Tricking Affirmative Action

First off, this is not a debate on the merits of affirmative action.

What I’d like to know is how college admissions officers verify that someone is truly hispanic if they claim to be? For example, if I were to color my hair black, wear brown contacts, go to a tanning salon, and change my last name to Rodriguez…could I qualify as hispanic? how do they verify? Or maybe I could keep my last name and say that I’m half hispanic, that would work too right? Just curious… Thanks.

We’ve discussed this as a sideline in some affirmative action threads. They don’t have any way of verifying. They have to trust students. Nobody’s going to go for some elaborate verification system–I cannot even imagine how one would work. However, if they find out you’ve lied on your application, they might rescind an admission offer.

Native Americans, for some benefits, have to show actual tribal membership, but I don’t think that comes into play truing the college admissions process. For scholarships, maybe.

I always check “Native American.” After all, I was born on U.S. soil…

I often wonder about this myself. I am half-mexican, but you would never be able to tell by looking at me. I always put hispanic on forms I fill out for school, and wonder how I would prove it if I was ever questioned.

Take it a step further – remember the movie “Soul Man”?

I don’t think there’s really any way to determine Hispanic – I know Mexicans in Mexico that are whiter than I am. And blonde. And blue-eyed.

What qualifies as “hispanic”? “Pure” Spanish descedents from Mexico? Italians or Morocans from Brazil? English from the Malvinas? They’re all Latin countries. How about the French left over from Maximilian? What about me? If I get Mexican citizenship, and I therefore hispanic? I’m not really being faceitious, but there’s no real way to tell, or if so, I’d like to know about it.

Me too!

Heck, I used to check ‘black’ and I’m as white as they come.

I especially liked it on job applications when they had all these disclaimers saying the hiring group would not see the result but when you showed up they were visibly shook at the sight of you and would stammer. Great fun!

I had a male friend named Christopher who went by the name ‘Chris’. He woud check black female. :smiley:

I had a female friend who married a Hispanic with a very Hispanic last name. She kept his last name after the divorce because she said it helped her with promotions in her large company.

I’m half Mexican. My name is Mexican.

My skin is white, my hair is blonde, and my eyes are blue.

You have no idea how many times I’ve had to prove who I am.

No matter. Within two more generations, everyone in California, at least, will be half something or other.


I am half mexican with a very mexican name. I am also a white boy.

So how do you prove your half-mexicanness to someone?

3 or 4 forms of photo ID, social security card, picture of my parents and sister (who actually looks somewhat Mexican), a little bit of Spanish in the right place, and finally threatening with discrimination charges. :slight_smile:

It’s annoying stuff that’s been following me my entire life, and I don’t like it a bit. I don’t mind being Mexican, and I’m proud enough of that, but the mixups just annoy me. Give it a friggin’ rest, already.

I usually decline to answer forms that ask for ethnicity (unless forced, where I obviously have to choose hispanic), because I think they are farking stupid in general. But that’s just me.

Here’s what Cecil had to say in part about this issue. It does appear that the Census Bureau cares little about what you put down as your “race”; obviously they don’t have the manpower to check up on you.

I wonder, though, whether a case like this has come up under an arbitration board. It does seem to me that Hispanic “ethnicity or heritage” is open to potential abuse, as I remember that in California all you really needed to “prove” ethnicity was a Hispanic surname.

I am half Mexican.
I have a ‘white’ name and surname. (true also before I took my married name).

I look white.

I have no way to prove it other than I can start speaking fluent spanish.

What I hate beyond anything is the forms that have the option:

hispanic, non white
white, non-hispanic.

Do I disregard my father’s family or my mothers?

Okay, what are some practical reasons any of you have had to prove to be latino? Zagadka? You know, “practical” not meaning bar bets and stuff like that.

There was a case in Boston about 15 years ago. Two firemen rose quickly through the ranks because they were black. Or so they claimed. They sure didn’t look black. Their proof: the photograph of a woman, probably black, whom they said was their great-grandmother. Was she really black? Not certain. Was she really their great-grandmother? Even less certain.

Unfortunately, I can’t recall what happened to them. Maybe someone else knows.

Well, I can’t speak for her, but at the Catholic community college in SoCal I used to work for, we had scholarships targeted for Hispanic students. Not that I think we, specifically, had any problems, but considering the paucity of scholarship funds to go around, I wonder what would have happened if someone not of Hispanic heritage would have applied for one of them.

Like the guy who wrote the follow-up letter in that column, I put “human” when asked for race.


They may not care, but people who ask for that info on job/scholarship/etc. applications do. And unlike the Census Bureau, they are going to have contact with you, and if they made a judgement, good or bad, based on what race you claimed, that will influence their opinion of you.

I don’t do that to be “clever”, as someone once accused me. I do it because I can’t think of any situation where race should be regarded as a vital statistic on a par with age, height, marital status and so forth.

When I fill out the warranty card for household appliances, I tell them that I was born in 1970 and that I’m married, because I know marketing researchers are going to see it. If they have a preconceived notion that Gen-Xers don’t marry and don’t use any appliance besides a microwave, I’d like to help dispel that. If, however, they have a preconceived notion that only certain races purchase waffle irons, they need more help than I can give them.

What about South African whites or Egyptians coming to the U.S.? Do they get to become “African-Americans”?

I heard about this guy that checked black on a form for tuition aid. When he showed-up they told him that some mistake was made, he was not eligible. He asked what mistake, they said race, he said sorry, I must have checked the wrong box, is there anything else, he asked. They said no, but you are not eligible. He then pulled the school policy out which says we do not discriminate base on race… He was approved.

When this all started back in the mid 60’s I saw a form that my teacher was filling out. It had these listings
Mexican-American Surname
(there may have been others, this is all I recall)
(It should be noted that the 60’s were before the terms Black, and Hispanic came into usage)
So at that time, the teacher looked over the class and said OK 10 whites, 5 blacks, and let’s see, Martinez, Lopez, Gomez… 15 Mexicans

Another anecdote:

While I was in college, it came out that a couple freshman had lied on their applications about their race.

One was a white guy who checked ‘black.’ He was booted out of the university. However, when confronted, he admitted he was not black. I’m not sure what would have happened if he had insisted that he was black. Probably they would have kicked him out anyway.

The other was a white guy who checked ‘native american.’ When confronted, he said he thought it applied to anyone born in america. He was given the chance to re-apply. Not sure whatever happened.

‘hispanic’ is a little dicier, since, as other people noted, hispanic people can be one (or a combination) of several races.

But the thing is this: TWEAK ‘THE MAN’ AT YOUR OWN RISK.
If you think you can get away with an obvious lie about your race, think again. Institutions such as universities and employers can be very sneaky, spiteful, and devious. They don’t play fair. And more often than not, the courts let them get away with it.