Historical Origins of the One-Drop Racial Rule in the United States

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, United States on 2014-10-27 20:48Z by Steven

Historical Origins of the One-Drop Racial Rule in the United States

Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies
Volume 1, Issue 1 (2014)
pages 98-132

Winthrop D. Jordan (1931-2007), Emeritus Professor of History and African-American Studies
University of Mississippi

Edited by:

Paul Spickard, Professor of History; Professor of Asian American Studies
University of California, Santa Barbara

Winthrop Jordan, one of the most honored of US historians, wrote about racial mixing a generation before there was a field of mixed race studies. At the time of his death, he left an unfinished manuscript: “Historical Origins of the One-Drop Racial Rule in the United States.” For this inaugural issue of the JCMRS, Jordan’s former student Paul Spickard, himself a foundational scholar of multiracial studies from the first wave of scholarship in the late 1980s and early 1990s, has edited Jordan’s final article.

The One-Drop Rule: The US Anomaly and Its Fateful Consequences

Historians and scholars in other disciplines have generated a huge corpus of studies about the concept of race while ignoring, for the most part, one of the most important features of race relations in the United States. In this country, the social standard for individuals is superficially simple: if a person of whatever age or gender is believed to have any African ancestry, that person is regarded as black. Basically, by this social rule, a person was, and is, either black or not. Any person of racially or ethnically mixed descent who has some “Negro blood” has been or still is regarded as “colored,” or “African,” or “Negro,” or “black,” or “Afro-American,” or “African American”—whatever designation has prevailed by convention at the time. This social rule has been easy to overlook because it is so close to home, often in a personal way, and because it involves self-identification as well as identification of others. Almost all people in the United States tend to operate perceptually and conceptually according to this simple social rule concerning race without stopping to question its logic. Why question the way the world works when that way is so obvious? And far from questioning the rule, many Americans seem almost resistant to acknowledging its existence, and some of those who have thought about the rule angrily assign blame to some nefarious group for promoting it.

When it comes to race, Americans see themselves, and many overseas people as well, in a bicolored fashion—either/or—black or white. Surely this is an interesting chromometric assessment of skin complexion. We should ask ourselves why nearly all the people playing on basketball courts are said to be one of the same two colors as piano keys. For one thing, no human being has a complexion that is fully black or completely white. And all these players, whether white or black, have a light and dark side of their hands. In addition, bifurcating these or any people subtly negates the underlying unity of humankind and its common genetic and historical roots.

In the United States some medical geneticists have blithely ignored the one-drop rule while urging genetic profiles of different races as they relate to susceptibility to different diseases. These proposals have been strongly denounced by some geneticists and by scholars in other disciplines who point to the obvious fact that a great many socially defined African Americans have a genetic background that is far less than even fifty percent African. Historians have been less prone to disagreement among themselves, but they have simply been neglectful about asking how and why this social rule developed. The focus in this inquiry is on the social aspects of the rule, and thus the definition of the rule used here is somewhat broader than is necessary when discussing the genetics of its operation.

The term “one-drop rule” has its own rather curious history. It was used repeatedly in scholarly works on race relations more than a generation ago. Today, it can be found in a wide variety of publications that deal with race relations in the United States. Yet the lexical community has been either negligent or resistant about the term, for as of a very few years ago, all the purportedly unabridged dictionaries of the English language and their updated collegiate versions did not include it. These dictionaries have begun to catch up as dictionaries and facsimiles like Wikipedia have become ubiquitous online. Even the venerable Oxford English Dictionary, which is supposedly based on historical principles, has an online version that now includes the term. The phrase currently appears in many books, magazines, and on the Internet, firmly supported by its conciseness in referring to a powerful social rule…

Read the entire article here.

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“Only the News They Want to Print”: Mainstream Media and Critical Mixed-Race Studies

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2014-08-15 06:17Z by Steven

“Only the News They Want to Print”: Mainstream Media and Critical Mixed-Race Studies

Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies
Volume 1, Number 1 (2014-01-30)
pages 162-182
ISSN: 2325-4521

Rainier Spencer, Associate Vice Provost for Academic Affairs; Professor of Afro-American Studies
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

This essay lauds the publication of the Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies, then turns immediately to argue that the journal must focus itself on actively becoming the authoritative voice on mixed-race matters, while also speaking out against naive colorblindness and premature declarations of postraciality. This is crucial because the public receives its information on mixed-race identity from the mainstream media, which has a long historical record of inaccurate and damaging reporting on mixed race. Using the recent “Race Remixed” series in the New York Times as a contemporary example of this problem, the essay argues that it is imperative that mainstream media writers seek out and use scholarly input in the publication of their articles.

