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An interesting topic that I have not seen on this board. It's bound to generate heated discussions!!!



F. James Davis is a retired professor of sociology at Illinois State University. He is the author of numerous books, including Who is Black? One Nation's Definition (1991), from which this excerpt was taken.
Reprinted with permission of Penn State University Press


To be considered black in the United States not even half of one's ancestry must be African black. But will one-fourth do, or one-eighth, or less? The nation's answer to the question 'Who is black?" has long been that a black is any person with any known African black ancestry. This definition reflects the long experience with slavery and later with Jim Crow segregation. In the South it became known as the "one-drop rule,'' meaning that a single drop of "black blood" makes a person a black. It is also known as the "one black ancestor rule," some courts have called it the "traceable amount rule," and anthropologists call it the "hypo-descent rule," meaning that racially mixed persons are assigned the status of the subordinate group. This definition emerged from the American South to become the nation's definition, generally accepted by whites and blacks. Blacks had no other choice. As we shall see, this American cultural definition of blacks is taken for granted as readily by judges, affirmative action officers, and black protesters as it is by Ku Klux Klansmen.

Let us not he confused by terminology. At present the usual statement of the one-drop rule is in terms of "black blood" or black ancestry, while not so long ago it referred to "Negro blood" or ancestry. The term "black" rapidly replaced "Negro" in general usage in the United States as the black power movement peaked at the end of the 1960s, but the black and Negro populations are the same. The term "black" is used in this book for persons with any black African lineage, not just for unmixed members of populations from sub-Saharan Africa. The term "Negro," which is used in certain historical contexts, means the same thing. Terms such as "African black," "unmixed Negro," and "all black" are used here to refer to unmixed blacks descended from African populations.

We must also pay attention to the terms "mulatto" and "colored." The term "mulatto" was originally used to mean the offspring of a "pure African Negro" and a "pure white." Although the root meaning of mulatto, in Spanish, is "hybrid," "mulatto" came to include the children of unions between whites and so-called "mixed Negroes." For example, Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglass, with slave mothers and white fathers, were referred to as mulattoes. To whatever extent their mothers were part white, these men were more than half white. Douglass was evidently part Indian as well, and he looked it. Washington had reddish hair and gray eyes. At the time of the American Revolution, many of the founding fathers had some very light slaves, including some who appeared to be white. The term "colored" seemed for a time to refer only to mulattoes, especially lighter ones, but later it became a euphemism for darker Negroes, even including unmixed blacks. With widespread racial mixture, "Negro" came to mean any slave or descendant of a slave, no matter how much mixed. Eventually in the United States, the terms mulatto, colored, Negro, black, and African American all came to mean people with any known black African ancestry. Mulattoes are racially mixed, to whatever degree, while the terms black, Negro, African American, and colored include both mulattoes and unmixed blacks. As we shall see, these terms have quite different meanings in other countries.

Whites in the United States need some help envisioning the American black experience with ancestral fractions. At the beginning of miscegenation between two populations presumed to be racially pure, quadroons appear in the second generation of continuing mixing with whites, and octoroons in the third. A quadroon is one-fourth African black and thus easily classed as black in the United States, yet three of this person's four grandparents are white. An octoroon has seven white great-grandparents out of eight and usually looks white or almost so. Most parents of black American children in recent decades have themselves been racially mixed, but often the fractions get complicated because the earlier details of the mixing were obscured generations ago. Like so many white Americans, black people are forced to speculate about some of the fractions-- one-eighth this, three-sixteenths that, and so on....

Not only does the one-drop rule apply to no other group than American blacks, but apparently the rule is unique in that it is found only in the United States and not in any other nation in the world. In fact, definitions of who is black vary quite sharply from country to country, and for this reason people in other countries often express consternation about our definition. James Baldwin relates a revealing incident that occurred in 1956 at the Conference of Negro-African Writers and Artists held in Paris. The head of the delegation of writers and artists from the United States was John Davis. The French chairperson introduced Davis and then asked him why he considered himself Negro, since he certainly did not look like one. Baldwin wrote, "He is a Negro, of course, from the remarkable legal point of view which obtains in the United States, but more importantly, as he tried to make clear to his interlocutor, he was a Negro by choice and by depth of involvement--by experience, in fact."

The phenomenon known as "passing as white" is difficult to explain in other countries or to foreign students. Typical questions are: "Shouldn't Americans say that a person who is passing as white is white, or nearly all white, and has previously been passing as black?" or "To be consistent, shouldn't you say that someone who is one-eighth white is passing as black?" or "Why is there so much concern, since the so-called blacks who pass take so little negroid ancestry with themThose who ask such questions need to realize that "passing" is much more a social phenomenon than a biological one, reflecting the nation's unique definition of what makes a person black. The concept of "passing" rests on the one-drop rule and on folk beliefs about race and miscegenation, not on biological or historical fact.

