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The Forgotten Cause of the Civil War: A New Look at the Slavery Issue by Lawrence R. Tenzer

Introduction to Lawrence R. Tenzer’s
The Forgotten Cause of the Civil War: A New Look at the Slavery Issue

Preface by A.D. PowellDefinition of “White Slavery” – in the antebellum South, the enslavement of people who were physically “white.” “White slaves” were presumed to be descended from a “black” female slave according to the maternal descent rule of inherited slave status. There was no way to really determine who was descended from a female African slave and who was “pure” white. If the slave descent was broken by manumission, “white” slaves could often become legally “white.” Northerners, who were told by the Southern slaveholding elite that slavery was justified by the “inferiority” of the “black race,” were horrified to discover that people as white as themselves were being held as slaves. Southern political power and the federal Fugitive Slave Law allowed slave catchers to seize alleged fugitives from bondage with no due process. “White slavery” meant that one’s physical appearance was no protection from legal kidnapping. The political ramifications of this fact, unacknowledged by most American historians, are that anti-slavery politics increasingly emphasized the threat of slavery to Northern whites. The fear and hatred of slavery was usually not, as commonly believed, an altruistic response to the sufferings of “blacks” by liberal “whites.” Racial intermixture and mixed-race “whites” were, therefore, important factors in increasing the tensions that ultimately led to the American Civil War, and not just marginal characters in bad melodramas.To Interracial Voice Readers from A.D. Powell:

This is a crusade for justice.

The issue of “white slavery” in the antebellum South has FINALLY received some recognition in academic circles.

“White Slavery: An American Paradox” by Carol Wilson and Calvin D Wilson in Slavery and Abolition, 19:1.

“The Slave Trader, the White Slave, and the Politics of Racial Determination in the 1850s” by Walter Johnson in Journal of American History, (June 2000)


The definitive work on “white” chattel slavery and its political ramifications – Lawrence R. Tenzer’s The Forgotten Cause of the Civil War: A New Look at the Slavery Issue (Manahawkin, NJ: Scholars’ Publishing House, 1997) – has not been reviewed in any academic journal or even cited in a scholarly bibliography. Any idiot who wants to write fairy tales about mythological “black” Confederate soldiers bravely defending their Southern homeland from the marauding Yankees can find a publisher, but Dr. Tenzer’s 21 years of research in PRIMARY documents has been rejected by publishers. Why? Consider these possible reasons:

** The Forgotten Cause answers a question that American historians are always asking but don’t really want answered: Why was slavery the great moral and political issue of the antebellum period if it affected only “blacks,” a people who were deemed an “inferior race”? If slavery was a threat to “whites” in general, and “white slaves” were recognized as fellow “whites” by Northerners, historians must admit that there was no clear dividing line between the “races.” They must acknowledge that Southern slavery was a threat to Americans in general. Neither “liberal” nor “conservative” historians want to admit that.

** Neo-Confederate historians constantly argue in the popular press that the Confederacy fought, not for slavery, but for “states’ rights” and against some kind of federal tyranny. Tenzer shows that it was Northern states who exercised their “states’ rights” by passing personal liberty laws to nullify the effects of the federal Fugitive Slave Law. This law gave the accused slave, who could be “white,” no right to bring witnesses, have a jury, or any other forms of due process. The judge was authorized by the law to receive a larger fee if he ruled against the accused slave than if he ruled in his or her favor. Why do “liberal” historians refuse to publicize these facts when they totally devastate the Neo-Confederate nonsense about an abstract devotion to “states’ rights”?

** Other academics, such as Werner Sollors, have noted that abolitionist literature constantly emphasized white slavery. It’s hard to find an abolitionist novel that doesn’t feature quadroons, octoroons, etc. If slavery was justified by “race,” shouldn’t a “white” slave be free? Tenzer unearths the pro-slavery apologists who seriously argued that SLAVERY WHITE OR BLACK was justified and the institution didn’t need an “inferior race” to justify its existence. If historians acknowledge that the South’s intellectual defenders were willing to promote slavery as superior to free society and openly suggest that poor Northern laborers would be better off as property, what happens to the South’s glorious “Lost Cause”? What happens to the useless arguments about how much Northern “whites” liked or disliked “blacks,” or the Neo-Confederate nonsense that the presence of “black” (actually, wealthy mulatto) slaveholders “proves” that slavery was not the cause of the war?

** Finally, Tenzer researched antebellum Republican political literature to show that the threat of “white slavery” was used by Abraham Lincoln’s party to galvanize voters. The Republican Party activists, Lincoln included, knew that Northerners had good reason to fear the South and its insatiable need for more and more slaves. Southern pro-slavery apologists constantly stated that their slaves were better off than free white laborers in the North. More than that, the pro-slavery intellectuals defended slavery as a good in and of itself, regardless of “race” or “color.” While the current fashion is to argue that Southern states were merely resisting the tyranny of a federal government, we forget that The South effectively controlled Congress and the Presidency for most of the antebellum period. Northern whites had seen the Fugitive Slave Act shoved down their throats, the mails censored, and the expansion of slavery into new territories. Abraham Lincoln wasn’t the only one who knew that the nation couldn’t exist half slave and half free – it would become ALL SLAVE or all free. If slave society had triumphed over free society, who is naive enough to think that greedy slave owners wouldn’t have used their power to add many poor whites and Indians to their human property? Once we acknowledge these facts, what happens to the cherished myths of both liberal and Neo-Confederate historians?

