N-word in diversity statment

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CoolHouse

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N-word in diversity statment

Postby CoolHouse » Mon Aug 12, 2019 10:11 pm

I am thinking about including the n-word in my diversity statement. It will be used to showcase the racial abuse that I faced from individuals as a child. Would you guys advise against it? Why/why not?

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Re: N-word in diversity statment

Postby LSATWiz.com » Tue Aug 13, 2019 7:53 am

No. It reminds me of when people use the f word in college because they think it makes them courageous and interesting.

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Re: N-word in diversity statment

Postby nixy » Tue Aug 13, 2019 8:08 am

Personally, the only people I saw use "fuck" in college because they thought it made them courageous/interesting were profs.

That said, the only argument I can see for using the n-word would be if you were directly quoting something someone else said, and even then I'd probably write n----- rather than use the actual word. I think you could certainly write a compelling and effective DS about your own experiences with the word (if that's the direction you're taking), and I can see an argument for not whitewashing and using the actual word, but I would still err on the side of caution in terms of writing it out.

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Re: N-word in diversity statment

Postby mt2165 » Tue Aug 13, 2019 9:02 am

AA here. If it's a direct quote to showcase your experiences, I think it's fine. Almost any other use is patently not ok. That said, if there's another way to demonstrate, that way will almost certainly be in average less risky than actually using the word. At the end of the day I don't think it'll be a huge deal with today's adcomms. If the use of that word in this context turns off an admissions officer and they deny you acceptance you'd otherwise get becauuse it makes them uncomfortable, that would really speak to the shitiness of admissions. Granted it may also make a difference at say rural regional law school vs UPenn so use your discretion.

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Re: N-word in diversity statment

Postby Halp » Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:27 am

Personally, I doubt there is an upside to spelling it out rather than redacting it or describing it (or at least I think the upside in narrative integrity is minimal for this audience) and there’s potentially a downside if you get an admissions person who just gets rubbed the wrong way. Put another way, I highly doubt spelling it out will render the statement more compelling to adcomms, and may offend some. (Certainly I think it shouldn’t, but that doesn’t mean it won’t.). And I’m not sure I agree that it offending an adcomm means the school sucks. Law is a conservative profession that often punishes risk taking and speaking out, because courts and clients often take umbrage to silly stuff. Sometimes, law schools are too. But I doubt it correlates to employment outcomes.

To;dr: The risk/reward doesn’t make sense to me here. Seems to be all downside. But I’m very risk averse.

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Re: N-word in diversity statment

Postby nixy » Tue Aug 13, 2019 12:00 pm

I get the above, but law (at least litigation) is also very big on exact quotes. Plenty of filings/trials will include all kinds of profane language if it’s a quote that’s relevant.

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Re: N-word in diversity statment

Postby QContinuum » Tue Aug 13, 2019 12:27 pm

nixy wrote:I get the above, but law (at least litigation) is also very big on exact quotes. Plenty of filings/trials will include all kinds of profane language if it’s a quote that’s relevant.

If it's an exact quote, I think including it is fine. If it's anything other than an exact quote in quotation marks, then I would not recommend spelling it out, for the reasons Halp gave above.

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Re: N-word in diversity statment

Postby Halp » Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:15 pm

nixy wrote:I get the above, but law (at least litigation) is also very big on exact quotes. Plenty of filings/trials will include all kinds of profane language if it’s a quote that’s relevant.


Yeah, but every legal opinion I’ve seen thus far to mention the N word does not use the actual word... (yes I’m sure someone can find opinions out there that do, but I don’t think you need to quote exact slurs for 99.9% of litigation involving slurs unless it’s like a trademarked slur ).

Edit: Because I apparently cannot type

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Re: N-word in diversity statment

Postby nixy » Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:31 pm

That’s fair. I’ve mostly seen it in evidence offered at trial.

