvel Brown is so wrong. Self discipline, perseverance and education will work and will get you ahead, get on the bus with Harvel? Well, ten years from now, Harvey will still be waving protest placard, and stuck in slow traffic. Get off the bus, Harvel, throw the chip off your shoulder and make your own future.

    As for “Mines”, Yolanda, it isn’t common usage in most of the english speaking world. My scottish friends were bemused when I asked. It’s not common in either lowland or highlands scottish. It would be considered wrongful and uneducated usage.

  2. Ben Cheriko says:

    I’m a white male and I did this same thing when applying to colleges I knew were a long shot for me to get in to. Using all the same information I got accepted as a black applicant but dot declined as a? white applicant.

    Fucked up world!

  3. Keith says:

    Monster does not share this information. The fact that Bianca had a fresh resume that showed up as new may have been a factor. I don’t doubt that that race played a part, but was more than likely based on your name than anything. Women with a name of Yolanda, Kesha, and Laquetta will have a harder time than those with Margaret, Kathryn, and Grace. Always has been thus, so I don’t know why these names persist.

  4. deeceevoice says:

    The fact that national unemployment overall continues to decline and is currently in the 7th percentile, but that black unemployment held steady during February 2013 — in the 14th percentile — is testament to the validity of the author’s “Bianca White” experiment.

    Just one thing: She wrote: “In the end, a total of twenty-four employers looked at Bianca’s resume while only ten looked at mines.” She seems literate enough, but I have to say that “mines” is not a word. Like “conversate,” it’s one of those AAVE words that has no place in the white workplace.

    Best ditch it — especially if she chooses to try the Bianca White experiment again. It’s a dead giveaway.

  5. Jillian says:

    Good for you Yolanda. When you suspect something is amiss, then going after it is the right thing to do. The small study helps to give you more information and facts about what you suspect is going on. But you can’t stop at one study. You’ve gone to college, so you know that for studies to be taken seriously and for the information to reach the outer limits, it has to be done over and over and tested and recorded. Don’t just stop with this one, keep going. I bet you find more than just using “diversity” information incorrectly.
    I come from a background of being Native American, adopted into a white family, brought up middle-lower class, went to public school. Went to technical schools, but kept up my education. Being other than white has it advantages and disadvantages. Some see you as getting the breaks without working for them and some see you as not fitting what they see as a “mold” to be fit into. That is the crux. Do we form our own mold to fit into or do we try to remake ourselves to fit into the “white mold”. I say do both at the same time. The paths of that will then break and we will be standing strong on our own.
    If I was an employer, my first impression when you walk in, is going to be this. Are you on time!! If you are late, you get put to the side. If you are on time, I look at how you dress and keep yourself. Is it appropriate for the interview at hand. I don’t care what color your skin is, as long as you have those things in control, then we are off to a good start. I have already looked at your resume, cover letter and have talked to your references and past employers. If you have gotten that far, and are sitting in front of me, then good chance you will get the job. I then have a conversation with you about everything and anything that might make me think twice about my choosing you. What you say and how you say it, tells me more about you.
    Maybe I was brought up tooooo white, but it has served me well in terms of my job placement ability. I have worked almost all my life, till just recently. Now I am up against the Immigration limitations in this country and I am also marginalized because I am LGBT identified. So I can empethize with you in some respects. But keep up the digging on this. Hey, who knows, you might become the next Margaret Meade.

  6. Peter says:

    Deeann D. Mathews,

    I looooove your comment!

  7. Peter says:

    Hi Harvel,

    Thanks for enlighten us! 60 billion!!! Now, I know why I always felt the church White or Black was not there to help us! They take our money and do not give us job! WOW! I know now more than ever why I don’t go to church on a regular basis. How come our people are soooo blind?

  8. Michael says:

    I am African American and I own a recruiting company in a large city. My clients are typically professional service firms (law firms, accounting firms, etc.). This article is troubling because it perpetuates the notion that there is systemic racism in hiring. I’m not so foolish or naive to believe that it doesn’t occur, but if and when it does, it is never this blatant.

