Hypodescent is the practice of determining the classification of a child of mixed-race ancestry by assigning the child the race of his or her more socially subordinate parent.  Because Caucasians were historically socially dominant in the Western world, mixed-race children in slave societies were most frequently assigned the status of their non-Caucasian parent.  This was also to keep them classified as property, which slaves were.  In some colonial societies, however, especially the Catholic Portuguese, Spanish and French, a third class of “people of color” developed.