The black experience with passing as white in the United States contrasts with the experience of other ethnic minorities that have features that are clearly non-caucasoid. The concept of passing applies only to blacks--consistent with the nation's unique definition of the group. A person who is one-fourth or less American Indian or Korean or Filipino is not regarded as passing if he or she intermarries and joins fully the life of the dominant community, so the minority ancestry need not be hidden. It is often suggested that the key reason for this is that the physical differences between these other groups and whites are less pronounced than the physical differences between African blacks and whites, and therefore are less threatening to whites. However, keep in mind that the one-drop rule and anxiety about passing originated during slavery and later received powerful reinforcement under the Jim Crow system.

For the physically visible groups other than blacks, miscegenation promotes assimilation, despite barriers of prejudice and discrimination during two or more generations of racial mixing. As noted above, when ancestry in one of these racial minority groups does not exceed one-fourth, a person is not defined solely as a member of that group. Masses of white European immigrants have climbed the class ladder not only through education but also with the help of close personal relationships in the dominant community, intermarriage, and ultimately full cultural and social assimilation. Young people tend to marry people they meet in the same informal social circles. For visibly non-caucasoid minorities other than blacks in the United States, this entire route to full assimilation is slow but possible.

For all persons of any known black lineage, however, assimilation is blocked and is not promoted by miscegenation. Barriers to full opportunity and participation for blacks are still formidable, and a fractionally black person cannot escape these obstacles without passing as white and cutting off all ties to the black family and community. The pain of this separation, and condemnation by the black family and community, are major reasons why many or most of those who could pass as white choose not to. Loss of security within the minority community, and fear and distrust of the white world are also factors.

It should now be apparent that the definition of a black person as one with any trace at all of black African ancestry is inextricably woven into the history of the United States. It incorporates beliefs once used to justify slavery and later used to buttress the castelike Jim Crow system of segregation. Developed in the South, the definition of "Negro" (now black) spread and became the nation's social and legal definition. Because blacks are defined according to the one-drop rule, they are a socially constructed category in which there is wide variation in racial traits and therefore not a race group in the scientific sense. However, because that category has a definite status position in the society it has become a self-conscious social group with an ethnic identity.

The one-drop rule has long been taken for granted throughout the United States by whites and blacks alike, and the federal courts have taken "judicial notice" of it as being a matter of common knowledge. State courts have generally upheld the one-drop rule, but some have limited the definition to one thirty-second or one-sixteenth or one-eighth black ancestry, or made other limited exceptions for persons with both Indian and black ancestry. Most Americans seem unaware that this definition of blacks is extremely unusual in other countries, perhaps even unique to the United States, and that Americans define no other minority group in a similar way. . . .

We must first distinguish racial traits from cultural traits, since they are so often confused with each other. As defined in physical anthropology and biology, races are categories of human beings based on average differences in physical traits that are transmitted by the genes not by blood. Culture is a shared pattern of behavior and beliefs that are learned and transmitted through social communication. An ethnic group is a group with a sense of cultural identity, such as Czech or Jewish Americans, but it may also be a racially distinctive group. A group that is racially distinctive in society may be an ethnic group as well, but not necessarily. Although racially mixed, most blacks in the United States are physically distinguishable from whites, but they are also an ethnic group because of the distinctive culture they have developed within the general American framework.

There is a web site http://interracialvoice.com/ which deals on isuues like this ans is very interesting.

What are your thoughts?????
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It's a hair thing, plain and simple. If it's naturally straight and wavy, you're in like Flynn. If it's the texture of wool, then it's a fight. The Anglo's full of hypocrisy isn't he? If he considered the African an animal, he didn't have any problem jumping the bones as soon they disembarked from the slave ships. That's why we have ALL the CONFUSION and Mixed Africans now. He's in big-time denial, because we're all related, 80% of them and us. He sold his children as slaves and turned his back. He's a Psychotic Racial Entity and we're all mixed up in this sick ball of confusion called the USA. When the war comes and he needs us, he'll forget about it. If anyone survives, and it's all over, it'll be business as usual and all the racial name-calling will be back in place. Been going on for 400 years. How can ANYONE ever forget???
IndependentMan...

If someone is mixed of African blood AND American Indian blood AND European blood... What are they?!?...

Are they Black, Indian or White?!?...

Or... Must they be "labeled" at all???...

And more importantly... Is it to their advantage to be "labeled" at all???... As in the ODR...

And if the ODR has its roots due to past White folks racism... Why is it that in the year 2002 so many Black folks promote, accept and rely on the ODR???...

Questions... questions... I have many...

just curious...

.