IV readers, if you have ANY contacts in publishing, the history profession, the media, etc., please promote The Forgotten Cause. University students, introduce the book to your professors and fellow students. People who are NOT “gatekeepers” of information seem to have no trouble understanding Dr. Tenzer’s thesis. Only those with POWER suddenly lose their reading comprehension. If only ONE of them breaks ranks, it could make all the difference in the world.

The Forgotten Cause of the Civil War: A New Look at the Slavery Issue (Introduction)

Open-mindedness. That is what is required for reading all of the pages which follow. When one thinks of slavery in America, images of black and brown people come to mind. As this text will document through a considerable number of unmistakable primary sources, white people were also slaves. When talking to students, teachers, and others about white slaves, inevitably, the first question asked is, “If there really were white slaves in the South prior to the Civil War, where did they come from?” The common understanding of slavery in America pictures black slaves from Africa being brought over on slave ships. That, of course, is true, but rather than ending there, the story just begins. Several generations of interracial sexual relations with white plantation masters and other white men produced a population of white slaves, so-called white mulattoes. Darkness was taken to be prima facie evidence of slave status, and black and brown slaves greatly outnumbered white slaves. Although white slavery was merely the by-product of a black slavery system, there were, nevertheless, white slaves as well. Even after all visual characteristics of the African had long since disappeared, many generations of white people continued to be held in slavery because any child born of a slave mother automatically assumed slave status. It is to be understood that slavery was transmitted from generation to generation through the maternal line. Having a remote black female ancestor permitted people to be classified as black even though they were physiologically white, so slavery in the South in this ultimate sense was not based on color. Indeed, many travelers throughout the Southern states noted that they saw slaves who were as white as any white person. Since the subject of white slavery has gone and continues to go virtually unaddressed, slaves being black and brown endure in our common thinking. The image of a black person picking cotton standing next to a white person also picking cotton seems unbelievable and almost surreal, but that actually occurred in reality. It was that reality–the reality of white slaves–which played an important role in the pre-Civil War politics of the nation.

As the political power of the antebellum South increased, the fact that Southerners owned white slaves became a threat to many white Northerners. The enslavement of white mulattoes, actually white people, was quite a different matter than the enslavement of brown and black people, and white slavery became a controversial political issue. As the epigraph to this book indicates and Chapter 5 explains, these whites being enslaved gave rise to the fear that under the provisions of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, free whites in the North could be mistaken for white runaway slaves and be literally enslaved as well. Moreover, as Chapter 6 will show, this fear expanded into a widely held belief that freeborn white laborers in the North were also susceptible to literal enslavement if the South ever succeeded in nationalizing slavery. The bibliography to this work and several of the plates reproduced herein attest to the fact that many publications between 1850 and 1860 addressed the threat of white slavery in both of these literal manifestations. The existence of this body of literature is proof that white slavery was a threat to many white Northerners, and that threat was the fundamental aspect of this forgotten cause of the Civil War. It is important to note, however, that not everyone in the North wanted to end slavery or felt threatened by white slavery. Merchants had investments in Southern mines and railroads, sold manufactured goods to the South, and were purchasers of Southern cotton. The South owed $200,000,000 to Northern business interests, and this business community called for concessions to avoid a conflict between North and South. In addition to those in the business community, there were certainly others in the North who did not fear slavery. Many in the Democratic party and those who participated in the New York City draft riots in July of 1863 are good examples. As the abolitionists were establishing themselves and their movement in the 1830s, many Northerners looked on them as troublemakers. In his memoirs, the abolitionist Samuel J. May recalled what a New York merchant had told him in 1835.

Mr. May, we are not such fools as not to know that slavery is a great evil, a great wrong. But it was consented to by the founders of our Republic. It was provided for in the Constitution of our Union. A great portion of the property of the Southerners is invested under its sanction; and the business of the North, as well as the South, has become adjusted to it. There are millions upon millions of dollars due from Southerners to the merchants and mechanics of this city alone, the payment of which would be jeopardized by any rupture between the North and the South. We cannot afford, sir, to let you and your associates succeed in your endeavor to overthrow slavery. It is not a matter of principle with us. It is a matter of business necessity. We cannot afford to let you succeed….We mean, sir, to put you Abolitionists down,–by fair means if we can, by foul means if we must.From 1835 to 1860 is a very short span of time, a mere twenty-five years. What could possibly have accounted for the drastic change in attitude toward the abolitionists, their extreme increase in number, and a widespread change in the sentiment against slavery in general? Worth noting is that at the peak of the antislavery movement, there were people numbering in the hundreds of thousands who were, to varying degrees, empathetic to the cause, but many cared little if anything for the plight of people of color. In fact, it is known that a good number of whites who participated in the formal antislavery movement were prejudiced against blacks, even to the extent of using the word “nigger.” With the reality of slavery in all of its manifestations ever-present, what was cared about was the looming threat of slavery being imposed on white people. By working to abolish the institution of slavery, slavery in general, the threat of white slavery was directly being addressed. The last two chapters of this book clearly demonstrate that white enslavement was a real issue on the minds of many in the North.

