Like Barack Obama, I too have a funny name. Unlike Obama, though, I have read papers at APA meetings.
One time when I was reading a paper at an Eastern APA meeting, many people in the audience left early during my paper and also during the Q & A. This, however, was not the experience of the Caucasian speakers who preceded me in our session. I have wondered: would this have happened to me if I were a blond, blue-eyed elite grad school Ph.D. called John Smith?
One philosopher who had left early, and had seen others leave early, apologized to me later, saying he had to leave to take a call as his daughter was sick.
Job applicants who have been deemed diverse are thrown into a system that seemingly values their diversity. However, their value is determined by individuals with biases and individuals who are forced to meet certain standards determined by their bosses and HR departments. We (those deemed diverse) are asked to identify, prove, and convince others that unchosen features of our being adds to the value of our candidacy, when those very same unchosen features can be used against us. And in the instance that our unchosen features contribute to our appeal as a scholar and colleague, then we are left wondering if our unchosen features override our accomplishments. If this is the nature of the academic market and despite my accomplishments I am merely a box to be checked by a search committee, then my value is not as a productive colleague but rather as a way of meeting a quota.
I discuss my experiences as a diverse job candidate in the academic job market at http://www.bioethics.net/2015/01/how-are-you-diverse-how-the-academic-job-market-aggravated-my-racial-insecurities/
I have never encountered racial and ethnic insensitivity in my graduate program. . .
. . . except when a professor talked about how Asian students are not fit for philosophy.
. . . except when students have asked me (more than once) to please tell them where I am from, because they “just cannot figure it out.”
. . . except when a student joked in the middle of class about me not having immigration papers.
. . . except when I had faculty member in a private meeting bluntly say that if I want to get a job I needed to specialize in Latin American philosophy. I do nothing of the sort. I work within M&E.
I love philosophy, but sometimes these little things are really, really annoying.