When Do I Get My Month?

(Cross-posted at Acts of the Apostasy)

June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month. It used to just be Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, initiated by former President Clinton in 2000, and then made more inclusive by President Obama in 2009. Of course, it’s not totally inclusive, because heterosexuals aren’t on the list. (So I won’t celebrate it until I’m forced to, which may happen sooner than later…)

In fact, if you read through the list of National Months, there’s no National Normal Heterosexuals Month anywhere. How come? Why the discrimination?

There’s no National Blogger Month, no Heaven-bound Catholic Pride Month, no Guys Who Love Girls and Girls Who Love Guys Month or anything like that. Where’s the justice?

There’s nothing close to a National Men’s Month, or Men’s History Month, either. I’d like to believe it’s because it’s impossible to celebrate all of the accomplishments that American men have ever made into the span of a mere thirty or thirty-one days…so I’d be cool with a Men’s History Summer, or maybe even a National Men’s Pride Year (during a leap year, of course, because we need the extra day). But I’m not naive – it’s a clear and deliberate sign that Straight Guy’s in this nation are at worst not appreciated, or at best, taken for granted.

March is Women’s History Month – as well as National Feminine Improvement Month. Two recognitions. Which seems silly to me – I mean, we’re supposed to be celebrating the History of Women, right? But then we’re also supposed to be recognizing that women need improvement? Is their history so poor that it needs to be improved, and if that’s the case, why do we celebrate something that’s kinda mediocre? On top of that, there’s Women of Achievement Month in September. Why the distinction? Are we supposed to remember the losers in March, and the successful women later in September? Maybe that’s why Feminine Improvement Month is in March – things take about six months to improve.

There are over 180 National Month celebrations – so if you don’t want to celebrate any particular one, you can choose another. Here are some options for June: National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month; Turkey Lover’s Month; National Dairy Month; National Iced Tea Month; National Papaya Month (or September); National Candy Month…gosh. All equally lame. Once the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs end, there’s nothing worth celebrating in June.

There’s a National Pizza Month and a National Pretzel Month (both in October), but no National Beer Month. That’s just wrong.

Hug A Texas Chef Month is in September – tough luck in you’re a chef in any of the other 49 states. No hugs for you. Ever.

May is National High Blood Pressure Month and National Hamburger Month – they sorta go together. Throw National Egg Month in there, too. And if they ever come up with National Arterial Sclerosis Awareness Month, it would fit right in.

January is Prune Breakfast Month – there’s a Prune lobby? I think I’ll pass on that one.

Here’s something interesting – Foot Health Month is in March and again in May. One for the right, and the other for the left, I suppose.

National AIDS Awareness Month occurs in October. I dunno – I’d move it to June, but that’s just me…………………………What?

And I bet you didn’t know October is also National Toilet-Tank Repair Month. Our nation commemorates the time-honored custom of repairing toilet tanks. Have things sunk that low? Don’t get me wrong – I think we’d all be in deep doo-doo if our toilet tanks weren’t repaired. I’m marking this on my calendar right now, and you should too.

Bottom line is this – National Months, for the most part, are inane. Some are politically motivated and others are PC-motivated. Some are the result of lobbying to one degree or another, but at the end of the day month, they don’t mean much to most Americans.

But I still want my own month. Half of the county is excluded here. Women, blacks, GLBT’s, Hispanics (Oct), Polish-Americans (Oct again), Thai Heritage (April), Latin American (Nov), Asian/Pacific Americans (May) – each with a month or two. So why not Straight Guy Drinking A Beer Pride Month? It’s time has come. Who’s with me?

66 Responses to When Do I Get My Month?

  • I am waiting for dyspeptic old coot month. I fear I will be waiting for it for a very long time.

  • Mac, You beat me to it.

    Just saying: Veterans get one day in November. Our honored war dead get one day in May . . .

    D.O.C.’s and veterans don’t need validation or “stroking.”

  • Normal is denigrated as abnormal, and abnormal is glorified as excellence. George Orwell would have well recognized the fulfillment of his “prophecy.”

    St. Paul talks well about gays and lesbians and like minded people in 1st Corinthians 6:9, but I’ll be accused of being “not nice” and “intolerant” and “divisive” for pointing this out:

    “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

    Let the perverts have their month of self-glorification because if they don’t repent now (as we all should and must), then sadly an eternity of awful torture awaits them (as it would await anyone who doesn’t repent, but I shouldn’t have to state the obvious just to appear “non-judgmental”).

  • I’d love a National Curmudgeon Day (which I celebrate every day). or Take a Misanthrope to Work Day (I’m open to invitations).

  • “National Curmudgeon Day” – hey I resent – er, I mean resemble – that!

  • There is a National White Heterosexual Male Month. It’s every month. Do white heterosexual males realize that when they complain about stuff like this, they sound like millionaires complaining that the poor are given preferential treatment?

    It seems like religion is avoided but I’d argue for a National Jewish Heritage Month. And maybe a National People with Disabilities Month, National Poor Month, and National Imprisoned Month.

