Do you recommend I declare myself African?

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
User avatar
vanwinkle
Posts: 9740
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 3:02 am

Re: Do you recommend I declare myself African?

Postby vanwinkle » Wed Jul 13, 2011 10:56 am

flexityflex86 wrote:But does the question ask black? If it asks OP what he identifies with, it might well be african american. If he upholds Libyan customs whatever those are, is aware of his culture and calls himself Libyan, he is African American. I think including a diversity statement where it's clear that you identify as Libyan, but are not black might be a good call. Schools will still give you the URM bonus, but it won't be the same as being black.

Most questions ask "African-American/Black". It's widely understood that "African-American" refers to people of racially black heritage as well, so it's clear that they're just including that for blacks who prefer the phrase "African-American". Even questions that don't say "black" would still be asking if OP was black because of the clearly understood definition of "African-American".

You seem to be operating on the same misconception that many others in this thread are, which is that "African-American" simply means an American of any African geographic origin. That is not what the phrase means, no matter how many times people try to claim it should or argue that it should be "logically" read that way. The phrase isn't meant to be logical. It's meant to be a way to refer to people of black descent as something a little more dignified than "black". It's the black equivalent of "Caucasian", which is well understood to mean white, even though most whites don't identify as being from the Caucasus Mountains.

"African-American", like "Caucasian", is a term referring to the geographic origins of the race it refers to, but is intended to represent race/ancestry and not geography.

User avatar
kapachino
Posts: 566
Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2011 11:43 pm

Re: Do you recommend I declare myself African?

Postby kapachino » Wed Jul 13, 2011 11:48 am

flexityflex86 wrote:
vanwinkle wrote:
joncrooshal wrote:I was just having this discussion with my friend who lives in our rental house (black guy). Had a good laugh about the idiocy of the term itself.

It is a pretty stupid term, since it invokes geography but is used to represent race. However, the poor choice of language doesn't excuse OP from actually answering the question truthfully, and if the question is asking about racial identity, the fact that the term is stupid doesn't change the fact that he's misrepresenting his race by checking black when he's white.

But does the question ask black? If it asks OP what he identifies with, it might well be african american. If he upholds Libyan customs whatever those are, is aware of his culture and calls himself Libyan, he is African American. I think including a diversity statement where it's clear that you identify as Libyan, but are not black might be a good call. Schools will still give you the URM bonus, but it won't be the same as being black.


LSAC is pretty clear on "African-American" being synonymous with black, and that anyone of North African descent is considered white. OP knows this. The morons who have tried to argue against that in this thread know it. There's no way anyone can be raised in this country and not know what "African-American" denotes. OP doesn't fit the definition of African-American, and his trying to get creative with it doesn't count.

It is not about what you "identify as". It's about what you ARE. Full disclosure: I'm African-American, and I really do not appreciate all these diversity pretzels non-URM applicants come up with to try and use something they don't deserve to use. It's amazing to me that someone could be so stupid or devoid of morals that they would do something like that.

rgndvo
Posts: 107
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2011 7:56 pm

Re: Do you recommend I declare myself African?

Postby rgndvo » Wed Jul 13, 2011 12:09 pm

I'm AA too, and I disagree with your characterization of people asking honest questions as "idiots."

If a North African considers himself a person of color, it's a murky issue. North Africans are a mixed brew. Some are White. Some are Arab. Some are Blacks. Many are very mixed, but share more genetics with black Africans than they do Europeans. African American might well be the best term for such folks. (and no, there is no "legally binding" definition of AA, and as I mentioned before, the 2010 US Census no longer characterizes N Africans and Middle Easterners as Caucasians).

If a LS application specifically says "of sub-saharan African descent", then it would be inadvisable to check the box. But until they define the "AA" term better, students should check the box with which they honestly identify. (in this case, that box would be "other.")

BTW: People of all these countries are considered to be "North African": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Africa One should check the "White" box if he is ethnically north African but racially white, but it's absurd to expect all natives from each of these countries to identify as such.

User avatar
Moomoo2u
Posts: 349
Joined: Mon May 17, 2010 3:38 am

Re: Do you recommend I declare myself African?

Postby Moomoo2u » Wed Jul 13, 2011 12:18 pm

what about ethnicity? LSAC must have some kind of african ethnicity thingy no?

