Miscegenation, a story of racial intimacy!

Miscegenation, a story of racial intimacy!

African American Registry

On this date, the African American Registry discusses miscegantion.

Reference: The Encyclopedia of African-American Heritage

Susan Altman

Shortly before Christmas in 1863 a 72-page pamphlet appeared for sale on newsstands in New York City. It was titled “Miscegenation: The Theory of the Blending of the Races, Applied to the American White Man and Negro.” The pamphlet began with details of its title. “Miscegenation” was a word that the author had created and he explained that he had invented it by combining two Latin words: miscere (to mix) and genus (race). The authors intended to replace the word “amalgamation,” which they felt was not scientific enough.

The pamphlet went on to give a social philosophy that by the racist standards of 1863 was highly inflammatory.

The authors wanted to promote the practice of miscegenation and encourage white and black people to have children with each other. The real authors were David Goodman Croly, managing editor of the New York World, a staunchly Democratic paper, and George Wakeman, a World reporter. Within months, two Democrats in the presidential election campaign of 1864 anonymously issued the same pamphlet, which appeared in the New York Times. During this time, sex across the color line was an obsession of white America, particularly the stereotype of black men’s alleged craving for white women, along with believers in Anglo-Saxon “racial” superiority who feared that “mongrelization” was degenerative.

It is a fact that black-white sex existed from the beginning of the slave trade in the 16th century, virtually always on the initiative of Europeans who held Africans in their total control. During the infamous Middle Passage between Africa and the New World, black women and children were allowed mobility on board ship so that white sailors could have unlimited sexual access to them. Sex played a role in the gradual separation of Africans from other indentured servants in Virginia upon arrival with the unique North American reality of chattel slavery, by which people were legally defined as property. The very first case in this chain was a sexual one: In 1630 Hugh Davis was sentenced by the Virginia court to a whipping “for defiling his body in lying with a Negro.” Although it was a white man who was convicted and punished for the act, the case shows the early eroticisation of racial differences…

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