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Re: N-word in diversity statment

Postby mjb447 » Tue Aug 13, 2019 3:13 pm

I've seen it with some frequency in opinions where racial motivation or animus was at issue, usually in response to an argument of "I might be a jerk (or our working environment might be horrible) but it's not a racial thing." Some judges censor it in some way, but others leave it in verbatim.

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Re: N-word in diversity statment

Postby Halp » Tue Aug 13, 2019 3:53 pm

I’m sure some opinions use it. And I also agree that it’s probably “fine” to use it if it’s a direct quote. I just don’t see that there’s an *upside* to OP using it, other than s/he prefers to keep it in rather than censor it.

While that’s obviously a valid feeling, I personally don’t think it’s super rational for most applicants to use personal statements in any way other than attempting to maximize chances at admissions and scholarships. I don’t think putting it in has any realistic shot of advancing that goal, while partial redaction may have some marginal value on that point (because you might avoid offending someone and getting dinged. As to how likely that is, it’s anyone's guess).

But other people have different values than I do, and to the extent people value personal statements for their self-expressive value and not from a solely pragmatic POV, that’s a valid choice.

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Re: N-word in diversity statment

Postby LSATWiz.com » Tue Aug 13, 2019 4:26 pm

I'd add this is the kind of thing that only ever works if you're an objectively good writer.

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Re: N-word in diversity statment

Postby Bingo_Bongo » Wed Aug 14, 2019 4:11 am

I think this is the time to be risk-adverse and just avoid it (even if it's a quote).

An excellent personal statement rarely, if ever, results in an admission that would not have happened but-for the personal statement. A bad personal statement, however, can easily result in denial because of it. In short, the personal statement can really only serve to hurt you.

I just don't think it's worth the risk. And knowing the type of people who will be reading these things, I don't think anyone is going to be saying "Wow, that was really bold."

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Re: N-word in diversity statment

Postby Sls17 » Wed Aug 14, 2019 5:42 pm

Please do not do this without redacting. A human being is going to read your statement. It is a word with enough weight that you could really upset someone. In addition to not being in your best interests, I don’t think it’s a compassionate choice.

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Re: N-word in diversity statment

Postby cavalier1138 » Fri Aug 16, 2019 7:49 am

Sls17 wrote:Please do not do this without redacting. A human being is going to read your statement. It is a word with enough weight that you could really upset someone. In addition to not being in your best interests, I don’t think it’s a compassionate choice.


I really strongly disagree with this line of reasoning. The OP is also a human being and is presumably much more aware of the weight that word carried for them in that moment than anyone else could be. I understand that we want to protect (white) adcomms from having to think too hard about what racism really looks like, but I think telling someone that they need to censor their own experience in order to show "compassion" is a little much.

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Re: N-word in diversity statment

Postby nixy » Fri Aug 16, 2019 8:25 am

cavalier1138 wrote:
Sls17 wrote:Please do not do this without redacting. A human being is going to read your statement. It is a word with enough weight that you could really upset someone. In addition to not being in your best interests, I don’t think it’s a compassionate choice.


I really strongly disagree with this line of reasoning. The OP is also a human being and is presumably much more aware of the weight that word carried for them in that moment than anyone else could be. I understand that we want to protect (white) adcomms from having to think too hard about what racism really looks like, but I think telling someone that they need to censor their own experience in order to show "compassion" is a little much.

I presume Sls17 was considering the possibility of an African American adcomm having to read it.

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Re: N-word in diversity statment

Postby Sls17 » Fri Aug 16, 2019 11:35 am

nixy wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:
Sls17 wrote:Please do not do this without redacting. A human being is going to read your statement. It is a word with enough weight that you could really upset someone. In addition to not being in your best interests, I don’t think it’s a compassionate choice.


I really strongly disagree with this line of reasoning. The OP is also a human being and is presumably much more aware of the weight that word carried for them in that moment than anyone else could be. I understand that we want to protect (white) adcomms from having to think too hard about what racism really looks like, but I think telling someone that they need to censor their own experience in order to show "compassion" is a little much.