African American:

African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans, and formerly as American Negroes) are citizens or residents of the United States who have origins in any of the black populations of Africa.[3] In the United States, the terms are generally used for Americans with at least partial Sub-Saharan African ancestry. Most African Americans are the direct descendants of captive Africans who survived the slavery era within the boundaries of the present United States, although some are—or are descended from—immigrants from African, Caribbean, Central American or South American nations.[4] As an adjective, the term is usually written as African-American.[5]



As everyone else said it's a race thing, unless you have partial sub-saharan ancestry, in which case I'd put it.

But like everyone said, it'd be like someone from Morocco claiming they are african american....go the arab/muslim route if you can

and in any case you will have a DS describing your ethnicity.

User avatar
Moomoo2u
Posts: 349
Joined: Mon May 17, 2010 3:38 am

Re: Do you recommend I declare myself African?

Postby Moomoo2u » Wed Jul 13, 2011 12:20 pm

vanwinkle wrote:
flexityflex86 wrote:But does the question ask black? If it asks OP what he identifies with, it might well be african american. If he upholds Libyan customs whatever those are, is aware of his culture and calls himself Libyan, he is African American. I think including a diversity statement where it's clear that you identify as Libyan, but are not black might be a good call. Schools will still give you the URM bonus, but it won't be the same as being black.

Most questions ask "African-American/Black". It's widely understood that "African-American" refers to people of racially black heritage as well, so it's clear that they're just including that for blacks who prefer the phrase "African-American". Even questions that don't say "black" would still be asking if OP was black because of the clearly understood definition of "African-American".

You seem to be operating on the same misconception that many others in this thread are, which is that "African-American" simply means an American of any African geographic origin. That is not what the phrase means, no matter how many times people try to claim it should or argue that it should be "logically" read that way. The phrase isn't meant to be logical. It's meant to be a way to refer to people of black descent as something a little more dignified than "black". It's the black equivalent of "Caucasian", which is well understood to mean white, even though most whites don't identify as being from the Caucasus Mountains.

"African-American", like "Caucasian", is a term referring to the geographic origins of the race it refers to, but is intended to represent race/ancestry and not geography.


+1

User avatar
introversional
Posts: 181
Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2011 11:59 am

Re: Do you recommend I declare myself African?

Postby introversional » Wed Jul 13, 2011 12:30 pm

ITT we expose how fundamentally flawed the practice of seperating/defining any of the 6B+ people on this blue marble according to race, color, nationality, ethnicity, etc.

To quote my man J-Len, "Imagine there's no countries, It isn't hard to do, Nothing to kill or die for, And no religion too, Imagine all the people, Living life in peace, You may say that I'm a dreamer, But I'm not the only one.

Class/wealth matters much more in modern society than all this other stuff anyway... if you're not already a millionaire, welcome to the blob of underrepresented majority - commonly referred to as the "working class."

User avatar
almightypush
Posts: 230
Joined: Thu Jun 24, 2010 12:19 am

Re: Do you recommend I declare myself African?

Postby almightypush » Wed Jul 13, 2011 1:08 pm

Image

flexityflex86
Posts: 973
Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 6:06 pm

Re: Do you recommend I declare myself African?

Postby flexityflex86 » Wed Jul 13, 2011 2:14 pm

kapachino wrote:
flexityflex86 wrote:
vanwinkle wrote:
joncrooshal wrote:I was just having this discussion with my friend who lives in our rental house (black guy). Had a good laugh about the idiocy of the term itself.

It is a pretty stupid term, since it invokes geography but is used to represent race. However, the poor choice of language doesn't excuse OP from actually answering the question truthfully, and if the question is asking about racial identity, the fact that the term is stupid doesn't change the fact that he's misrepresenting his race by checking black when he's white.

But does the question ask black? If it asks OP what he identifies with, it might well be african american. If he upholds Libyan customs whatever those are, is aware of his culture and calls himself Libyan, he is African American. I think including a diversity statement where it's clear that you identify as Libyan, but are not black might be a good call. Schools will still give you the URM bonus, but it won't be the same as being black.


LSAC is pretty clear on "African-American" being synonymous with black, and that anyone of North African descent is considered white. OP knows this. The morons who have tried to argue against that in this thread know it. There's no way anyone can be raised in this country and not know what "African-American" denotes. OP doesn't fit the definition of African-American, and his trying to get creative with it doesn't count.

