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Former CNN Anchor Hala Gorani Says She Changed Her Name and Hid Arabic Skills to Avoid Discrimination

Gorani is the author of the new book, But You Don't Look Arab: And Other Tales of Unbelonging

<p>Pierre Suu/WireImage</p> Hala Gorani

Pierre Suu/WireImage

Hala Gorani

Former CNN anchor Hala Gorani says that, while she grew up in the U.S. in an Arabic-Syrian family, she hid much of her Arabic identity to avoid being discriminated against.

In a new interview with CNN, Gorani, 54, says that she changed some details of her resumé as a young journalist, such as going by her mother's last name rather than her father's, and not always being open about the fact that she speaks three languages.

"That was a very deliberate move on my part," Gorani tells the network. "When I was in my 20s — so this was in the '90s in Paris, I had just graduated from a pretty elite university in France thinking, 'Okay, this is kind of going to be an easy journey now.' "

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She continues: "So I put together my resumé, and on the resumé was my name, Hala Basha ... and I had Arabic as a spoken language, and I wasn't getting any call-backs. And so one of my friends from school said, 'Listen, I would recommend that you remove the Arabic."

So, she did, removing many of the references to her Arabic ancestry.

"So I removed that. I took Gorani, which was a Western-sounding name," she tells CNN. "I added a photo, [I'm] blonde and blue-eyed, don't look Arab, and I removed the fact that I spoke Arabic, which is grotesque, because it's an asset. It should not be seen as a liability."

<p>Shawn Thew/EPA/Shutterstock </p> Hala Gorani

Shawn Thew/EPA/Shutterstock

Hala Gorani

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Currently a correspondent for NBC News, Gorani previously anchored CNN's Hala Gorani Tonight.

The Emmy award-winning journalist is the author of the new book, But You Don't Look Arab: And Other Tales of Unbelonging, which details her time as a war correspondent and news anchor as well as her own search for identity as the daughter of Syrian immigrants.

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