According to Our Hearts and Location: Toward a Structuralist Approach to the Study of Interracial Families

21 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2015

See all articles by R. A. Lenhardt

R. A. Lenhardt

Fordham University School of Law

Date Written: July 16, 2015


This Article offers a review of Angela Onwuachi-Willig’s wonderful book, According to Our Hearts: Rhinelander v. Rhinelander and the Law of the Multiracial Family. Race scholars have begun to productively deploy structuralism to discuss cumulative racial disadvantage and the ongoing, racially segregative effects of government systems and policies.
of such systems on intimate choice and family formation. Likewise, some scholars have employed structuralism to explore how law shapes our intimate preferences and opportunities for intimate engagements.
 Still, scholars of this very exciting work have not yet engaged as fully as they might regarding questions of race. This Article contends that these emergent and somewhat divergent strands of scholarship can nevertheless be brought together in ways that expand our thinking about race and family.

Part I discusses describes the Rheinlander case as a tale about race and space, as well as interracial marriage barriers, in the United States. Part II of this Article discusses in more detail those elements of the Rhinelander trial and aspects of twenty-first century life for interracial families that lead Onwuachi-Willig to assertin her book that such families operate within a legal “placelessness” -- in a space that does not recognize their interraciality and, in effect, punishes them for being “racial transgressors.” Part III demonstrates the possibilities that the analysis conducted in According to Our Hearts holds by offering a brief, structuralism-informed retelling of aspects of the Rhinelander trial. Part IV concludes the Article by indentifying areas for further study into issues of race, family, and structural inequality.

Keywords: race, family, structural discrimination, inequality

Suggested Citation

Lenhardt, Robin A., According to Our Hearts and Location: Toward a Structuralist Approach to the Study of Interracial Families (July 16, 2015). 16 J. Gender Race & Just. 741, Available at SSRN:

Robin A. Lenhardt (Contact Author)

Fordham University School of Law ( email )

140 West 62nd Street
New York, NY 10023
United States

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