The Cost of Color: Skin Color, Discrimination, and Health among African-Americans

Posted in Arts, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-10-11 17:54Z by Steven

The Cost of Color: Skin Color, Discrimination, and Health among African-Americans

American Journal of Sociology
Volume 121, Number 2 (September 2015)
pages 396-444
DOI: 10.1086/682162

Ellis P. Monk Jr., Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Sociology
University of Chicago

In this study, the author uses a nationally representative survey to examine the relationship(s) between skin tone, discrimination, and health among African-Americans. He finds that skin tone is a significant predictor of multiple forms of perceived discrimination (including perceived skin color discrimination from whites and blacks) and, in turn, these forms of perceived discrimination are significant predictors of key health outcomes, such as depression and self-rated mental and physical health. Intraracial health differences related to skin tone (and discrimination) often rival or even exceed disparities between blacks and whites as a whole. The author also finds that self-reported skin tone, conceptualized as a form of embodied social status, is a stronger predictor of perceived discrimination than interviewer-rated skin tone. He discusses the implications of these findings for the study of ethnoracial health disparities and highlights the utility of cognitive and multidimensional approaches to ethnoracial and social inequality.

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The Superiority of the Mulatto

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-01-26 00:29Z by Steven

The Superiority of the Mulatto

American Journal of Sociology
Volume 23, Number 1 (July, 1917)
pages 83-106

E. B. Reuter (1880-1946)

Perhaps the most significant fact regarding the Negro people in America is the degree to which the race has undergone differen- tiation during the period of contact with European civilization. From the low and relatively uniform state of West African culture there has come to be a degree of cultural heterogeneity not else- where observable among a primitive people. While the bulk of the race in America is as yet not many steps removed from the African standards, there has nevertheless arisen a considerable middle class, which conforms in most essential respects to the conventional middle-class standards of American people, as well as a small intellectual group, some members of which have succeeded in coming within measurable distance of the best models of European culture. Within the racial group in America at the present time there are represented the antipodal degrees of human culture: at the one extreme are the standards of West Africa; at the other, those of Western Europe.

A study of the more advanced groups shows a great preponderance of individuals of mixed blood and a dearth, almost an entire absence, of Negroes of pure blood. In the numerous lists of exceptional Negroes, published from time to time by Negroes as well as by white students of race matters, there is a regular recurrence of a few names; the various lists are virtually repetitions. The dozen or score of men everywhere mentioned as having attained some degree of eminence are, in all but one or two cases, men of more Caucasian than Negro blood. In a recently published compilation of one hundred and thirty-nine of the supposedly best-known American Negroes there are not more than four men of pure Negro blood, and one of these, at least, owes his prominence to the fact of his black skin and African features rather than to any demonstrated native superiority. Of the twelve Negroes on whom the degree of doctor of philosophy has been conferred by reputable American universities, eleven at least were men of mixed blood. Among the professional classes of the race the mulattoes outclass the black Negroes perhaps ten to one, and the ratio is yet higher if only men of real attainments be considered. In medicine the ratio is probably fifteen to one, in literature3 the ratio is somewhat higher, on the stage it is probably thirteen to one, in music the ratio is at least twelve to one. In art no American Negro of full blood has so far found a place among the successful. In politics, the ministry, and other occupations in which success is in no way conditioned by education or ability the proportion of mulattoes to black Negroes is somewhat less, though still high. In politics the ratio is at least seven to one, and even in the ministry it is not less than five to one. The successful business men of the race are in nearly all cases men of a bi-racial ancestry. Among the successful men in every field of human effort which Negroes have entered there is the same disproportion between the numbers of pure- and mixed-blood individuals…

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Racial Fluidity and Inequality in the United States

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-01-02 20:36Z by Steven

Racial Fluidity and Inequality in the United States

American Journal of Sociology
Volume 118, Number 3, November 2012
pages 676–727
DOI: 10.1086/667722

