names of professionals appearing on
the Web; and sampling names of people active on social media sites and
Professionals often have their own
Web pages that list positions and describe prior accomplishments. Several professions have degree designations (for example, Ph.D., M.D., J.D.,
or MBA) associated with people in that
profession. A Google search for a first
name and a degree designation can
yield lists of people having that first
name and degree.
The next step is to visit the Web
page associated with each full name,
and if an image is discernible, record
whether the person appears black,
white, or other.
Here are two examples from my test.
A Google search for Ebony PhD revealed
links for real people having Ebony as a
first name—specifically, Ebony Bookman, Ebony Glover, Ebony Baylor, and
Ebony Utley. I harvested the full names
appearing on the first three pages of
search results, using searches with other degree designations to find at least
10 full names for Ebony. Clicking on
the link associated with Ebony Glover
displayed an image. 8 The Ebony Glover
in this study appeared black.
Similarly, search results for Jill PhD
listed professionals whose first name
is Jill. Visiting links yielded Web pages with more information about each
person. For example, Jill Schneider’s
Web page had an image showing that
she is white. 14
Peek You searches were used to harvest a sample of full names of netizens
having racially associated first names.
The website peekyou.com compiles online and offline information on individuals—thereby connecting residential
information with Facebook and Twitter
users, bloggers, and others—then assigns its own rating to reflect the size of
each person’s online footprint. Search
results from peekyou.com list people
having the highest score first, and include an image of the person.
A Peek You search of Ebony listed
Ebony Small, Ebony Cams, Ebony King,
Ebony Springer, and Ebony Tan. A Peek You
search for Jill listed Jill Christopher, Jill
Spivack, Jill English, Jill Pantozzi, and
Jill Dobson. After harvesting these and
other full names, I reported the race of
the person if discernible.
figure 3. image search results for first names Latanya, Latisha, Kirsten, and Jill.
Armed with the approach just de-
scribed, I harvested 2,184 racially as-
sociated full names of people with an
online presence from September 24
through October 22, 2012. Most im-
ages associated with black-identifying
names were of black people (88%),
and an even greater percentage of im-
ages associated with white-identifying
names were of white people (96%). 15