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While completing my college applications, I was faced with a question: should I check the Hispanic box? This identity, which I hadn’t identified with for the past 17 years, all of a sudden gave me an advantage over my peers.
I’m half-white and half-Hispanic but all of my life I’ve only identified as white. This wasn’t by choice, I was just never around my Hispanic side to embrace it.
Since moving to a more diverse high school, where being mixed is cool, I now enjoy my full identity and its advantages.
By choosing to identify as Hispanic on college applications, I qualified for affirmative action and opened myself up to countless scholarships.
Being white-passing, but on paper identifying as Hispanic feels like I’m cheating the system. The adults in my life didn’t help. College counselors and teachers urged me to check the Hispanic box. “It’ll only help with admissions,” they said. They encouraged me to apply for Hispanic scholarships.
In the end, I identified as both White and Hispanic on my applications because that’s what I am. I decided no checked box authenticates my identity, that’s up to me.