Aliya Saperstein, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Stanford University

Andrew M. Penner, Associate Professor of Sociology
University of California, Irvine

The authors link the literature on racial fluidity and inequality in the United States and offer new evidence of the reciprocal relationship between the two processes. Using two decades of longitudinal data from a national survey, they demonstrate that not only does an individual’s race change over time, it changes in response to myriad changes in social position, and the patterns are similar for both self-identification and classification by others. These findings suggest that, in the contemporary United States, microlevel racial fluidity serves to reinforce existing disparities by redefining successful or high-status people as white (or not black) and unsuccessful or low-status people as black (or not white). Thus, racial differences are both an input and an output in stratification processes; this relationship has implications for theorizing and measuring race in research, as well as for crafting policies that attempt to address racialized inequality.

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Children in Black and Mulatto Families

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2013-07-06 18:06Z by Steven

Children in Black and Mulatto Families

American Journal of Sociology
Volume  39, Number 1 (July 1933)
pages 12-29

E. Franklin Frazier (1894-1962), Professor of Sociology
Fisk University

Although the belief in the hereditary inferiority of the mulatto has been slowly dissipated by the accumulation of scientific knowledge, it is still echoed occasionally in scientific studies. In order to determine how far this belief is substantiated or refuted by census data, the writer has analyzed the 1910 and 1920 statistics for children in over 13,000 Negro families for each enumeration in three cities and three rural counties in the South. On the whole, the mulattoes have a smaller proportion of families without children and there is on the average a larger number of children in the mulatto families. Further analysis of the 1910 statistics for the number of children born and living in 10,921 families showed: (1) mulattoes and blacks had about the same proportion of families in which no children were born; (2) on the whole, the mulattoes and blacks in the same community had the same average number of children born; (3) for the entire group a larger proportion of black families had one or more children dead; (4) the blacks had lost on the average a larger number of children; (5) the mulattoes had about 7 per cent more of all their children living than the blacks. Differences in the socio-economic status of these two groups as reflected in literacy and home-ownership seemed to point to cultural rather than biological causes for the differences between them.

In 1860 a physician who contributed monthly articles on the Negro to the American Cotton Planter gave considerable space in the December issue to a comparison of the physical qualities of pure Negroes and mulattoes. From that article, which was presumably supported by the best contemporary scientific opinion, we cite the following observations.

…. mulattoes are generally much shorter lived than negroes of unmixed blood. The pure African, when judiciously managed, has a reasonable prospect of reaching his three score and ten; and instances of much greater longevity abound. Not so with mulattoes; from want of congeniality in the mixture of white and black blood, or from some unexplained, and perhaps inexplicable cause, they die early as a general rule…..Dr. Cartwright and other learned men might say “the offspring is a tertium quid, unlike either father or mother, and incapable of perpetuating its existence beyond a few generations.” We think it would be much better to say at once, it is so, because God made it so; and that he made it so because it was not pleasing to him that the fruits of such an unnatural and unholy commerce should remain long on the earth. But whatever the explanation, there can be but little doubt of the fact for it seems to be established by the concurrent testimony of numerous observers…..

Prof. Dugas, of the Medical College of Georgia …. forcibly taught in his lectures that mulattoes are short lived; …. The testimony of Dr. Merrill, of Memphis, is …. that the amalgamation alluded to, exercises important physiological and pathological influences, one of the tendencies of which is, to impair the energies of the vital forces, predispose to a dynamic (low, typhoid) diseases, and to shorten life. These conditions, it is natural to suppose, must have a tendency, also, to the impairment of the procreative powers, and thus to retard increase; while the congenital debility and disordered innervation resulting, give rise to a still greater sacrifice of infant life, than with the full-blooded negro … if active, intelligent, house-servants are a prime consideration, and if planters have sufficient means to consult pleasure and convenience before interest, it may do to rest in this mongrel race; but if stout hearty, durable, long lived slaves are wanted, and if  pecuniary interest is a permanent consideration, the pure African should be chosen in preference to the mulatto; and the blacker the better. The jet black, shiny, unadulterated, greasy-skinned, strong-smelling negro is the best every way, after he has been in the country long enough to undergo proper training, and to get rid of some of his native, African notions.

