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Which race should I check? (White and Native African)

BipartisanLoveBipartisanLove 2 replies4 threadsRegistered User New Member
I have never found anyone with a similar situation as me: I half White/Swedish from my mom, and from my dad's side, we are members of an indigenous African tribe in north/central Africa. I am extremely connected to my roots as an African, and I must question why I can not be considered an African-American since I am both African and American (I also have dual citizenship with Algeria). I get it, African American refers to origins of the "black racial groups" of Africa. However, since the tribe is nomadic, people range from very light to very dark. Some of my family is way darker than me, I just happen to look completely like a white basic American girl (like super basic), in part because my mother is white and Swedish with blonde hair.

I DO NOT want to deceive colleges at all, but I feel that African American IS an authentic representation of me, and I do want to indicate that on my demographics section. Should I check White and African American? Just white and clarify my origins in the "other" section of white? Any thoughts and responses appreciated!!
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Replies to: Which race should I check? (White and Native African)

  • makemesmartmakemesmart 1481 replies14 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I would write other/mixed race - it could be a nice essay topic to write about your African heritage.
    African American does have its own connotation, no longer “simply” means American citizens of recent African immigrants, such as Asian American, but rather descendants of American slaves, which you are obviously not.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78232 replies690 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    African American does have its own connotation, no longer “simply” means American citizens of recent African immigrants, such as Asian American, but rather descendants of American slaves, which you are obviously not.

    https://www.census.gov/topics/population/race/about.html says that "Black or African American [is] A person having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa." It also says that "White [is] A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa."

    Unless a specific question specifies a different definition, it is likely that the US Census definitions are expected to be used.
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  • makemesmartmakemesmart 1481 replies14 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @ucbalumnus
    But we have to agree that in America, African Americans/blacks are mainly used for slave descendants. I am having a really hard time to identify Charlize Theron as an African American, so would she, no matter what the census definition says.
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  • dropbox77177dropbox77177 266 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited September 20
    President Obama identified as African American. He had a white mother (I believe of Northern European extraction) and a black Kenyan father. Exactly analogous to OP. I never heard any criticism, except from Al Sharpton early on. Just saying.
    edited September 20
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78232 replies690 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    But we have to agree that in America, African Americans/blacks are mainly used for slave descendants. I am having a really hard time to identify Charlize Theron as an African American, so would she, no matter what the census definition says.

    It appears unlikely that she qualifies under the US Census definition either.
    President Obama identified as African American. He had a white mother (I believe of Northern European extraction) and a black Kenyan father. Exactly analogous to OP. I never heard any criticism, except from Al Sharpton early on. Just saying.

    He actually did have an ancestor who was a slave: https://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/obama-related-to-americas-first-slave/
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  • BipartisanLoveBipartisanLove 2 replies4 threadsRegistered User New Member
    The question is that I know people of the same tribe would be instantly identified as african american and black because of their skin color, whereas I would be obviously white. Even though we have the same origins, my skin is not dark enough to qualify.
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  • dropbox77177dropbox77177 266 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited September 20
    [President Obama] actually did have an ancestor who was a slave:
    The wayback machine preserved the original research. Actually pretty interesting.

    President Obama's 11th maternal grandfather might have been an indentured servant who was later sentenced to slavery for not fulfilling his contract, as happened of course to many Irish indentured servants as well (and literally thousands back in England dating back to the 14th century at least). Of course, Obama's ancestor's children were freepersons because this was apparently a judicial sentence (all specific records have apparently been lost).

    Worth reading for sure!

    https://web.archive.org/web/20120812202254/http://c.mfcreative.com/offer/us/obama_bunch/PDF/main_article_final.pdf
    edited September 20
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34123 replies377 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 20
    The issue is not the color of your skin, per se. Nor exclusively slave history. If your father was born in Africa, you'll be entering that on the Common App parent info. Otherwise, one sentence in Addl Ino can let them know the roots.

    If you put down AA (you're really mixed) and particular adcoms see it's not the way they intend to use "African American," they just won't see you as URM.

    Interesting that the Census now uses "Black racial groups." The traditional was "...tracing their origins to sub-Saharan Africa."

    This is where an essay (or some supp answer) about your cultural experiences could help. Not to "make" you more URM, but to show the ties, influences, and affection for your mixed heritage. A lot of the search for "diversity" is the different perspectives kids offer.
    edited September 20
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  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 12871 replies242 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    You do not have to be a descendant of slaves to be African American. More recent immigrants from sub-Saharan descent are African American. I think the key here is "sub-Saharan". Algeria doesn't "count" that way.

    That said, if you feel biracial, I'd say you have a claim to that. I agree with @lookingforward . It will come out in the wash if you are honest.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34123 replies377 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Ok, OP. Quote us where it says skin color.
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  • diegodavisdiegodavis 51 replies10 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I can't speak for the college admissions aspect of things, but in the corporate world if an employee declines to state their ethnicity then HR is required to look at them and make a selection. From knowing that, I would say skin color is definitely involved (even if it is unconsciously involved by the HR person).
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34123 replies377 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Make a selection for fed reporting purposes. Afaik, not for hiring.
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