The concept of racism can take many forms. It doesn’t matter what color your skin is, where you live, or what name you have, people will harass you. It’s your name. In the UK, a Nigerian man had to change his birth name because he used to get rejected from interviews prior to the change. However, after the change, he started getting calls for interviews within a week .
Born in Nigeria, Inein Victor Garrick switched to using his middle name after struggling to get any job interviews using his first name. The Mirror quoted him as saying, ‘I started using Victor as my first name because of the barriers I encountered when I applied for jobs after university. I never seemed to get past the first application stages even though on paper, I had all the necessary requirements for at least an interview. In addition, the few calls I had, the recruiters had an issue saying my first name correctly. With comments like ‘your name is difficult or hard to pronounce’. I always felt I was on the defensive and unconsciously biased’.
He explained that within a week of changing his name to Victor on his CV, he received calls for multiple interviews. The British-born 34-year-old has been living in the UK since he was 22 and said that people frequently mispronounced his name. By changing the spelling, he was more likely to be taken seriously.
A year ago, Inein went back to his roots and reverted to his real name. He felt like he was hiding something. He said: ‘I think it really hit me. Last year, I almost felt like I had hidden a part of myself all those years. It wasn’t shame per se but I wasn’t my true self. People would hear Victor and assume I was British or English and I wasn’t highlighting my true identity. I’m proud of where I’m from and I think I hid behind Victor. This opened that door to talk about Nigeria and my cultural heritage. It’s a fantastic conversation starter’. He added that he feels as if he has been ‘reborn’ after reverting to his old name.
He added: ‘I hadn’t heard it in so long. I’ve been in the UK since 2009 and besides my immediate family, no one’s ever called me by my first name, until the last year. So when you think about it, you can’t believe it’s been that long. There’s a lot of joy but there’s also a bit of sadness as well that is taken that long’.