The potential for being mistaken for a white runaway slave certainly explains one aspect of the fear engendered by white slavery. Where did the threat regarding the literal enslavement of Northern white laborers come from? The answer to this question is to be found in the vast unsettled territories of the nation and, with their slave or free status, the potential for a nationalization of slavery. With westward expansion into the free territories, the issue arose as to whether slavery should be allowed there. The politics of the matter heated up during the mid and latter 1850s. In 1858 Lincoln gave his famous “House Divided” speech in which he stated,

I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free…. It will become all one thing, or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery, will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.In 1860, exactly one year to the day before Fort Sumter was fired upon and the Civil War commenced, an editorial published four years earlier in the renowned Richmond Enquirer was read into the congressional record as being typical of the South’s point of view, casting aspersions on free society and extolling the virtues of slave society.If slavery be not the right, the healthful form of society, it will not endure long. But it has endured already for countless ages, and now covers nine tenths of the world…. Two opposing and conflicting forms of society cannot, among civilized men, coexist and endure. The onemust give way, and cease to exist; the other become universal. If free society be unnatural, immoral, unchristian, it must fall, and give way to a social system old as the world, universal as man.In both quotations, the nation is spoken of as being either all free or all slave, but not both. In the decade leading up to the Civil War, both sections of the country had to acknowledge that in reality, freedom and slavery could not coexist. Lincoln and the Republicans, of course, wanted the nation all free. By keeping slavery from expanding into the territories, all new states to come from those territories would be free states. The slave states would lose political power, and in time, the institution of slavery would become nonexistent. The South, on the other hand, wanted the nation all slave. Slavery would first be established in the territories and then expanded into the free states. Lincoln believed that the nation could become “all slave,” otherwise he never would have said so.

What would it mean for the nation to be all slave? Could it be possible for Southern political power to expand into a national proslavery political power and literally enslave free white Northerners? Free labor earned upwards of a dollar a day; slave labor was valued at 10¢ to 25¢. If slavery were made national, the very real threat existed that many white laborers already living in the territories would be unable to compete with the price of slave labor and would fall into poverty and be sold for debt. Since white laborers unable to make a living would not migrate there, every state to come from the territories would be a new slave state. This being so, proslavery congressional power would greatly increase along with the votes necessary to ultimately allow slavery into the free states, where free labor would again have to compete with slave labor. With the mentality of the country being all free or all slave, it is no wonder that people in the North, particularly the laboring class, felt vulnerable to the idea of slavery being nationalized into an “all slave” nation.

Many in the North held the belief that if slavery were nationalized, at first there would be figurative slavery in the free states, where omnipotent proslavery political power would usurp civil rights and the Northern political establishment. Once done, this in turn would likely evolve into literal slavery, where white people could be enslaved for life. Many contemporary references express the belief, either implicitly or explicitly, that the enslavement of white laborers in the North would ultimately be literal enslavement. The North would negate slavery in the South, by stopping its expansion, or the South would impose slavery on the North. Everything hinged on preventing slavery from expanding into the territories. Plank number 8 in the Republican Party Platform of 1860 stated, “That the normal condition of all the territory of the United States is that of freedom…. We deny the authority of Congress, of a territorial legislature, or of any individuals, to give legal existence to slavery in any territory of the United States.” In Lincoln’s letter to Horace Greeley dated August 22, 1862, he stated, “My paramount object in this struggleis to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery.” Lincoln was content to leave slavery alone where it already was, but that “the sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be ‘the Union as it was.’ ” That, of course, was a Union with free territories, where free labor would not have to compete with slave labor. The Civil War was fought to preserve the Union, “the Union as it was.”

“Fighting For What?” was one of the subheadings in the first volume of Philip S. Foner’s 5-volume set entitled History of the Labor Movement in the United States. Foner believes and this author agrees that hundreds of thousands of free laborers in the North went to war to abolish slavery; not out of altruism, but in order to ensure freedom for themselves and their loved ones. As Foner’s research on this subject indicates,

The Iron Platform, a New York workingman’s paper, gave in November, 1862, the reason that had compelled it to call for the freedom of the slaves: “There is one truth which should be clearly understood by every workingman in the Union. The slavery of the black man leads to the slavery of the white man…. If the doctrine of treason is true, that ‘Capital should own labor,’ then their logical conclusion is correct, and all laborers, white or black, are and ought to be slaves.”Upon examination of this passage, it becomes apparent that what is being spoken of is not figurative slavery. “Capital should own labor” was a phrase utilized during the presidential campaign of 1860 to denote the distinction between free labor which was hired, and slave labor which was owned. Ownership is literal slavery, chattel slavery. There were many white men in the North who risked their lives during the Civil War because they feared that if the South won and slavery were to be nationalized, slavery could be imposed on them. The foundations for this belief will be explained in detail. Suffice to say here, winning the war would abolish black slavery and the threat of white slavery as well.

David Thelen has said that “the challenge of history is to recover the past and introduce it to the present.” To this end, thousands of pieces of literature were perused in the preparation of this volume. Primary sources have been cited wherever possible, and note that many are obscure, having never appeared in any other history book. Such being the case, this bibliography will prove to be a valuable research tool for others who desire to explore the little-known aspects of pre-Civil War history which have been addressed herein. Other explanations for the Civil War have been acknowledged, but the issue of white slavery was also a cause. In an effort “to recover the past and introduce it to the present,” it may be said that the volume now in your hands is a contribution toward filling the void which currently exists regarding this forgotten cause of the Civil War.