  • The tendency of some folks to take everything so darn seriously is breath-taking.

  • When martyrs like St. Justin (whose day we celebrated yesterday) were asked, “Just give reverence to Lord Caesar; everyone else does; then you can go back to worship your God,” they took it seriously.

    It’s a sign of a godless, wicked and perverse generation to give credence to sodomites and set aside a day of honor for their perversion. Jesus faced that same thing when He spoke the words of Luke 13:1-7.

  • Suppose you were a lesbian trapped inside a man’s body. Would you want a month set aside to honor your contributions based on a sexual attraction to women?

    Every month IS “National White Male Heterosexual Month.” Every month WMH’s work, pay taxes, support families, obey laws, fight crime, fight fires, fight wars . . .

    The thing is: the “month’s” we question celebrate hedonism (Their gods are their groins). These are vices, not virtues.

  • The tendency of some folks to fail to see the point is breath-taking. I guess I have to trivialize the hard-fought official recognition of the struggles of your own historically marginalized group in a veil of attempted humor to get my point across.

    T. Shaw, there are a lot of faithful orthodox Catholic homosexuals who would challenge your assertion that being gay is equivalent to hedonism.

  • “Suppose you were a lesbian trapped inside a man’s body”

    Reverse that (man trapped inside a lesbian’s body) and you would be Chaz (formerly Chastity) Bono, I presume.

    There are “awareness” months for just about everything under the sun these days and I don’t pay much attention to them. Unless someone decides to proclaim National Rotund, Graying and Myopic Middle Aged Woman Month :-)

  • “National Rotund, Graying and Myopic Middle Aged Woman Month” – and men! I meet all three criteria: rotund, graying (and balding – it’s currently a race to see which dominates first), and myopic.

    ;-)

  • “The tendency of some folks to fail to see the point is breath-taking. ”

    What point were you attempting to make? That you think I’m complaining about not having a month to celebrate? If so, then you missed the whole point of the piece.

    And you know, I didn’t mention race in my piece. I said ‘Men’s History Summer’ and ‘National Men’s Pride Year’, and lastly: ‘Straight Guy Drinking a Beer Pride Month’. And yet you come back with National White Heterosexual Male Month. A little bit of projection there, perhaps?

    “I guess I have to trivialize the hard-fought official recognition of the struggles of your own historically marginalized group in a veil of attempted humor to get my point across.”

    Hey – I wasn’t using just a veil of attempted humor – I was shooting for a thin veil of attempted humor.

    I would explain the point of my piece, but I think it’d be better if we just declare June to be National Everything I Disagree With Offends Me Pride Month, in honor of the hard-fought official recognition of the struggles of yet another historically marginalized group.

  • Bottom line is this – National Months, for the most part, are inane.

    That was your point and my point is that THAT’s inane. You fail to see the point of the tradition.

    And you know, I didn’t mention race in my piece.

    Women, blacks, GLBT’s, Hispanics (Oct), Polish-Americans (Oct again), Thai Heritage (April), Latin American (Nov), Asian/Pacific Americans (May) – each with a month or two. So why not Straight Guy Drinking A Beer Pride Month?

    I answered why. I know you don’t actually want a Straight Guy Drinking A Beer Pride Month. You just want the others to disappear because you see them as just as meaningful. Again, you miss the point.

  • I propose “Personal Responsibility for your own actions and feelings month.”
    ALL humans oppress others to some degree – why do only some of the oppressed get singled out for recognition?
    In light of the not-so-hidden agenda of the LGBT community, a “month” of recognition is disgraceful hogwash – 1.7% of adults admits to being legitimately homosexual – the rest are doing it for what reason?!?!?!?
    When my children were the only blue-eyed blondes in the grade school, the Hispanics bullied them mercilessly. We all have to cope with sin – our own and others. Declaring a “month” of support is not a lasting coping mechanism.

  • Bottom line is this – National Months, for the most part, are inane.

    That was your point and my point is that THAT’s inane. You fail to see the point of the tradition.

    I qualified my ‘bottom line’ – and for the most part, the recognitions are inane. I bet most folks would agree. If you think National Toilet Repair Month is sensible, then I don’t know what to say. And my guess is that future ‘National Month’ designations will become more and more absurd, as individual groups/food items/pastimes/health conditions under the sun eventually get their own.

    I answered why. I know you don’t actually want a Straight Guy Drinking A Beer Pride Month. You just want the others to disappear because you see them as just as meaningful. Again, you miss the point.

    You mean your answer “Every month is National White Heterosexual Male Month”? I didn’t take that as an answer as much as a sarcastic reply of the offended.

    And I want the others to “disappear”? I could care less if they stay or go. But you’re reading way more into my piece than what’s there, if you think I’ve an axe to grind over anyone’s ethnicity or gender. Most of the commenters here grasped the spirit of the piece, and (I hope) enjoyed it. You didn’t like it. Okay, fine. I’ll get over it.

  • TW, “why do only some of the oppressed get singled out for recognition?”

