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Hispanic/Latino defined - aka: AM I HISPANIC?

entomomentomom Registered User Posts: 23,662 Senior Member
edited January 2014 in Hispanic Students
Excerpted and edited from tokenadult's thread:

http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/college-admissions/1366406-race-college-admission-faq-discussion-10-a.html

No college in the United States requires an applicant or student to self-identify with any race or ethnic group.

Self-identifying ethnicity is OPTIONAL on the Common Application,

https://www.commonapp.org/CommonApp/...monApp2008.pdf

which is what many colleges use as their main or sole application form. Self-identifying ethnicity is also optional on the Universal Application, which various colleges also accept. Every college in the United States is required by federal law to track requested ethnic data on students based on student self-identification. The colleges have to ask for these data, and have to report them to the federal government, but students don't have to self-identify with any ethnic or racial category.

Don't worry about it. Self-identify or not as you wish. Recognize that students from a variety of ethnic groups--including whatever group or groups you would identify with, if any--are admitted to each of your favorite colleges each year. On the other hand, admission to some colleges is just plain competitive, so lots of outstanding students self-identified with each ethnic group you can imagine (or not self-identified with any group) are not admitted each year. Do your best on your application, apply to a safety, and relax.

Ethnic Categories Reported by Colleges Are Defined--Vaguely--by Federal Law
College admissions offices refer to the U.S. Census bureau definitions for ethnic categories, which are based on regulations from the Office of Management and Budget, because they required to report by federal regulations,

http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-02.pdf

"Definition of Hispanic or Latino Origin Used in the 2010 Census:

Hispanic or Latino” refers to a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race."

"Hispanic origin can be viewed as the heritage, nationality group, lineage, or country of birth of the person or the person’s parents or ancestors before their arrival in the United States."

"People who identify their origin as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish may be any race."

The federal Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has posted guidance to colleges about how they are to ask about student ethnicity and race according to the federally defined categories.

By next year (2009), this aspect of college application ethnicity questions will be a little more clear, because questions will first ask yes/no about Hispanic ethnicity, and then ask students to "choose one or more" of the federally defined "race" categories. It will still be a student's legal right not to answer the questions at all, but the questions will no longer say explicitly that they are optional.
Post edited by entomom on
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Replies to: Hispanic/Latino defined - aka: AM I HISPANIC?

  • SamKSamK Registered User Posts: 445 Member
    Notice that the National Hispanic Recognition Program has its own definition of "Hispanic." Most notably, students from Brazil are considered Hispanic for the NHRP.
    To qualify for this program, you must be at least one-quarter Hispanic/Latino. Hispanic/Latino is an ethnic category, not a racial category, and 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.
  • entomomentomom Registered User Posts: 23,662 Senior Member
    Thanks for making that distinction SamK! NHRP both includes Brazilians and quantifies (1/4) the amount of Hispanic lineage a student must be for their program.
  • SamKSamK Registered User Posts: 445 Member
    Apparently the official classification of race and ethnicity data in the US is provided by the Office of Management and Budget:

    Revisions to the Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity
    Standards for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity

    This classification provides a minimum standard for maintaining, collecting, and presenting data on race and ethnicity for all Federal reporting purposes. The categories in this classification are social-political constructs and should not be interpreted as being scientific or anthropological in nature. They are not to be used as determinants of eligibility for participation in any Federal program. The standards have been developed to provide a common language for uniformity and comparability in the collection and use of data on race and ethnicity by Federal agencies.

    The standards have five categories for data on race: American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and White. There are two categories for data on ethnicity: "Hispanic or Latino," and "Not Hispanic or Latino."

    1. Categories and Definitions

    The minimum categories for data on race and ethnicity for Federal statistics, program administrative reporting, and civil rights compliance reporting are defined as follows:

    -- American Indian or Alaska Native. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America), and who maintains tribal affiliation or community attachment.

    -- Asian. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.

    -- Black or African American. A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa. Terms such as "Haitian" or "Negro" can be used in addition to "Black or African American."