Latinos and their Escape Hatches By William Javier Nelson

Latinos and their Escape Hatches
By William Javier Nelson

(Originally published in “Interracial Voice”)

A short time ago, I told Nathan Douglas and A.D. Powell that I would have some more to say about Latinos.

I will leave it up to others to explain WHY Latinos can and do deny their African ancestry. What I am interested in is letting the secret out (which is what A.D. Powell has been doing for quite some time). Before I go any further, let me add that informing the general public that Latinos have African ancestry is N O T the same thing as saying that they are “black”. It simply means that African ancestry is part of the mix. Period. I may get no further than this point for many North Americans, because there may be a “gene” in many North Americans which prohibits them from conceptualizing a human who possesses partial African ancestry, but who is not “black”. I once delivered an academic paper on this very topic, with extensive documentation.However, the award-winning host, as well as numerous other scholars, started asking me questions about “blacks”, as though what they had heard did not penetrate their heads. Ironically, they all agreed with my premise and conclusions — unfortunately, they just could not imagine a world in which a person of partial African ancestry is not “black”. One woman went so far as to query me about “blacks” who sailed the seas before Columbus, etc. etc.

The following are some figures which represent percentages of population for “New Spain” (the colony that eventually became Mexico) during various times of the Colonial Period:

These figures are compiled by the historian
Gonzalo Aguirre Beltran
Year Total Europeans Africans Indians Creoles Afro-
1570 100.0 0.2 0.6 98.7 0.3 0.1 0.1
1646 100.0 0.8 2.0 74.6 9.8 6.8 6.0
1742 100.0 0.4 0.8 62.2 15.8 10.8 10.0
1793 100.0 0.2 0.1 61.0 17.8 9.7 11.2
1810 100.0 0.2 0.2 60.0 17.9 10.2 11.5

In kindness to the Mexicans, let us assume that they did not initiate a draconian program to root out and slaughter persons of African descent. Yet, if one looks at the population figures of Mexico in the present day, persons of African origin will be conspicuously absent. The answer to the riddle is simple: Africans were absorbed into the population. Moreover, miscegenation never assumed the negative connotations it does in the United States. In addition, Latin Americans have always developed a variety of elastic and non-binding (not to mention subjective) nomenclatures for an assortment of mixed ancestries. Thus a modern Mexican possessing “non-black” features of straight or non-kinky hair and/or olive skin is likely to have an African ancestor going back generations before. The emphasis here is that this ancestry is part of a larger whole. Caribbean Latinos have even more direct experiences with African ancestry. It is not uncommon for a Dominican family, for example, to have members which range over a variety of phenotypes, which could include the “black” one which sets off the red flag to North American eyes — and which would also include the “Ricky Ricardo” phenotype associated with Latinos.

Most Latino immigrants, be they U.S.-affiliated Puerto Rican, Dominican, Mexican or South American, quickly learn about One Drop — especially if they learn English.

If any Latino has straight or non-kinky hair, he has a pretty good shot at basing his or her brown-skinned complexion on “Indian” ancestry (since he knows that neither the “white” racists nor the “black” inclusionists can rigidly put him in a “box”). Although Indians have certainly been oppressed in the New World, their ancestry has not been as rigidly treated as African ancestry.

The above will not, of course, galvanize legions of Latinos to “step forward” and admit to African ancestry. Most entrants to the U.S. have already doped out that African ancestry is something which precludes being part of the “American Dream”.

North Americans will eventually have to get to the point where they can conceptualize African ancestry as simply a representative of a point of origin (Just like European, Asian, Indian or any other ancestry) — nothing more and nothing less.

African Ancestry in Latinos: DocumentationNo one can say that people in the United States pay any attention to the use of logic and corroboration in the use of “racial” terms. After all, most everyone knows that a good proportion of “American blacks” are really mulattoes — yet most North Americans live in dread of uttering that word. Most North Americans are aware that at least as many “white” people have African ancestry as Indian ancestry [a gentleman by the name of Stuckert wrote an article about African ancestry in the “white” population in which he put the figure in the tens of millions…
Stuckert, R.P.“African Ancestry of the White Population.” OHIO JOURNAL OF SCIENCE 58, no. 3 (1958):155-160.]
yet some people would be sorely put out if that ancestry were to be focused upon.

So it really becomes who has the loudest and most powerful megaphone: and the mainstream media, as well as conventional education and culture, is committed to “black”/”white”/One Drop (regardless of any alternative documentation).

Yet, this is the Interracial Voice — and I am assuming that the readers here pay more attention to “racial” facts than the mainstream media. In that spirit, I am passing along some documentation of:
“African ancestry in Latinos”:
Selected (non-alphabetical) Bibliography:

Esteva-Fabregat, Claudio.
translated by John Wheat.
Tucsun: University of Arizona Press, 1995.

Morner, Magnus.
Boston: Little-Brown, 1967.

Conniff, Michael & Davis, Thomas J.
New York: St. Martins Press, 1994.

Palmer, Colin A.
1570-1650. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1976.

Klein, Herbert S.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.

Curtin, Philip D.
Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1969.

Rout, Leslie B.
London: Cambridge University Press, 1976.

van den Berghe, Pierre.
New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1967

This VERY SHORT list is taken from my article:
Nelson, William Javier. “Africans in Mexico: the Colonial Period.”
SOUTH EASTERN LATIN AMERICANIST 39, no.. 2(Fall 1995):35-44.