With the publication of this inaugural issue of the Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies, the field of study demarcated by the journal’s title takes a major leap forward both materially and symbolically. The material leap has to do with the fact that there is now an academic publication devoted expressly to the field of critical mixed-race studies, a single source to go to for the latest in mixed-race research. Even though the journal certainly cannot publish everything in this field, and scholars will still find themselves combing through libraries and the Internet for newly published work, my hope is that this journal will nonetheless become the unquestioned touchstone of mixed-race scholarship. The symbolic leap, on the other hand, while related to the material one, has to do with the intangible satisfaction that attends to having “made it,” so to speak. While there is no difference between the good scholarly work done immediately prior to the launching of the journal and the good scholarly work we find in the pages of this issue, there is nevertheless a gratifying sense that “we”—those of us who work and publish in this area—now have a journal to call home. The importance of this should not be minimized…

…One crucial observation to make about mixed-race identity work over the past twenty years is that even though there has been phenomenal growth and change in the work itself, non-scholarly reporting on mixed race has not kept pace with those advancements. While scholarly studies of mixed race have proliferated, creating both the academic field and now this journal, and while mixed-race identity work has become more and more sophisticated, the quality of media coverage has remained ossified. In fact, mainstream media analysis of mixed-race identity in the United States is generally no different whether one reads an article from 1994, 2000, 2006, or 2012. Given its outsize impact on the general public, the dominant media in the United States is in fact a hegemonic entity. Its coverage of mixed-race identity has crucial effects on attitudes, opinions, and even public policy; therefore, the accuracy of its reporting is critical. For this reason, dominant media representation of multiraciality will be my main focus in this article as I consider the challenges it presents to critical mixed-race studies…

…The specific details being reported aside, the deeper structural problem with mainstream media stories on the alleged postracial power of mixed-race identity or the supposed significance of changing racial demographics is that the information presented is often one-sided, simplistic, geared to a tabloid sensibility, and does not reflect the multiform ways that edifices of power have race embedded within them, whether visible or not. It is a matter of sensationalism taking precedence over serious analysis. David Roediger identifies this tendency of providing sensationalism without substance, noting that “often multiracial identities and immigration take center stage as examples of factors making race obsolete” and that “we are often told popularly that race and racism are on predictable tracks to extinction. But we are seldom told clear or consistent stories about why white supremacy will give way and how race will become a ‘social virus’ of the past.” Roediger’s words highlight the importance of unmasking this postracial aspiration for what it is: an effort to provide comfort to a nation that is unwilling to do the hard work required to deal effectively with centuries of entrenched racism and the resultant consequences…

Read the entire article here.

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the deeper structural problem with mainstream media stories on the alleged postracial power of mixed-race identity or the supposed significance of changing racial demographics is that the information presented is often one-sided, simplistic, geared to a tabloid sensibility…

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2014-03-26 17:48Z by Steven

The specific details being reported aside, the deeper structural problem with mainstream media stories on the alleged postracial power of mixed-race identity or the supposed significance of changing racial demographics is that the information presented is often one-sided, simplistic, geared to a tabloid sensibility, and does not reflect the multiform ways that edifices of power have race embedded within them, whether visible or not. It is a matter of sensationalism taking precedence over serious analysis. David Roediger identifies this tendency of providing sensationalism without substance, noting that “often multiracial identities and immigration take center stage as examples of factors making race obsolete” and that “we are often told popularly that race and racism are on predictable tracks to extinction. But we are seldom told clear or consistent stories about why white supremacy will give way and how race will become a ‘social virus’ of the past.” Roediger’s words highlight the importance of unmasking this postracial aspiration for what it is: an effort to provide comfort to a nation that is unwilling to do the hard work required to deal effectively with centuries of entrenched racism and the resultant consequences.