    Because they face systematic oppression and because without special focus, these minorities are robbed of role models they can relate to.

    Larry, “If you think National Toilet Repair Month is sensible, then I don’t know what to say.”

    If only you you were mocking National Toilet Repair Month. I quote: “Women, blacks, GLBT’s, Hispanics (Oct), Polish-Americans (Oct again), Thai Heritage (April), Latin American (Nov), Asian/Pacific Americans (May)”

  • “Women, blacks, *****, Hispanics (Oct), Polish-Americans (Oct again), Thai Heritage (April), Latin American (Nov), Asian/Pacific Americans (May)” Are those “categories” by birth.

    GLBT are GLBT by acting on “it.”

    I don’t want to rob them “of role models they can relate to.”

    I want to deny them the privilege of forcing real Americans to kiss their slimy arses in Macy’s Window one stinking month each sordid year.

  • “Are those “categories” by birth.”

    Actually there is limited evidence that homosexuality is genetically determined.

    But if we have months for genetic determinations then lets have Schizophrenia month, Depression month, Adultery and Alcoholism months. Note, this is’nt just to have compassion for people suffering from a disorder caused by “birth.” Rather, it is to celebrate those typically marginalized by others who think that having such genetic conditions is abnormal. Think of those marginalized spouses who just “had to” cheat and break up their families. Think of their pain as they saw their actions ruin their childrens’ lives. How about the poor drunk in jail after killing a person in an auto accident. How can we not understand that this was merely an expression of his being. And then there is that poor man who is marginalized because we think his ability to “hear” the grass talk to him is abnormal. We just don’t understand that they all are expressing a marginalized “birth” determination.

  • Because they face systematic oppression and because without special focus, these minorities are robbed of role models they can relate to.

    If only you you were mocking National Toilet Repair Month. I quote: “Women, blacks, GLBT’s, Hispanics (Oct), Polish-Americans (Oct again), Thai Heritage (April), Latin American (Nov), Asian/Pacific Americans (May)”

    Most blacks and hispanics have in the last forty years been served up substandard schooling and police protection (which does not seem to interest politicians so drawn as long as public budgets and employment opportunities for those with education and social work degrees are ample). That having been said, none of those nominated categories are composed of the ‘sytematically oppressed’. (Nor would they benefit from a “National [insert victim here] Month” if they were).

  • Actually there is limited evidence that homosexuality is genetically determined.

    Discordant behavior by identical twins demonstrates that neither male nor female homosexuality is ‘genetically determined’.

  • Even if homosexuality is genetically determined, that’s not an excuse to behave like a baboon or bonoboo chimpanzee.

    The disease of alcoholism has a marked genetic component. Does that mean that I as an alcoholic am supposed to go out and give in to my disease, swill down the vodka and kill someone while driving in a state of intoxication? Or am I supposed to go to AA meetings and work the Twelve Steps and be a responsible human being?

    The explanation that since homosexuality is genetically determined, then it must be acceptable for the homosexual to engage and persist in filth is just as much an excuse as the explanation that since I am an alcoholic I may as well drink and drive.

    At this point someone will say that homosexual behavior doesn’t kill as alcoholic behavior does. The transmission of disease by rampant sodomy demonstrates the fallacy of this argument. Furthermore, elevating the practice of sodomy to the normalcy of marriage destroys the familly which is the buildinng block of society. Thus, homosexual behavior is every bit as dangerous – though in a different way – as alcoholic behavior. And BOTH are addictive. Why the obviousness of that isn’t acknowledged is unfathomable.

  • If I am not mistaken, the terms ‘heritable’ and ‘genetic’ are not interchangeable. There is a distinction between a phenomenon genetically determined, a phenomenon influenced by heredity, and a phenomenon derived from factors influenced by heredity.

  • “Actually there is limited evidence that homosexuality is genetically determined.”

    “Discordant behavior by identical twins demonstrates that neither male nor female homosexuality is ‘genetically determined’.”

    Art,

    When I say limited it means there is almost none. My point being that saying homosexuals are born that way has little (limited) scientific proof.

  • Art,

    You likely are correct. But as my 2nd sponsor repeatedly reminded his pigeons, “It doesn’t matter if you got it from a door knob or a toilet bowl seat. The fact of the matter is that you got it; now deal with it.”

    Whether one inherits a pre-disposition towards homosexuality or alocholism, or one has a defective gene that makes him pre-disposed to homosexuality or alcoholism is frankly irrelevant. Even if the pre-disposition towards homosexuality or alcoholism were purely environmental, it still doesn’t matter. Excuses, excuses, excuses. In my case, I got the disease of alcoholism and by whatever means I got it [e.g., I kissed the wrong girl in my misspent youth! ;-)] doesn’t matter.

    At the risk of preaching to the choir, we are NOT animals subject to the whims of our passion without ability to take responsibility. We are human beings with brains given to us by God Who in turn expects and requires us to use our brains. Yup, I am powerless over alchohol and my life is iunmanageable (by me) – that’s the first step. But then I got to do the rest of the steps – Come to Believe, Make a Decision, Do a Moral Inventory, etc. The same is true of the homosexual.