The one difference between me and the people who put together documentation listed above, is that the above scholars have usually confined their activities to the restricted environs of classrooms filled with comparative sociology and history students (a very limited audience) and I, on the other hand, am not above disclosing these “secrets” to the general public.

As I indicated before, North Americans associate non-kinky hair with an absence of African ancestry (thus, by inference, “Indian” ancestral presence) in Latinos. It does not matter if the point of origin for the Latino is a “mulatto” country like Cuba or the Dominican Republic (where the African presence is more immediate and numerous) or a “mestizo” country like Mexico (where the Africans have generally been absorbed generations before). I have seen the absolute hypocrisy of Cubans, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans explaining to North Americans the African-based richness of salsa and merengue music (with their polyrhythms and call-response) while simultaneously asserting that they are of “Indian” blood.

I would suppose that readers of my messages who present Latinos with this information will be met by the disclaimer that “maybe there is a little African in there somewhere, but MY family is all Spanish and Indian.” As I have said before, there is a way to assert satisfaction and acknowledgement of African ancestry without falling into “black'”/”white”/One Drop — but that is a path of discussion not traveled very much in the United States.

“Amistad”, Vectors, Comfort and Conciliation By William Javier Nelson

“Amistad”, Vectors, Comfort and Conciliation
By William Javier Nelson

(Originally published in “Interracial Voice”)

Since I am a regular contributor to Interracial Voice with a regular message (eliminate the One Drop Rule or hypodescent as it applies to African Americans), it might come as a surprise to those who read my essays and letters that I very much identified with (and felt proud to have been partially descended from) the African rebels, when I saw the movie “Amistad”.

For those who know me personally, it’s no surprise at all. Acknowledging African ancestry and even following derivatives of West African customs and practices does not automatically make one a fan of the “black”/”white” lunacy which infects the United States. Although one of the Africans in the movie was heard to cry “brother” to one of the U.S. residents with African ancestry, it is likely that the Africans, while growing up in their native cultures, would not have been able to fathom the words “black” or “white” or what they meant. By the way — for me, I was struck by the good-naturedness evident in the smile of Cinque (the African leader).

I am deeply impressed by the ability of North Americans to somehow separate their collective worlds into “black” and “white”. It is as if their common nationality of “American” is secondary. As in many social customs, most of the population would be hard pressed to give rational explanations for this, beyond the superficial ones revolving around “black” rejection of “whites” in certain social situations and/or “white” belief in “racism” or “black” inferiority. Do that many people know that, in the South during the early 1600s, both Europeans andAfricans were often treated as indentured servants? The observations of Kenneth Stampp and others somehow get lost in the rhetoric and dogma of “racial” separatism. Similarly, the genius (geniuses) who decided (long ago) that offspring of Africans and Europeans were to be labeled as though their European parents did not exist are not here to explain their wisdom. So North Americans are just left to deal with the effects (and there are many). North Americans can be likened to the magnetic filings used in high school science classes. When the magnet is pointed one way, the filings group together; when it is pointed another way, they separate. The U.S. population which insists on bifurcating itself into “black” and “white” camps is analogous to the magnet in the second mode. I call this the vectors of “whiteness” and “blackness”, which lead North Americans into artificially induced different directions.

At the core of the acceptance of these vectors lies a certain amount of comfort. I recall once when I took my ex-wife to my native country, the Dominican Republic, she had a delayed-stress reaction upon returning to the United States. Although discrimination based on color, features and hair texture does exist in the Dominican Republic, there is no cut-off point at which the population falls into “black” and “white” groups. Moreover, there is a tremendous amount of “racial/color” ambiguity and cultural overlap. Although my ex-wife is mulatto, she considers herself a “black” North American. As such, she was extremely disoriented in the Dominican Republic because she was not in a position to accurately judge who was “white” or “black” (and thus order her behavior for each group). Clearly, most North American “blacks” and “whites” are ambivalent with the present One Drop system. Although there seem to be mutterings about “racism”, “prejudice” etc., most people are comfortable with self-designations as “white” or “black” and are unwilling to forego allegiance to these bogus “white” and “black” groups and interact as Americans first. The only group significantly uncomfortable in most aspects with One Drop are the people who frequent this website (people like me).

My wife Estela is fond of biblical analogies (“santa” that she is). We have talked at length about what it takes to form a reconciliation. Estela says that present-day adults (full of their “racial” paradigms and feelings) will just have to die out. Makes one think of Moses and the bible. We have talked about the potential residing in folks who presently are not in either “black” or “white” camps (such as Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, etc.). Much of my contribution to Interracial Voice is, in fact, focused on this topic. I, for one, think that demography will do more than any editorial of mine or anyone else’s. There are too many interracial liasons which include “blacks” and “whites”. There are too many blended children being born. There are too many people coming into the U.S. who are not from “black” or “white” source areas. These people have relatively high birth rates. Whether someone formally strikes down the One Drop Rule is secondary to the increasing difficulty in fitting people into monoracial, zero-sum categories.

White Folks — A True Story


White Folks — A True Story
By A.D. Powell

“Is the stupid woman crazy or what? How could she do such a thing to an innocent — and perfectly white — baby?

