…affirmative action, as anyone knows who has spent a life in academia, has become a sort of high-stakes careerist game. Names and identities come and go, predicated on assumptions of what best works and in what landscape.
When did a Barry Dunham/Obama become Barry/Barack Soetoro become Barack Obama — and why?
The number of hyphenated names — Smith-Lopez, Martinez-Becker — or remanufactured first names — Pedro Jones or Juan Lopez — proliferates where perceived advantage is greatest.
The truth is that when jobs are tight, it is a very human thing to find advantage beyond just consideration of merit and preparedness, and for the last thirty years that fact has sent millions rushing to reinvent themselves as something other than they would otherwise be.
I have had numerous conversations in which a candidate or colleague has assured me “I am really one-eighth Cherokee” or “I am African-American because my grandparents were Coptic immigrants” or “I am Latino because I immigrated from Chile.”