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danmcd

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URM question...
« on: March 07, 2009, 07:41:32 PM »
I'm really confused about URM status, I was hoping to get some feedback from anyone/everyone...

OK this is probably going to confuse you, but bear with me...In one sense I am Caucasian - I am white, and am ethnically from the Arab Levant. The Arab Levant also qualifies as Western Asia in a lot of categorizations (Middle East, Near East, Western Asia are the most used terms, I believe). My family is part of a large community that emigrated to Africa from the Arab Levant a long time ago (over 4 generations), and most of my family is from and lives in the Sudan. Sudan is technically African, but most Northerners consider themselves Arab (and speak Arabic). I lived in the region (multiple African, Arab, and Asian countries), and I identify strongly with that part of the world. I have been American since birth, and thoroughly confused when it comes to ticking those stupid ethnic boxes.

I believe the US government considers most of the Arab world as "non-Hispanic Caucasian", but I find it really weird to lump myself in with Europeans and the majority of white Americans....culturally, linguistically, etc my background is quite different to the norm. I have no idea whether Arabs are under-represented in law schools (judging by the lack of Arab-related threads on any online forum, I'm guessing we're not OVER-represented, but I could be wrong), and therefore I don't know if my claim is really legitimate in that sense. I personally have never had to qualify my identity as an Arab by choosing exclusively "African" or "Asian" status...but I've always ticked "other" and I'd like a little more clarity. For what its worth I was an active member of my undergrad's African, Arab, and Asian societies (probably not worth much :roll: )

I don't want to start a debate about the pros and cons of the URM system, and I don't want to offend anyone by making it seem that I'm treading on some sensitive ground (for example claiming African American status as a "white" guy). I understand that the reason the URM system exists is to help balance against the obstacles faced by African Americans (and other URMs) because of a general education system/society that is simply not balanced and retains certain prejudices and discrimination. I also realize that plenty of groups can claim discrimination in many walks of life...and as an Arab I am not exactly helped out by my ethnicity in a post-9/11 world (tho this never affected education, it certainly affected (and still affects) professional opportunities). If I can claim URM status legitimately, I will do so...but I just want to make sure my ass is covered and that law schools won't see me as some white kid who's trying to weasel his way into a better school by making a dubious claim.

So..I know I am Arab American....but does that make me African American? Asian American? Neither?

I'd appreciate your thoughts on what I should do

Kohinoor

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Re: URM question...
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2009, 02:42:35 PM »
I'm really confused about URM status, I was hoping to get some feedback from anyone/everyone...

OK this is probably going to confuse you, but bear with me...In one sense I am Caucasian - I am white, and am ethnically from the Arab Levant. The Arab Levant also qualifies as Western Asia in a lot of categorizations (Middle East, Near East, Western Asia are the most used terms, I believe). My family is part of a large community that emigrated to Africa from the Arab Levant a long time ago (over 4 generations), and most of my family is from and lives in the Sudan. Sudan is technically African, but most Northerners consider themselves Arab (and speak Arabic). I lived in the region (multiple African, Arab, and Asian countries), and I identify strongly with that part of the world. I have been American since birth, and thoroughly confused when it comes to ticking those stupid ethnic boxes.

I believe the US government considers most of the Arab world as "non-Hispanic Caucasian", but I find it really weird to lump myself in with Europeans and the majority of white Americans....culturally, linguistically, etc my background is quite different to the norm. I have no idea whether Arabs are under-represented in law schools (judging by the lack of Arab-related threads on any online forum, I'm guessing we're not OVER-represented, but I could be wrong), and therefore I don't know if my claim is really legitimate in that sense. I personally have never had to qualify my identity as an Arab by choosing exclusively "African" or "Asian" status...but I've always ticked "other" and I'd like a little more clarity. For what its worth I was an active member of my undergrad's African, Arab, and Asian societies (probably not worth much :roll: )

I don't want to start a debate about the pros and cons of the URM system, and I don't want to offend anyone by making it seem that I'm treading on some sensitive ground (for example claiming African American status as a "white" guy). I understand that the reason the URM system exists is to help balance against the obstacles faced by African Americans (and other URMs) because of a general education system/society that is simply not balanced and retains certain prejudices and discrimination. I also realize that plenty of groups can claim discrimination in many walks of life...and as an Arab I am not exactly helped out by my ethnicity in a post-9/11 world (tho this never affected education, it certainly affected (and still affects) professional opportunities). If I can claim URM status legitimately, I will do so...but I just want to make sure my ass is covered and that law schools won't see me as some white kid who's trying to weasel his way into a better school by making a dubious claim.