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The Liberal/Progressive mantra: "We are the champions of diversity and opinions... We tolerate all beliefs, all religions, and all customs.......... Unless they disagree with ours!"
quote:
Originally posted by Whoopie:
IndependentMan...

If someone is mixed of African blood AND American Indian blood AND European blood... What are they?!?...

Are they Black, Indian or White?!?...

Or... Must they be "labeled" at all???...

And more importantly... Is it to their _advantage_ to be "labeled" at all???... As in the ODR...

And if the ODR has its roots due to past White folks racism... Why is it that in the year 2002 so many Black folks promote, accept and rely on the ODR???...

Questions... questions... I have many...

just curious...

.

------------------------------
The Liberal/Progressive mantra: "We are the champions of diversity and opinions... We tolerate all beliefs, all religions, and all customs.......... _Unless_ they disagree with ours!"


Whoopie, Excellent questions. I have been reading articles and posts on Interracial Voice and the Multi Racial Activist for about a month now. There is an initiative called the Racial Privacy Initiative that seeks to eliminate designations. I know this will not change the minds and hearts of racists of any shade, but it's a start. I personally do not consider myself an "African American", black is still ok with me. I'd rather just say American.

It amazes me that in the '50's and early '60's the civil rights movement was heading towards the "we are all one". But in the late '60's, the Black Power movement took over and now you see within the Civil Rights groups a left wing separatism, us vs. them mentailty. In the fight to get a multi racial box on the US Census in 2000, the NAACP vehemntly opposed this. They actuall said that if there is a choice for blacks to to re-classify themselves, many will walk out the door. What that says to me is that they want to FORCE people to "stay" and FORCE them to their mode of thinking. This is very Stalinist. It reeks of the Soviet Union having to build walls and such to keep people from leaving.

Whoopie, if you have time, go to Point2Point on Interracial Voive and read some of the posts their as well as the articles. The articles are very well written backed up with historical facts and scientifical facts, not rhetoric or inuendo.

Everyone has their own opinions, and mine has been since I was 4 years old back in the mid 1960's that why do you call someone "black" when they look "white" (like my grandmaother and father). It didn't make sense to me then, and it makes even less sense to me now.

Peace

wink
it really depends on two things in my book.

1- what does the person look like?

in order for others to perceive you as black, you must have a dark skin tone, however slightly dark. or you must have features that appear african in descent (vin deisel anyone?) your phenotype, or the way you look on the outside will effect the way folks respond to you. you could have lots of white blood or otherwise, but if you look black, you are treated as black. that's something tiger woods has yet to figure out but it's a fact nonetheless.

2- how does the person identify?

if you look almost white and you don't claim being black then you are perceived as white (vin deisel anyone?). if you look brown or near so in complexion, have some black ancestry and you claim to be black, then you will be accepted as such.

frankly there are lots of white folks walking around with black blood, but they don't look it and they don't own it. so they're white. there are lots of black folks with white blood, but they don't look it (or may look it) and don't claim it. so they're black.

the concept of race was made up by early colonists. it stand for nothing but the color of your skin. and it's rediculously exaggerated. let's face it, no one is really white except albinos and most blacks in actuality are closer to brown than black. it was made up as a divisive technique. and it worked didn't it?

i think it may be safer to refer to the term "people of color". that covers alot of ground. that pretty much means anyone who doesn't look european in origin. it's simpler than hashing out all of the ethnicities that make an american person. we'd have to go on forever just introducing ourselves. . . .
I'm not as thoroughly read up on the issues as some here. Personally, I think I understand the basics enough to know that this will always be an issue until we are all physically blind.

My Point, based on listening to some of my learned brothers/sisters:
  • When they first started coming over, they bought indentured servants. Black and white. Well, problem was, the white indentured servants could run away and blend in. We stood out like a redneck in the ghetto. Easy to see how this lead to slavery, forget the indentured part. No way we could pass for a non-sservant.
  • White people came from a place with class distinction being an integral part of society. They don't need black people around to develop superiority complexes. If everyone in the world could be blond, blue eyed and still they would find a way to discrimnate. It is unfair of me to pin this trait on white people, because it is a human trait. Look at our own neighborhoods, gang wars. But because of where white people came from, a place with limited natural resources, not enough food for everyone, etc... this is the natural development(read The Climate by Pearl Jr.), so thus I admit, we do the same now.
Taking these to things into consideration: How you look will always matter when it comes to the haves and the have-nots, especially when there is not enough to have. So the eliminatin of race consideration will benefit EVERYONE, but those of us with color or features that you can tell are definitely not white. I.E. skin color, eye shape (asian).

