“The Last Stand”: The Fight for Racial Integrity in Virginia in the 1920s

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2011-07-21 23:52Z by Steven

“The Last Stand”: The Fight for Racial Integrity in Virginia in the 1920s

Richard B. Sherman, Chancellor Professor of History
College of William and Mary

The Journal of Southern History
Volume 54, Number 1 (February, 1988)
pages 69-92

By the 1920s many southern whites had come to believe that the race question was settled. White supremacy had been assured and the subordinate position of blacks effectively guaranteed by ostensibly constitutional methods of disfranchisement, Jim Crow laws, and other forms of racial discrimination. In Virginia, however, a small but determined group of racial zealots insisted that such steps were not enough. The race problem, they argued, was no longer political; it was biological. Believing that extreme measures had to be taken to prevent the contamination of white blood, they initiated and led an emotional campaign for stringent new laws to preserve racial integrity. Without these, they warned, amalgamation was inevitable. These racial purists were convinced that their fight was a “Last Stand” to keep America white and to save civilization itself from downfall. The campaign for racial integrity in Virginia was not the product of a great popular ground swell. Rather, it was primarily the work of this dedicated coterie of extremists who played effectively on the fears and prejudices of many whites. Ultimately they were able to achieve some, although not all, of their legislative goals. Their activities, nonetheless, were significant and had an impact on Virginia that was felt long after the 1920s.

During the first two decades of the twentieth century a number of steps had been taken in Virginia to “settle” the race question and to guarantee white supremacy. One of the most important measures had been the adoption of a new constitution in 1902 with provisions that severely contracted the franchise. As a result Virginia came to be controlled by a remarkably small political and social elite, while blacks were largely eliminated as a political force capable of providing…

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The Nature of Race: How Scientists Think and Teach about Human Difference

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science on 2011-07-21 23:00Z by Steven

The Nature of Race: How Scientists Think and Teach about Human Difference

University of California Press
June 2011
328 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9780520270312
Hardcover ISBN: 9780520270305
Adobe PDF E-Book ISBN: 9780520950146
ePUB Format ISBN: 9780520950146

Ann Morning, Associate Professor of Sociology
New York University

What do Americans think “race” means? What determines one’s race—appearance, ancestry, genes, or culture? How do education, government, and business influence our views on race? To unravel these complex questions, Ann Morning takes a close look at how scientists are influencing ideas about race through teaching and textbooks. Drawing from in-depth interviews with biologists, anthropologists, and undergraduates, Morning explores different conceptions of race—finding for example, that while many sociologists now assume that race is a social invention or “construct,” anthropologists and biologists are far from such a consensus. She discusses powerful new genetic accounts of race, and considers how corporations and the government use scientific research—for example, in designing DNA ancestry tests or census questionnaires—in ways that often reinforce the idea that race is biologically determined. Widening the debate about race beyond the pages of scholarly journals, The Nature of Race dissects competing definitions in straightforward language to reveal the logic and assumptions underpinning today’s claims about human difference.

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The Origins, Current Status, and Future Prospects of Blood Quantum as the Definition of Membership in The Navajo Nation

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2011-07-21 22:45Z by Steven

The Origins, Current Status, and Future Prospects of Blood Quantum as the Definition of Membership in The Navajo Nation

Tribal Law Journal
University of New Mexico School of Law
Volume 8 (2007-2008)
pages 1-17

Paul Spruhan, Law Clerk
Navajo Nation Supreme Court, Window Rock, Arizona

In this article, the author discusses the origin of the Navajo Nation’s blood requirement. Mr. Spruhan examines the intended purpose of the quarter-blood quantum definition and the role of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He reviews the current status, regulation, and recent attempts to change the quarter-blood quantum requirement. He discusses the future of the quarter-blood quantum requirement with respect to the Navajo Nation Council’s 2002 resolution known as the “Fundamental Laws of the Diné,” a resolution mandating the application of traditional law, customary law, natural law, and common law to the Navajo Nation Government and its entities. In this regard, Mr. Spruhan inquires as to the impact the “Fundamental Laws of the Diné” will have on the quarter-blood quantum requirement and future membership requirements.