So..I know I am Arab American....but does that make me African American? Asian American? Neither?

I'd appreciate your thoughts on what I should do

It makes you Arab American or African American or whatever you choose to classify yourself as. The question asks what you identify yourself as. If you think you're African American, check it. If you think you're Caucasian, check it. It's only likely to become an issue for you if you identified as a Caucasian on official forms all your life, and now magically realize you're African American. That might come up during C&F for the bar. From the fact that you're only now asking whether you can identify as a minority, I'm guessing that you never have before and thus you'll probably get a nice committee meeting at the bar when they discover the inconsistency. Not sure why this was posted in this forum rather than the general forums. Nobody here has special insight on this aspect of admissions.

FWIW, if they go by the racial classifications used in the last census, you'd be white:

“White” refers to people having origins in any of the original peoples
of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa. It includes people who
indicated their race or races as “White” or wrote in entries such as
Irish, German, Italian, Lebanese, Near Easterner, Arab, or Polish.

“Black or African American” refers to people having origins in any of the
Black racial groups of Africa. It includes people who indicated their race
or races as “Black, African Am., or Negro,” or wrote in entries such as
African American, Afro American, Nigerian, or Haitian.

Who?

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Re: URM question...
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2009, 02:59:21 PM »
I'm really confused about URM status, I was hoping to get some feedback from anyone/everyone...

OK this is probably going to confuse you, but bear with me...In one sense I am Caucasian - I am white, and am ethnically from the Arab Levant. The Arab Levant also qualifies as Western Asia in a lot of categorizations (Middle East, Near East, Western Asia are the most used terms, I believe). My family is part of a large community that emigrated to Africa from the Arab Levant a long time ago (over 4 generations), and most of my family is from and lives in the Sudan. Sudan is technically African, but most Northerners consider themselves Arab (and speak Arabic). I lived in the region (multiple African, Arab, and Asian countries), and I identify strongly with that part of the world. I have been American since birth, and thoroughly confused when it comes to ticking those stupid ethnic boxes.

I believe the US government considers most of the Arab world as "non-Hispanic Caucasian", but I find it really weird to lump myself in with Europeans and the majority of white Americans....culturally, linguistically, etc my background is quite different to the norm. I have no idea whether Arabs are under-represented in law schools (judging by the lack of Arab-related threads on any online forum, I'm guessing we're not OVER-represented, but I could be wrong), and therefore I don't know if my claim is really legitimate in that sense. I personally have never had to qualify my identity as an Arab by choosing exclusively "African" or "Asian" status...but I've always ticked "other" and I'd like a little more clarity. For what its worth I was an active member of my undergrad's African, Arab, and Asian societies (probably not worth much :roll: )

I don't want to start a debate about the pros and cons of the URM system, and I don't want to offend anyone by making it seem that I'm treading on some sensitive ground (for example claiming African American status as a "white" guy). I understand that the reason the URM system exists is to help balance against the obstacles faced by African Americans (and other URMs) because of a general education system/society that is simply not balanced and retains certain prejudices and discrimination. I also realize that plenty of groups can claim discrimination in many walks of life...and as an Arab I am not exactly helped out by my ethnicity in a post-9/11 world (tho this never affected education, it certainly affected (and still affects) professional opportunities). If I can claim URM status legitimately, I will do so...but I just want to make sure my ass is covered and that law schools won't see me as some white kid who's trying to weasel his way into a better school by making a dubious claim.

So..I know I am Arab American....but does that make me African American? Asian American? Neither?

I'd appreciate your thoughts on what I should do

What was said above is correct. Be consistent. If you have checked "other" all your life, check "other" and let them figure it out. When they say "African-American" they mean black. If you were to check that it might become problematic for you in the future. Hope that helps.

Miss P

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Re: URM question...
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2009, 09:32:05 PM »
I agree with the above posters. 

