'The Historical Legal Construction of Black Racial Identity of Mixed Black-White Race Individuals: The Role of State Legislatures'
Richard T. Middleton IV
University of Missouri at Saint Louis; Saint Louis University - School of Law
November, 11 2008
Jackson State University Researcher: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Vol. 21, No. 2, pp. 17-39, Summer 2007
In this paper, I analyze the historical legal construction of black racial identity of mixed black-white race individuals in the United States. In particular, I investigate how state legislatures constructed black racial identity through the enactment of laws and constitutional provisions. In this paper, I reveal the two-part framework by which state legislatures historically used the language of the law to coerce mixed black-white race individuals to adopt a personal sense of collective identity with people of black African ancestry: (1) identification of mixed black-white race individuals and blacks/Negroes as constituting two separate racial groups yet speaking of them in the same blush and disadvantaging them the same, and (2) abandoning recognition of mixed black-white race individuals (mulattoes) as a distinct racial group from Negroes/blacks through the enactment of statutes that espoused the rule of hypodescent. I conducted a survey of statutes across all fifty states ranging from the colonial period up to the mid-1900s to provide empirical support for this paper's thesis.
Date posted: November 14, 2008
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