That doesn’t mean the situation is hopeless. One of the most promising recommendations recently proposed is that the standard hiring process should include the initial submission of résumés without applicants’ names listed. This could be highly significant, since multiple studies have confirmed that even when comparing identical résumés, employers are less likely to interview someone with an ethnic-sounding name, something that hampers some black job seekers. And this isn’t simply an issue with first names—90 percent of Americans with the last name “Washington” are black.
But the other important step forward would be to make companies and hiring managers aware of this new study on how modern-day discrimination actually works. Many good people probably believe that every day they go to the office, they are being fair, when the truth is that they aren’t. If we can get them to acknowledge the potential for their own bias, then we can work to improve things, one workplace at a time.
Who knows? Maybe, then, we could get Congress to acknowledge that such bias is alive and well. And maybe it would actually begin working with the president instead of against him to find solutions to the economic realities that black college graduates and all Americans are facing.
Keli Goff is The Root’s special correspondent. Follow her on Twitter.