MAMP Podcast Ep #4: Revisiting the One-Drop Rule

MAMP Podcast Ep #4: Revisiting the One-Drop Rule

My American Melting Pot

Lori L. Tharps, Host, Head Chef and Chief Content Creator; Associate Professor of journalism
Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

On episode #4 of the MAMP podcast, we’re revisiting the one-drop rule with two women who both believed they were white, until they discovered by accident, that they weren’t.

My guests are Gail Lukasik and Shannon Wink. Gail is the author of the new book, White Like Her: My Family’s Story of Race and Racial Passing and Shannon is a Philadelphia-based journalist and writer. In her late 40s, Gail discovered that her mother had been passing as white for her entire adult life. Shannon learned her maternal grandfather wasn’t Native American as he’d claimed, he was actually Black.

In this riveting discussion, we hear about Gail and Shannon’s “family secrets,” but spend the majority of the time speaking about what it means to be Black or white. We revisit this flawed concept of the one-drop rule that stipulates a person is Black if they have just one drop of Black blood in them. If that were truly the case, then both Gail and Shannon would be certifiably Black. But they’re not.

What does it mean to be white or Black in this country? How does knowing you have Black ancestry change one’s sense of racial identity? What role do culture and community play in one’s identity formation? Listen in on the conversation to hear how we answer these questions and more.

“I’ve often wondered why more colored girls … never ‘passed’ over. It’s such a frightfully easy thing to do. If one’s the type, all that’s needed is a little nerve.”Nella Larsen, from the novel Passing

Listen to the episode (00:47:24) here download the episode here.

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