Jackson State University Researcher: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Vol. 21, No. 2, pp. 17-39, Summer 2007
Posted: 14 Nov 2008
Date Written: November, 11 2008
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.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Middleton, Richard T., 'The Historical Legal Construction of Black Racial Identity of Mixed Black-White Race Individuals: The Role of State Legislatures' (November, 11 2008). Jackson State University Researcher: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Vol. 21, No. 2, pp. 17-39, Summer 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1299776