Finding Octave by Nick Douglas is a courageous and painstaking book that blends genealogy, historical analysis, and personal introspection into an important work. It will be useful to genealogists, fascinating to history buffs and, with any luck, informative to the great majority of Americans, Black and otherwise, who were never taught the history of “race” in the United States,
Archive for the ‘The One-Drop Rule’ Category
Uncovers the earliest hints that Americans around the 1830?s Ohio River Valley were starting to adopt an ideological rather than a biological concept of “racial” classification. This session traces the first emergence of this myth. This is session C15 of a series of topics on the emergence and triumph of the one-drop rule in U.S. history, discussed in lectures on “The Study of Racialism.”
G. Reginald Daniel, More than Black?: Multiracial Identity and the New Racial Order (Philadelphia: Temple University, 2002). Endnotes. Index. Pp. xviii, 258. Cloth $69.50. Paper $22.95. — Book reviewed by Frank W. Sweet. This book review was originally published in Interracial Voice magazine in 2002.
Let me say right off that we at Backintyme Publishing enjoyed the book and recommend it without reservation. But do not be fooled by the misleading marketing blurb (more about this later); One Drop is not a book about a White woman who suddenly discovers that she is “really” Black. It is not about Bliss Broyard’s father. It is not even about her search for her father’s roots among the Louisiana Creoles. The book introspects Ms. Broyard’s feelings about what she found while searching for those roots.
Introduces a series on the history of the one-drop rule: how, when, where, and why this odd myth was invented. Session C14 of a series of contemporary issues topics in The Study of Racialism.
The one-drop rule is the U.S. tradition that someone of utterly European appearance who rejects an African-American self-identity is “really Black,” like it or not, due to having “one drop” of known African ancestry, no matter how ancient. The notion labels such people as merely “passing for White.” Recent examples are New York Times critic Anatole Broyard (a real person) and Anthony Hopkins’s character in the film “The Human Stain” (a fictional character). Such people are involuntarily classified as members of the U.S. Black endogamous group by press and public despite their European appearance and their freely chosen non-Black self-identity.
The Redbones are a triracial ethnic community centered between the Sabine and Calcasiue rivers in western Louisiana. Like the terms “Melungeon,” “Brass Ankle,” and “Jackson White,” the name “Redbone” originated as an ethnic slur spoken by mainstream society, and the label is still considered an insult by many residents of the region. This report covers the third annual Redbones Heritage Foundation conference, held in Lake Charles, Louisiana, from October 18 through October 20, 2007. It is divided into three sections: continuity and change, interesting presentations, and memorable moments.
U.S. racialism is dichotomous. You are legally either White or Black with no in-between. But real people are culturally and biologically continuous. Millions of Americans have grandparents of both cultures, and millions more have DNA markers from both Europe and sub-Saharan Africa. How has the U.S. legal system resolved the contradiction in order to decide whether a person of dual heritage is White or Black?
Oral presentation recaps the history of the one-drop rule and shows that it spread nationwide during the Jim Crow era because it kept compassionate White families in line, forcing them to stand idle while African Americans were subjected to 50 years of state-sponsored terrorism. Session C20 is the final lecture of a series of topics on the emergence and triumph of the one-drop rule in U.S. history discussed in lectures on “The Study of Racialism.”
This essay addresses the question, “Why did one-drop triumph at this time and not before nor after?” It suggests a hypothesis in six topics. The One-Drop Rule Punished Entire Families, not Just Individuals shows that, although the court cases dealt with individuals, entire families were actually punished. The One-Drop Rule was Known to be Irrational presents evidence that one-drop trials were not searches for either factual accuracy or for moral justice. The One-Drop Rule was Wielded Against Whites, not Against Blacks shows that the victims were White. To be sure, some victims may actually have had recent African ancestry, as do one-third of White Americans. But if this made them Black, then it means that one-third of all White Americans were also Black and the question remains—why pick these out? Why Did it Happen surveys the literature for the causes of the Jim Crow wave of terror itself. The One-Drop Rule Kept White Families in Line presents this study’s hypothesis that one-drop was an instance of a well-studied phenomenon of group dynamics involving ideological self-preservation. Other Voices offers an alternative explanation.