Law School Discussion

How much does it take to be a URM? 1/4? 1/8? 1/16?

Maddie

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Re: How much does it take to be a URM? 1/4? 1/8? 1/16?
« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2008, 08:47:42 AM »
[

Sorry - you're right I shouldn't feel bad.  I just had a conversation with someone who said "1/2 hispanic" is a "tough call" in terms of self-identification.  I've sort of had this life-long quest to learn spanish fluently, experience the culture and go to my home country as much as possible, so you could say I have somewhat of an inferiority complex to begin with about my ethnic identity.  A lot of my friends are "100%" hispanic or are fluent in Spanish, so yeah... I have developed an inferiority complex about the whole thing... gahh.  Actually my identity struggles and my journey to connect with my culture is what I wrote my personal statement/diversity statement about so I guess all my confusion and efforts at least made for an interesting story... lol  :-\

It's obviously a very personal issue.  The way I saw it was this:  Being half Hispanic is half of my identity in the same way that being English is half of my identity.  If I did not put down Hispanic, I was essentially doing the same thing but in reverse by saying I am white when that is not strictly speaking the whole truth.  The schools were free to interpret my ethnic background to the extent that they wanted to, it was all laid out in my PS.

I have given a lot of thought to identity issues for biracial people, and I think that the college experience fosters a lot of these "inferiority complexes" by pushing people to self-identify.  There are so many racial or ethnic organizations that center around a shared ethnic experience that does not always apply to multiracial people, and a lot of people are left feeling like they are not white enough on the one hand, and not black/hispanic/Asian, etc. enough for these identity groups.  (And yes, I know I am simplifying as there are plenty of multiracial people who are NOT half white, I can only go by my experience and those of my close acquaintances who happen to be half white.)

Re: How much does it take to be a URM? 1/4? 1/8? 1/16?
« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2008, 09:09:21 AM »
Pretending for a minute that Chinese-American is considered URM status, I'm not sure whether I would feel right in claiming it despite being 100% (or, I guess in this nomenclature, 1/1).  I barely speak the language, don't have much appreciation for the food, and the social mores have been a deep source of frustration rather than identification.  I have never felt out of place at dominantly white schools; I have always felt profoundly marginalized and alienated when dealing with Asian-dominated churches or student groups.  I have never felt like more of an Other than growing up in Chinese churches.  I've never once had an ethnic slur uttered against me on purpose* by anyone other than a Chinese person, and outside of some extremely trivial alteration in higher education, I've never had an opportunity denied to me because of my race.

What would I claim?


(*I had a few awkward moments with relatively rural African Americans who had never met a Chinese person before, but it was all good-natured.)

Rhymnoceros

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Re: How much does it take to be a URM? 1/4? 1/8? 1/16?
« Reply #12 on: April 24, 2008, 09:47:54 AM »
edit: oops, missed the first sentence of devilishly blue's statement, which totally makes my point moot.

Rhymnoceros

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Re: How much does it take to be a URM? 1/4? 1/8? 1/16?
« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2008, 09:51:16 AM »
yeah i edited the post already. my bad!

mbw

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Re: How much does it take to be a URM? 1/4? 1/8? 1/16?
« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2008, 10:15:18 AM »
Just checking

hahaha   ;)

I always thought it was 1/2, unless you are American Indian in which case I think it is some ridiculously small percentage, but I'm not sure exactly what.  1/32 maybe??

 :D LOL. The issue with being some ridiculously small percent American Indian is proving it. By the time you are "1/32" wouldn't that make your A.I. ancestors long deceased? Two out of 4 of my great-grands were A.I. what the hell does that make me. I never calculated it or tried to use it to make it work for me.  ???

I'm not sure how they go about proving it, maybe you have to be registered in a tribe or something?  I really don't know.  I just know that I went to an Ivy undergrad that heavily recruits AI's and trust me there were a lot more "American Indians" on campus than there were American Indians...

(I totally don't blame anyone for taking advantage of what they can... but it just seems like the school failed at its goal by only recruiting people who checked the box rather than recruiting from the severely disadvantaged reservations.)

