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'The Historical Legal Construction of Black Racial Identity of Mixed Black-White Race Individuals: The Role of State Legislatures'

Jackson State University Researcher: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Vol. 21, No. 2, pp. 17-39, Summer 2007

Posted: 14 Nov 2008  

Richard T. Middleton IV

University of Missouri at Saint Louis; Saint Louis University - School of Law

Date Written: November, 11 2008

Abstract

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

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

Richard T. Middleton IV (Contact Author)

University of Missouri at Saint Louis ( email )

One University Blvd
347 SSB
St Louis, MO 63121
United States
314-516-5521 (Phone)

Saint Louis University - School of Law ( email )

3700 Lindell Blvd
St. Louis, MO 63108
United States

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