May 01, 2012

Did Warren check "Native" to get job?

Former Native American senator reacts to Elizabeth Warren’s minority claim

By Alex PappasIt would not have been “appropriate” for Massachusetts Senate hopeful Elizabeth Warren to claim to be an American Indian minority if she did so solely to get a professional advantage, says a former U.S. senator who was once the only Native American in Congress.

“I think if she used it just to get some kind of advantage—whatever it was—like a job application or something, then that’s probably not appropriate,” former Colorado Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell told The Daily Caller in an interview on Tuesday.

“If you have nothing to do with Indians at all—never—except to try to get some unfair advantage, then I think there’s an ethical question in that,” Campbell said. “I don’t know if Mrs. Warren did that or not. Maybe not.”

Warren has denied this is the reason she described herself as a Native American minority in professional law school directories during the 1980s and ’90s. She doesn’t openly refer to herself that way anymore.
Is Elizabeth Warren a Native American?

Joel AchenbachThe Boston stories raise the question of whether Warren passed herself off as something she wasn’t—whether, in some fashion, she gamed the system.

You could argue that we’re all too race-conscious to begin with. That’s a different discussion. Academia takes race into account in admissions and hiring. That’s the reality.

It so happens we’ve discussed this a lot in my household in recent years, as my girls have applied for college. They have, according to family lore, Native American ancestry. This goes back to the 1800s, when my mother’s forebears were pioneers on the frontier in the upper midwest. Supposedly we have Potawatami kin. But it’s sketchy. We’ve never documented it. (My Mom looks a little bit Indian. Maybe more than a little bit. And I once walked into the Hawk & Dove and a Native American man instantly asked: Are you Indian?)

Could my kids have tried to pass themselves off as Native American? Maybe, but it would’ve been wrong, a gaming of the system in hopes of getting a marginal advantage they didn’t need to begin with (they got into great schools—one is at Oberlin, another at Michigan—the upper midwest!). They’re white, and belong to a sprawling tribe of affluent kids in Northwest Washington and have had every advantage in the world except perhaps being forced to wait for the bus when Dad won’t give them a ride somewhere.
A couple of comments on Achenbach's blog sum up the argument so far:Commenter campbell373 has posted Elizabeth Warren’s CV, and writes, “I count 16 competitive grants, 11 books (not counting the teaching manuals), too many articles to count (over 3 pages worth), 20 awards or honors, and 5 awards for great teaching. See any gaming the system here? There’s no need to game anything with this record of accomplishment. Any university would hire her.”

tomtildrum responds: “The argument isn’t that her CV is deficient; it’s that claiming NA status got her the initial foot in the door that made those CV accomplishments possible.”

[Well...except there’s no evidence of that. No one has said this made any difference at all. To be continued...]
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Warren Documents Cherokee Ancestor and Warren Column Uses Native Stereotypes.

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