The nurses at a hospital in a large, Northern city were shocked. The woman’s white as anyone else — whiter than many, to tell the truth, and she’s insisting that the baby’s parents be listed as “colored” on the birth certificate! Insane!

The woman herself, like most of her ilk, enjoyed the look of shock on the faces of others when she voluntarily dived from the most “superior” race in the world to the most “inferior” one. True to her type, she had developed a masochistic devotion to her stigma, her inferiority, her taint of “inferior blood.” Just as she hated herself, she had to hate everything that came from her. Later, the child she hated had that birth certificate corrected to “white.” It was easy. Like most of her ilk, the woman and her husband constantly contradicted themselves and married as “white” in a deep South state. But that’s another story.

It’s said that the cross-cultural definition of a slave is “one who has no ancestors.” That was certainly true of this woman. The pictures of her and her brother show blond, blue-eyed “Aryan” children — the kind the German S.S. used to steal in order to breed the “master race.” Instead, they were adopted by a stupid Caucasian woman who believed she wasn’t good enough for her own European ancestry (even as she secretly took pride in it) and her dark mulatto, professional husband. Instead of breeding the “master race,” their destiny would be to “improve” the world’s most “inferior” race with the “superior” blood of that race’s hated but adored enemy. Like other white captives, their “superior” European blood would, they were told, be used to “prove” the “inferior” race was not truly inferior. Of course that’s a contradiction, but no one is supposed to notice that.

Who were her parents? Legend has it that her mother was a Hungarian immigrant. Who was her father? God alone knows, but he MUST have been tainted with the most inferior of all bloods. Otherwise, the adoption agency would NEVER have allowed the adoptive parents to submit white children to the ultimate social injustice. Decades later, contrary to the social workers’ gospel, “white” families delighted in adopting such fair and “tainted” children. They didn’t see anything wrong with them. Social workers from a certain “race” panicked. “Racist” whites who didn’t have sense enough to know how “inferior” certain blood was supposed to be, were taking the “superior” blood an “inferior” race needed to “improve” its stock. Such “racists” had to be stopped and the social workers did. But, back to our story.

“Why did my mother give me up?” She echoed the words of every adopted child from time immemorial.

“Well, I suppose she didn’t want you. You’re tainted with inferior blood, you know. She was too good for you, that’s why you ended up with us.”

The childless Old Lady and her husband had achieved the dream of their mulatto elite caste. As self-styled “superior” members of the “inferior” race and “beautiful” members of the “ugly” race, they could claim as their own the beauty of the “superior” race and plead not guilty (on a technicality) to the dreaded miscegenation. Like other members of their caste, they delighted in introducing the children as their own. “Whites? What whites? Don’t you think WE can produce pretty blond babies too? What do whites have to do with it?” Puzzled “whites” in a large Midwestern city and later in Southern California scratched their heads in amazement. What’s going on here? Non-white minorities who prided themselves on not identifying with a certain race were even more puzzled. “I’d give my right arm to be that white, to trade this dark skin for the whiteness they needlessly repudiate,” said the Mexican, the Filipino, the Asian Indian, the Chinese, etc. “Those people are really stupid!” Wherever the mulatto elite caste and their black masters go, they take pains to teach the doctrine of inferior blood to those who don’t know it. “Excuse me, but I’m not as good as you think I am. I may look white and superior, you see, but I’m unworthy of the honor of my own ancestry because I’m tainted with the blood of an inferior race. You didn’t know that? Happy to keep you informed.” That could be the mulatto elite motto. It’s their religion.

The children began to have real problems, the daughter especially. She often ran away from home. These children were not going to bring glory to the “inferior” race, despite their abundance of “superior” blood. Throughout her life, she was to have temper tantrums and was once institutionalized for mental problems. Who are you? What’s YOUR ethnicity? She had no answer to those questions? The psychiatric report described her as an “inferior” female with “very light skin” as if she were an albino or a genetic freak. Obviously THEY couldn’t cure what ailed her. There were other curious bits of her history. The principal of her Chicago high school has once called her adoptive parents to complain that she was “trying to steal the boyfriends of the Jewish girls.” Historically, Jewish girls aren’t all that “white” and the Third Reich had murdered the relatives of these girls for the crime of polluting a “superior” race with their “inferior” blood. However, the daughter didn’t know that. Without ancestors, without knowledge of herself and others, she was totally disarmed.

For a brief time, the daughter joined the army. There she met a handsome young Caucasian man who was also without ancestors. He was a lieutenant and she was a private. Now, officers aren’t supposed to fool around with enlisted personnel. However, the powers that be on this deep South army base decided to look the other way. It solved an embarrassing problem. Nevertheless, a certain deep South state recorded the marriage of two white people, nationality “Americans.”

The marriage didn’t last long. The wife was mentally unstable and the husband was ambitious. He would use the military socialism of Uncle Sam (the only “socialism” or handouts considered respectable in the U.S.) to rise in the ranks, get an education, acquire the class status that would supposedly make up for the fact that he had no ethnicity. He had no word that would explain what he looked like and why he was the way he was. The only word that he felt he had permission to use didn’t describe him.

Understand now that the young man could easily have joined the army without this stigma, as could his bride. However, like so many white captives, they could not see the forest for the trees. If no one has ever shown you how to do a simple thing, if you have no role models who can teach you to survive in the world with your dignity intact, chances are you will constantly overlook opportunities and snatch defeats from the jaws of potential victories. So it was with our young couple.