Although the writer was fearful at the time that “the truth that mulattoes are short lived is not as extensively known, and as firmly established in the minds of the southern people as it should be,” during the following half-century the beliefs expressed in his article not only became the foundation of popular opinions concerning the mulatto but characterized supposedly scientific studies. In 1896 Hoffman, who concluded that mulattoes were “physically the inferior of the white and pure black,” based his opinion largely on the testimony of physicians who examined recruits during the Civil War. The following is a typical testimony: “Although I have known some muscular and healthy mulattoes, I am convinced that, as a general rule, any considerable admixture of white blood deteriorates the physique and impairs the powers of endurance, and almost always introduces a scrofulous taint.”…

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Those who profess Christianity as the worldwide religion and yet justify the operation of a color line disprove and discredit their pretension…

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2013-07-04 21:25Z by Steven

Those who profess Christianity as the worldwide religion and yet justify the operation of a color line disprove and discredit their pretension. If Christianity is to be a biological religion, it cannot be universal. The ideal of Christianity is that all of its devotees, regardless of ethnic deviation, are baptised in one spirit. Spiritual kinship transcends all other relations among men. Unless Christianity can overcome the color line, the universality of its claim will be discredited, and the world must still repeat the query propounded by the rugged teacher of righteousness to his august relative and rival.

Kelly Miller, “The Mulatto in the United States. by Edward Byron Reuter—Review by: Kelly Miller,” American Journal of Sociology, Volume 25, Number 2 (Sep., 1919). 224.

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The Mulatto in the United States. by Edward Byron Reuter [Review by: Kelly Miller]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2013-07-04 20:17Z by Steven

The Mulatto in the United States. by Edward Byron Reuter [Review by: Kelly Miller]

American Journal of Sociology
Volume 25, Number 2, September 1919
pages 218-224

Kelly Miller (1863-1939), Professor of Mathematics and Sociology
Howard University

The Mulatto in the United States. By Edward Byron Reuter. Boston: Badger, 1918. Pp. 417.

The case of the everlasting negro again intrudes itself on public attention in the form of a scientific treatise upon the mulatto in the United States. The author has brought together much interesting and valuable material bearing upon mixed-blood races in all parts of the world.

At the outset the author informs us that his treatise deals “with the sociological consequences of race intermixture, not with the biological problem of the intermixture itself.” The mulatto in the United States has no sociological status; the Eurasian, the half-caste product between the European and the Hindu, constitutes a tertium quid, an outcast by both parent types. But the mulatto in the United States is socially stratified with the mother-race. His case constitutes one of ethnological interest rather than of sociological significance. The three most conspicuous Englishmen produced by the world-war are Lord Kitchener, an Irishman, General Haig, a Scotchman, and Lloyd George, a Welshman. No comparable names have arisen of purely English blood, but the basal English idea predominates, and the racial identity of these illustrious names has not the slightest sociological importance. Moses, the renowned leader of the Israelites, might have been Egyptian, but it was his mighty works rather than incident of blood that counts through all the years. In the United States all negroid elements of whatever blood composition are forced into one social class by outside compulsion. The quantum of different bloods coursing through the veins of distinguished individuals in this class is, practically speaking, a sociological negligibility. The author is, therefore, discussing a theory which he eagerly advocates rather than a condition that actually exists.

