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Confused about how to describe myself: Hispanic, Asian, American Indian?

HTCguyHTCguy Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
Hi everybody,
I hope this doesn't end up being too controversial of a question. Basically, my mother was born and raised in Peru and my father was born and raised in Sri Lanka. They met in America.
There is no doubt in my mind that I am Hispanic. I have been learning Spanish since a young age and have visited Peru several times, more than I have visited Sri Lanka. In addition, I have lots of Peruvian family members living nearby that I constantly interact with. I am truly immersed in the culture. On the other hand, none of my Sri Lankan relatives live here and I am almost entirely disconnected from that side of my heritage.

How should I approach the demographics section of the common app? At first, what seemed logical was just affirming "Yes" to the "Are you Hispanic" question and leaving the question about race blank. This is an honest answer, but I feel like the admissions officers might get dubious if they see an asian-sounding last name without any explanation of race.

The other option is both affirming "Yes" to the "Are you Hispanic" question and then marking two down races: Asian and American-Indian (Incan ancestors). This is mainly to take advantage of the American-Indian boost, which is also honest because my mom's Peruvian lineage goes way back. On second thought, do I even have to mention the Asian part or is doing so blatantly dishonest?

Which of these options would give me the best boost when applying to college? I have the scores to be highly competitive to the Ivies, but any extra push will help. Thanks!

(Sorry if this isn't super cohesive, I'm writing this at 2AM)

Replies to: Confused about how to describe myself: Hispanic, Asian, American Indian?

  • GMTplus7GMTplus7 Registered User Posts: 14,567 Senior Member
    Incan roots falls under hispanic. To be American Indian u have to be formally registered with a tribe in the US.
  • Wje9164beWje9164be Registered User Posts: 1,236 Senior Member
    To legitimately claim American Indian you need paperwork from a tribe or at least you would need to be able to get it if pushed. American Indian is the biggest boost but Hispanic students also have some advantage in private college admissions
  • HTCguyHTCguy Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
    So, let's say I wasn't Sri Lankan at all. What race would I put down then?
  • entomomentomom Registered User Posts: 23,662 Senior Member
    edited December 2014
  • aunt beaaunt bea Registered User Posts: 8,720 Senior Member
    Peruvian heritage.
    My mother's ancestors were Aztec, but I can't use that as "american" indian because of the lack of tribal affiliation.
  • luzyamorluzyamor Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    You don't have to be a member of a North American Indian tribe to be Native American. I am Central Native American from Panama (Guaymi/Ngabare, paternal great grandmother, though not culturally connected, but yes genetic)..If you want to "get" at any monetary compensation owed by Euro North Americans to our brethren North American Indians/Natives for the land/mineral rights usurpation and mistreatment, THEN you'd have to prove you are Native North American (U.S. or Canada), and have tribal affiliation documented. Same goes if you want to grab at any of their casino profits, but I don't think our Inca/Sri Lankan brother is after any of that. If I were you, I would self i.d. as all or nothing...or 'Other'.

    I am also Chinese (paternal grandmother), obviously Afro (Caribbean Jamaican, and Colombian mulato) and very culturally Hispanic - Latin (1st generation), but my maternal grandfather is a gringo (Irish/Scott, Euro Norteamericano who sowed some seeds in Panama). And my maternal great grandmother was Spanish. The last census taker requested a social worker come 'look' at me and interview me. Pfffst!!! We settled on 'other'. Pretty soon, we will have so many mixes, that they'll have to give up this counting by colors or races. One human race.

    And NO,INCAN roots do NOT fall under Hispanic. We are Hispanic by conquest and invasion, then the Spanish language and other cultural infections left by the Spanish 'conquistadores'. Conquistar means more like to win over, not invade, which is what they did. You may conquistar or win over the affections/favors of a person you're crushing on. Euphemistic labels.
  • ItsJustSchoolItsJustSchool Registered User Posts: 1,974 Senior Member
    @luzyamor, it is not helpful to promulgate racial stereotypes and prejudices without any factual knowledge. There is no "Monetary compensation paid by Euro North Americans" to individual tribal members, nor is there any casino profits for individuals to grab. It is very offensive to publish such unsubstantiated drivel. If you wish to be racist/prejudiced, you should be prepared to give sources and citations.

    Original Peoples of Canada and Natives from Mexico, Central, or South America do not fit the definition of Native Americans- and yes, Native Americans are the only URM that has to prove membership (rather than self-identifying) in the minority through official documentation. And Peruvian is officially classified as "Hispanic," regardless of Inca or other native heritage.

    The OP is from South America ("Hispanic" by definition) and from the subcontinent, so Asian. It is not at all ambiguous.

    Physical appearance or surname does not enter into the question. Your cultural identity and where your family originates defines your ethnicity; coupled with official definitions.
  • luzyamorluzyamor Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    @‌ItsJustSchool, I cannot afford to be racist. I live in Michigan, and people (Ojibwae) I know here do get a monthly check from their tribal administrators, like a profit sharing from businesses or other tribal investments. I was not referring to mere monetary compensation owed for ancestor usurpation, but rather to 'special considerations' or URM status 'extended' in attempts (now) to make ammends for past mistreatments. I can undertand how, if your ancestors participated in such mistreatments of Native Americans, my jaded (NOT racist) comments might offend you. But facts are facts and, if we forget, mistreatments can/will (and have been) repeated in different ways at different times. Now, speaking of lack of "citations and unsubstabtuated drivel," Where are your cited sources and substance for your drivel? Can you lead by example? I said nothing to my Inca-Sri Lankan brother/sister about his/her physical appearance or surnames. In the end my only real advice was to label or not him/herself as s/he sees fit, and to consider OTHER, thereby NOT denying any part of her/his heritage (genetic or cultural).
  • ItsJustSchoolItsJustSchool Registered User Posts: 1,974 Senior Member
    @luzyamor, your characterization of Native Americans wanting "to 'get' any monetary compensation," and "to grab at any of their casino profits" smacks of a condescending racist perspective. Even if you do not feel it yourself, it reflects that you do.

    I called your comments 'drivel' because they give incorrect information and could result in the OP taking action that is not helpful to himself, nor in the spirit of what is requested. Here is a definition of drivel:
    driv·el /drivəl/ noun
    1. silly nonsense.
    "don't talk such drivel!"
    synonyms: nonsense, twaddle, claptrap, balderdash, gibberish, rubbish, mumbo jumbo, garbage

    Only my first paragraph was directed towards you. The definition of 'hispanic' comes from , as detailed on another thread:

    In the context of the National Hispanic Recognition Program, the rules are below. It appears you need to have (at a minimum) a grandparent born in one of the countries listed below.


    What is the NHRP's definition of Hispanic/Latino?

    To qualify for this program, you must be at least one-quarter Hispanic/Latino. Hispanic/Latino is an ethnic category, not a racial category; you may be of any race. For purposes of the NHRP, you must be from a family whose ancestors came from at least one of these countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Spain, Uruguay or Venezuela.

    The OP questioned if his selection of ethnicity should be guided by his surname or physical appearance in his original post.
    I feel like the admissions officers might get dubious if they see an asian-sounding last name without any explanation of race.

    The extensive justifications given in the first paragraph of the original post make it appear that the OP physically appears more Sri Lankan than Peruvian.
This discussion has been closed.