I believe that the Black encounter with America is vast and diverse and that there is no monolithic Black experience. With that being said, I believe that my experiences of growing up as Black and Jewish, while is strange and different are still part of the larger black experience in this country.
I go to a fairly good national university and frankly many, if not most, of the black folks here are of bi-racial, or upper\stable middle class backgrounds. Most of the people that come to our BSU or NAACP meetings are children of professionals or those of fairly stable middle class backgrounds. Yes, there are plenty of exceptions to that and there are certainly a large handful that come from the ghettos or entered through special programs designed for inner city youth - some make it and some don't but those that do really thrive. And another LARGE portion of black students are children of Haitian and African immigrants and NOT descendents of African-American slaves. Do they deserve AA, is AA about mending an historical injustice? Is it about diversity? Is it a form of reparations for the descendents of African slaves? Is it just for anyone who is black? If it's the latter then what is black? Am I not black? Is only my cousin in the ghetto of LA black?
So what qualifies a regular black experience in this country? I was beaten up as a kid for being black\multiracial; I was called shvartza, n-word and brownie cake. And surprise, my family didn't have a lot of money going up. But I had highly educated parents, and I grew up around white middle class people and that gave me an edge - I realize that. So, yes, I didn't have it as bad as what you described or as my first cousins who live in the ghettos of LA, who lived through the riots the police brutality, in and out of gangs, and daily and continues racism, etc. My cousin never even had a chance. And I declare that he is one of the smartest people I know, he could have been anything. He is the victim of a racist America. Affirmative action wasn't even an option for him.
I didn't post my remarks because I wasn't sure what I am going to mark on my application - I already have decided. I posted my remarks to get a serious discussion going about this question in general.
Think about the type of person, white or black, who has the time, the money and the access to be on an internet site like this debating this topic or applying to law school. I think that to be able to do all these things one must have some sort of privilege that others aren't even able to access.
Anyhow, if anyone would be willing to read and comment on my personal statement - I would really appreciate it. If you are willing to read it - please send me a personal message and I'll reply back with it. I certainly don't want my essay to come across as pop_tart is suggestions, because that is sincerely in my heart not how I view it and because that would obviously be damaging.
I love how the law school application process helps people come to terms with their minority status.....
If you have to even question as to whether AA is applicable to you, I'd say the answer is no. I don't think it's the kind of thing you need help deciding on by posting to a message board. Either you know it's applicable, or it's not.
I also don't think being followed around in stores or "white women clutching their purses tighter" when they see you is strong enough evidence to cry discrimination, and how such "discrimination" has fueled your interest to study law - especially when compared to other folks who have experienced worse (i.e. unjustly arrested "for fitting a description", denied education opportunites due to economic hardship, acted as a translator for their parents because they were the only child old enough to comprehend both adult conversations fluently, etc etc).
So boo-hoo-hoo, your self esteem is shot because some white lady *allegedly* felt "uncomfortable" around you - I'm sure the same white lady might clutch her purse if she was around Marylin Manson or Eminem (had they never been famous). It wasn't like this white lady accused you of rape, and tried to have you killed - which is what happened in The Massie Affair: http://www.powells.com/cgi-bin/biblio?inkey=62-0670033995-0, or like she was Andrea Yates and you were one of the black (or black looking) guys she falsely accused of taking her kids. Yeah, those are extreme examples, but you get my point-- a clutched purse is bullsh*t when compared to the more serious issues and problems that exist.
Happy writing- hopefully your equivocation on your racial identity is and what it means to you won't shoot you in the foot as your write your statement. And I certainly hope it doesn't hint around the tone of "my mama's black, so give me a hand out"... the adcomm will see right through it. You might, however, be able to play up your diverse background by discussing your multi-ethnic background and how that has infulenced and shaped you as a person, etc etc.