Scholarship News

Posing Racial Identities May Increase Chances in College Admission?


July 16, 2015
by Susan Dutca-Lovell
In a progressive society where it is becoming increasingly common to live out the way you feel rather than based on your biological, genetic composition, there has been an increase in the cases of trans-identities that are not only related to gender. As in Bruce Jenner’s transformation to Caitlin Jenner, those who wish to better suit their desired identity have pursued physical alterations. A little left of the spotlight, the case of civil rights activist and teacher Rachel Dolezal’s physical, transracial transformation went unnoticed until her parents revealed that their daughter is of  European descent. As Dolezal daringly redefines ethnic identity, she is bringing momentum to issues of transracial identities. This raises question as to which identity should be used when it comes to grey areas in the world of education- where there are educational awards, scholarships, and incentives specifically for born-African Americans.

In a progressive society where it is becoming increasingly common to live out the way you feel rather than based on your biological, genetic composition, there has been an increase in the cases of trans-identities that are not only related to gender. As in Bruce Jenner’s transformation to Caitlin Jenner, those who wish to better suit their desired identity have pursued physical alterations. A little left of the spotlight, the case of civil rights activist and teacher Rachel Dolezal’s physical, transracial transformation went unnoticed until her parents revealed that their daughter is of European descent. As Dolezal daringly redefines ethnic identity, she is bringing momentum to issues of transracial identities. This raises question as to which identity should be used when it comes to grey areas in the world of education- where there are educational awards, scholarships, and incentives specifically for born-African Americans.

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Dolezal feared, on multiple occasions, people would “blow her cover.” How secure then, is Dolezal in her identity of a black female? With a quick hair change to long, blonde dreadlocks and blackface- a process in darkening the skin to make it appear blacker, Dolezal metamorphosed into a convincing African American woman. Dolezal insists she has identified as African American since she was five years old. If Dolezal had applied to Howard University as a Caucasian female, would she have been accepted as easily? According to her father, most likely not. Dolezal’s father asserts, "You've got a white woman coming in that got a full-ride scholarship to the black Harvard.” It seems in this case, a student can earn scholarships of choice by simply reassigning their demographics.

In your opinion, how should colleges approach issues of transracial identities when it comes to admissions and scholarships? Should traditional, race-based scholarships be exclusive to one's biological race?

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Ionne F.  on  7/27/2015 6:44:55 PM commented:

Additionally, to Jill W.--while I'm sure that your 6 years of psychology and neurology (?) study has been good to you, the concept of "male" and "female" brain structure is to my knowledge mostly speculation, largely influenced by preconceptions and differing perspectives of experts of that field. As you know, the brain is a wonderfully elastic thing that wires itself around environmental/social situations and grows as much from influence as it does from "genetic memory" (still, speculation?). From what I've seen, such differences between "male" and "female" are influenced from early development from social expectations; we are, after all, put into different boxes, different colors from the moment we are born. However, inherent gender differences are difficult to study in the first place since they don't exist in a vaccuum. Also note to others: remember to not confuse ethnicity with political region! America only has "American culture" ("Everything else in the world lumped together")

Ionne F.  on  7/27/2015 6:44:01 PM commented:

Race cannot be grouped with gender identity in this way; gender deals with your own self alone and is as fluid or rigid as it suits you, while race has everything to do with roots, and how society sees people who look like you, who are from where you are from. Culture and race is one of the few things you can only truly be born into. Minority benefits only exist because in the past, minorities were quite harshly disadvantaged. It is only until recently that "minorities" were able to have as good of an education as their white peers, and to think that the newest generations are no longer affected by what happened to their parents and to their ancestors is ridiculous. White people can obviously be disadvantaged, though, and can qualify for nonracial minority benefits. I have only encountered a few "transracial" individuals but they have overall given the impression that they are exploiting,even fetishizing the culture and race they identify as, and I found it to be very upsetting.

Garr P  on  7/17/2015 6:56:25 PM commented:

As a transracial person (Asian Jewish to Armenian) this article really relates to me. Great commentary on a hot-button issue Susan!

Adam S  on  7/17/2015 5:21:44 PM commented:

It was not until last year in September of 2014 I founded out that I am Scottish/British/African/Asian/White male. After 20 years of not knowing my true identity God made it possible through my Older sister who told me more than just my identity.

Jill W.  on  7/17/2015 3:20:29 PM commented:

Having studied psychology and the human brain exclusively for almost 6 years now, I find that gender identity is very much a neurological trait. The brain structure of a man is different than that of a woman, and with brain imaging tools such as MRI, we are able to see that the brain of a transgendered person is opposite of their physical and biological makeup. For example, a transgendered man would indeed have the brain structure of a woman's, though the rest of the body did not follow. With that being said, and yes I'll get to the point, race has not been considered to participate in these findings. Believing you are a different race does not reflect in any way in neurological structure, therefor making this identity a purely psychological one. Now here is where my opinion comes into play...with all of that said, I don't believe that those identifying as "transracial" merit a minority-based scholarship. The reason being is that these scholarships are directed towards the underprivileged, while subtly saying that the majority race is consistently benefitted enough to be exempt from these special scholarships. In my opinion, it is unfair to call yourself African American or Mexican or Haitian or what-have-you, then reap the educational benefits that may be presented to you for that specific reasoning.

Richard Munoz  on  7/17/2015 9:30:01 AM commented:

At least for the time been we need this type of assistance, specialy for American born students with immigrants parents. Since the parents are new to this society they may don't know the different routes available to them to help pay for their children education. The children maybe are the First Generation pursuing a College degree, or they may qualify for a type of ethnicity or any other type of requirement, Thanks for App is great !!!!!

Richard Muñoz  on  7/17/2015 9:14:12 AM commented:

The way I understand this works is that I have to do a lot of research because pherhaps is hundreds of different scholarships. In my particular case my son Vic is a US citizen, my wife and I were born in Peru. I do hope this journey will land us in the righ direction. Thanks for the App.

nate s  on  7/16/2015 4:13:18 PM commented:

Great read!!!Definitely food for thought! I believe no matter the race, everyone's mind is capable of achieving great things. Race should never play a card in anything. However I think gender should for the fact that women excel at things that males dont and vice versa. As an example Aroldis Chapman just threw a 105mph baseball for the fastest male pitch. Lauren Boden threw 69mph for the fastest female pitch..

Jill W.  on  7/16/2015 4:09:20 PM commented:

Having studied psychology and the human brain exclusively for almost 6 years now, I find that gender identity is very much a neurological trait. The brain structure of a man is different than that of a woman, and with brain imaging tools such as MRI, we are able to see that the brain of a transgendered person is opposite of their physical and biological makeup. For example, a transgendered man would indeed have the brain structure of a woman's, though the rest of the body did not follow. With that being said, and yes I'll get to the point, race has not been considered to participate in these findings. Believing you are a different race does not reflect in any way in neurological structure, therefor making this identity a purely psychological one. Now here is where my opinion comes into play...with all of that said, I don't believe that those identifying as "transracial" merit a minority-based scholarship. The reason being is that these scholarships are directed towards the underprivileged, while subtly saying that the majority race is consistently benefitted enough to be exempt from these special scholarships. In my opinion, it is unfair to call yourself African American or Mexican or Haitian or what-have-you, then reap the educational benefits that may be presented to you for that specific reasoning.

James C  on  7/16/2015 9:22:05 AM commented:

I don't think a scholarship should ever be tied to race. We live in a progressive society that refuses to advance. Stop looking in the rear view mirror and look out the windshield.

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