    First, I’ve utilized Monster as a job seeker, and I currently spent tens of thousands of dollars each year to use the Monster Database as an employer. As most job seekers never see the employer side of the Monster website, I can report that there is no explicit gender, race, age information given to the employer reviewing the resume. My guess is that if Monster is collecting this information, they are doing it for other purposes — primarily advertising (all those pop up ads you see when you’re on line — how do you think those advertisers target you — they buy that information from companies like Monster to target certain demographics).

    I would suggest that more likely than race, the job seeker is more likely to encounter difficulties in finding employment because of various other things that the writer mentions or sometimes, doesn’t mention, in the article. For instance, the insurance industry has contracted significantly since 2008. Competitiveness for the fewer jobs in the market place make things like education, job stability/tenure, and continuing education more important. The writer explicitly states that she left the industry to complete her degree. This was undoubtedly a factor in her difficulty with her job search. Additionally, she mentions that she has ten years of experience in the industry. What she doesn’t say is how many different employers she’d had during that time. If a person has ten years of experience, but has had five jobs during that time, it is HIGHLY likely, that their resume will not be at the top of the heap for consideration.

    I could go on and on. However, before jumping to the conclusion that employers decisions are based on race because of a half-baked experiment with few controls and imbedded assumptions, take a close look at the job seekers full package and really consider how employers might view that.

  9. Lorraine says:

    Wow this is interesting as I too am an Insurance Professional with over 20 years experience in health care benefits and I can not even get an interview. I thought is was just my imagination but now I see it is the truth. I am currently in the Bay Area and I am at my wits end. I have started my own brokerage firm, so I am just going to try harder to make it work. However, I may be seeking legal counsel because this is not acceptable.

    Thank you so much for writing this article. Much love and success to you.

  10. Patricia Metoyer says:

    Ms. Spivey:

    Mines did grab me also when reading the comments from writers and your response.

    The only thing, we are not in Scotland. This is America. Am I missing something?

  11. Deeann D. Mathews says:

    Yolanda… kudos to you for doing the experiment and finding out for certain what I’m sure we’ve all heard (and for tipping us off about Monster, a piece of news that needs to be WIDELY circulated).

    Yes, White people are saving jobs for other White people… sheer human nature tells us that most people will save their kids in a crisis before they save somebody else’s. It should not surprise us, compounded with the racial history of this country, that there are White people who will not hire a single person of any other race so long as they have not hired all the White people they think they can (and in this economy, that’s that for us). But you know, one of the greatest things that ever happened to me was when a White-controlled company (I won’t name it… there are so many that do the same) laid me off to save the White people I had trained. They went through layoffs later, in a far worse economy… and I put my energy into my own business.

    That is what I wholeheartedly recommend to you, Yolanda — you are bold and creative. We need Black entrepreneurs like you, so go for it! I’m not saying don’t look for a job, but look for a job that will give you skills and help you fund the development of what only Yolanda Spivey can offer her people and the world. The world has enough Bianca White types: one is as good as another, because that and a white skin is all that is required of them. You have been blessed not to EVER be confused with such — even Monster won’t let you blend in! Take the blessing and run… run long and hard like our Olympic champions, just in the world of entrepreneurship. I look forward to seeing what you bring forth!

  12. Dallas says:

    Where do some Black people live, under a rock? Studies have been done showing that White employers readily admit that they hire White people first. They also state that they would hire a White ex-con with no degree over a Black with a college education. In other words, they look out for their own. We need to stop acting like this somehow goes against nature. The answer is not forcing your way in to work for these people, but getting your own businesses. God bless the child that has it’s own.

  13. provit says:

    I happen to believe your story to be true, but without proof it’s irrelevant because we all already believe it. Please post the evidence: pictures, emails, file a lawsuit, and for God’s sake name names! Which businesses were caught engaing in discrimination? We need actionable information not gossip.

  14. Harvel Brown.. says:

    Yolanda. You have done what most of us fail to do. You have acted with action and not emotionalism. When we learn to do what you have done and stop crying, then and only then will we move forward.
    The Black churces in America have $60 B in the white banks. Have you ever heard of a bank doing anything for the Black community? It’s the law folkes that they return a portion of that money back to the community.
    C OORRELL even though you are right you are wrong. People like you should be a silent example and keep your thoughts silent.
    We need encouragement not fault finders. Be more like Yolanda, get in the bus with us or get off. That old I got mine you get yours should have died with Slavery.