    No more excuses.

  • Whether one can make a scientific case for being born homosexual (i.e. genetic), my own experience is that I have known children from a very early age displaying such tendencies; e.g., boys playing with dolls, clinging excessively to mothers, etc., which evolved into a homosexual lifestyle. The question then becomes if they are created this way and God is the creator, then who is to blame for what they are? Seems to me that the fault likes with the maker, much as if a defective watch is found not able to keep the correct time.

    If God is perfect, how can He create imperfect creatures?

  • My main objection to the minority-group months is that they stress the obstacles that the particular groups face. Black History Month celebrations tend to revolve around the first black to do something that other people have already done. The emphasis is on beating a corrupt system. That may have been a legitimate goal 50 years ago, but these days it has a negative effect. Better to inspire kids to emulate the best of the best, regardless of group. Sorry if I took us off-topic.

    As for gay month, it’s a perfect opportunity for the Church to remind everyone of Catholic teaching.

  • Joe – A person isn’t to be blamed for having a leaning toward something they aren’t supposed to participate in. The problem is when we treat a leaning as an obligation to act on it.

    My hunch is that homosexuality involves genetics, upbringing, and individual choice to differing degrees in each person. Just like anything else in life.

  • Joe,

    When Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden rebelled against God, sin entered the world and tthat entrance in one way or another is the reason for disease and death. God didn’t create imperfect people. God created man perfectly; but man rebelled and has now inherited within his very body the seedds of death that sin sows. In the case of the defiant homosexual, Romans 1:18-32 explains how God allows him to reap the consequence of what his rebellion causes.

    God doesn’t cause homosexuality or alcoholism or cancer or diabetes or any other simillar thing. Those things exist because of the consequence of sin.

    Nope, that doesn’t mean a stomach cancer patient has stomach cancer because he sinned; it means that disease and death exist because of the effects of sin on the world. The rain falls on the righteous and unrighteous alike. We all suffer in one way or another from the effects of sin. We are the poor banished children of Eve as that prayer goes – banished from paradise because of sin, but with the hope of Heaven if we repent and convert. Cancer, diabetes, leprosy, etc. won’t magically go away in this life. But one day all tears will be wiped away. That’s the promise.

  • Pinky, anecdotal and empirical evidence trumps a mere “hunch.” I would not discount nurture (upbringing) as a contributing factor, but “predisposition” or genetic influences appear to be the main influence with “choice” minimally third. Do we “choose” to sin or is it in our nature because we are all Adam’s children and have no other “choice.” A theological question with a million answers.

  • The scientific consensus is that homosexuality is the result of many factors few, if any, are in the control of the individual.

    Gay Catholics are trying so hard to fight this destructive idea that homosexuality = gay sex and here you guys are perpetuating it.

    none of those nominated categories are composed of the ‘sytematically oppressed’

    This is why we need these official recognitions. There are people who don’t get it. A person with a black name is less likely to be hired than a person with a white name and identical credentials.

  • Joe,

    We are wounded by original sin, and that gives a certain pre-disposition. Whether we give in to our baser passions and act to fulfill the pre-disposition, or we use our God-given brains and act responsibly is free will. You choose.

    Just because my brain is wired to be addicted to alcohol and cocaine doesn’t mean that I have to pick up that first drink or snort that first line. Now once I give in, then what St. Paul said about being out of control in Romans 7:13-25 comes into play.

  • Paul, perhaps we are born to suffer and bear the consequences of Original Sin, but the fact is that some suffer much more than others, right out of the womb. If God is “no respecter of persons,” then how is it that we are not all given the same chance from birth? The answer: ‘I will bless whom I bless and curse whom I curse.” So God decides. Therefore, the Pharaoh never had a chance nor the blind man at the well. They were created as props for God’s grand play. Therefore, free will and choice are mere illusions. He’s the potter, we’re the clay and he molds us to suit his purposes.

  • A person with a black name is less likely to be hired than a person with a white name

    Man what happens when Frank White and Bud Black apply for the same job? That’s gonna be one surprised employer.

  • “A person with a black name is less likely to be hired than a person with a white name …”

    Excuse me, but what is a “black name” and what is a “white name”? I wasn’t aware there was a distinction.

    On the off chance, however, that “Barack Obama” qualifies as a so-called “black name” (actually sounds more Arabic to me), and “John McCain” qualifies as a “white name”, what to make of the fact that the former was “hired” over the latter for the most important job in the world?

  • Joe,

    I don’t have all the answers. If I did, then I would be God. When I was drinking, I sure tried to act like God. And I utterly screwed up my life. But when I got on my knees, then my life got better.

    St. Paul says at the end of 1st Corinthians 13 (the Love Chapter) that we look through a glass darkly now, but then one day we shall see Him face to face. Hebrews 11 (the Faith Chapter) summarizes the stories of people whoo went through worse tthan you or I, but kept their faith and as a result got their crown of glory.