Spencer, Rainier, “‘Only the News They Want to Print’: Mainstream Media and Critical Mixed-Race Studies,” Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies, Volume 1, Number 1, (January 30, 2014). http://escholarship.org/uc/item/3b34q0rf

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The Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies inaugural issue is now available

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, Communications/Media Studies, History, Latino Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Mexico, My Articles/Point of View/Activities, Philosophy, Social Science, United States on 2014-03-11 22:18Z by Steven

The Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies inaugural issue is now available

Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies
Volume 1, Number 1 (2014-01-30)
ISSN: 2325-4521

Laura Kina, Associate Professor Art, Media and Design and Director Asian American Studies
DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois

G. Reginald Daniel, Professor of Sociology
University of California at Santa Barbaral


Saya Woolfalk, video still from “The Emphathics,” 2012.

The Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies inaugural issue is now available. Volume 1, No. 1, 2014 “Emerging Paradigms in Critical Mixed Race Studies” It has been a long journey from the publication of Maria Root’s groundbreaking and award-winning anthology Mixed People in America (1992) to the inauguration of the Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies. We would like to thank all of our contributors, volunteers, and editorial review board for their hard work and patience. We hope you enjoy this issue of the journal and find it an informative resource on the topic of mixed race identities and experiences.

G. Reginald Daniel, Editor in Chief

Laura Kina, Managing Editor

The Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies (JCMRS) is a peer-reviewed online journal dedicated to Critical Mixed Race Studies (CMRS). Launched in 2011, it is the first academic journal explicitly focused on Critical Mixed Race Studies. Sponsored by UC Santa Barbara’s Sociology Department, JCMRS is hosted on the eScholarship Repository, which is part of the eScholarship initiative of the California Digital Library.

Table of Contents

  • Front Matter
  • Cover Art
  • Table of Contents
  • Editor’s Note / Daniel, G. Reginald
  • Emerging Paradigms in Critical Mixed Race Studies / Daniel, G. Reginald; Kina, Laura; Dariotis, Wei Ming; Fojas, Camilla
  • Appendix A: Publications from 1989 to 2004 / Riley, Steven F.
  • Appendix B: Publications from 2005 to 2013 / Riley, Steven F.

Articles

  • “Historical Origins of the One-Drop Racial Rule in the United States” / Jordan, Winthrop D. (Edited by Spickard, Paul)
  • “Reconsidering the Relationship Between New Mestizaje and New Multiraciality as Mixed-Race Identity Models / Turner, Jessie D.
  • “Critical Mixed Race Studies: New Directions in the Politics of Race and Representation / Jolivétte, Andrew J.
  • “‘Only the News They Want to Print’: Mainstream Media and Critical Mixed-Race Studies” / Spencer, Rainier
  • “The Current State of Multiracial Discourse” / McKibbin, Molly Littlewood
  • “Slimy Subjects and Neoliberal Goods: Obama and the Children of Fanon” / McNeil, Daniel

Book Reviews

  • Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu, When Half Is Whole: Multiethnic Asian Americans Identities / Crawford, Miki Ward
  • Ralina Joseph, Transcending Blackness: From the New Millennium Mulatta to the Exceptional Multiracial / Elam, Michele
  • Greg Carter, The United States of the United Races: A Utopian History of Racial Mixing / Mount, Guy Emerson
  • Rudy P. Guevarra, Jr., Becoming Mexipino: Multiethnic Identities and Communities in San Diego / Schlund-Vials, Cathy J.

About the Contributors

  • About the Contributors
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The JCMRS inaugural issue will be released Summer, 2013

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United States on 2013-03-18 03:35Z by Steven

The JCMRS inaugural issue will be released on Summer, 2013

Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies
c/o Department of Sociology
SSMS Room 3005
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, California  93106-9430
E-Mail: socjcmrs@soc.ucsb.edu
2012-10-10

The Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies (JCMRS) is a peer-reviewed online journal dedicated to developing the field of Critical Mixed Race Studies (CMRS) through rigorous scholarship. Launched in 2011, it is the first academic journal explicitly focused on Critical Mixed Race Studies.

JCMRS is transracial, transdisciplinary, and transnational in focus and emphasizes the critical analysis of the institutionalization of social, cultural, and political orders based on dominant conceptions and constructions of ‘race.’ JCMRS emphasizes the constructed nature and thus mutability of race and the porosity of racial boundaries in order to critique processes of racialization and social stratification based on race. JCMRS addresses local and global systemic injustices rooted in systems of racialization.

Sponsored by University of California, Santa Barbara’s Sociology Department, JCMRS is hosted on the eScholarship Repository, which is part of the eScholarship initiative of the California Digital Library. JCMRS functions as an open-access forum for critical mixed race studies scholars and will be available without cost to anyone with access to the Internet.