An example: I was interacially married for 13 years. My ex husband is Thai (Thailand, not Taiwan). My last name was a long azz obviously Asian last name. When I was job hunting, I'd talk to them over the phone first and they were excited to meet me. They loved me, that is, until they met me and found out I was a black woman. I got this from white and asian perspective (men) employers. They did not do anything outright right there. But even though I did well on the test and it look like I was a fit, all of sudden, I could not reach them on the phone or did not hear back from them.

Solutions: They only thing I want to do is concentrate on building our communities and not rely on them, need them for anything. Everyone else that seems to immigrate here build a strong foundation, commnities, self regulation. And though we did not immigrate willingly, relying on American justice is not going to ever work, not until we can equally run things.

I'm not saying that this is the only answer or even the right one. My heart speaks from the pain of what I see and learn everyday about how they purposely try to keep us down. We can rise above it, I know it!

La Femme Nkechi
quote:
Consider how hard it is to change yourself & you'll understand what little chance you have of changing others
- Create thyself first!
The history of Black men and women in America has made race a relevant issue. To look at how other societies view one another and deal with one another and compare it to America dealings with the Black man and woman will not prove anything. Most comparative judgments render the result desired by those doing the comparison or there would be no comparison.

The history of America dictates that anyone who is not Black gets better treatment than black folk. This is demonstrated in the treatment of the world's people who have migrated to America. The distinction between the Black man and woman in America and the rest of the world holds true when dealing with our Brothers and Sisters from the Islands and from any country in Africa. Yet, it was our struggle for freedom, justice and equality that made it possible for most people to come here and be treated fairly. Who is Black and who is not may not be relevant in many other parts of the world but it is, and will be relevant in America for as long as there is an America.

There has always been a perceived benefit for not identifying oneself as Black. While there is no question who is White there always seem to be a question who is Black. Do not be fooled by those who wish not to be classified as a Black man or woman. Who would want to be identified with a people with a history like the one we have in America. The refusal to be identified as a Black man or woman from America as stated earlier has infected the minds of Black men and Women from other parts of the earth.

While today in America and around the world you have "culture bandits" and people whom take on the characteristics primarily held by Black folk. They all realize they are not us but they love the perverted culture we have developed in America. When a Black person chooses not to identify himself or herself as Black in most cases it is to not identify with those things commonly associated with being Black in America i.e.. Slavery, Speaking slang, Ebonics, listening to rap music, being a militant, Benefiting from affirmative action and having what white folk refer to as a Victim attitude. While the rest of the world continue to imitate us in art, style of dress, music and speech they have the benefit of not being in Black skin. We can look at their imitation as the highest form of admiration but we know they don't want to be us; they want to be anti-establishment, which is imbedded in our culture hence "culture bandits".

The NAACP and other Black organizations refusal to support the check box for "Mixed" people are strictly political. It does not have anything to do with the "one drop rule" or any other historical ways of judging who is Black and who is not Black.

The Black man and woman in America is not as monolithic as we once were as demonstrated on this board. We have become a people divided along religious, political, and ideological lines. Assimilation has been the enemy of the Black man and woman and still is the enemy of the Black man and woman. When assimilation happens the dominant culture takes over and those who are not part of the dominant culture become part of the dominant culture. Assimilation by choice or by force is unnatural. The individuality of the Black man and woman in America must press on until there is No America.
The source of the continued divide in America can be traced to the continued refusal of America to do right by the Black man and woman. When America truly atones for their past and current evils only then will the healing process begin for us all. Until then people like myself will always be a thorn in the side of America and those who identify as Americans.

The objective of the interacialvoice web site is not to help the cause of the Black man and woman in America, it is to show how those who are hybrids are not Black and should not have to identify themselves as Black. In their effort to not offend Black folk they have to say they are not white either. However, the reason the issue of being mixed have become an issue is not based on mixed individual not wanting to be identified as white, it is their refusal to be identified as Black in America and having all those things that are part of that attached to who they are.

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By all standards, some creatures are just plain strange, making us do double takes because their compositions or habits or appearances defy our sense of logic and our way of viewing reality. Take the wildebeest, the warthog, the hyena, the brown pelican, the Shar-Pei. These animals, seemingly wrought by committee, make us laugh or shake our heads. Another such creature, of the human kind -- and perhaps the strangest of all -- is the black Republican. "

Bill Maxwell

More to come later!

Your Brother Faheem
Faheem:
"There has always been a perceived benefit for not identifying oneself as Black. While there is no question who is White there always seem to be a question who is Black. Do not be fooled by those who wish not to be classified as a Black man or woman. Who would want to be identified with a people with a history like the one we have in America. The refusal to be identified as a Black man or woman from America as stated earlier has infected the minds of Black men and Women from other parts of the earth."


Faheem....

First: Putting aside all of your rhetoric and discourse.... You haven't answered IndependentMan's original question...