The scientific pretension of this treatise is vitiated by the vagueness of fundamental definition. The word mulatto is used as “a general term to include all negroes of mixed ancestry regardless of the degree of intermixture.” This definition is not only unscientific but practically meaningless. A careful observation of negro schools, churches, and miscellaneous gatherings in all parts of the country convinces the reviewer that three-fourths of the negro race have some traceable measure of white blood in their veins. It is, therefore, not the least surprising that practically all eminent negroes in the different walks of life are classified as mulattoes. One is reminded of a famous historian who proved conclusively that the Caucasian race alone had made valuable contributions to civilization by claiming that all people who had made such contributions were Caucasians. At the expense of great labor and pains, the author has analyzed numerous lists of eminent negroes and by some unexplained process has separated the mulattoes from the blacks. Frederick Douglas tells us that genealogical trees did not flourish among slaves. It is indeed a wise negro who knows his own ancestry. Any negro can claim some degree of mixed blood without successful refutation. There is no scientific test of blood composition. The utter worthlessness of his classification is disclosed by a casual selection of four consecutive names arranged in alphabetical order on page 206. Monroe N. Work, R. R. Wright, Sr., R. R. Wright, Jr., and Charles Young are classified as mulattoes. Both in color and negroid characteristics these names would rank below the average of the entire negro race. To rank Nannie Burroughs and Mrs. C. J. Walker as mulattoes certainly evokes a smile. When William Pickens and Colonel Charles Young are so described, the smile breaks into uncontrollable laughter.

…The hundred thousand quadroons and the sixty-nine thousand octoroons together with numerous thousands of the nine hundred thousand mulattoes returned by the census of 1890 are crossing and are still likely to cross the great social divide and incorporate into the white race, in order to escape the lowest status of the despised fraction of their blood.

In some states a person with only one-eighth negro blood is given the legal status of white. The transition of the quadroon, octoroon, and lighter mulattoes will widen the physical margin between the two races. The male more easily crosses the social dead-line than the female. This gives a darker male a wider area for his well-known propensity to mate with a lighter female and will thus facilitate the rapid diffusion of white blood throughout the race…

…The author really proposes a triracial rather than a biracial division. The utter impracticability of this scheme would be found in the impossibility of identifying the so-called mulatto class. The mixed race always represents physical instability. I have known twin brothers who were so diverse in racial characteristics that the one easily crossed the color line and withheld all recognition from his brown brother who could not follow whither he went.

The dual caste system is undemocratic and un-Christian enough; to add a third would be inexcusable compounding of iniquity.

The first fruit of contact of two races of ethnic or cultural diversity is a composite progeny. There exists no biological dead line. Social custom and priestly sanction have never been able to control the cosmic urge to multiply and replenish the earth. The sons of God in their supercilious security never fail to look lustfully upon the daughters of men, while shielding their own females from the embrassure of the lower order of males. The composite progeny is generally the offspring of the male of the stronger race and the female of the weaker race. There is no discovered race repugnance or antipathy when it comes to the fundamental principles of reproduction. Political pronouncements, religious inhibition, social proscription, operate only upon the controlled sex. The first laws regulating slave relations were made to prevent intermarriages of negro males and white females. In the long run it makes no difference whether the races are mixed through the relation of the higher male and the lower female or by the reverse process. The social stigma against the bastard progeny dies out with the third and fourth generation. Intermingling of Norman and Saxon took place largely through bastardization, which has not the slightest influence or effect upon the pride of the Anglo-Saxon today…

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The Negro Race and European Civilization

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Science on 2013-01-13 05:01Z by Steven