Also, this is what diversity essays are for.  Almost all schools allow you (or, in some cases, urge you) to write a diversity essay.  I am sure your background will make for an interesting and compelling diversity essay.
That's cool how you referenced a case.

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danmcd

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Re: URM question...
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2009, 09:41:28 PM »

It makes you Arab American or African American or whatever you choose to classify yourself as. The question asks what you identify yourself as. If you think you're African American, check it. If you think you're Caucasian, check it. It's only likely to become an issue for you if you identified as a Caucasian on official forms all your life, and now magically realize you're African American. That might come up during C&F for the bar. From the fact that you're only now asking whether you can identify as a minority, I'm guessing that you never have before and thus you'll probably get a nice committee meeting at the bar when they discover the inconsistency. Not sure why this was posted in this forum rather than the general forums. Nobody here has special insight on this aspect of admissions.




Thanks for the response. The reason I posted on this forum is because it's one of the more active URM sections and I would imagine that a lot of people who follow this section of LSD actually DO have a little more insight regarding this aspect of admissions. There are plenty of people who do not fit neatly into these racial categories, and while I'm not necessarily looking for someone with my exact family background, I'd expect to find a few people who have been thoroughly confused about what to mark down (and I'm not just talking about identity issues stemming from having a minority grandparent, for example). I did not realize that African American exclusively referred to Black people of sub-Saharan African descent, and that there was an official differentiation made between North Africans and sub-Saharan Africans.

Also, I did not "magically realize I was African American"...and I've always self-identified as a minority (and I've always selected "other" on all official applications etc). The "white" definition you posted was definitely an interesting one...it's good to know that this is officially how the gov't sees racial divisions in the world, but I think you'd find very few Arabs who would go along with that categorization, right or wrong. If the issue is purely one of skin color/appearance, then I most certainly do not understand how Middle East/N Africa is categorized along with Germany and Ireland, etc.

Anyway, if this question was irrelevant or inappropriate somehow, my apologies. There's few places outside of LSD and TLS where I can ask these questions, and I appreciate both you guys getting back to me. I won't claim URM status as either African or Asian, but I'll definitely continue selecting "other".



danmcd

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Re: URM question...
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2009, 09:48:43 PM »
Actually, just went thru the Minority Topics thread, maybe you're right - that would have been the better place to post this question.

Miss P

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Re: URM question...
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2009, 09:48:55 PM »
FWIW, I think you may identify as African American as you wish.  I know Arabic Egyptians who do, and certainly the term isn't reserved for people who descend from sub-Saharan Africa.  That said, if you have lived in Africa and the Middle East, you are probably more like African immigrants than like most people who identify as African American, regardless of your citizenship status.

[redacted]
That's cool how you referenced a case.

Quote from: archival
I'm so far from the end of my tether right now that I reckon I could knit myself some socks with the slack.

danmcd

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Re: URM question...
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2009, 11:41:56 PM »
FWIW, I think you may identify as African American as you wish.  I know Arabic Egyptians who do, and certainly the term isn't reserved for people who descend from sub-Saharan Africa.  That said, if you have lived in Africa and the Middle East, you are probably more like African immigrants than like most people who identify as African American, regardless of your citizenship status.


That's interesting...I think a lot of it has to do with upbringing, personal identification, circumstance etc. It's also weird because there is so much discrimination along racial lines in the region that is completely separate from the American story, and it becomes difficult to translate those things into LSAC's particular classification system. Just as an example, about half my family is Black, but I have cousins consider themselves Arab while in Sudan and when they're in the States they consider themselves Black(there's huge discrimination between North and South Sudanese, even tho in the States both would be considered Black). I also know of plenty of Egyptians, esp Southerners, who will vehemently claim to be African AND Arab, and prioritize the African side even tho they probably wouldn't be "Black" enough for American definitions. Regardless, it's an interesting discussion...

 

Miss P

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Re: URM question...
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2009, 11:44:31 PM »
danmcd, could you please remove the portion of my post that I asked you not to quote (the second paragraph)?  Thank you!

I hear you on the rest.
That's cool how you referenced a case.

Quote from: archival
I'm so far from the end of my tether right now that I reckon I could knit myself some socks with the slack.