How do you actually know this?  Because those claiming NA/AI status didn't "look" Indian to you?  Or did a bunch of them tell you that they only "checked the box" and had no cultural affiliation?

See, for many tribes, including the second largest in the US, there are no blood-quantum rules.  It's all about lineal descent, whether you're full-blood or 1/256th (and, yes, there are members of that groups tribal council with that BQ.)  Yet I know of "thin-bloods" with more cultural affiliation than those with higher BQ.  And in the US, being Indian is a political, not racial, designation.  It's about which tribe claims you, not who you can claim.  Of course, there's a downside to the "politicalness" of Indianness:  Currently, there are hundreds of high BQ Indians in California who are being disenrolled for purely political (and financial) reasons.  Sadly, those former tribal members have little recourse, as tribal sovereignty deigns that tribes alone get to choose their members.

From what I know from friends who sit on Adcomms, merely checking the box is not enough to establish true URMness when it comes to Indians - they want to see cultural affiliation, particularly in life and/or work.  And many Adcomms recognize the messiness that is the federal recognition process, so don't limit Indianness to federally recognized tribes (there are almost as many state recognized as federally recognized tribes in the US, and many more seeking even state rec.)

I can't (and won't  ;)) speak to what makes non-Indian URMs URMs - whether it's BQ or self-perception.  I think Cosmo hit the nail on the head that the issue can't even always be solved within families - I know that my brothers are much less culturally affiliated than I am, in part I think because I married Indian and they did not.  But I think a good place to start is with the law school application itself - did you ever consider yourself an URM before you were asked to check a box?  If not, you probably shouldn't be checking the box.

Maddie

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Re: How much does it take to be a URM? 1/4? 1/8? 1/16?
« Reply #15 on: April 24, 2008, 11:38:22 AM »
Just checking

hahaha   ;)

I always thought it was 1/2, unless you are American Indian in which case I think it is some ridiculously small percentage, but I'm not sure exactly what.  1/32 maybe??

 :D LOL. The issue with being some ridiculously small percent American Indian is proving it. By the time you are "1/32" wouldn't that make your A.I. ancestors long deceased? Two out of 4 of my great-grands were A.I. what the hell does that make me. I never calculated it or tried to use it to make it work for me.  ???

I'm not sure how they go about proving it, maybe you have to be registered in a tribe or something?  I really don't know.  I just know that I went to an Ivy undergrad that heavily recruits AI's and trust me there were a lot more "American Indians" on campus than there were American Indians...

(I totally don't blame anyone for taking advantage of what they can... but it just seems like the school failed at its goal by only recruiting people who checked the box rather than recruiting from the severely disadvantaged reservations.)

How do you actually know this?  Because those claiming NA/AI status didn't "look" Indian to you?  Or did a bunch of them tell you that they only "checked the box" and had no cultural affiliation?

See, for many tribes, including the second largest in the US, there are no blood-quantum rules.  It's all about lineal descent, whether you're full-blood or 1/256th (and, yes, there are members of that groups tribal council with that BQ.)  Yet I know of "thin-bloods" with more cultural affiliation than those with higher BQ.  And in the US, being Indian is a political, not racial, designation.  It's about which tribe claims you, not who you can claim.  Of course, there's a downside to the "politicalness" of Indianness:  Currently, there are hundreds of high BQ Indians in California who are being disenrolled for purely political (and financial) reasons.  Sadly, those former tribal members have little recourse, as tribal sovereignty deigns that tribes alone get to choose their members.

From what I know from friends who sit on Adcomms, merely checking the box is not enough to establish true URMness when it comes to Indians - they want to see cultural affiliation, particularly in life and/or work.  And many Adcomms recognize the messiness that is the federal recognition process, so don't limit Indianness to federally recognized tribes (there are almost as many state recognized as federally recognized tribes in the US, and many more seeking even state rec.)

I can't (and won't  ;)) speak to what makes non-Indian URMs URMs - whether it's BQ or self-perception.  I think Cosmo hit the nail on the head that the issue can't even always be solved within families - I know that my brothers are much less culturally affiliated than I am, in part I think because I married Indian and they did not.  But I think a good place to start is with the law school application itself - did you ever consider yourself an URM before you were asked to check a box?  If not, you probably shouldn't be checking the box.