In the last few years, scholars, reporters, lawyers, and the general public have focused much attention on tribal membership requirements. Recent controversies over membership of “Freedmen,” or descendants of slaves, in the Cherokee Nation and other Oklahoma tribes have produced scholarly and popular discussions of what it means to be “Indian” and a member of a tribal nation. Enrollment controversies among gaming tribes in California and recently recognized tribes in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, among others, have exposed acrimonious disagreements within tribal communities over how to define tribal membership. Tribes have disenrolled whole extended families and entire categories of members by reviewing prior enrollment records, or amending their laws to redefine membership eligibility. Popular press reports and scholarly articles on these controversies have introduced the concepts of “blood quantum” and “tribal membership” to a wider non-Indian audience. The resulting publicity has tested the power of tribal nations to define their membership independent of state and federal judicial and political control, as calls for outside intervention increase.

In the midst of these controversies, a recent panel at a continuing legal education seminar held in Window Rock, the capital of the Navajo Nation, discussed whether the Nation would experience similar membership controversies in the future, and how such issues might be approached under Navajo law. This article arises out of a presentation the author gave at that seminar on the origins of the Navajo Nation’s current membership rule, which requires a person to have at least one-quarter Navajo “blood.” The presentation described the origins of this requirement in light of the origins of “blood quantum” in federal Indian law, which the author has described in two previous law review articles.

Based on that presentation and the presentations of other panelists, as well as a lively discussion with members of the audience, this article aims to do several things. In Part I, the article describes the origins of the Navajo Nation’s quarter-blood requirement in an attempt to answer the question: how and why did the Navajo Nation adopt blood quantum as the definition for membership? Part I describes how that requirement came about through the resolutions and minutes of meetings of the Navajo Nation Council, and examines what Council delegates thought they were accomplishing through the quarter-blood definition. Part I also discusses the role of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the development of that membership definition. In Part II, the article discusses the current status of the quarter-blood requirement, how the Navajo Nation regulates it, and recent attempts to change the requirement. In Part III, the article analyzes the future prospects for the quarter-blood requirement, and blood quantum generally, in light of recent developments in Navajo Nation statutory law and the jurisprudence of the Navajo Nation Supreme Court concerning the “Fundamental Laws of the Diné.”…

…How might the quarter-blood requirement fare under a Fundamental Law analysis? Would the fact that blood quantum is not a traditional Navajo concept affect its enforceability? The concept of “blood quantum” originated in Anglo-American colonial law to define the status of mixed-race people and bar them from rights afforded whites. The federal government adopted this pre-existing concept to define “Indian” and “tribal member” for various purposes long before the Navajo Nation Council adopted blood quantum in 1953. Traditionally, Navajos use clanship to define identity. Each Navajo has four clans he or she identifies himself or herself by: the mother’s clan, the father’s clan, the maternal grandfather’s clan, and the paternal grandfather’s clan. A Navajo is a member of his or her mother’s clan and is “born for” his or her father’s clan. According to Navajo history, there were four original clans, and many clans that were subsequently adopted. Some of the adopted clans originate from Pueblo or other tribal peoples, as well as Mexicans, who were adopted into Navajo society. Various “non-Navajos” were absorbed into the Navajo people, and clans were created to conform them to the existing system of identity. Navajos also define themselves by “cultural identity markers” derived from origin stories, identified by one Navajo scholar, Lloyd Lee, as “worldview, land, language, and kinship.” Practicing the principles of hozho and sa’ah naaghai bik’eh hozhoon, speaking the Navajo language, and recognizing Navajo kinship, Lee argues, are the true definition of Navajo identity. Blood quantum plays no part in these conceptions of Navajo identity. Significantly, these concepts were essentially absent from the discussions of the prior Council in adopting the quarter-blood requirement…

Read the entire article here.

