Faking One's Race

Related to the college scandal - over the weekend, I read a story about white students and/or parents who were encouraged to fake their race on the college apps, in order to get a diversity edge.

I was reminded of a podcast entitled Root of Evil, in which the protagonist, placed for adoption at birth, was raised as a bi-racial child in a black family. Fana Hodell (her birth name) grew up believing her birth father was black. It was only later in her life, when she tracked down her birthmother, that she discovered her birthmother had lied about the ethnicity of the birthfather; he was not black, but was in fact, white. I feel certain there are many other such situations, and so I wonder how it would play out if a student innocently identified themselves as mixed race (a la Elizabeth Warren, who allegedly grew up with the believe she was part Native American), only later to find out that belief was false.

Will colleges and workplaces start DNA testing?!


DNA testing not necessarily going to show all the ancestry.

Which reminds me of the story of the son of a friend. The friend and her husband immigrated to the US from South Africa. They were of European ancestry – so, white. When filling out his PSAT form, the son declared himself to be “African-American.” He was bombarded with recruiting materials from every college in the universe.

You can identify as any race/ethnicity you want to. The ‘advantage’ of being a minority is very small at most schools. You don’t even have to fake it - just check the box. The one exception is that some schools will ask for a tribal registration number if you are claiming American Indian status.

My daughter is Chinese but raised in a white home, majority white schools and considers herself a country music-loving, taco loving, American surfer girl. She thought long and hard about checking the Asian box on her apps, but finally did.

That’s the key, how Fana was raised or identifies.

I think colleges might care more about other parts of the resume than how the race box is checked. There was not one thing on my daughter’s resume that would have identified her as Asian, not even her (Irish) name.

Of course it makes a difference in admissions, but I seriously doubt anyone would check. There is that diversity score sat gives that I’m sure is more what schools are looking for than the box you check on race.

Um, if I’m not mistaken Elizabeth Warren’s DNA test showed that she likely had an ancestor many generations back who was Native American. So the family legend was apparently true.

On the other hand, as Warren has taken great pains to point out, that does not mean that SHE is in any way a Native American, and she certainly isn’t a member of any tribe. Tribes get to decide that, not other people.

The “who is a NA” question is extremely fraught these days.

If you claim to be Native American, you better be able to back it up. For college admissions purposes, that means you’re a registered member of a recognized tribe or can prove direct descent from someone on the Dawes rolls. Many colleges will ask for proof.

@VeryHappy similar thing happened to a neighbour. Asian ethnicity, but parents born and brought up in Uganda. He could legitimately claim that he was African American, though his name was a giveaway that he was of Indian descent. Also have heard of similar cases with Spanish speaking,“white” (whatever that means)parents with Germanic or English names living in South America, and even White people brought up in Jamaica.

It gets almost comical at times. US colleges try to fit people in boxes. As a guy with Biracial kids, it gets ridiculous after a while.

I’m still miffed at the extra time being given on ACT’s. Don’t have the energy to get outraged about this.

It could show the opposite too. Maybe, if they took a DNA test, it would show they are 2% Hispanic or 2% Native American.

I had a friend from Argentina. Kids in her son’s elementary school didn’t believe he could be simultaneously Hispanic and Jewish.

Thr famous senator had probabilities that ranged from incredibly obscure to statistically meaningless. And it was not N.A. but included central and South America. She made a mistake.

I told this story when it happened 15 years ago, but still relevant. My son was, to put it politely, not a strong candidate for college based on his very low SAT scores. We were thrilled, overjoyed, elated, when he received his first college acceptance letter. Then we were a bit surprised, confused, and I totally freaked out when he also was offered a “diversity” scholarship.(we are Caucasian) I thought they must have assumed he was a racial minority, and that was why he got accepted, and it would all be taken away! I reviewed his application to make sure he didn’t check the wrong box. Then I went to the college website and eventually learned they award geographic diversity scholarships to accepted students from out of state. (phew!)

This is incorrect. Her DNA showed with almost certainty that she had a Native American ancestor about 6-10 generations back.

And before you retort that she could have had more than one ancestor, but more generations back, no, she couldn’t. Read the report. It’s a matter of how long the relevant gene sections were. The longer a particular section is, the fewer generations back it came from.

I believe her estimates are between 1/64th and 1/1024th Native American.

My daughter just did her DNA profile. It came back 90% Han Chinese, approx. 9% South Korean, and a little over 1% a group that includes north American Indians. A friend from the same orphanage (so same region of China) also had that 1% ‘traceable to American Indian’ and she had Mongolian mixed in there too. I really think it is highly unlikely that either has a NA ancestor since they were born in the middle of China, it’s just that there isn’t enough known about that 1% group to know where it comes from. It shares the same traits as DNA from NA tribes. The more people they get to do DNA testing, the more they’ll be able to narrow down that 1% group.

Elizabeth Warren’s unidentified history was about 2-3%. If it was only 6 generations, it should be traceable but I believe she wants to drop it.

Right, but those aren’t probabilities. 1/64th Native American is another way of saying “had an ancestor six generations back who was definitely Native American,” or “had a great great great great grandmother/father who was Native American.” If six generations back, this person would have been still alive around 1840 or so, later if Warren’s ancestors had children at a young age.

It’s interesting to me how families remember a notable (or different) ancestor through the generations. Look at those African-American families with the family story that they were descended from Thomas Jefferson-- and finally it turned out, they were!

Actually I am fairly confident her dna was not matched to what we would call a North American Native American, certainly not to any specificity. As reported here in Boston extensively, the sample included a wider view of dna that includes Mexico and Central America.

Maybe she’s part of the lost Mayan tribes.

I don’t really care tbh.

But if I had 1:64th of anything that’s not how I or any single person I know would describe themselves for a professional license or ethnic survey for college etc. No matter how I heard about it. It’s also about how you live culturally than obscure dna results.

The sample is from people from Mexico, Peru and Colombia. Mexico is in North America.

Yes. My mistake. Mexico is in North America of course.

But it would be just as polite to also adjust the previous post you made that seemed to reject the broader observation.