The Negro Race and European Civilization

American Journal of Sociology
Volume 11, Number 2 (September 1905)
pages 145-167

Paul S. Reinsch  (1869-1923), Professor
University of Wisconsin

While in the past century populations and racial elements which had formerly been far distant from each other have been brought into intimate contact, the twentieth century will witness the formation of new mixed races and the attempt to adjust the mutual relations of all the various peoples that inhabit the globe. The recent great advance in the safeness and rapidity of communication has made the whole world into a community whose solidarity of interests becomes more apparent day by day. Closer contact with the more advanced nations of the Orient will have a profound influence upon European civilization, because these nations, though ready to adopt our industrial methods, are determined to maintain their national beliefs and customs. Though from the races that stand on a lower level of civilization no such deep-going influence upon European and American life is to be expected, their relations to the peoples of more advanced culture will nevertheless be a matter of great moment. Some of them, the weakest and lowest in organization, may indeed continue to fade away before the advance of European power; but this is not likely to be the fate of the negro race. The negroes have come in contact with the worst side of European civilization; yet their buoyant, vigorous constitution and their fundamental common sense carry them safely through dangers which have proved fatal to other races. They are therefore destined to be a permanent element in the composite population of the future, and when we consider the extent and fertility of the regions which they hold, the necessity of their ever-increasing co-operation in the economic life of the world becomes apparent…

…The physiological aspects of race-mixture have lately attracted much attention. Mr. James Bryce, in his recent lecture on “The Relations of the Advanced and Backward Races,” carefully reviews the experience of mankind in this matter, and adds his support to the current assumption that mixed breeds are morally and physically weak when the parents belong to widely disparate races and civilizations. However, it would seem that this assumption is true only in cases where the two societies to which the parents respectively belong maintain a repugnant attitude to each other, so that the mestizos form an outcast class and suffer a total loss of morale. Where friendly relations exist, the mixed races produced by Europeans and negroes exhibit some very fine qualities. The rich yet delicate beauty of the mulatto women in Martinique, their sweetness of temper and kindness of heart, so excited the admiration of visitors that they all, lay and clerical, French and British, join in the chorus of admiration and declare the women of Martinique the most charming in the world. Intellectually, the mulatto race has produced a number of remarkable men, and the liberality of mind among the leaders of this class in Martinique is certainly most noteworthy. Still it is generally true that the men of a mixed race will exhibit fewer pleasing qualities of character than the women: they must make themselves useful often by activities not conducive to sweetness of temper and honesty of mind; while the women naturally develop more gentle and attractive characteristics…

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Human Migration and the Marginal Man

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Science on 2012-11-19 03:49Z by Steven

Human Migration and the Marginal Man

The American Journal of Sociology
Volume 33, Number 6 (May 1928)
pages 881-893

Robert E. Park (1864-1944), Professor of Sociology
University of Chicago

Migrations, with all the incidental collision, conflicts, and fusions of peoples and of cultures which they occasion, have been accounted among the decisive forces in history. Every advance in culture, it has been said, commences with a new period of migration and movement of populations. Present tendencies indicate that while the mobility of individuals has increased, the migration of peoples has relatively decreased. The consequences, however, of migration and mobility seem, on the whole, to be the same. In both cases the “cake of custom” is broken and the individual is freed for new enterprises and for new associations. One of the consequences of migration is to create a situation in which the same individual—who may or may not be a mixed blood—finds himself striving to live in two diverse cultural groups. The effect is to produce an unstable character—a personality type with characteristic forms of behavior. This is the “marginal man.” It is in the mind of the marginal man that the conflicting cultures meet and fuse. It is, therefore, in the mind of the marginal man that the process of civilization is visibly going on, and it is in the mind of the marginal man that the process of civilization may best be studied.

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The Anglo-Indian Community

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, Social Science on 2011-12-24 17:25Z by Steven

The Anglo-Indian Community

American Journal of Sociology
Volume 40, Number 2 (September, 1934)
pages 165-179

Elmer L. Hedin
Halcyon, California

Of the several half-caste croups in Asia, the largest and most self-conscious is the Anglo-Indian Community. It numbers perhaps two hundred thousand persons who maintain themselves precariously on the outskirts of British-Indian officialdom, employed for the most part in clerical and other minor positions under the government. The life of the Anglo-Indian is one protracted struggle for status, occupational and social, and in that struggle he seems to be losing ground. Despised by both British and Indians, he may well be submerged in the turmoil of the present, trampled under by the march of India’s millions toward nationalism.

