Before she created the iconic TV series The Wonder Years, Carol Black wrote a movie script 30 years ago that was prescient. It became 1986’s Soul Man, which told the story of a white kid who artificially darkened his skin to appear black enough to qualify for a minority scholarship at Harvard Law. The plot predicted that when membership in a favored race has a high value, people will lie to gain membership. And it’s happening now. According to a survey of 1,250 white college applicants aged 16 and older published by Intelligent.com, 34% falsely claimed they were a racial minority.
The number one reason why they faked minority status was to improve their chances of getting accepted. And it largely worked: 77% of those who made false race claims were accepted by the colleges to which they lied. As the survey said, “[W]hile other factors may have played a role in their acceptance, the majority of applicants who lied and were accepted (85%) believe that falsifying their racial minority status helped them secure admission to college.”
I’m a Soul Man…
In Soul Man, C. Thomas Howell’s character already had his acceptance letter in hand when he falsified his race. The deception was to help him qualify for financial aid options that discriminated against whites. Such set-asides have only proliferated since then, and 50% of survey participants who lied said they wanted to benefit from financial aid that excluded whites. People respond to incentives, and as the value of being a member of a preferred race increases, the willingness to commit fraud does as well.
Other interesting data points from the survey:
- 13% percent claimed to be Latino, 10% claimed to be black, and 9% claimed to be Asian or Pacific Islander.
- Twice as many men as women asserted Native American heritage, 54% compared to 24%.
- 24% of women identified themselves as Latino. Women were also more than twice as likely as men to pretend to be black, 18% compared to 8%.
The most interesting statistic may be how much the fakers favored the indigenous population. “Nearly half of all respondents who lied about their minority status (48%) identified themselves as Native American on their applications.” Perhaps they were inspired by the Caucasian junior senator from Massachusetts, Democrat Elizabeth Warren. She infamously lied about her ancestry, claiming Cherokee lineage, and listed her race as “American Indian” on a Texas lawyer registration form. Questions about Warren’s heritage started in 2012, posed by her then-opponent Scott Brown. It would be fascinating to track whether fake race applicants have increased since then and which races have been favored.
Straight A’s and Perfect SAT’s
It is clear that people are willing to lie about something if it gives them a great advantage. That is nothing new. What’s new is how advantageous it is to have minority status in higher education, and no other qualification can be fabricated so easily. Would applicants lie about their SAT scores if they could be, like race, self-reported on college applications?
Security suggests only one viable course of action here: strict race testing and classification of all students. DNA samples could be submitted to a single college testing service, and schools could fight over the authenticated “minorities” and the ones currently in the highest favor. Or high schools could collect every pupil’s DNA, so they could provide prospective colleges an academic transcript, a racial one, and significant biological and cultural statistics. A dream come true for any college admissions counselor or eugenicist.
~ Read more from Scott D. Cosenza.