Volume 1, Issue 1, Spring 2013 will include:

Articles

  1. “Historical Origins of the One-Drop Racial Rule in the United States”—Winthrop Jordan edited by Paul Spickard
  2. “Retheorizing the Relationship Between New Mestizaje and New Multiraciality as Mixed Race Identity Models”—Jessie Turner
  3. “Critical Mixed Race Studies: New Directions in the Politics of Race and Representation,” Keynote Address presented at the Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference, November 5, 2010, DePaul UniversityAndrew Jolivétte
  4. “Only the News We Want to Print”—Rainier Spencer
  5. “The Current State of Multiracial Discourse”—Molly McKibbin
  6. “Slimy Subjects and Neoliberal Goods”—Daniel McNeil

Editorial Board

Founding Editors: G. Reginald Daniel, Wei Ming Dariotis, Laura Kina, Maria P. P. Root, and Paul Spickard

Editor-in-Chief: G. Reginald Daniel

Managing Editors: Wei Ming Dariotis and Laura Kina

Editorial Review Board: Stanley R. Bailey, Mary C. Beltrán, David Brunsma, Greg Carter, Kimberly McClain DaCosta, Michele Elam, Camilla Fojas, Peter Fry, Kip Fulbeck, Rudy Guevarra, Velina Hasu Houston, Kevin R. Johnson, Andrew Jolivette, Rebecca Chiyoko King-O’Riain, Laura A. Lewis, Kristen A. Renn, Maria P. P. Root, Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu, Gary B. Nash, Kent A. Ono, Rita Simon, Miri Song, Rainier Spencer, Michael Thornton, Peter Wade, France Winddance Twine, Teresa Williams-León, and Naomi Zack

For more information, click here.

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Call for Papers—Inaugural Issue: Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies

Posted in Media Archive, Wanted/Research Requests/Call for Papers on 2012-05-31 02:18Z by Steven

Call for Papers—Inaugural Issue: Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies

“Emerging Paradigms in Critical Mixed Race Studies”

The Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies (JCMRS) is a peer-reviewed online journal dedicated to Critical Mixed Race Studies (CMRS). Launched in 2011, it is the first academic journal explicitly focused on Critical Mixed Race Studies. Sponsored by the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Sociology Department, JCMRS is hosted on the eScholarship Repository, which is part of the eScholarship initiative of the California Digital Library. JCMRS functions as an open-access forum for critical mixed race studies scholars and will be available without cost to anyone with access to the Internet.

JCMRS is transracial, transdisciplinary, and transnational in focus and emphasizes the critical analysis of the institutionalization of social, cultural, and political orders based on dominant conceptions and constructions of race. JCMRS emphasizes the constructed nature and thus mutability of race and the porosity of racial boundaries in order to critique processes of racialization and social stratification based on race. JCMRS addresses local and global systemic injustices rooted in systems of racialization.

Some questions to consider:

  • Why Critical Mixed Race Studies rather than mixed ethnicity or mixed heritage?
  • How does CMRS transform Ethnic Studies?
  • What does CMRS mean in transnational contexts?
  • What are some ways that CMRS can be institutionalized?
  • How do foundational articles or books in CMRS resonate today?
  • How does CMRS relate to the Multiracial Movement or social activism around mixed heritage identities?
  • How does post-racial discourse factor into the development of CMRS?
  • How is CMRS transdisciplinary or interdisciplinary?

Papers that were presented at the Inaugural Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference in 2010 are invited for revision and submission. JCMRS encourages both established and emerging scholars to submit articles throughout the year. Articles will be considered for publication on the basis of their contributions to important and current discussions in mixed race studies, and their scholarly competence and originality.

Submission Deadline: July 1, 2012

Submission Guidelines: Article manuscripts should range between 15-30 double-spaced pages, Times New Roman 12-point font, including notes and works cited, must follow the Chicago Manual of Style, and include an abstract (not to exceed 250 words).

Visit our website for complete submission guidelines and to submit an article: http://escholarship.org/uc/ucsb_soc_jcmrs

Please address all inquiries to: socjcmrs@soc.ucsb.edu

Founding Editors G. Reginald Daniel, Wei Ming Dariotis, Laura Kina, Maria P. P. Root, Paul Spickard

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