Are you ‘diverse’?

Posted in Identity Development/Psychology, Native Americans/First Nation, New Media, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2012-05-05 20:38Z by Steven

Are you ‘diverse’?

The Boston Globe

Dante Ramos, Deputy Editorial Page Editor

In the mid-’90s, around the time Elizabeth Warren’s name was appearing on a list of minority law professors, I was applying for entry-level reporting jobs at dozens of newspapers. In a few cases — one of which involved a summer job at a paper tartly critical of affirmative action — something odd happened. First came the nibble of interest; later, the bashful questions: What, exactly, was my ethnic background? Perhaps I’d like to be considered for a minority internship?

At the time, I was in my early 20s, underemployed, and eager to please. But did I qualify? It was hard to say. One of my parents is Filipino; the other is white; my surname is Spanish. Still, I disliked the implication that my dull, dutiful stories, which I’d clipped to my resume, were suddenly fascinating if their author were less ambiguously ethnic. What grated most — what steered me away from these strange, unbidden opportunities — was that no one asked: Are you actually disadvantaged in some way? Does your ethnicity relate in any way to what you’ve written?

Which brings us back to Elizabeth Warren. We may never know whether she played up her scant Native American ancestry to advance her academic career. But whatever the flap says about the Harvard law professor’s US Senate campaign, it also reflects badly on the ham-fisted, box-checking approach that many employers once took toward diversity — and that some still use today…

…Yet if Warren handled this subject badly, let’s admit that it’s impossible to handle well. The question still lurks: Are you “diverse” or not? For mixed-race Americans who mean neither to exploit their ancestry nor minimize it, politely brushing aside the issue is harder than it seems.

Meanwhile, the usual ethnic categories keep blurring at the edges; the 2010 census counted over 9 million Americans as multiracial. Yet as The New York Times reported last summer, many elite colleges still can’t say how multiracial applicants fit in with their diversity goals. So applicants are left to fret: Check every box that applies, or hope that skipping the question entirely won’t keep you from getting in?…

Read the entire article here.

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