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Author Topic: I bet nobody has ever had this dilemma before, any suggestions  (Read 1676 times)

chrissy82

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I bet nobody has ever had this dilemma before, any suggestions
« on: December 12, 2006, 03:07:10 PM »
I'm confused on the whole minority issue. I am not sure what boxes to check, what I am considered, if I am considered an unrepresentative minority, etc, etc.

I was adopted at birth and only recently found out my true heritage when my Mom finally spilled the beans. It turns out I am 50% Puerto Rican and 50% Italian. My mothers reasoning for not telling me sooner was the fact that I grew up in wealthy predominantly white communities and she didn't want me to be scrutinized (Ironically that happened anyway due to the fact that after my parents divorced I was one of the "poor kids")

Anyways, with respect to my law school application I feel confused. I sort of feel like I am cheating by indicating that I am half Puerto Rican because I don't have a strong Latino culture to talk about but then again I also feel like I've been cheated by not knowing my true ethnicity because I have never been able to embrace it or learn about it. And to be honest (I've always been asked about my ethnicity ever since I can remember) it makes me wonder if I ever have been discriminated against.


Anyone have any ideas/comments. Thank you!

ě

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Re: I bet nobody has ever had this dilemma before, any suggestions
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2006, 03:10:31 PM »
On a principal note, you (possibly) getting minority benefits when you never even knew you were one is a perfect illustration of why the system doesn't work as it should. You obviously have had no disadvantages from your background or anything like that...

... but that isn't what it's about, it's a simple race thing, and from any formal point of view, you have the same right to claim this as any other person with latino heritage.

Would I take advantage of such a benefit, if it was open to me? Yeah. So it would be extremely hypocritical of me to criticize you for doing it. Getting into law school is tough, whatever you have that can give you an edge, use it.

keepinitlegal

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Re: I bet nobody has ever had this dilemma before, any suggestions
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2006, 07:59:49 PM »
Identity Politics is a complicated issue. While a lot of people see this as a black and white issue (no pun intended), it's much more of a gray area. For example- let's say you're of Middle Eastern descent. Technically, you are a Caucasian- but what if you've experienced discrimination your entire life? Are you still part of the "majority?"
What if you are White, but were adopted by a Hispanic family, and your adopted heritage is completely Hispanic ? Can you identify as Hispanic?
Really, I think it's more a matter of personal preference. If you would legitimately identify as Hispanic, then go ahead. If not, then don't. It doesn't have to be a significant part of your application if you don't want it to be (although I think that your story would make for one hell of a personal statement.) Hope this helps.

sertag

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Re: I bet nobody has ever had this dilemma before, any suggestions
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2006, 10:55:41 PM »
I've never been in your position but my husband (who is hispanic) plays an active role in recruiting students to medical school and he cannot stand people who are "box checkers."  If you check that you are hispanic and/or latino, then just make sure you understand what that means.  Don't check it simply because you're genetically linked to that group.  If you're connfused then you might be better off checking "other."
JHG

Sweetpri

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Re: I bet nobody has ever had this dilemma before, any suggestions
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2006, 09:23:39 AM »
What is a "box checker??"  Does he dislike anyone who identifies themselves?
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chrissy82

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Re: I bet nobody has ever had this dilemma before, any suggestions
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2006, 09:35:06 AM »
First of all - This is not about checking boxes. All of the application I have read said that checking your ethnicity is  not used for admissions purposes (whether or not this is true, I do not know) and sometimes its optional.

Secondly, what does it mean to be latino/hispanic?

Thirdly, as most people do, I take an interest in my heritage and the culture. Just because I haven't celebrated it for the past 24 years and my adopted parents chose to not expose me to it does not make me any less of who I am or where I came from.


sertag

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Re: I bet nobody has ever had this dilemma before, any suggestions
« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2006, 01:20:31 AM »
A box checker is someone who makes claim to an ethnicity in order to gain a "perceived" advantage when applying for a position.  This individual can and sometimes will make claims of commitment to the community in question in their application solely for self gains. If accepted this person will not remain true to this commitment thus they are a box checker.  Does that make sense?

As for Hispanic vs. Latino the issue has long been debated and you should do some reading about it if you want to learn more about your heritage and how you will identify with it. It is a rather complex issue that arose when the government created the term Hispanic for Census purposes almost thirty or so years ago.  Interestingly, Mexican Americans must graple with a third term "Chicano" to identify themselves...again interesting reading.
JHG

slacker

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Re: I bet nobody has ever had this dilemma before, any suggestions
« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2006, 10:18:36 AM »
I would "use" your ethnicity on your applications if it has any relevance to making you who you are now. Have you developed any connections to the Hispanic/Latino community? Have you done any public service work? Have you mentored kids who didn't come from a wealthy white background?

Based on what you've said, I think it'd be somewhat disingenuous of you to now use that background solely for gain. However, given the low numbers of Hispanic/Latino law students, using it might get you some mileage.

If you're interested in reclaiming this part of your heritage, I'd suggest you get involved with a related group while you're in school.

To me, the idea of diversity is getting people who aren't all from the same background, to bring in diverse ideas, and to train people who'll eventually work in a variety of places and positions. I had a friend who was first-generation Mexican-American, came from a poor background, had primarily Spanish-speaking parents, and, during his second year, convinced himself he wasn't qualified to be a law student and dropped out. That's a loss to the legal community. I'd rather have a guy like that, who definitely brings a whole different outlook to the situation, in a class than one more white kid whose upbringing mirrors half the class. (And, having been in classes with the guy...I certainly think he was qualified to be where he was.)

Anyway, sorry, but that's my little diversity soapbox for today.