    It is arrogance and hubris on the part of man to think that he can put God’s actions into a jar of man’s own reasoning and figure him out. Job chapters 40 and 41 come to mind.

    Now as for me personally, I know God is good because I am not dead underneath a bridge wiith an empty heroin needle in the vein of my left arm, and I should be. That’s the only proof I know of.

  • Paul, glad you have found your salvation. Truly. I’m still searching. Got cancer a couple of years ago; don’t blame anyone; not God nor Adam. Just the luck of the draw. Some of us are dealt good hands, others aren’t worth playing. You can hold em, bluff or fold. That’s about the only choice we have.

  • I agree with RR on at least one point which I would re-word as follows:

    There is a difference between being homosexual and engaging in gay sex just as there is a difference between being an alcoholic drug addict and driving drunk or snorting cocaine.

    Being homosexual doesn’t send one to hell. Defying God and engaging in gay sex anyways will.

    Being an alcoholic drug addict doesn’t send one to hell (look at all those in recovery). But I can testify that giving in to the disease will send one to hell quite rapidly, and the hell will start now.

  • Joe Green,

    You WILL be on my Rosary prayer list tonight. It’s the Sorrowful Mysteries on Fridays. The second one is Jesus being whipped at the pillar. As Scripture states, “By His stripes we are healed.”

    I too don’t know why or how you got the cancer. But Jesus does love you. Whether He chooses to heal you through medical science or by divine intervention, or by conversion and a happy death in His arms is up to Him. But I pray His will be done so that what is best for you may be accomplished (and I don’t even know what’s best for me, let alone you).

    PS, I will be happy to make it as far as Purgatory. I am not going to assume I have a lock on salvation.

  • The scientific consensus is that homosexuality

    There ain’t no such thing.

    A person with a black name is less likely to be hired than a person with a white name and identical credentials.

    And ‘oppression’ is a rather florid – nay histrionic – term to describe that. When people are hired (or denied employement) the decisive factor is commonly petty.

  • A person with a black name is less likely to be hired than a person with a white name and identical credentials.

    There is something to this–Makeisha Jackson is less likely to get a positive response than Marcia Johannsen. [As an aside, I worked with an African American woman whose last name was Johannsen, so obviously it's not a foolproof marker.]

    Gay Catholics are trying so hard to fight this destructive idea that homosexuality = gay sex and here you guys are perpetuating it.

    Well, I sorta see what you’re talking about here, but I don’t think that’s an accurate description of, say, Catholic-identifying advocacy groups like the Rainbow Sash wearers or New Ways Ministry. When you (meaning RS/NWM) are arguing that homosexual sexual activity is a positive good and you’re trying to get the Church to bless it, that suggest that gay sex is an indispensible part of the identity.

  • Joe – The “hunch” comment was modesty. From what I’ve read, scientists have identified a genetic predisposition to homosexuality. Additionally, we see cases in which sexual abuse steers a person towards homosexuality. Lastly, there are case histories of people whose sexual exploration led them to try homosexual activity. Is it possible that this last group had been driven by genetics, including some genetic combination that we haven’t identified yet? Sure. Is it possible that their extreme sexual variety is the result of their upbringing? Yup. But the indication, at this point, is that genetics, upbringing, and personal decision all affect one’s orientation.

    I’m not sure that the idea of orientation is even that helpful. There are some males who show effeminate characteristics young (or masculine traits for women), but Western culture used to approach people in a less deterministic way, envisioning them and all of us as capable of committing any righteous or sinful act depending on the circumstances and our decisions.

  • On the off chance, however, that “Barack Obama” qualifies as a so-called “black name” (actually sounds more Arabic to me), and “John McCain” qualifies as a “white name”, what to make of the fact that the former was “hired” over the latter for the most important job in the world?

    And Frederick Douglass was a free black man so people had no reason to complain about slavery.

  • A person with a black name is less likely to be hired than a person with a white name and identical credentials.

    Someone with the name Tinky Winky is less likely to be hired, all other things being equal, as well. However, I’m unclear that this is the result of prejudice so much as people’s unconscious reaction against the unusual, especially when it seems silly or made-up. I mean, let’s face it, black or white, people with oddly made-up names often come from a less educated segment of society than those with more mainstream names. There gets to be a cultural connotation to that.

    Gay Catholics are trying so hard to fight this destructive idea that homosexuality = gay sex and here you guys are perpetuating it.

    On the other hand, celebrations such as “GLTB Month” are primarily the result of advocacy of the secular GLTB lobby which does in fact tend to equate homosexuality with gay sex. So one would imagine that these orthodox gay Catholics would be at least somewhat skeptical of the institution.

  • Dale Price, I don’t support the Rainbow Sash and never heard of New Ways Ministry. I have heard of Courage though I don’t think they get it completely right either.

  • And Frederick Douglass was a free black man so people had no reason to complain about slavery.