No, my statement had nothing to do with physical appearance.  Someone looking at me might not know that I was Hispanic, so clearly physical appearance is not a good determining factor.  I'm not the judge and jury of who is and is not Indian, or anything else.  My comment really related more to the school's goals.  If the goal was to reach out to an extremely economically disadvantaged segment of the population, they failed miserably.  If the goal is just cultural diversity, well... I would argue that I still think it failed, but I was not heavily involved in that community so maybe I missed out on something.

mbw

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Re: How much does it take to be a URM? 1/4? 1/8? 1/16?
« Reply #16 on: April 24, 2008, 12:18:49 PM »

No, my statement had nothing to do with physical appearance.  Someone looking at me might not know that I was Hispanic, so clearly physical appearance is not a good determining factor.  I'm not the judge and jury of who is and is not Indian, or anything else.  My comment really related more to the school's goals.  If the goal was to reach out to an extremely economically disadvantaged segment of the population, they failed miserably.  If the goal is just cultural diversity, well... I would argue that I still think it failed, but I was not heavily involved in that community so maybe I missed out on something.

This is a tough call, as for many tribes, economic success, mostly through tribal gaming, is very recent.  The IGRA passed in 1988, and so those kids who may not outwardly appear economically disadvantaged may have had very different childhoods.  Also, there are pressures which many NDN kids face in college which are relatively rare for other minorities, for instance, isolation:  I didn't meet a single other NDN in my four years of UG, and frankly, many of my friends didn't know I was NDN.  I just wanted to fit in, to be "normal", so I dyed my hair, donned green contacts to cover my brown eyes, became an East Asian studies major ;).  It wasn't until I got out of UG that I fully embraced my culture, as even my childhood was confusing, as my white dad's family badly treated my mom and "her" brown children (somehow we weren't my dad's as well ;).)  Does that make me less a "role model" for other Indians, or less of an addition to a law school's "diversity", both of which are now the stated goals of most institutions of higher learning? 

I think it's hard to judge the dynamics of any other minority group, and I know that I'm even guilty of it within my own culture, deeming some individuals "not Indian enough" in my mind.  Are there enough Indians in higher education, and law school in particular?  Definitely not, as even with a fair number of "box checkers" and intense recruiting efforts, less than 400 graduate from the 180+ ABA accredited law schools every year.  That's for a population in the US equal to the number of individuals who identify as Jewish.

Maddie

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Re: How much does it take to be a URM? 1/4? 1/8? 1/16?
« Reply #17 on: April 24, 2008, 12:26:59 PM »


I think it's hard to judge the dynamics of any other minority group, and I know that I'm even guilty of it within my own culture, deeming some individuals "not Indian enough" in my mind.  Are there enough Indians in higher education, and law school in particular?  Definitely not, as even with a fair number of "box checkers" and intense recruiting efforts, less than 400 graduate from the 180+ ABA accredited law schools every year.  That's for a population in the US equal to the number of individuals who identify as Jewish.

You're right, it really is difficult and I hope I did not come across as criticizing the students themselves.  Minority recruitment in general is an imperfect system.

If you are interested, there is a book about college admissions called "The Gatekeepers" that talks a great deal about recruiting Native Americans to selective colleges, and some of the struggles and difficulties associated with such efforts.

Martin Prince, Jr.

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Re: How much does it take to be a URM? 1/4? 1/8? 1/16?
« Reply #18 on: April 24, 2008, 03:43:43 PM »
Just to add some flippancy to a very serious thread, I'm a direct descendant of Pocahontas and John Rolfe. What does that make me?? :) :)

mbw

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Re: How much does it take to be a URM? 1/4? 1/8? 1/16?
« Reply #19 on: April 24, 2008, 03:57:15 PM »
Just to add some flippancy to a very serious thread, I'm a direct descendant of Pocahontas and John Rolfe. What does that make me?? :) :)

An unenrolled member of a non-federally recognized tribe.  And a cousin to Engelbert Humperdinck, iirc. Added: and Wayne Newton.   :D