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Mexican, but not Hispanic?

futbol412

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Hey all! So I am in an interesting position, I am Mexican, as I was born in and lived my whole life in a rural town in Mexico (age 0-18). I went to a "Mexican" school (not an international American one), speak with a Mexican accent in Spanish, and strongly identify with Mexican culture. I speak with my siblings in Spanish, not English, and did not grow up "traveling" back and forth to the US, I only came for college. I consider Mexico my home. However, my parents are white, from the U.S, and moved to Mexico before I was born. They actually did Peace Corps in Mexico when they were younger, so they speak almost perfect Spanish as well (which is why my English sucked when I first came to the US for college haha).

I actually checked Hispanic and white when I applied for college...I didn't think anything of it until now because I just considered it a part of who I am as a Mexican-American. It also wasn't for the intention of "gaming" any system (I already had a full ride and essentially a guaranteed acceptance to that school for a sport)...now I am reading other people's posts and wondering if I should check Hispanic?

I'm not sure if this matters but I have volunteered as an interpreter for low income Hispanic population and also worked the past 2 years (and will be doing a third year) for TFA as a bilingual teacher (I teach in English and Spanish), and all of my students are of Mexican descent. I feel like I relate to their culture and obviously, the parents are relieved when they speak to me as we share the same accent and culture. I'm not sure what to do because I don't want it to seem as though I am trying to get an advantage or something, but at the same time don't want to erase my entire upbringing...any thoughts?
 

LizzyM

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I had an applicant more than a few years ago who was born in Central American and who spoke Spanish as a first language. He checked only the "white" box and described himself in the PS as someone who did xyz like a native of [his birthplace] but he was actually a gringo whose parents were missionaries for the past 20+ years in that country. It seemed to be a very honest approach.

Your birthplace and your language skills will be on your application as will be the name of your HS and where you grew up. That will also provide a better picture of who you are than just checking a box.
 
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futbol412

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Well, I know multiple people who did whatever it took to get into med school, even if it meant being ambiguous

:pirate: —> couldn’t find a wink face, but this seems adequate
It actually is interesting to me how one is considered "Hispanic" or not....I am married, and my partner is Venezuelan. Her aunt, for example, was born and raised in Venezuela, but has parents are of Asian descent (her mom is from China and dad from Asian descent) but she is Hispanic..She now lives in the US and checks Hispanic on the census.

I don't see how that is a problem because hispanic is an ethnicity and is "used to refer to the culture, peoples, or nations with a historical link to Spain" and it is not something linked to race (which is why I had checked it for college bc I felt it applied to me). As someone born and raised in Mexico, I feel I am just as Mexican-American (and thus, hispanic) as someone with Mexican parents that is born and raised in the US. Of course according to the Mexican government, I am Mexican by birthright, but in the US that doesn't count as Hispanic? It's just confusing to me.. How is someone who has lived their whole life in a country, speaks the language, engages in the culture, etc. not a part of the ethnic makeup?

I remember the same conversation came up about Pope Francis (who is from Argentina). In the town where I lived, everyone was excited that a latino was Pope!! But in the US, the whole debate arose that he wasn't "hispanic" because his parents were from Italy. But should that matter since being Hispanic is not about race? How many generations of your family have to live in a country until you're "hispanic" enough? Idk what the right answer is and I'm not going to check it...it just doesn't make sense to me.
 
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LizzyM

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To me, you are hispanic as that is the culture you grew up in/were born into, the language you speak, and your origin...I can see why people would say you're not, since your "descent" isn't Mexican, even though your origin technically is. However, there are a good minority of Mexicans who are "white" and are of European descent, so what makes them white Hispanic and you just white? Is it the fact that you're just 1 generation removed from the US? I have no idea..I am ORM Hispanic, but I thought that the purpose of UiM was so that people would hopefully go back and serve their respective communities. It seems to me like you are invested in serving Mexican-American communities in the US and equipped to do so as you have lived in the culture + speak the language fluently. I would check both white and hispanic if I were in your position. But then again, I'm not an adcom member so maybe don't listen to me haha

By that logic, African-born, US citizens of Indian descent should call themselves African-Americans but they don't and with good reason. That "I was born there" logic is not going to fly. Think back to where your ancestors were in 1491. Check as many boxes as apply but don't claim a race or ethnicity that isn't true to your origins.

Don't shoot the messenger. I'm just reflecting on what I've seen and heard over the years when adcoms raise a question about a checked box. That said, if the applicant is otherwise admissable and will boost the "official figures" for URM, I've seen applicants not penalized for checking a box.
 