The divorce was bitter — even as divorces go.

“The bitch lied to me! She told me she was pregnant, then we married and she really got pregnant. I never wanted to get married!”

The wife screamed, screamed and screamed again.

The husband was still in love with his German girlfriend. They had even had a baby girl who didn’t survive infancy. The wife could never compete with the sweet-tempered “pure” Aryan overseas — even if she had NOT been mentally unstable. Why didn’t he marry the German? Perhaps he was afraid he would be getting above himself.

Our less than perfect couple had their own baby girl. The wife tried to commit suicide several times. She even turned the gas on and tried to kill both herself and the baby. The husband was stationed in the Orient. Neighbors smelled the gas in time and called the cops.

The husband was now stuck with a helpless infant. Men aren’t supposed to take care of infants by themselves. Everyone knows that. What should a man do with a baby? Dump it on his mother! He headed South on a Delta airplane (what else?). The stewardesses and all the other women he encountered were charmed by the handsome young lieutenant with the cute little baby and no woman to help him.

After a year or so, a nasty custody battle followed. It took a lot for a mother to lose a custody battle in those days. You had to be mentally unstable AND whore around. Actually, it was not the wife who really wanted the toddler. It was her adoptive mother who wanted another cute, blond kid to show her relationship to the “superior” race without being brave enough to proclaim it.

Now the young ex-husband might have been forgiven for leaving his child with his mother for a short time. But he was busy with his army career, his travels and his girlfriends. He left the child in hell. No one except a white man with no ancestors would have been so senseless and ignorant.

To fully tell this story, we should probably go back into the 19th century. The young father never knew his grandparents. Indeed, there was a tacit but firm communication that he was not to ask about his father’s background, nor about the many relatives who seemed to have “disappeared” without a trace. Intellectually, he knew that he was a descendant of the European race, but that race and those ancestors were too good for him. It’s a common idea, and many who claim to be crusading against “racism” are still fanatical proponents of it because it caters to the inferiority complex of a certain politically powerful but socially insecure group of people.

By the time the child reached school age, purgatory had turned into hell. The young father forgot the torments he himself had suffered and did not realize how much worse it would be for his child, being both female and with almost no children like herself left in the town. What makes it even worse is the fact that it was all so unnecessary. The child could have lived with him on military bases with other dependents in a somewhat civilized environment, instead of enduring years of the following:

“What that white gurl doin here?”
“Let’s beat up the white girl!”
“White people ain’t no good! Dey crackers, y’all.” It would have been better if the child had at least been acknowledged as part of the race for whose sins she was being tormented. Is it surprising that later in life she developed a special contempt for those who try to deny that such hatred is INTERracial. Inwardly, she knew she did not belong to this race or this people. She always knew that one day she would leave it and go where she belonged. It is common to hear both liberals and conservatives worrying about white children losing their racial identity in predominately black schools. Curse them! Did they ever worry about the white captives and the deliberate attempts to destroy THEIR white racial identity? Let the “pure” kids suffer!

The teachers, like most adults, tried to ignore reality. When the children asked why a child of the hated enemy was amongst them, the teachers gave vague replies such as “Well, not everyone’s exactly the same color.” The teachers, being educated, knew what the children did not. “White” people may be their enemy, but it was an “honor” for their “inferior” race to assimilate as much of the enemy’s blood as possible. It was a source of beauty and intelligence.

Black hatred for whites is strongly coupled with black lust. The child experienced both. She was very lucky she wasn’t sexually raped, though she and all white captives are ethnically raped and racially raped. This kind of rape involves having an identity that is not truly yours forced upon you against your will. It involves the assumption that you have a moral obligation to be used as a source of European breeding stock in order to “improve” an “inferior” race. Indeed, that is the source of the Negro and mulatto elite outrage against so-called “passing.” The rape victims are escaping from their tormentors; the white slaves are escaping from their black masters; “superior” white blood is like genetic gold and they are being “robbed” of it.

It’s common for liberals to say that only dumb crackers think that black males lust after white women. Yes, they often do. The worse ones, however, are those who plead “not guilty” to the dreaded miscegenation by the technicality of the “one drop” myth. Show us a Southern town where people haven’t heard versions of the following:

“Yeah, I wants to marry me a Creole. They got that long pretty hair. I don’t want no nappy-headed nigger woman.”
“I wants me a high yella. It just like f—king a white woman.”

If the cracker boys come around and demand, “Nigger, what you doin with that white woman?” the nigger can just say:
“Lordy, boss, dis gal ain’t white; she inferior like I is.”
“Oh, sorry, nigger.”
“Damn, fellas, that sure is a pretty white girl. It don’t seem right.” You see, even the people who supposedly created the “one drop” myth (actually, elites did) are puzzled and disturbed by its contradictions.