It is not about what you "identify as". It's about what you ARE. Full disclosure: I'm African-American, and I really do not appreciate all these diversity pretzels non-URM applicants come up with to try and use something they don't deserve to use. It's amazing to me that someone could be so stupid or devoid of morals that they would do something like that.

well my natural assumption is to assume words mean what they mean.

african american isn't a figurative expression like im so hungry i can eat a horse. if african american connotes black then european american should connote white, but nobody assumes this. african american and caucasian are not analogous. black and caucasian are analogous.

if this is truly stated on LSAC, schools are being politically correct to the point it is hard to know what it means.

User avatar
vanwinkle
Posts: 9740
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 3:02 am

Re: Do you recommend I declare myself African?

Postby vanwinkle » Wed Jul 13, 2011 3:39 pm

flexityflex86 wrote:well my natural assumption is to assume words mean what they mean.

If that's true, why keep arguing about the meaning of the word after being repeatedly told what it means?

flexityflex86 wrote:african american and caucasian are not analogous. black and caucasian are analogous.

This comment makes no sense. Of course "African-American" and "Caucasian" are analagous. They both contain geographical references but describe race in a biological sense.

flexityflex86 wrote:if this is truly stated on LSAC, schools are being politically correct to the point it is hard to know what it means.

It's not hard to know what it means. It's been defined repeatedly and plenty of people have pointed out its actual definition. The only reason it would possibly be hard to understand is if you're rejecting the actual, understood, widespread meaning of the term.

User avatar
20121109
Posts: 2149
Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2009 8:19 pm

Re: Do you recommend I declare myself African?

Postby 20121109 » Wed Jul 13, 2011 3:45 pm

The herp loves to get derpier.

Thank god for vanwinkle.

User avatar
paratactical
Posts: 5961
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2009 1:06 pm

Re: Do you recommend I declare myself African?

Postby paratactical » Wed Jul 13, 2011 3:48 pm

GAIAtheCHEERLEADER wrote:The herp loves to get derpier.

Thank god for vanwinkle.


Well, reading this trainwreck has provided me with some snickers this afternoon.

--ImageRemoved--

rgndvo
Posts: 107
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2011 7:56 pm

Re: Do you recommend I declare myself African?

Postby rgndvo » Wed Jul 13, 2011 3:52 pm

So "race" is about genetics now? Absurd. Should Obama (who -- as an East African -- very likely has more DNA in common with Egyptians than West Africans, who comprise the vast majority of American blacks) submit to a DNA test? This is batshit crazy. Race is largely socially constructed, and the emphasis out to be on honest personal identification, family history/ethnicity, and how one is viewed by society.
Last edited by rgndvo on Wed Jul 13, 2011 3:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
20121109
Posts: 2149
Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2009 8:19 pm

Re: Do you recommend I declare myself African?

Postby 20121109 » Wed Jul 13, 2011 3:54 pm

rgndvo wrote:So "race" is about genetics now? Absurd. Should Obama (who probably has more DNA in common with Egyptians than West Africans) submit to a DNA test? This is absurd. Race is largely socially constructed, and the emphasis out to be on how one is viewed by society.


I refer you to Para's post, above.

Race is a social construct, but the meaning is clear. You can't just change it at will.

User avatar
vanwinkle
Posts: 9740
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 3:02 am

Re: Do you recommend I declare myself African?

Postby vanwinkle » Wed Jul 13, 2011 4:34 pm

rgndvo wrote:Race is largely socially constructed

If you understand this, then you should be able to understand that the current social construct focuses on genetic/ethnic ancestry in some settings, including in the established and accepted definition of "African-American". You can't just say "race is social, not genetic" when the social construct focuses on genetic or ancestral factors. It's both.

User avatar
Emma.
Posts: 2401
Joined: Sun Oct 05, 2008 7:57 pm

Re: Do you recommend I declare myself African?

Postby Emma. » Wed Jul 13, 2011 4:44 pm

GAIAtheCHEERLEADER wrote:
Thank god for vanwinkle.


This.

We can haz thread lock naow?

dkt4
Posts: 316
Joined: Sat Feb 05, 2011 6:33 pm

Re: Do you recommend I declare myself African?

Postby dkt4 » Wed Jul 13, 2011 6:07 pm

don't argue with the mon calamari.

rgndvo
Posts: 107
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2011 7:56 pm

Re: Do you recommend I declare myself African?