    -- Hispanic or Latino. A person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race. The term, "Spanish origin," can be used in addition to "Hispanic or Latino."

    -- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.

    -- White. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa."
  • jessiehljessiehl Registered User Posts: 3,328 Senior Member
    Apparently the official classification of race and ethnicity data in the US is provided by the Office of Management and Budget

    For government purposes/by government agencies, yes. However, private organizations can play around with this a bit. For instance, the NHRP includes Brazilian as Hispanic, while the US government does not.

    Edited to add: This is what I get for not reading all the responses before I post. Apparently you were well aware of this. However, it's not the only example of something like this - some organizations, for example, classify Native Hawaiian in with Native American/Alaskan. And I know that some colleges subdivide the categories - for example, differentiating between "White - European" and "White - North African".
  • jessiehljessiehl Registered User Posts: 3,328 Senior Member
    Since I was the one who suggested that entomom post this, I'll add a short FAQ to give people some idea of how this information applies to their common questions.

    The "Do I count" questions: Do you count as Hispanic/Latino if:

    "My family has origins in a Hispanic country, but I have light skin [or blond hair, blue eyes, etc]."

    Yes. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race, including White. And some Hispanic countries have lighter-skinned populations than others. Colleges are not going to look at you and assume that you lied.

    "My family has origins in a Hispanic country, but I don't have a Spanish surname."

    Yes. There are a number of reasons that a Hispanic person would not have a Spanish surname, including mixed heritage, not actually having any Spanish ancestry, and the family having Anglicized the name in the past in order to avoid prejudice or make it easier for Anglos to pronounce. Colleges see Hispanic people with non-Spanish surnames all the time, and are not going to suspect you of lying because of it.

    "My family has origins in a Hispanic country, but I don't speak Spanish."

    Yes. There is no language requirement for Hispanic/Latino status.

    "I'm mixed - part Hispanic, part non-Hispanic."

    Yes, in general, if you as a mixed-heritage person wish to identify as Hispanic, you can. However, you should check to see if the institution (university, scholarship fund, etc) to which you are providing this information, has a "blood quantum" requirement - for instance, the NHRP requires awardees to be at least 1/4 Hispanic. It is possible that you will be able to identify as Hispanic in some cases and not others.

    "My grandparents were vacationing in a Hispanic country when my father was born."

    No, one of your parents having been born during a temporary stay in a Hispanic country doesn't count has having family origins there.

    And another question:

    "My family has origins in a Hispanic country, but I am Black/Asian/Amerindian/Pacific Islander/Multiracial. Do I identify with my race or as Hispanic?"

    On a well-designed form, that asks about Hispanicity separately from race, you should be able to identify with both if you wish. If the application that you are working on has a poorly-designed form that only allows you to pick one (and those are certainly out there), you can pick whichever one you wish.
  • h00dr1chhh00dr1chh Registered User Posts: 127 Junior Member
    I'm Brazilian and I've been identifying myself as Hispanic on my college applications, just because I obtained the NHRP award, where I qualified as Hispanic.

    Should I not be doing this?
  • entomomentomom Registered User Posts: 23,662 Senior Member
    Technically, Brazilians are not included under the Hispanic/Latino definition by the US Census Bureau. However, there is definitely ambiguity in college admissions as witnessed by NHRPs definition. I think that as long as you check Hispanic and indicate Brazilian background when asked to describe your heritage, there shouldn't be a problem. Adcoms can either categorize you as a Hispanic or not, depending on the definition their school uses.
  • h00dr1chhh00dr1chh Registered User Posts: 127 Junior Member
    Thank you very much entomom, I've always been clear to state that I am Brazilian (since we usually don't like to be mistaken for the Spanish-speaking lol) but your advice makes me feel better about stating my ethnicity.
  • firsttimemomfirsttimemom Registered User Posts: 140 Junior Member
    Hrmmm,

    My ancestors trace back to Spain in the 1500's. But they were pushed during the Inquisition up into the Pale of Russia. My grandmother's maiden name still reflected the Hispanic origins. Now all of the above definitions seem to allow me to claim to be Hispanic. I don't think I meet the intention of the definition - how many generations back do your connections with "ancestors" go for you to consider yourself Hispanic? Or did I miss something in the definitions?
  • entomomentomom Registered User Posts: 23,662 Senior Member
    Good question, the difference in your case is that although your ancestors were Hispanic in origin, fairly early on your family was displaced to a non-Hispanic culture and have remained so until coming to the U.S.