And that is WHO IS BLACK... ie... What determines a person being Black as apposed to being White, Red, Yellow ect...

Second: Now a days it is BENEFICIAL for a Black individual to "classify" or call themselves "Black"... This is where that racial ODR, brought about by those nasty White folks, becomes an advantage for Black folks... ie. Affirmative Action, Minority Set Asides, Quotas ect...

Soooooo... It is more advantageous, in the U.S., to be labeled "Black" than to deny being Black...

Those that choose to think on their own, act on their own, be themselves, earn it themselves, become Their Own Man... have an Independent attitude, and hate being pigeon holed (forced) into a category... They are usually called "Uncle Toms"...

My 2 pennies worth...

.

------------------------------
The Liberal/Progressive mantra: "We are the champions of diversity and opinions... We tolerate all beliefs, all religions, and all customs.......... Unless they disagree with ours!"
quote:
Originally posted by Whoopie:

Now a days it is BENEFICIAL for a Black individual to "classify" or call themselves "Black"... This is where that racial ODR, brought about by those nasty White folks, becomes an advantage for Black folks... ie. Affirmative Action, Minority Set Asides, Quotas ect...



Do you know what a "set aside" really is Whoopie? Because we live in a nation where, left to their own free will, most white males will break the law and hire or do business based upon race and sex (selecting only people exactly like them), our sometimes bizarre society has created a law to try to offset their apparent inability to do the right thing! (Instead of treating the aberrant/illegal behavior, we create laws to compensate for it? What kind of twisted logic is that? confused ) So where naturally there would be no one other than white males in jobs, schools etc., a "set aside" has been created to offer some small portion of the total opportunity to white women, the disabled, and other racial minorities so they can have something. So instead of having 100%, white males are forced to give up a few percent here and there. Terrible ain't it? mad

quote:
Those that choose to think on their own, act on their own, be themselves, earn it themselves, become Their Own Man... have an Independent attitude, and hate being pigeon holed (forced) into a category... They are usually called "Uncle Toms"...


roll eyes We missed you Whoop! With all due respect, your characterization, description, and use of the phrase "Uncle Tom" here is not only extraordinarily off-base, it is offensive as well.



Onward and Upward!
MBM...

Please check your private mail...


MBM: "With all due respect, your characterization, description, and use of the phrase "Uncle Tom" here is not only extraordinarily off-base, it is offensive as well."

I disagree...

And if it is offensive coming from me, imagine how it must be felt coming from a so-called "brotha"... How much more hurt can there be...

.

------------------------------
The Liberal/Progressive mantra: "We are the champions of diversity and opinions... We tolerate all beliefs, all religions, and all customs.......... Unless they disagree with ours!"
eek whoopie eek

you have got to be kidding me!!!! it's more advantageous to be considered black? in a white male dominated society?

sheesh.

i'm not even going to get into it again. i'm tired of explaining to white folks who don't understand, nay, who refuse to even try to understand.

so fine, have it your way:

that's right, we black folks have it waaay better than white people! behold our wrath as we take your jobs, your wealth, and your women!!!!
I was in a daze, in shock reading this, and shout that I am black, for how can I look at my white skin and say anything else?

quote:
Originally posted by IndependentMan:
An interesting topic that I have not seen on this board. It's bound to generate heated discussions!!!



F. James Davis is a retired professor of sociology at Illinois State University. He is the author of numerous books, including Who is Black? One Nation's Definition (1991), from which this excerpt was taken.
Reprinted with permission of Penn State University Press


To be considered black in the United States not even half of one's ancestry must be African black. But will one-fourth do, or one-eighth, or less? The nation's answer to the question 'Who is black?" has long been that a black is any person with any known African black ancestry. This definition reflects the long experience with slavery and later with Jim Crow segregation. In the South it became known as the "one-drop rule,'' meaning that a single drop of "black blood" makes a person a black. It is also known as the "one black ancestor rule," some courts have called it the "traceable amount rule," and _anthropologists call it the "hypo-descent rule," meaning that racially mixed persons are assigned the status of the subordinate group. _This definition emerged from the American South to become the nation's definition, generally accepted by whites and blacks. Blacks had no other choice. _As we shall see, this American cultural definition of blacks is taken for granted as readily by judges, affirmative action officers, and black protesters as it is by Ku Klux Klansmen._

Let us not he confused by terminology. At present the usual statement of the one-drop rule is in terms of "black blood" or black ancestry, while not so long ago it referred to "Negro blood" or ancestry. The term "black" rapidly replaced "Negro" in general usage in the United States as the black power movement peaked at the end of the 1960s, but the black and Negro populations are the same. The term "black" is used in this book for persons with any black African lineage, not just for unmixed members of populations from sub-Saharan Africa. The term "Negro," which is used in certain historical contexts, means the same thing. Terms such as "African black," "unmixed Negro," and "all black" are used here to refer to unmixed blacks descended from African populations.

