The One Drop Rule: How Black Americans Became Black!
Biracial and Proud
What's Your Color or Race? How about Human Being!
The "one drop rule: was a way of defining who was a negro, (originally meaning an African).
It was a racial classification system designed to ensure that the "white" race would stay pure.
It was a widely practiced social law but wouldn't officially become law until 1910 in Tennessee and in 1924 in Virginia, when Virginia passed the Racial Integrity Act. Several others state passed similar laws..
The classifications were Mulatto if you were half black and half white.
Quadroon, if you were a quarter black and three fourth white.
Octoroon, if you were one eighth black.
If it could be proven that you had even "one drop" of black blood. You were considered to be black no matter how white you looked.
It was illegal to enslave white people, so a way of determining who was white had to be put in place. So they created the one drop rule.
The slave trade was a very profitable,but slaves were expensive.
So when an enslaved African had children, the children automatically became the slave owner's property. If a slave-owner fathered children with a slave They too automatically became the property of the slave-owner.
The "one drop" rule allowed slave owners to replenish their supply of slaves for free. (quite a deal wouldn't you say?)
Passing for White
Some mulattoes who looked more "white" than black, passed themselves off as being white.
This was a common occurrence, but blacks were treated so badly, who could blame them for doing it.
The most famous case of "blacks" "passing" for white, were the children Thomas Jefferson fathered with his young teen-aged slave, Sally Hemings.
Sally was a mulatto who was three fourth white, and was the illegitimate daughter of Jefferson's father in law.(They just had their way with any slave woman or teenager they desired or wanted to)
When Jefferson and Hemings' children were finally freed, all of them passed into white society as white people.
Who knows how many white families, they and their descendants, married into, who aren't aware of that heritage today.
Hundreds possibly thousands of mulattoes passed themselves off as white, including other mix-raced people, like mixed raced "native" Americans during that time.
Obssessed with Racial Purity
So how pure can the white race in America be? (DNA studies say that all humans originated in Africa, so it's kind of moot point)
Mixed raced people in Europe passed for white in many European countries too. and many of them migrated to the United States.
in Virginia, politicians tried to get a "one drop" law passed into law, but some whites realized that if it passed, it could possibly affect their classification as a white people.
One of them wrote to a Virginia paper, that "If a one-drop rule were adopted. I doubt not, if many who are reputed to be white and are in fact so, do not in a very short time find themselves instead of being elevated, reduced by the judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction, to the level of a free negro".
In 1662 Virginia passed a law making interracial sex a criminal act.
Twelve of the original thirteen colonies passed similar laws.
But wouldn't you know it...while sex between black men and white women was violently frowned upon.
Sex between white men and black women was tolerated with a smile, a nod, and a wink
But probably not by white women, who even if they didn't like it, had no power to do anything about it, because White men ruled the colonies and pretty much did what they wanted to do.
Laws against interracial marriages was ostensibly to preserve the "purity" of the white race But I think it was really because they were a threat to white males' sexual ego. They wanted to be only males that white women sexually preferred..
Interracial marriages and families were completely banned. Having a mixed raced child was considered to be a parental crime.and a felony punishable by a month to a year in prison doing hard labor, (man these people were nuts).
Many white males, were so insecure about being the dominant sexually attractive male to white women, they couldn't tolerate the idea that "the flower of the white racer" (white women) would chose a black male, whom they considered to be more like an animal than a human, over themselves.
Obviously many white women, did find black males sexually attractive, that's why these laws had to be enforced with such violence in the first place...even leading to the forming of the so-called "Knights" of the Ku Klux Klan, who saw themselves as some sort of chivalrousness knights, protecting the flower of the white race, from black rape..
The Myth of the Ravenous Black Male
They created the myth that black men were ravenous sexual beasts, who's only goal was to deflower, white women and pollute the white gene pool.
But if white women weren't sexually attracted to black men, they wouldn't have had to go through all of that trouble to "protect" them from them, now would they?
The 1915 silent movie "The Birth of A Nation" depicts this perfectly.
Its shows the Klan as chivalrous heroes, formed to save their precious white women, from the ravenous the "black beasts", who were white actors made up in black face, to look like and act like the stereotypical image, that white racists, wanted to portray about black men.
This racist movie was national hit.But it also caused widespread protests around the country,
The Hemings of Monticello
So back to the point of this hub. Isn't It interesting that, the idea of who or what a black person is in America, was actually created by white, racists, during slavery, using the "one drop".rule as their standard of measure? They actually created the concept of black people. Many blacks still use this concept, to determine who is or isn't a black person to this day. Does that's really matter? Or should we reevaluate this racial designation and classification?