    Stop it. Your complaint is that prospective employers have a marginally better impression of someone whose name is Lisa Sanders rather than of Lakeisha Jefferson. They likely also develop a better impression of someone who is taller and someone without gingivitis. Job interviews are like that.

    You could correct this for the most part by having employees sit for written examinations administered by contractors hired by the personnel office and then forwarding the three best scores and numerically coded (but un-nominated) vitae to prospective supervisors. I do not think the ‘civil rights’ bar is made up of enthusiasts of written examinations. Ain’t that funny?

  • I’m unclear that this is the result of prejudice so much as people’s unconscious reaction against the unusual.

    That’s kinda what prejudice is.

  • That’s kinda what prejudice is.

    But it’s not actually the kind of prejudice you’re concerned about, or else you would care nothing about African Americans and instead be trumpeting “People With Weird Names Month”.

    My point is, if people are going to be skeptical of the abilities of a Latricia Edwards and a Galadriel Blossom regardless of the fact that one is black and one is white, then it’s not race they have a hang up with but rather social non-conformity, which may well correlate with other things which would legitimately cause problems in the workplace.

  • DC, call-backs to job applications is just one example I gave. You don’t think you’d get a similar result based on skin color alone? Sure, a person with green skin would also be discriminated against and if the problem of green people being relegated to a permanent underclass becomes one of the biggest social problems facing the country, I would be more than happy to advocate a month for them.

  • My personal experience, admittedly in large and thus somewhat PC corporate environments, is that most hiring managers are almost pathetically eager to hire qualified minorities — where qualified is interpreted to include a basic ability to dress and socialize in keeping with the environment of the workplace as well as having the requisite education and experience.

    I would tend to think that the persistent problems that African Americans, Hispanics and some other groups suffer have a lot more to do with many of them being stuck in bad schools, coming from poor/broken families, etc. than because they don’t get enough of an awareness month.

    If anything, I’d tend to think that awareness months often tend to perpetuate the image that certain minorities can only get by via special allowances. But I’m sure that the degree to which people would feel that way probably has a lot to do with their other political/cultural alignments.

    When I was in parochial school, we celebrated “Black History Month” and “Hispanic Heritage Month”, and all I remember getting from the former was that:

    – MLK said some great stuff (true)
    – George Washington Carver did something or other scientific (true but unhelpful)
    – St. Augustine was a great black saint (not true, so far as anyone knows)

    and from the latter:

    – Caesar Chavez was an important guy and
    – California used to belong to Mexico

    neither one of which really changed my view of my Mexican heritage at all.

    Mileage, I suppose, may vary.

    Overall, I’m in favor of teaching children the history of their particular cultural and to an extent ethnic heritages (I consider the former more real than the latter) but I consider special months and days rather gimmicky, and even admitting the value in cultural terms I see no value at all in a “GLTB Month” for school kids.

  • Dale Price, I don’t support the Rainbow Sash….

    Good (and I mean that unironically), but that isn’t the point I was trying to make. The activities of RS and NWM indicate that some gay advocacy groups which identify as Catholic are trying to make sure that active sexuality is the primary feature of homosexuality. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be demanding the Church approve it.

    (Not so by the way, Courage does get it right, distinguishing between activity and the person.)

  • So far as I know, no one has done a version of the black/white names study to see if the same would hold for stereotypically Jewish names, or stereotypically Gaelic ones, etc. Doing this might be able to isolate whether there is a specifically racial element involved here, rather than it just being a matter of unusual names in general.

  • Looking at the abstract BA links to, one of the things that jumps out at me is:

    Applicants living in better neighborhoods receive more callbacks but, interestingly, this effect does not differ by race.

    Which if I’m reading it correctly means that blacks living in better neighborhoods get a similar lift to that of whites living in better neighborhoods. That suggests a class discrimination more than a race one. (I.e., people may be assuming that a black man named Clarence is better educated or more mainstream than one named Jamal.)

    In addition to just plain unusual names (say Galadriel, Theoden, Morning Star, Jubilee) it would be interesting to see if names which are generally seen as lower class but not particularly ethnic did worse than more mainstream names.

    Also interesting would be to see if there are positive biases. For instance, do people with Jewish last names get more callbacks for financial industry jobs, or do Asian names result in more callbacks for math intensive jobs?

  • it would be interesting to see if names which are generally seen as lower class but not particularly ethnic did worse than more mainstream names.

    You would be hard put to find a dame in a salaried job where I work with big hair or a name like ‘Kristi’.

  • [B]lacks living in better neighborhoods get a similar lift to that of whites living in better neighborhoods. That suggests a class discrimination more than a race one.

    It might suggest that there is class discrimination in addition to racial discrimination, but it’s not clear why this would suggest the difference was due to class discrimination instead of racial discrimination, particularly when the abstract itself states: “We find little evidence that our results are driven by employers inferring something other than race, such as social class, from the names.”

  • It might suggest that there is class discrimination in addition to racial discrimination, but it’s not clear why this would suggest the difference was due to class discrimination instead of racial discrimination, particularly when the abstract itself states: “We find little evidence that our results are driven by employers inferring something other than race, such as social class, from the names.”