_We must also pay attention to the terms "mulatto" and "colored." The term "mulatto" was originally used to mean the offspring of a "pure African Negro" and a "pure white." _Although the root meaning of mulatto, in Spanish, is "hybrid," "mulatto" came to include the children of unions between whites and so-called "mixed Negroes." _For example, Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglass, with slave mothers and white fathers, were referred to as mulattoes. To whatever extent their mothers were part white, these men were more than half white. Douglass was evidently part Indian as well, and he looked it. Washington had reddish hair and gray eyes. At the time of the American Revolution, many of the founding fathers had some very light slaves, including some who appeared to be white. The term "colored" seemed for a time to refer only to mulattoes, especially lighter ones, but later it became a euphemism for darker Negroes, even including unmixed blacks. With widespread racial mixture, "Negro" came to mean any slave or descendant of a slave, no matter how much mixed. Eventually in the United States, the terms mulatto, colored, Negro, black, and African American all came to mean people with any known black African ancestry. Mulattoes are racially mixed, to whatever degree, while the terms black, Negro, African American, and colored include both mulattoes and unmixed blacks. As we shall see, these terms have quite different meanings in other countries._

Whites in the United States need some help envisioning the American black experience with ancestral fractions. At the beginning of miscegenation between two populations presumed to be racially pure, quadroons appear in the second generation of continuing mixing with whites, and octoroons in the third._ A quadroon is one-fourth African black and thus easily classed as black in the United States, yet three of this person's four grandparents are white. An octoroon has seven white great-grandparents out of eight and usually looks white or almost so. Most parents of black American children in recent decades have themselves been racially mixed, but often the fractions get complicated because the earlier details of the mixing were obscured generations ago. Like so many white Americans, black people are forced to speculate about some of the fractions-- one-eighth this, three-sixteenths that, and so on.... _

_Not only does the one-drop rule apply to no other group than American blacks, but apparently the rule is unique in that it is found only in the United States and not in any other nation in the world. In fact, definitions of who is black vary quite sharply from country to country, and for this reason people in other countries often express consternation about our definition. James Baldwin relates a revealing incident that occurred in 1956 at the Conference of Negro-African Writers and Artists held in Paris. The head of the delegation of writers and artists from the United States was John Davis. The French chairperson introduced Davis and then asked him why he considered himself Negro, since he certainly did not look like one. Baldwin wrote, "He is a Negro, of course, from the remarkable legal point of view which obtains in the United States, but more importantly, as he tried to make clear to his interlocutor, he was a Negro by choice and by depth of involvement--by experience, in fact."_

The phenomenon known as "passing as white" is difficult to explain in other countries or to foreign students. _Typical questions are: "Shouldn't Americans say that a person who is passing as white is white, or nearly all white, and has previously been passing as black?" or "To be consistent, shouldn't you say that someone who is one-eighth white is passing as black?" or "Why is there so much concern, since the so-called blacks who pass take so little negroid ancestry with them_Those who ask such questions need to realize that "passing" is much more a social phenomenon than a biological one, reflecting the nation's unique definition of what makes a person black. The concept of "passing" rests on the one-drop rule and on folk beliefs about race and miscegenation, not on biological or historical fact.

The black experience with passing as white in the United States contrasts with the experience of other ethnic minorities that have features that are clearly non-caucasoid. The concept of passing applies only to blacks--consistent with the nation's unique definition of the group. A person who is one-fourth or less American Indian or Korean or Filipino is not regarded as passing if he or she intermarries and joins fully the life of the dominant community, so the minority ancestry need not be hidden. It is often suggested that the key reason for this is that the physical differences between these other groups and whites are less pronounced than the physical differences between African blacks and whites, and therefore are less threatening to whites. However, keep in mind that the one-drop rule and anxiety about passing originated during slavery and later received powerful reinforcement under the Jim Crow system.

For the physically visible groups other than blacks, miscegenation promotes assimilation, despite barriers of prejudice and discrimination during two or more generations of racial mixing. As noted above, when ancestry in one of these racial minority groups does not exceed one-fourth, a person is not defined solely as a member of that group. Masses of white European immigrants have climbed the class ladder not only through education but also with the help of close personal relationships in the dominant community, intermarriage, and ultimately full cultural and social assimilation. Young people tend to marry people they meet in the same informal social circles. For visibly non-caucasoid minorities other than blacks in the United States, this entire route to full assimilation is slow but possible.