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LizzyM

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Yes, I know that Hispanic or Latino is an ethnicity associated with Spain and its former colonies. I know that Hispanics can be of any race.
and Yes, I know that Black or African American as defined by the census refers to people having their origins in the black racial groups of Africa.

I think that "where were your ancestors in 1491" makes sense because they were either in Spain, or elsewhere in Europe, or in South America, North America, or Africa, or Australia or Asia.

Did you fill out the census form this year? How did you list yourself? Do that on the AMCAS. /thread.
 
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stayathomemom

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Did you fill out the census form this year? How did you list yourself? Do that on the AMCAS. /thread.

I know I'm beating a dead horse, but there are reasons to not do this.

I have Indian (Native American) heritage, and I was raised in a part of the country where this heritage's culture was practiced widely as it was the largest minority. I participated in some aspects of this culture with my family. It's an important part of my personal identification. However I have no (edit: official) tribal affiliation, was not raised on a reservation, and I'm totally white passing. While I feel totally comfortable claiming that race on the census (in addition to my two other races) because there are no knock on effects, doing so on AMCAS triggers an implication of a disadvantaged status and could be seen as trying to gain an advantage that is not intended for applicants like me. I think maybe the OP feels the same, though IMO the OP has a far greater case for claiming being Hispanic than I do for claiming Indian heritage.
 

LizzyM

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I know I'm beating a dead horse, but there are reasons to not do this.

I have Indian (Native American) heritage, and I was raised in a part of the country where this heritage's culture was practiced widely as it was the largest minority. I participated in some aspects of this culture with my family. It's an important part of my personal identification. However I have no (edit: official) tribal affiliation, was not raised on a reservation, and I'm totally white passing. While I feel totally comfortable claiming that race on the census (in addition to my two other races) because there are no knock on effects, doing so on AMCAS triggers an implication of a disadvantaged status and could be seen as trying to gain an advantage that is not intended for applicants like me. I think maybe the OP feels the same, though IMO the OP has a far greater case for claiming being Hispanic than I do for claiming Indian heritage.

And thus, the Indian (Native American) heritage may continue to appear to be under-represented in medicine. You are in the denominator but not the numerator if you are counted in the census but not by AMCAS. :(
 
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OchemOficionado

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Don't shoot the messenger. I'm just reflecting on what I've seen and heard over the years when adcoms raise a question about a checked box. That said, if the applicant is otherwise admissable and will boost the "official figures" for URM, I've seen applicants not penalized for checking a box.

Haha, my class is the perfect example of this. My school keeps bragging that we have X number of AAs, but we really have 4 less than that. The others are from Indian or parts of Northern Africa. Two have admitted to checking the box for the advantage, smh. I can see that my school wanted good stats to brag about.
 

stayathomemom

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And thus, the Indian (Native American) heritage may continue to appear to be under-represented in medicine. You are in the denominator but not the numerator if you are counted in the census but not by AMCAS. :(
I totally understand this concern, and it was part of my decision making. But ultimately, since my school of choice (state school) has a program specifically for Indians, I would rather be an undercounted URM than take away that opportunity from someone it was intended for, specifically someone who grew up directly in Indian culture/a reservation and someone who doesn't benefit from white privilege like I can. It's so, so important for URMs to have that opportunity. (Plus not being a registered tribal member isn't compatible for making the claim, from what I've heard.) Still, it is a moral dilemma. I've always wondered if it were possible to change what I claim as a race after acceptance, or to somehow decline the URM status.
 

LizzyM

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I totally understand this concern, and it was part of my decision making. But ultimately, since my school of choice (state school) has a program specifically for Indians, I would rather be an undercounted URM than take away that opportunity from someone it was intended for, specifically someone who grew up directly in Indian culture/a reservation and someone who doesn't benefit from white privilege like I can. It's so, so important for URMs to have that opportunity. (Plus not being a registered tribal member isn't compatible for making the claim, from what I've heard.) Still, it is a moral dilemma. I've always wondered if it were possible to change what I claim as a race after acceptance, or to somehow decline the URM status.
Why not check the box and the other box(es) that apply? The school can make of it what they will. Unless you are saying that there is a quota for Indians (which there should not be), your admission shouldn't be taking away an opportunity from anyone else.
 
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stayathomemom

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Why not check the box and the other box(es) that apply? The school can make of it what they will. Unless you are saying that there is a quota for Indians (which there should not be), your admission shouldn't be taking away an opportunity from anyone else.
What if somebody questions it? I can't prove anything, because I don't have any records, just what I've been told by my family. Not a registered tribal member. And I look totally white. I'm afraid of having my integrity questioned, and integrity is everything.
 