Postby rgndvo » Wed Jul 13, 2011 7:28 pm

Again, I repeat my point about "black" East Africans such as Nubians. Sub-Saharan East Africans are unambiguously considered "African American" by the US Census ,and would be deemed "black" by Boobus Americanus. Yet we have less DNA in common with Sub-Saharan West Africans (also "blacks") than we do with NorthEast African Arabs. Unless you are disputing that Nubians, Kenyans, and the President of the United States are black, it clearly doesn't have to do with race/ancestry, nor reparations for slavery.

To my eye, AA is a rather nebulous term which encompasses geography, ancestry, cultural norms, personal identity, and cultural heritage. It is fraudulent and dishonest to check AA only if one does not honestly believe that category is the best fit (and believe me, no Arikaaner immigrants honestly believe that "African American" is a better description for their ancestry than "White", nor would any lily-white "out of africa" types). But it wouldn't -- imo -- necessarily be dishonest for someone of Libyan ancestry to check the box, unless it is specifically defined as "Sub-saharan."

Affirmative action is a noble and necessary practice, but schools need to be more specific if they want to exclude certain minorities from reaping the benefits.

User avatar
vanwinkle
Posts: 9740
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 3:02 am

Re: Do you recommend I declare myself African?

Postby vanwinkle » Wed Jul 13, 2011 9:50 pm

rgndvo wrote:To my eye, AA is a rather nebulous term which encompasses geography, ancestry, cultural norms, personal identity, and cultural heritage.

All I'm hearing is, "I don't accept the definitions of words and will instead invent my own", because that's pretty much what you're saying.

rgndvo wrote:But it wouldn't -- imo -- necessarily be dishonest for someone of Libyan ancestry to check the box, unless it is specifically defined as "Sub-saharan."

Since it has been repeatedly pointed out that "African-American" is specifically defined as referring to people of black or sub-Saharan ancestry, this means you should find it dishonest for OP to check it.

rgndvo wrote:Affirmative action is a noble and necessary practice, but schools need to be more specific if they want to exclude certain minorities from reaping the benefits.

Schools are being very specific, but if you want to discuss affirmative action, you're going to get banned. No affirmative action debates in the on-topic forums.

DHB
Posts: 37
Joined: Thu Jan 13, 2011 9:03 pm

Re: Do you recommend I declare myself African?

Postby DHB » Wed Jul 13, 2011 10:05 pm

You've probably already made up your mind, but why don't you just call/meet with someone in the admissions office of schools you want to apply to? This could be a good excuse to introduce yourself. Various people in the admissions office might even discuss your question which could make you memorable. No offense to TLSers, but it's kind of funny how we post questions on here to other people who have never been admitted to or graduated from law school instead of asking people who work in law school admissions every day.

You could also mention your uncertainty about which box to check in an addendum. Law schools want diversity, even when they can't represent it statistically. I'm sure they'd appreciate your perspective, even if you check the Caucasian box on your application materials.

Good Luck!

rgndvo
Posts: 107
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2011 7:56 pm

Re: Do you recommend I declare myself African?

Postby rgndvo » Wed Jul 13, 2011 10:11 pm

My (favorable) comment about AA was not meant to instigate a debate in that regard. Really more of an aside to help people understand my motivation here.

If Anna Ivey (Former Dean of Admissions at UChicago) is to be believed, you are just have your facts wrong about the "strict" application of African American and other URM Status:

http://books.google.com/books?id=M6Ujyi ... 22&f=false

"Schools don't ask -- and don't really want to know -- how ethnic a self-reported minority really is."

"I remember an applicant who was one-eighth African American, and she debated the merits of checking the box... When she called admissions offices to find out what their standards were for classifying people as minorities, she learned that no school wants to go on the record about that, because a formal policy would be far too awkward."

"I have come across applicants taking advantage of a very tenuous connection [to a racial group], and there are no repercussions for them at this time."

It irritates me that a white person with virtually no claim to a box could check it simply for the boost. But schools are going to have to go on the record defining specifically what AA (and various other races/ethnicities) means if they don't want people exploiting the system.

In any case, your main point (that these definitions are rigorous and incontrovertible) is simply false.

User avatar
vanwinkle
Posts: 9740
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 3:02 am

Re: Do you recommend I declare myself African?

Postby vanwinkle » Wed Jul 13, 2011 10:22 pm

rgndvo wrote:It irritates me that a white person with virtually no claim to a box could check it simply for the boost. But schools are going to have to go on the record defining specifically what AA (and various other races/ethnicities) means if they don't want people exploiting the system.

