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Background and Race

graduating2020graduating2020 28 replies9 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 37 Junior Member
Hello,

I am counted as a URM with my father from Nicaragua (Central America, Hispanic) and my mother from Jamaica (my grandfather is Chinese and my grandmother is Jamaican-Chinese, so my mother is Jamaican-Chinese). I was born in America. Given all of this information, would it be correct to label me as Jamaican-Chinese and Hispanic?

The Common Application asks three questions in which my parents and I share confusion over.

1. Are you Hispanic or Latino?
Should I put "yes" because of my father?

2. Which best describes your background?
Should I put "Central America" to account for my father?

3. Self-identification regardless of the above answers:
My only options for self-identification are American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, or White. I'm not sure what to put for this question...

Any help would be greatly appreciated. This has been a long and debated topic.
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Replies to: Background and Race

  • privatebankerprivatebanker 4951 replies61 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5,012 Senior Member
    1. Sure you can

    2. Yes

    3. Do you consider yourself black or Asian or white-Hispanic. Put that down. You’re definitely not African American or native. So those are your options.

    Is there any option for biracial?


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  • graduating2020graduating2020 28 replies9 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 37 Junior Member
    edited June 9
    @privatebanker No, there is no option for biracial, but I can check multiple races. I'm mixed with Jamaican-Chinese and Hispanic. I'm not African-American, so would it be correct to put down Black for self-identification? Or should I mark Asian and Black? I don't want to cause any mistakes within the application.
    edited June 9
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 32224 replies336 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 32,560 Senior Member
    edited June 9
    Ok. The colleges tend to use the govt definitions, from the Census and higher govt entities. So:

    "DEFINITION OF BLACK OR AFRICAN AMERICAN USED IN THE 2010 CENSUS
    According to OMB, “Black or African American” refers to a person having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa. The Black racial category includes people who marked the “Black, African Am., or Negro” checkbox. It also includes respondents who reported entries such as African American; Sub-Saharan African entries, such as Kenyan and Nigerian; and Afro-Caribbean entries, such as Haitian and Jamaican.*

    *Sub-Saharan African entries are classified as Black or African American with the exception of Sudanese and Cape Verdean because of their complex, historical heritage. North African entries are classified as White, as OMB defines White as a person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa."

    So, do you have family "origins in sub-Saharan Africa" or your mother's origins are Chinese living in Jamaica?

    If the former, (i.e., she's mixed race,) I think you can use Black.
    But here's the rub. Adcoms are looking for experiences and perspectives. Not just the "right" check boxes. Check all that apply, including Asian. But if they don't see the Jamaican Black influences, there may be no "African-American tip.

    Complicated. Does this make sense to you?
    edited June 9
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  • privatebankerprivatebanker 4951 replies61 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5,012 Senior Member
    I was asking an honest question for you.

    If someone asks or there’s an Hispanic, Asian or black student group which would you honestly join.

    The college app is not asking for a genetic breakdown. They are looking at ethnicity and cultural attachments. They want to know who you are and to also look for under represented and under served communities. What community is your community.
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  • graduating2020graduating2020 28 replies9 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 37 Junior Member
    edited June 9
    @lookingforward I don't have any special experiences regarding race, so I don't think I'll be writing about my experience or making my race a huge part of my application. Since my parents are divorced, I do, however, spend more time with my mother and am involved in a Jamaican Diaspora Committee + the Jamaican side of the family. The Chinese side is distant since my grandparents divorced early (also, my mother and grandmother were both born in Jamaica). We have a huge Jamaican family, basically, but close to no Chinese family.

    I don't speak Jamaican/Hispanic/Chinese. I was barely exposed to the Hispanic side of the family and am not involved in Chinese culture or family. I'm thinking of putting my background as Hispanic and my self-identification as only Black (no Asian), so would that be correct or allowed?
    edited June 9
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 32224 replies336 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 32,560 Senior Member
    edited June 9
    Is your mom mixed race, Chinese *and* Jamaican Black? Of course, there are many races in Jamaica but the Black issue starts with, are those African roots in her heritage?

    You don't necessarily need to write about this in the app. They'll see the combination. It will be interesting. But Black depends on that Sub-Saharan aspect. Not just living in a predominantly Black country.

    Do include the Diaspora involvement in activities.
    edited June 9
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  • graduating2020graduating2020 28 replies9 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 37 Junior Member
    @lookingforward Yes, she's mixed. It would be an Afro-Carribean entry.

    The committee involvement is off-on, flexible. I attend the meetings not as a member of the Diaspora committee, but to represent a separate non-prof organization that I'm a member of. Since it's not solid/consistent, is that why I would forgo listing it as an activity?
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  • privatebankerprivatebanker 4951 replies61 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5,012 Senior Member
    edited June 9
    Good points ^^.

    As you describe your family and your activities.

    It’s seems ok to check the Hispanic box in #1 and black in #3.

    As long as your Jamaican heritage is African black as mentioned.

    Just remember if you are admitted to a really selective and smaller school be prepared to personally meet some people who will know your application profile. And that you would be comfortable perhaps being included in a welcome event for minority students etc.

    I am not sure that black but not African American had the same preference advantage in admissions.

    These applications last forever so it’s good your being thoughtful.

    You should be good to go. And best of luck.

    I would love to have a big Jamaican family. I love the food and culture!
    edited June 9
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 32224 replies336 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 32,560 Senior Member
    Ok. So you have a better idea now? Seems you're Hispanic, Asian, and Black.

    DO consider including whatever relates to the Diaspora group. Maybe, that you're a member of xxx and represent it to the Diaspora group. I don't know your details, but think theyll find this interesting. :)
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  • bopperbopper 13872 replies98 discussionsForum Champion CWRU Posts: 13,970 Forum Champion
    For the National Hispanic Recognition Program, they require that you be 1/4 hispanic to apply.
    My daughters are 1/4 hispanic...one identifies as hispanic and one does not. So one put down they were hispanic and one did not.
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  • wyzragamerwyzragamer 67 replies3 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 70 Junior Member
    You definitely qualify as Hispanic, and you can also rightfully choose black (or biracial). I would avoid checking the box for Asian, it's not necessary to disclose.
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  • happymomof1happymomof1 29305 replies169 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 29,474 Senior Member
    You don't need to over think this.

    For race, you can check as many boxes as you please.

    For ethnicity, you can check Hispanic if you self-identify that way.

    Yes, some colleges and universities do use this information to help build their classes. The ones that care about that kind of stuff would be interested in someone with Jamaican-Chinese identification just as they would be interested in someone who grew up on a remote potato farm in North Dakota. But most colleges and universities out there are only collecting the data for the various federal and state agencies that they need to report to that require the stats.
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  • graduating2020graduating2020 28 replies9 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 37 Junior Member
    @privatebanker @lookingforward @wyzragamer @bopper @happymomof1 I understand now, thank you for the information! I will just be identifying as Hispanic and Black :)
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