For all persons of any known black lineage, however, assimilation is blocked and is not promoted by miscegenation. Barriers to full opportunity and participation for blacks are still formidable, and a fractionally black person cannot escape these obstacles without passing as white and cutting off all ties to the black family and community. The pain of this separation, and condemnation by the black family and community, are major reasons why many or most of those who could pass as white choose not to. Loss of security within the minority community, and fear and distrust of the white world are also factors.

It should now be apparent that the definition of a black person as one with any trace at all of black African ancestry is inextricably woven into the history of the United States. It incorporates beliefs once used to justify slavery and later used to buttress the castelike Jim Crow system of segregation. Developed in the South, the definition of "Negro" (now black) spread and became the nation's social and legal definition. Because blacks are defined according to the one-drop rule, they are a socially constructed category in which there is wide variation in racial traits and therefore not a race group in the scientific sense. However, because that category has a definite status position in the society it has become a self-conscious social group with an ethnic identity.

The one-drop rule has long been taken for granted throughout the United States by whites and blacks alike, and the federal courts have taken "judicial notice" of it as being a matter of common knowledge. State courts have generally upheld the one-drop rule, but some have limited the definition to one thirty-second or one-sixteenth or one-eighth black ancestry, or made other limited exceptions for persons with both Indian and black ancestry. _Most Americans seem unaware that this definition of blacks is extremely unusual in other countries, perhaps even unique to the United States, and that Americans define no other minority group in a similar way. . . ._

We must first distinguish racial traits from cultural traits, since they are so often confused with each other. As defined in physical anthropology and biology, races are categories of human beings based on average differences in physical traits that are transmitted by the genes not by blood. Culture is a shared pattern of behavior and beliefs that are learned and transmitted through social communication. An ethnic group is a group with a sense of cultural identity, such as Czech or Jewish Americans, but it may also be a racially distinctive group. A group that is racially distinctive in society may be an ethnic group as well, but not necessarily. Although racially mixed, most blacks in the United States are physically distinguishable from whites, but they are also an ethnic group because of the distinctive culture they have developed within the general American framework.

There is a web site http://interracialvoice.com/ which deals on isuues like this ans is very interesting.

What are your thoughts?????
Rather than rewrite, I'll just paste what I opined on this same subject over at tbwt.com on this thread...

... a few years ago, I learned that my mother is "biologically" just over 50% Africoid. The balance of her ancestry is evenly native and white. I don't know much of my father's ancestry, but all of the "mixed" features of my appearance come from him, so if my mother was 50% black, I imagine my father was less than that. And yet...

* they were descended from slaves

* they were descended from sharecroppers

* they lived in the south during Jim Crow, and Jim Crow applied against them;

* they moved north in the 1960s to find work in less segregated areas

Your heritage is biological, but it's also cultural and historical. The culture and history of a people is the culture and history of yourself. Those things I just bulleted are all part and parcel of the black experience in America. My "heritage" is as much about those things I just bulleted as it is about what percentage of my ancestors came from which continent. My parents were from different southern states, and had nothing to do with each other until they met in New Jersey. If their lives hadn't paralleled the "black experience" as I cited above, then they would never have met, and I would never have been born. Therefore, the "black experience" created me. Therefore, I am the black experience. Therefore, I am black.

I may have more native-American in me than most people who are members of Indian "nations" (what's THAT all about, right?), and I may be less mathematically "black" than even Halle Berry, but ETHNICALLY, even my 1/8 black grandmother was BLACK. The one-drop rule is not a rule of biology. It's not one-drop of black "blood;" it's one drop of inherited black experience that determines whether you are ethnically black.

When it comes to black people, "race" and "ethnicity" are interchangeable terms. But they both MEAN "ethncity." And even overcoming racism doesn't put you out of the ethnicity. If you had to "overcome," that's part of our experience. So ethnically, you are BLACK.

Sorry for writing a damn book, but perspectives that are alternative to long- and deeply ingrained concepts sometimes needs a detailed explanation to be understood.

[This message was edited by Vox on September 15, 2002 at 06:00 PM.]
"people of color" sounds good to me, but please do not exclude me, though I am European and the color of my skin is 'white'.

quote:
Originally posted by little minx:
it really depends on two things in my book.

1- what does the person look like?

in order for others to perceive you as black, you must have a dark skin tone, however slightly dark. or you must have features that appear african in descent (vin deisel anyone?) your phenotype, or the way you look on the outside will effect the way folks respond to you. you could have lots of white blood or otherwise, but if you look black, you are treated as black. that's something tiger woods has yet to figure out but it's a fact nonetheless.