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Invitation to Participate in Groundbreaking Study of Racial Identity

Posted in Identity Development/Psychology, United States, Wanted/Research Requests/Call for Papers on 2011-07-21 19:03Z by Steven

Invitation to Participate in Groundbreaking Study of Racial Identity

If you are a person at least 18 years old, who is commonly identified as black, African American, biracial, mixed, or multiracial, but do not yourself subscribe to racial identity as part of your sense of self, please consider reviewing the information at www.racetranscenders.com to see if you might be interested in participating in an important study of this identity disposition.

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Tribal Kulturkampf: The Role of Race Ideology in Constructing Native American Identity

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2011-07-21 02:38Z by Steven

Tribal Kulturkampf: The Role of Race Ideology in Constructing Native American Identity

Seton Hall Law Review
Volume 35, Number 4 (2005)
pages 1241-1260

Carla D. Pratt, Associate Professor of Law
Pennsylvania State University


“Law is embroiled in the politics of identity. It names parties, defines their speech and conduct, and assigns their rights and duties. Its judgments declare, enjoin, and award the tangible and intangible benefits of race and racial privilege.” Law has been deeply involved in the politics of defining racial identity. The rule of hypo-descent, also known as the “one-drop rule,” was codified as law in many states in an effort to define the group of people who were black and therefore subject to the deprivation of liberty through the institution of slavery and later subject to social, economic, and educational subjugation through Jim Crow. Although the rule has been repealed from the statutory compilations of law in those states that once had such a rule, it continues to operate on a cognitive and cultural level in American law and society. On a social and cultural level, most Americans still perceive anyone with known African ancestry and the skin coloration, hair texture, or facial features that serve as evidence of African ancestry, to be “black” or African American.

Unbeknownst to many, the rule of hypo-descent still operates in law on a structural level, particularly with respect to federal Indian law and the law of some Native American tribes. Within some Native American tribes, the rule is still covertly operating to construct Native American identity. In the struggle to preserve their very existence, some Native American tribes have subscribed to the basic assumptions of the dominant culture, including the assumption that whiteness is to be prized and non-whiteness devalued on a scale relative to the degree of color of one’s skin, with blackness constituting the most devalued state of being.

Few extant cases are more illustrative of law embroiled in the politics of racial identity than the case of Davis v. United States, which the United States Supreme Court recently declined to review. Davis was brought by two groups of people who are members of a federally recognized Indian tribe called the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma. These groups, or “bands” of people, as they are commonly referred to in Indian discourse, are known as the Dosar-Barkus and Bruner bands of the Seminole Nation. They brought a lawsuit in federal court seeking to obtain treatment equal in nature and degree to the treatment received by other members of their tribe. Specifically, they sought to participate in certain tribal programs that are funded by a judgment paid by the United States for tribal lands taken by the United States government in 1823 when the tribe was in Florida. The federal courts ultimately refused to allow these bands of Seminoles to have their case heard on the merits by holding that Rule 19 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure precluded the hearing of the case because the tribe was an indispensable party which could not be joined in the action due to its sovereign immunity. The Seminole tribe’s culture war over the Dosar-Barkus and Bruner bands of Seminoles has even resulted in tribal efforts to amend the Seminole constitution in a manner that would exclude these Seminoles from tribal membership. Why are these bands of Indians treated differently from the remainder of their tribe? Why is their own tribe so hostile to them? What separates them from the majority of their tribe? They are black.

This Essay explores how law has utilized the master narrative of white supremacy and black inferiority to construct Native American identity in a way that presently enforces the rule of hypo-descent. I must concede that while the Seminole Nation or “tribe” is not culturally representative of the diversity of Indian Nations or tribes in the United States, an inquiry into the experience of the Seminoles provides a basis for identifying how the master narrative of white supremacy and black inferiority is used to construct Native American identity, and how the construction of Native American identity in this fashion serves to further advance white supremacy…

Read the entire essay here.

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