    You could mark Hispanic and describe your heritage as Spain>Russia>US. And then the adcoms at various schools could decide if they want to consider you Hispanic or not.

    But while you have reported accurately, you might be running the risk of adcoms thinking you're gaming the system if you have no connections to your Hispanic heritage (as you say, "the intention of the definition).

    I'd like to hear thoughts from other members as the Hispanic definition is far from cut and dry!
  • jessiehljessiehl Registered User Posts: 3,328 Senior Member
    My ancestors trace back to Spain in the 1500's. But they were pushed during the Inquisition up into the Pale of Russia. My grandmother's maiden name still reflected the Hispanic origins.

    Woo, Sephardi Jews for the win*! :D (My case is a little more straightforward, because most of my Sephardi ancestors ended up in Cuba before coming to the US.)

    My *personal* opinion is that most Sephardim can legitimately claim to be Hispanic, because even in the Sephardi diaspora (the various places that they went after being kicked out of Spain/Portugal), they set up Spanish-based cultural areas within their countries of refuge. And as far as I can tell, the point of the "Hispanic" category is that it's an umbrella term for people with ancestry in the Spanish sphere of influence. Do your parents or grandparents speak Ladino (Judeo-Spanish)?

    However, there's a problem, namely that very few people actually understand this - very few people in the US understand that there are non-Ashkenazi Jews at all, for that matter - so you run the risk of admissions officers thinking that you're gaming the system. And, the term just wasn't designed to make things obvious for this particular edge case, since it's an edge case most people don't know about. It might be worth it to explain your situation to admissions officers at your target schools and find out what they think, or to put an explanation on the application.

    Individual Sephardi Jews, in my experience, have a variety of approaches to this question. Some feel strongly that they are White (which I'm using as shorthand for "White, non-Hispanic"). Some feel strongly that they are Hispanic. Some feel that they should be considered a minority, but that "Hispanic" doesn't really fit, so they'll put "Other" or whatever. Some don't care. Many Ashkenazi Jews (for the random people reading this thread who don't know what I'm talking about, Ashkenazi Jews are ~85% of US Jews, and the people from whom the US gets its image of Jewish culture) consider Sephardi (and Mizrahi) Jews to be non-White, which in turn influences the self-perception of Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews.

    *If by some chance you are not Sephardi, I apologize, and you can ignore the rest of my post, but I'm guessing you are because I'm not aware that anyone else got pushed out there during the Inquisition.
  • entomomentomom Registered User Posts: 23,662 Senior Member
    Thanks for that illuminating explanation jessie!

    In regards to discussing your particular situation with adcoms, you could also write a brief explanation in the "Additional Information" section and again, let the schools decide if you fit into their definition of Hispanic.
  • GAC1107GAC1107 Registered User Posts: 158 Junior Member
    on the common app after checking the hispanic box do we have to check another ethnicity box? im more than 100 hispanic. i don't want to check another ethnicity where it says “select one or more races
  • entomomentomom Registered User Posts: 23,662 Senior Member
    GAC,
    For some reason the CA didn't quite get it right. Hispanic is an ethnicity, not a race, so it was correct for them to first ask yes/no if you're Hispanic. But then for some reason when they should have asked for race, they said ethnicity again! That set of categories they give (NA, Asian, AA, Pac Is, or white) are all races. So, by marking one or more of these, you are in no way saying that you are less Hispanic, but just explaining your racial make-up, as Hispanics can be any race.
  • GAC1107GAC1107 Registered User Posts: 158 Junior Member
    So do we have to mark another race?
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