2- how does the person identify?

if you look almost white and you don't claim being black then you are perceived as white (vin deisel anyone?). if you look brown or near so in complexion, have some black ancestry and you claim to be black, then you will be accepted as such.

frankly there are lots of white folks walking around with black blood, but they don't look it and they don't own it. so they're white. there are lots of black folks with white blood, but they don't look it (or may look it) and don't claim it. so they're black.

the concept of race was made up by early colonists. it stand for nothing but the color of your skin. and it's rediculously exaggerated. let's face it, no one is really white except albinos and most blacks in actuality are closer to brown than black. it was made up as a divisive technique. and it worked didn't it?

i think it may be safer to refer to the term "people of color". that covers alot of ground. that pretty much means anyone who doesn't look european in origin. it's simpler than hashing out all of the ethnicities that make an american person. we'd have to go on forever just introducing ourselves. . . .
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Whoopie:
_Faheem:
"There has always been a perceived benefit for not identifying oneself as Black. While there is no question who is White there always seem to be a question who is Black. Do not be fooled by those who wish not to be classified as a Black man or woman. Who would want to be identified with a people with a history like the one we have in America. The refusal to be identified as a Black man or woman from America as stated earlier has infected the minds of Black men and Women from other parts of the earth."_

How can I identify with my 'white' skin, with the people who have left Europe to kill and enslave? How much I wish I could say with pride: I am 'black'!


And that is WHO IS BLACK... ie... What determines a person being Black as apposed to being White, Red, Yellow ect...

A chance to be proud?
quote:
Originally posted by Whoopie:

And _if_ it is offensive coming from _me_, imagine how it must be felt coming from a so-called "brotha"...


No, I'd much rather be called 'Uncle Tom' by someone black. I'd feel that they had some standing or basis to call me that. It hurts more from someone black, but it angers me more from someone not black.

My problem with it here is a mixture of the following:

  • You use it within the context of describing anyone that is liberal or a Democrat as intellectually, politically, and professionally lazy. This just because blacks are currently overwhelmingly Democrat. Are the wealthy also "not thinking on their own", "not being their own people", and allowing themselves to be "pigeon-holed" because they are overwhelmingly Republican?

  • It is a part of the feeble argument that suggests that blacks are somehow not able to vote any way other than Democrat. BTW - this argument conveniently takes conservatives off the hook to actually work for black Americas votes. As I've noted a number of times elsewhere, this argument is just factually wrong since _as a block_ we shifted from being Republican (the Party of Lincoln) to Democrat with FDR.

  • By using the epithet "Uncle Tom" here, which alludes to being anti-black, you are now linking into the old and disengenuous 'anti-success' argument that is destructive and serves no positive purpose in our community.

    Anyway - Whoopie - again, and with all due respect, only an aggrieved white man could say that blacks have it better in a society made by and for white males. Just becuase not every white male is Daddy Warbucks does not mean that the game isn't rigged for him and against others.

    smile


    Onward and Upward!

    [This message was edited by MBM on September 15, 2002 at 06:41 PM.]
  • your 'book' has the power to heal.

    quote:
    Originally posted by Vox:
    Rather than rewrite, I'll just paste what I opined on this same subject over at tbwt.com on http://forums.tbwt.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=3;t=001253#000017...

    ... a few years ago, I learned that my mother is "biologically" just over 50% Africoid. The balance of her ancestry is evenly native and white. I don't know much of my father's ancestry, but all of the "mixed" features of my appearance come from him, so if my mother was 50% black, I imagine my father was less than that. And yet...

    * they were descended from slaves

    * they were descended from sharecroppers

    * they lived in the south during Jim Crow, and Jim Crow applied against them;

    * they moved north in the 1960s to find work in less segregated areas

    Your heritage is biological, but it's also cultural and historical. The culture and history of a people is the culture and history of yourself. Those things I just bulleted are all part and parcel of the black experience in America. My "heritage" is as much about those things I just bulleted as it is about what percentage of my ancestors came from which continent. My parents were from different southern states, and had nothing to do with each other until they met in New Jersey. If their lives hadn't paralleled the "black experience" as I cited above, then they would never have met, and I would never have been born. Therefore, the "black experience" created me. Therefore, I am the black experience. Therefore, I am black.

    I may have more native-American in me than most people who are members of Indian "nations" (what's THAT all about, right?), and I may be less mathematically "black" than even Halle Berry, but ETHNICALLY, even my 1/8 black grandmother was BLACK. The one-drop rule is not a rule of biology. It's not one-drop of black "blood;" it's one drop of inherited black experience that determines whether you are ethnically black.

    When it comes to black people, "race" and "ethnicity" are interchangeable terms. But they both MEAN "ethncity." And even overcoming racism doesn't put you out of the ethnicity. If you had to "overcome," that's part of our experience. So ethnically, you are BLACK.

    Sorry for writing a damn book, but perspectives that are alternative to long- and deeply ingrained concepts sometimes needs a detailed explanation to be understood.

    [This message was edited by Vox on September 15, 2002 at 06:00 PM.]

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