LizzyM

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What if somebody questions it? I can't prove anything, because I don't have any records, just what I've been told by my family. Not a registered tribal member. And I look totally white. I'm afraid of having my integrity questioned, and integrity is everything.

Why would anyone question it unless they (or you) think that there is some advantage to be had by claiming membership in a specific racial group. You claim that race on the census but when there is a chance that you may be discriminated for claiming it, you won't own it.

Sit with that awhile and decide how you'll complete the 2030 census.
 
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jhmmd

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stayathomemom said:
What if somebody questions it? I can't prove anything, because I don't have any records, just what I've been told by my family. Not a registered tribal member. And I look totally white. I'm afraid of having my integrity questioned, and integrity is everything.
Going along w/what others have said--keep in mind that some schools ask for a picture with their secondary, so you better have some type of proof handy.
 

futbol412

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By that logic, African-born, US citizens of Indian descent should call themselves African-Americans but they don't and with good reason. That "I was born there" logic is not going to fly. Think back to where your ancestors were in 1491. Check as many boxes as apply but don't claim a race or ethnicity that isn't true to your origins.

Don't shoot the messenger. I'm just reflecting on what I've seen and heard over the years when adcoms raise a question about a checked box. That said, if the applicant is otherwise admissable and will boost the "official figures" for URM, I've seen applicants not penalized for checking a box.

I listed myself as Hispanic and white on the census based on the information provided: Hispanic origin can be viewed as the heritage, nationality, lineage, or country of birth of the person or the person’s parents or ancestors before arriving in the United States. People who identify as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish may be any race.

My understanding was that my nationality and country of birth would, by that definition, make me Hispanic (and my grandma is actually from Spain..don't think 1/8 counts though; my reasoning for selecting it wasn't for her, but for my own upbringing)... this is where the "African-born" argument falls flat because the US doesn't define "African-American" in the same way it defines "Hispanic". African-American isn't defined as "the country of birth or nationality of the person", but instead as from "the black racial groups of Africa", which would not include said African born Indian US citizen (although he would still be African, just not African-American by US definition).

However, since Mexican-Americans are URM I do understand why, for application purposes in the US medical system, it would be viewed as inappropriate to check "hispanic. latino" because schools are trying to get a clearer understanding of obstacles you may have faced/ what you bring to the school culturally. Although I did not grow up wealthy by any means, I do realize I haven't faced the same obstacles as someone who, perhaps, lives with undocumented parents, who has been mocked for their culture in the US, who does not have the freedom to move between both countries, or who is not white-passing, etc.. And like you said, what I bring to the school culturally will be made clear by other means- the city I was born in, the high school I attended, the populations I have worked with since, etc.
 

LizzyM

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I listed myself as Hispanic and white on the census based on the information provided: Hispanic origin can be viewed as the heritage, nationality, lineage, or country of birth of the person or the person’s parents or ancestors before arriving in the United States. People who identify as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish may be any race.

My understanding was that my nationality and country of birth would, by that definition, make me Hispanic (and my grandma is actually from Spain..don't think 1/8 counts though; my reasoning for selecting it wasn't for her, but for my own upbringing)... this is where the "African-born" argument falls flat because the US doesn't define "African-American" in the same way it defines "Hispanic". African-American isn't defined as "the country of birth or nationality of the person", but instead as from "the black racial groups of Africa", which would not include said African born Indian US citizen (although he would still be African, just not African-American by US definition).

However, since Mexican-Americans are URM I do understand why, for application purposes in the US medical system, it would be viewed as inappropriate to check "hispanic. latino" because schools are trying to get a clearer understanding of obstacles you may have faced/ what you bring to the school culturally. Although I did not grow up wealthy by any means, I do realize I haven't faced the same obstacles as someone who, perhaps, lives with undocumented parents, who has been mocked for their culture in the US, who does not have the freedom to move between both countries, or who is not white-passing, etc.. And like you said, what I bring to the school culturally will be made clear by other means- the city I was born in, the high school I attended, the populations I have worked with since, etc.

Thanks for sharing that viewpoint; it does give me something to think about with regard to Hispanic identification.
 

LizzyM

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Going along w/what others have said--keep in mind that some schools ask for a picture with their secondary, so you better have some type of proof handy.

That said, at least at my school, the adcom members did not have photos available when reviewing applicants. Pictures were available on the day of the interview to match names and faces.
 
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