    Well, given that I’m regarding the study with some suspicion, and can’t read the whole thing and thus see where they get their “we find little evidence from” I’m inclined to give the factual statement that “black names” and “white names” get the same lift based on neighborhood a good deal more weight than the (in the abstract) unsupported “We find little evidence that our results are driven by employers inferring something other than race” statement. I’d only be inclined to accept the latter if I’d had a chance to read through their entire methodology and found myself convinced that it followed from their tests and results.

    As for why I’m thinking that the neighborhood results suggests that what is at play here is more class discrimination (if that’s the right word) than race discrimination: If someone actively didn’t like or didn’t want to hire black people, I don’t see why they’re be swayed by the fact that a given black person lived in a good neighborhood. If this is mostly based on racism I would expect to see at least some depression in the uplift due to neighborhood quality. The fact that it seems exactly the same would suggest to me (lacking any other evidence) that the person sorting resumes is treating “black names” and “white names” the same way that that the difference in the treatment of the names is due to something other than racial animus.

    I suppose a good portion of this has a lot to do with one’s experience sorting resumes and one’s ideas about race. Having done a couple hires where I had to go from a stack of 30+ resumes to 3-6 interviews, my impression is that people grasp at all sorts of little things which suggest to them in some subtle way, “This might be the kind of person that I’m looking for.” As such, I’d imagine that all sorts of image issues come into play. For example, I could picture women named Stacy or Tiffany having a harder than average time getting callbacks for “serious” jobs unless they have some outstanding feature to counteract that (say, a degree in physics from MIT.) Not because people hate women named Stacy or Tiffany, but because there’s a connotation which goes with those names which might not suggest “director of R&D” or “sales manager” or some such to many hiring managers. And if you have 3-4x more basically qualified people than you can interview, it’s often fairly silly things that end up making the difference in who you call.

    Maybe I’m being naive here, but the finding that culturally non-mainstream names result in a lower likelihood of callbacks does not necessarily suggest to me right off that it’s a matter of racism.

  • “…but it’s not clear why this would suggest the difference was due to class discrimination instead of racial discrimination, particularly when the abstract itself states: “We find little evidence that our results are driven by employers inferring something other than race, such as social class, from the names.”

    Unless of course the authors interpreted their results incorrectly. Which happens.

  • Darwin,

    Suppose that the study had found that men got more call backs than women, and that the effect was the same for both blacks and whites. Would this suggest that racism wasn’t a factor (since someone who actively didn’t like or didn’t want to hire black people wouldn’t be swayed by the fact that a given black was a man)? Why wouldn’t it just suggest that both racism and sexism were involved?

  • Well, at a minimum that result would suggest that bias in relation to “black names” and bias in relation to sex were totally unrelated and randomly assorted characteristics, which at a human level I’m finding a little unlikely.

    I’m not trying to assert there’s not some kind of selection factor going on here that’s adversely affecting people with “black names” rather than generic ones in these job markets (I found a more extensive description of the study and see that they used Chicago and Boston — not exactly two of the more egalitarian job markets they could have chosen) but I think it’s probably massively over-reading to assert that this displays a widespread desire not to hire African Americans or racial animus in general.

    Rightly or wrongly, made up or odd names have different social connotations than more mainstream names (for instance, I would imagine that people with the first names of Sarah Palin’s kids would have more trouble getting called back than people with more average names), and when doing something like processing resumes people tend to over-extrapolate from very small details without realizing it.

    One can rail against that, I guess, but while it may not be strictly fair or rational in a Mr. Spock sense, I’m not sure that it’s reasonable to expect people not to notice social signalling in things like resumes and interviews.

  • Well, at a minimum that result would suggest that bias in relation to “black names” and bias in relation to sex were totally unrelated and randomly assorted characteristics

    Why would it suggest that they were unrelated?

  • Darwin,

    More generally, it’s not clear to me that you and the authors of the study disagree substantively about what is responsible for the different call back rates. It may be that you agree on what is happening, but that they consider what is happening to be an example of racism whereas you do not.

    If racism in hiring requires a conscious desire not to hire black people because you just don’t like black people, then I think the authors of the study would agree this is not a major problem in the U.S. today (though it might be so in certain industries or locales). On the other hand, if racism includes a conscious or unconscious belief that black people tend to be less competent or less willing or able to conform to the social norms of the workplace, then it seems like what you’re describing (people are less likely to give call backs to applicants with black sounding names because those names have negative connotations) would be racist.

  • Well, at a minimum that result would suggest that bias in relation to “black names” and bias in relation to sex were totally unrelated and randomly assorted characteristics

    Why would it suggest that they were unrelated?

    If the same people were discriminating against both women and black names, then you wouldn’t see a delta between black men and women. If there was the same gap between black men and women and white men and women, then it would seem to suggest that bias against black names and bias against women where independent rather than correlated characteristics.