I presume Sls17 was considering the possibility of an African American adcomm having to read it.


That is definitely what I was considering. And maybe it’s a small-percent chance that the word lands on someone who would really experience hurt to see it, but it seems to me a non-zero chance. Moreover, as discussed above, there is just no benefit. By all means write about racism, but redact the n-word.

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Re: N-word in diversity statment

Postby mt2165 » Sun Aug 18, 2019 7:29 pm

Sls17 wrote:
nixy wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:
Sls17 wrote:Please do not do this without redacting. A human being is going to read your statement. It is a word with enough weight that you could really upset someone. In addition to not being in your best interests, I don’t think it’s a compassionate choice.


I really strongly disagree with this line of reasoning. The OP is also a human being and is presumably much more aware of the weight that word carried for them in that moment than anyone else could be. I understand that we want to protect (white) adcomms from having to think too hard about what racism really looks like, but I think telling someone that they need to censor their own experience in order to show "compassion" is a little much.

I presume Sls17 was considering the possibility of an African American adcomm having to read it.


That is definitely what I was considering. And maybe it’s a small-percent chance that the word lands on someone who would really experience hurt to see it, but it seems to me a non-zero chance. Moreover, as discussed above, there is just no benefit. By all means write about racism, but redact the n-word.


This is a still a strange way to think about it. If I was a black adcom (I'm AA) and read this I, and I think most, would empathize and not be offended/hurt/turned off by the PS. Yeah it's hard to read but life is a bitch and spelling out the word conveys its meaning in all its hateful glory. I could even see spelling it out being seen as more courageous. I think it's sad that we're advising an AA not to spell out the n word in a PS because we're afraid of how a presumably non-black reader will respond. THAT ALL SAID, it's probably still riskier than redacting as you still don't know how a random adcom is going to react. I think you're defensible either way but leaning towards risk adversion as my rec.

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Re: N-word in diversity statment

Postby LSATWiz.com » Sun Aug 18, 2019 7:38 pm

mt2165 wrote:
Sls17 wrote:
nixy wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:
Sls17 wrote:Please do not do this without redacting. A human being is going to read your statement. It is a word with enough weight that you could really upset someone. In addition to not being in your best interests, I don’t think it’s a compassionate choice.


I really strongly disagree with this line of reasoning. The OP is also a human being and is presumably much more aware of the weight that word carried for them in that moment than anyone else could be. I understand that we want to protect (white) adcomms from having to think too hard about what racism really looks like, but I think telling someone that they need to censor their own experience in order to show "compassion" is a little much.

I presume Sls17 was considering the possibility of an African American adcomm having to read it.


That is definitely what I was considering. And maybe it’s a small-percent chance that the word lands on someone who would really experience hurt to see it, but it seems to me a non-zero chance. Moreover, as discussed above, there is just no benefit. By all means write about racism, but redact the n-word.


This is a still a strange way to think about it. If I was a black adcom (I'm AA) and read this I, and I think most, would empathize and not be offended/hurt/turned off by the PS. Yeah it's hard to read but life is a bitch and spelling out the word conveys its meaning in all its hateful glory. I could even see spelling it out being seen as more courageous. I think it's sad that we're advising an AA not to spell out the n word in a PS because we're afraid of how a presumably non-black reader will respond. THAT ALL SAID, it's probably still riskier than redacting as you still don't know how a random adcom is going to react. I think you're defensible either way but leaning towards risk adversion as my rec.

Yeah, I agree. I don't think people would be offended based on context, but you risk coming across as trying to be risque for the sake of being risque, which nobody likes and also having others question your judgment. I just don't see a circumstance where your PS is better because of your use of N word, and can see circumstances where it's worse. For what it's worth, it necessitates you being an exceptional writer. It's not a perfect example, but Quentin Tarantino movies only get by with featuring the word as frequently as they do because Quentin Tarantino is an exceptional writer. If another writer were composing the dialogue, it wouldn't work.



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