No they don't. It's clearly defined elsewhere. See the definition provided by LSAC, which has already been pointed out in this thread, and which anyone should logically follow while filling out forms on the LSAC website. Or the dictionary. Or Wikipedia...

Schools don't have to define anything that's already clearly defined. They just have to assume you're not stupid and can accept the standard definitions of words.

rgndvo wrote:In any case, your main point (that these definitions are rigorous and incontrovertible) is simply false.

No it's not. Schools don't police this stuff, but nobody has been saying they do or basing their argument on it. The arguments have been:

1. It's lying or misrepresentation whether you're caught or not, which it is, since the word is pretty clearly defined and accepted to have a particular definition, and regardless of whether you like that definition or not, it's lying to use it knowing how others will interpret your use of it.

2. You could eventually be caught by the bar, which unlike schools, do actively and strongly police lying and misrepresentation. Basically you would have to spend the rest of your life being careful not to admit you misrepresented yourself.

The definitions of many words on your law school application are pretty clear and incontrovertible. The fact that schools aren't policing them doesn't change that.

rgndvo
Posts: 107
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2011 7:56 pm

Re: Do you recommend I declare myself African?

Postby rgndvo » Wed Jul 13, 2011 10:26 pm

Dude. Reread the italicized excerpt of what I just quoted. Schools -- when asked -- are unable to specifically define "African American." The End.


P.S.: Here is Merriam-Webster's (one of the most widely used dictionaries in the wrold) definition of AFRICAN-AMERICAN:

: an American of African and especially of black African descent

This implies that black Americans have a better claim to the term than anyone else, but it defines AA as "An American of African descent." This would seem to include anyone whose ancestors came from Africa.

I don't personally agree with such an inclusive definition, but c'mon dude. This isn't -- if you'll excuse the expression -- so black and white.
Last edited by rgndvo on Wed Jul 13, 2011 10:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
vanwinkle
Posts: 9740
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 3:02 am

Re: Do you recommend I declare myself African?

Postby vanwinkle » Wed Jul 13, 2011 10:29 pm

rgndvo wrote:Dude. Reread the italicized excerpt of what I just quoted. Schools -- when asked -- are unable to specifically define "African American." The End.

No, they're unwilling. It's a critical difference which you apparently can't comprehend. The End.

Va L Rev Stud
Posts: 45
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2011 9:00 pm

Re: Do you recommend I declare myself African?

Postby Va L Rev Stud » Wed Jul 13, 2011 10:45 pm

As a member of the Virginia Law Review, I believe I'm uniquely well-situated to address this issue.

rgndvo
Posts: 107
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2011 7:56 pm

Re: Do you recommend I declare myself African?

Postby rgndvo » Wed Jul 13, 2011 10:46 pm

vanwinkle wrote:
rgndvo wrote:It irritates me that a white person with virtually no claim to a box could check it simply for the boost. But schools are going to have to go on the record defining specifically what AA (and various other races/ethnicities) means if they don't want people exploiting the system.

No they don't. It's clearly defined elsewhere. See the definition provided by LSAC, which has already been pointed out in this thread, and which anyone should logically follow while filling out forms on the LSAC website. Or the dictionary. Or Wikipedia...

Schools don't have to define anything that's already clearly defined. They just have to assume you're not stupid and can accept the standard definitions of words.

rgndvo wrote:In any case, your main point (that these definitions are rigorous and incontrovertible) is simply false.

No it's not. Schools don't police this stuff, but nobody has been saying they do or basing their argument on it. The arguments have been:

1. It's lying or misrepresentation whether you're caught or not, which it is, since the word is pretty clearly defined and accepted to have a particular definition, and regardless of whether you like that definition or not, it's lying to use it knowing how others will interpret your use of it.

2. You could eventually be caught by the bar, which unlike schools, do actively and strongly police lying and misrepresentation. Basically you would have to spend the rest of your life being careful not to admit you misrepresented yourself.

The definitions of many words on your law school application are pretty clear and incontrovertible. The fact that schools aren't policing them doesn't change that.


#2 is kind of out of left field. I have no problem with the bar comparing undergraduate records with LS apps and asking questions to see if a person misrepresented his ethnicity. But if a Libyan has checked the box his whole life and genuinely identifies with AA, what's the deal?




Return to “Law School Admissions Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: archipm, Ferrisjso, freddieb, Smeag91 and 10 guests