From The Grio — Last week, Harvard University made news when the Harvard Gazette newspaper reported that 11.8 percent of its incoming class of 2015 will be black students. There was rejoicing as this appeared to be a clear sign that African-American students were gaining access to a top university, and it appears to be a record amount of black admissions. Even The Guardian newspaper in the UK lauded the increased diversity, noting in contrast that England’s renowned Oxford University had recently come under fire from Prime Minister David Cameron for its lack of black students.

And while Harvard should rightfully be lauded for increasing its diversity, numbers were up for Latino and Asian students also, what no one talks about are the new federal regulations that instruct schools on how to report, or not report, race and nationality.

According to the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, the number of black students at top U.S. schools are rising. Columbia University has doubled its percentage of black students from 6 percent to 12 percent in only one year. Ten percent of Stanford students are identified as black, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), an institution that has struggled to admit blacks, has seen a rise to over 9 percent of new black students. But like all things, the devil is in the details.

“This year the federal government has changed the rules for how schools count and report ethnicity. In the past, if a student self-identified as both African-American and white, or both African-American and Hispanic, the student would be counted as African-American,” said Jeff Brenzel, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions at Yale University.

“Now the federal government has changed the definitions so that any student reporting multiple races must be reported separately under the “two or more races” category — one that has not been used in the past. Also, if an individual reports himself or herself as Hispanic, this category now “trumps” all other categories. So statistics going forward will be very difficult to compare apples to apples to statistics from the past. We are working on a way now to make a separate public report that would provide an indication of how many students total self-identify as African-American as at least one ethnicity.”

These new regulations serve to either tamp down the amount of black students, or can artificially prop up the numbers of other ethnicities. So a Dominican or Brazilian with dark skin can check “Hispanic” and she’ll not be counted as a black student. The irony is that the multicultural inclusiveness that is desired by colleges and universities, and African-Americans advocating for more inclusion in colleges and universities, is the same thing that can distort the numbers for black students.

And this isn’t the only area where there’s controversy. There’s also competition with the black community for spots in colleges. With increased immigration from African and the Caribbean, you now have Nigerians, Ghanaians, Jamaicans, and other nationalities all competing with native born African Americans. And colleges and universities, for the most part, aren’t reporting on the numbers.

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  • missyjustice

    I don’t get it. so you’re saying black people living in america of latino descent are not african american. i was born and raised her but my parents weren’t. i’m black so i consider myself to be african american. and latino/hispanic is not a race.

    • Tomi-chan

      I consider myself African-American because I am actually Nigerian and American.
      Race is different than ethnicity, and that is all I will say about that.


  • Mrs. Sweet Daddy Williams

    If a person comes from one black and one white parent they are both black and white. They should be in their own group as it is now made. The only time you see one race putting is in line ups and or private forms that dont bother. They do not put a person is biracial if they are biracial they are lazy to call them black. But having one white and one black parent does not make you an exclusive group you are still black. You apart of a group with some history. So not to be disenfranchized that has to be noted. This does not mean that you are not as equally as much white.

    No one really makes a big deal out of this stuff anymore anyway. As long as their are black men their will be black offspring be it black or black biracial. I have seen where those yellow colored biracial black man have a baby with a blonde white woman and they have twins and one comes out one color and the other comes out another color. Black biracial people are their own group it would take thousands of years before they morphed into something else. Look at Halle and her daughter she professes their blackness going by what she feels they look like and what people percieved them. But, look what her daughter technically is supposed to be? Even more so white than black. A black person and a biracial black person could have kids come out looking nearly white from that hundred year old slave master and that biracial person and can come out looking a certain way and they would be technically black. This stuff is no big deal really there is no analyzing it.

    • ksk

      they are their own group from a combo of races. That is not mutually exclusive with be a whole new race but a hybrid race. Black genes are strong those black daddies are sprouting black and biracial kids everywhere! It is really ridiculous to see black biracial people as anything but that. Genes work funny in that way. I once saw a white woman with blonde hair with a black man that was yellowish in complexion and they had a daughter that was chocolate skinned and I do mean chocolate and had red hair. The little girl look just like her father.

      I usually never ever stare at people but I couldnt help to take a couple of glances. THe mother knew why I took a double take and she kept looking away. I thought what they heck is this (to myself)?

  • einstein

    I know this lady that is black and her husband is trini indian they have two sons. The two sons look totally indian they are extremely smart and the father is gearing to up to be some kind of rocket scientist (lol) i just know it. it would be ridiculous for them to be seen as one particular group. The children seem to only percieve themselves as indian. Which is ironic I knew one that profess she was both and she looked all indian.She would get mad when someone asked her anything about her race.There are quite a few little nicki minaj’s running around with multiple personalities. But, nicki is obviously black and is percieved as such even if she is indian too. You cant just make biracial people into another entity. No one really makes a big deal out of this except people who are not with the times.