    On the other hand, if racism includes a conscious or unconscious belief that black people tend to be less competent or less willing or able to conform to the social norms of the workplace, then it seems like what you’re describing (people are less likely to give call backs to applicants with black sounding names because those names have negative connotations) would be racist.

    What I’m trying to maintain here, and maybe I’m being overly optimistic about people in general, is that this may not be a matter of people thinking that black people in general are less likely to be competent and able to conform to social norms, but rather that the specific names which the authors of the study have picked out are giving a negative connotation which people wouldn’t necessarily have towards black candidates in general.

    The authors selected “obvious black” names like Jamal and Lakisha in order to see if people are biased against black applicants, but what I’m wondering is if their results are a result of social bias against made up names rather than social bias against blacks. (In which case, applicants with names like Track, Piper and Trig would do just as badly as applicants named Jamal or Lakisha.)

    If many people reviewing resumes are responding to a name like Lakisha in the same way they’d respond to someone coming to an interview in non-professional attire (basically, assuming that person isn’t serious) that might be unfair in some sense but it’s not racial bias specifically.

    I guess my main reaction to the study would be, “If you give your kids crazy names, you’ll disadvantage them in life,” rather than, “racism is rampant”.

  • If there was the same gap between black men and women and white men and women, then it would seem to suggest that bias against black names and bias against women where independent rather than correlated characteristics.

    If that’s right (and I’m happy to defer to you on a point of statistics here), then wouldn’t the fact the good neighborhood/bad neighborhood difference was the same for black names and white names likewise suggest that the bias against applicants with black names and the bias against applicants were independent rather than correlated characteristics?

    The authors selected “obvious black” names like Jamal and Lakisha in order to see if people are biased against black applicants, but what I’m wondering is if their results are a result of social bias against made up names rather than social bias against blacks. (In which case, applicants with names like Track, Piper and Trig would do just as badly as applicants named Jamal or Lakisha.)

    As someone who has an unusual name, this is something I would really like to find out! I guess I thought based on your Tiffany example that the problem wasn’t being unfamiliar with the name as being familiar with it and it having negative associations. Sorry if I misunderstood you.

  • If that’s right (and I’m happy to defer to you on a point of statistics here), then wouldn’t the fact the good neighborhood/bad neighborhood difference was the same for black names and white names likewise suggest that the bias against applicants with black names and the bias against applicants were independent rather than correlated characteristics?

    I suppose I better hurry up and defer to you as being better at argumentation, our careers are coming out here…

    Yes, you’re right, (and the other example helped me think this through) the fact that black names and white ones are seeing the same lift from being in a good neighborhood indicates that bias in relation to names and bias in relation to neighborhoods are independent characteristics — though that doesn’t necessarily rule out that they’re both being used because of similar assumptions about class.

    I was making the classic mistake in my initial assessment of assuming that all actors have the same characteristics. If all people reading resumes are biased against black names, then it doesn’t make sense that those same actors would be more likely to call back a black name in a good neighborhood. But of course, the claim isn’t that everyone reading resumes is less likely to call back in response to black names, it’s that some of them are.

    I continue to think that the name reaction is more of a class/culture issue than a race one, but the neighborhood data point doesn’t help any.

    As someone who has an unusual name, this is something I would really like to find out! I guess I thought based on your Tiffany example that the problem wasn’t being unfamiliar with the name as being familiar with it and it having negative associations. Sorry if I misunderstood you.

    Ah, now I see the personal stake! Well, it’s true that “Black” is an unusual first name, but “Adder” is such a well respected last name I’m sure you get by. :-)

    To try one last time to clarify my claim — I’m not saying that it’s strictly unfamiliarity in a name, though I could see that being part of it. (Come to that, my name is only common among kids under 15, though I’d never really thought about this in relation to me.)

    What I’m thinking is at issue here is partly that giving kids made up names is, among mainstream American whites, a odd or lower class choice. (In relation to this, see how much nudging and winking there was over the names of Palin’s kids during the campaign.) If we assume that the people reading resumes are mostly white (it would certainly be interesting if the effect applied to black hiring managers as well, but I assume that’s not the case given that the authors of the study are looking for racism and that wouldn’t really fit the picture) then names like “Lakisha” or “Jamal” would have a lower class or less educated connotation to them independent of race.

    Now the problem is, and the reason this would look a lot like race bias in practice, is that (at least according to the asserting of the study authors) this naming practice is in fact mainstream within Black culture in the US.

    So if someone reading resumes is taking these kind of names as indicating social non-conformity, that person might well end up effectively discriminating against blacks, even though he or she wouldn’t react negatively if the Joseph or Olivia invited to an interview turned out to be black.

    Now, further, I’d concede that making assumptions about people based on their names is kind of unfair, since it tells you a lot more about that person’s parents than about the person himself or herself. So I think name bias is something people should try to avoid. Nevertheless, it’s something that people are conditioned into by a lot of the fiction they’re exposed to, in which names are invariably picked in order to reflect character traits. And after all, one of the reasons we have names at all is in order to convey something about who we are.

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