With the discovery of a sea route to eastern Asia in the last decade of the fifteenth century there began a new era of intimate and exten sive trade relationships between the nations of Europe and those of the Far East. The first European traders belonged to a world in many respects more tolerant than the present one, a world in which race prejudice was almost unknown. Consequently, more often than not they entered into more or less permanent marriage relationships with native women, a custom which resulted, after a few generations of trade and political expansion, in the presence of considerable numbers of half-castes. Such half-castes were in a special position and tended to form self-conscious communities, the largest, the best organized, and the most interesting of which is that community in India variously known as East Indian, Eurasian, or Anglo-Indian.

Some fifteen hundred years before Christ, India was conquered by a people speaking an Aryan language and allied to the present Europeans in blood. Later there were invasions of Greeks, Parthians, and Arabs. As a consequence, there was a not inconsiderable intermixture of invaders’ blood with that of the already hybrid population they found, fought with, and often ruled. But these mixtures took place so long ago that it is not easy to tell what proportion of white and what proportion of dark blood there is in any native of India. Furthermore, it has been and is customary for Europeans to think of all Indians as “colored” without regard to their possible…

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The Measurement of Negro “Passing”

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Passing, Social Science, United States on 2011-12-08 03:01Z by Steven

The Measurement of Negro “Passing”

American Journal of Sociology
Volume 52, Number 1 (July, 1946)
pages 18-22

John H. Burma

Older and popular methods of estimating the number of Negroes who pass over into the white group are no longer to be credited. Considerable misconception exists concerning passing itself, which is more frequently temporary and opportunistic than permanent and complete. In the absence of scientifically accurate counts, the lower estimates of passing are probably more reliable.

Whenever a minority group is oppressed or is the subject of discrimination, some individual members attempt to escape by losing their identity with the minority and becoming absorbed into the majority. In the United States the Negro is such a minority group. In many cases a foreigner may become indistinguishable in a country by adopting the language, customs, and dress of that country. This technique, of

TABLE 1: native whites of native parentage, by Age Groups, for 1900 and 1910

Ages Populations Increase
or
Descrease
1900 1910 1900 1910
0-4… 10-14 5,464,881 5,324,283 -140,589
5-9… 15-19 5,174,220 5,089,055 -85,165
10-14… 20-24 4,660,390 4,682,922 +22,532
15-19… 25-29 4,234,953 4,049,074 -185,879
20-24… 30-34 3,805,609 3,401,601 -404,008

course, avails the Negro little because of his high visibility.

Being a Negro in America is not just a biological matter, it is a legal and social matter as well. It has been declared, by law, how much Negro heredity makes one a Negro; and because of the determination to prevent the infusion of Negro blood into the white group, the law frequently decreed that a person of one thirty-second, one sixty-fourth, or “any discernible amount” of Negro blood was a Negro. This meant that many persons who were legally Negro had so much white blood that they were, biologically, indistinguishable from whites. This, in turn, led to a considerable number of “white Negroes” being mistaken for legal whites and being treated as such. Some of this group, we have long been aware, simply went where they were not personally known and became a permanent part of the white group.

This passing of the legal Negro for white has been well known for over one hundred and fifty years. What we have not been able to ascertain accurately was the number of these legal Negroes who passed as white. This lack of concrete knowledge did not, of course, prevent considerable speculation and opinionated estimates. By the very secrecy which must involve passing, its investigation is almost insuperably hindered, and seldom, if ever, have estimates agreed.

The first, and by far the most widely known, effort to arrive at an unbiased estimate of the number of legal Negroes who have more or less permanently passed into the white group was made by Hornell Hart rather incidentally to a study of migration. His method of analysis was a breakdown of the census returns for native whites of native parentage, by age groups. The reasoning involved hinges on the fact that this group cannot increase. Emigration might logically decrease it, as would deaths, but there should be no increases. Yet, as is seen by Table 1, Hart found a marked increase. In fact, the group who had been between…

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