  15. TheTruthNow says:

    You just figuring this out? This has been going on for years!

  16. Alveria says:

    I love this article Yolanda because it reflects on how society view African Americans. For years, we have been considered weak, poor and uneducated. However, we have reached remarkable goals as well, such as OBAMA being the first African American president. Life is a journey for all of us and I salute you for doing this experiment. Moving forward, I would use this experiment as a stepping stone to promote and advocate for social change. Keep up the good work because you have great potential and when “one door closes another one opens.”

  17. Ross says:

    A.G. Gaston, Madame CJ Walker are the names of a few who just said “f*ck it” i’m doing my own thing.” <–Paraphrase, of course.

    If no one wants to hire, that's alright. In America, in life, what you can dream, you can achieve. You have the skills, you have the vision, go do. It's always, in my opinion and experience, when a company refuses to hire, there's greater things in play and intended for the one who was not hired. And all the time, the greater things tend to taste sweeter! 🙂

  18. L says:

    Yolanda, please tell me this experiment will get more attention. I agree with John, something is terribly wrong. I get wanting to know race for the sites statistics, but the employers aren’t interviewing fairly having that info and are stopping you before you get your foot in the door!

  19. John says:

    What I find odd about the policy is that I thought all the big employers were NOT supposed to see their potential employees visually and do all hiring by phone to avoid charges of a) favoritism b) nepotism c)racism, d) hiring attractive people only, etc.

    I’m a bit surprised that Monster would make a diversity questionaire be a requirement. It almost sounds…wrong?

  20. Yolanda Spivey says:

    Hey Monica,
    The word was used correctly. You are the second person to bring this to my attention–if you look the word up, you will see that it is used amongst people that are older and of Scottish decent. It’s just a style of writing and not necessarily incorrect grammar. Please read the following and thanks for the support.

  21. Monica says:

    “In the end, a total of twenty-four employers looked at Bianca’s resume while only ten looked at mines.”

    Please note that the correct word in this sentence is “mine” not “mines”.

  22. Patsy says:

    Black people have more power than they think. Our buying power will reach 1 trillion$, this represents the 16th wealthiest nation in the world. We have to find a way to make sure that this money stays in our community. Now 97% of it goes to the mainstream. Believe me Jewish people and the Asians always make sure that their money stays in their community. We have to do the same!!!

  23. Correll says:

    Tell me something I already didn’t know. The bottom line is we as “Black” Americans are as much at fault for our reputations as those that judge us without truly knowing us. Just look at our culture and how our men would rather wear their pants off their butts and our women are running around getting tattoos all over their bodies. Just look at how many will comment on LIL Wayne on your facebook as oppose to the economic crisis that plagues us and/or President Obama’s push to equal out the playing field for all Americans. The bottom line is your resume is the first avenue for potential employers to discriminate. If your parents named you Bonquita, Daequan, or some other crazy name then you should thank them very much because they just screwed you. If you went to an HBCU just so you can “be around your people” then you screwed yourself. If you don’t have a critical skill, a higher education at the Master’s level or higher, or is not flexible, then you will not get hired. As a black man, I know and believe that I was borne with three strikes against me…young, black, male. Over the course of 33 years, I know three things have been instrumental in mitigating those strikes…self discipline, perseverance, and education. Until more of us become enlightened on cases as such and learn that what each of us do, at all times, truly affects the next, then we will continually be faced with institutionalized Racism.

  24. WOW! Great article and insight Yolanda! I think you should try to get as much exposure for you article as possible. Consider reaching out to Keith Olbermann on Current TV. Also, consider going on one of these interviews as Bianca and taking either a film crew or a hidden camera with you and upload onto youtube…just a thought.

  25. Yolanda Spivey says:

    Thanks DG and Patsy,

    I too feel that entrepreneurship might be the best route at this time. I appreciate the support.

  26. Patsy says:

    Wow! Thanks Yolanda for sharing your story. I am taking the same path than DG. I want to become an entrepreneur. I am willing to work three times harder than everybody but not for the mainstream but for myself. They always exploited us and probably always will.

  27. DG says:

    That is such a sad commentary, but I have experienced it myself. I consistently see people with less talent, less credibility, and less capacity than me get positions that I am more than qualified for at a higher salary.

    That is why I have turned to entrepreneurship.

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