There is, of course, a more refined version of the above that may be called the racial trophy wife syndrome. In those cases, more refined, intelligent black males seek out mulatto and creole white females as “beautiful” appendages to professional success. It is understood that “white” is beautiful and “black” is the opposite. The also get to deny that they are committing “miscegenation.” This may be the real reason that their intelligentsia, who claim the moral right to tutor America on what is and is not “racism,” fight like hell to maintain and perpetuate a “one drop” myth that condemns their genes as the most inferior, damning and undesirable on God’s earth. What is even more hypocritical is the fact that these same people often condemn those who make “official” interracial marriages as lacking in “racial pride.” They are really projecting their own racial inferiority complex onto others. The Indian and the Asian have more sense and more self-esteem. They do not attempt to claim people who are obviously not theirs, nor do they write and speak in favor of doctrines based on the assumption of their inferiority. This is why you will never see a “Bell Curve” revelation of the “inferiority” of American Indians despite their pitiful performance in schools and universities. The open acknowledgment of Native American ancestry in “whites” makes that option politically unfeasible. One would think the Negro and mulatto elites would learn, but they are wedded to the fear that they might really be biologically inferior and “white blood” will somehow protect them against the day. Why do you think the NAACP really panicked when the multiracial category was proposed? Voting rights? Bull! They feared losing “superior” white breeding stock and the intelligence and (female) beauty that supposedly comes with “superior” white blood.

The black and mulatto elite intelligentsia get the Northern liberals to cry and feel guilty over the alleged rapes they suffered during slavery. For those of you who claim that personal experience is always superior to historical research, let us say that personal experience would dictate that the Negro was “honored” not “raped.” Outraged? Many peoples have been raped throughout history. That is nothing new. What is special about the Negro is the way he came to prize the blood of the people he hated. No one fights to preserve a shame; they do fight to preserve an honor. That is why the Negro and his mulatto and white slaves foam at the mouth like rabid dogs at the thought of captives escaping (i.e., “passing”) . They fear the loss of “superior” blood. If the black and mulatto elite intelligentsia were honest in their inferiority complex, they might propose the following monument, to be placed next to those omnipresent Confederate memorials in every Southern town:

To the Unknown Rapist
Whose Superior Blood Gave
Intelligence and Beauty to
A Grateful and Inferior Race
Sure, it’s sick but it’s honest.

Meanwhile, the child retreated into an inner world of books, music and solitude. Her culture was not theirs, even as her race was not theirs. One day she would escape.

Mixed-race History: Some Hidden Information

‘White,”Mixed’ or’Other?’

Some Books and Articles Your Librarian Didn’t Tell you About!

“White by Definition: Social Classification in Creole Louisiana” by Virginia R Dominguez, 1986 — Rutgers University Press.

Dominguez is one of the few serious researchers in the area of racial mixture and white racial identity. She shows the importance of individual choice in overcoming the legal manipulations and bogus statutes of the power elite. She is also one of the few scholars honest enough to see the connection between the Hispanics and non-Hispanics of interracial ancestry. Indeed, she notes that the use of the term “Hispanic” as a racial category is designed to help government avoid dealing with the reality of racial intermixture.

“The Forgotten People: Cane River’s Creoles of Color” by Gary B. Mills — Louisiana State University Press, 1977.

Mills shows the higher than expected status that mixed-blood Creoles had in antebellum Louisiana (as does Dominguez in White by Definition). Remember that whenever you hear references to “black” plantation owners in the antebellum South, someone is trying to steal history from racially mixed people (mulattoes, quadroons, etc.) and give it to blacks.

“Miscegenation and the Free Negro (sic) in Antebellum ‘Anglo’ Alabama: A Reexamination of Southern Race Relations” by Gary B. Mills in The Journal of American History, Vol. 6, No. 1, June 1981. Pp. 16-34.

Check pages 27 through 31 of this long articles and you will see where Mills shows that families of known racially mixed ancestry moved from “colored” to “white” status within a generation or two with the knowledge and consent of the white community. This information totally contradicts the myth of “passing.”

“Race and Kinship in a Midwestern Town: The Black (sic) Experience in Monroe, Michigan, 1900-1915” by James E. DeVries — University of Illinois Press.

DeVries plainly states that the white community of Monroe, Michigan accepted the mobility of part-black whites into the white community. This again contradicts the “passing” myth. DeVries, however, is too much of a “liberal” racist to admit that and offend black elites. He even goes so far as to suggest that the white community of Monroe was “racist” for accepting part- black whites into the white community. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t!

A quote from the book: “Crossing over was not the silent mechanism that some historians have indicated. It involved not only racial heritage but, ironically, family and personal identity. Could an individual known to have an African ancestry be regarded and defined as white? Yes, the interracial backgrounds and unions off the Fosters and Duncansons were matters of public knowledge. Each of the families had a long, continuous heritage in Monroe, and descendants residing in the community today beat no stigma of race and are generally viewed as Caucasian.” (P. 150)

“Black (sic) Masters: A Free Family of Color in the Old South” by Michael P. Johnson and James L. Roark — W W. Norton and Company.

Johnson and Roark found that a “white mulatto” member of a “free colored” plantation-owning family served in the Confederate Army with the full knowledge and acceptance of the white community. “White” status seemed to be more closely related to loyalty issues rather the strict “purity.” (p. 307).


“Anglos and Mexicans in the Making of Texas, 1836-1986” by David Montejano — University of Texas Press, Austin.

Montejano describes the great inconsistencies in defining Mexicans as either “white” or a separate “race.” Mexican-Americans faced segregation similar to a Jim Crow system. The recent PBS series Chicano! also illustrates this fact. The existence of a racially mixed ethnic group with numerous racial phenotypes and class distinctions confounds the efforts of white elites to establish clear racial boundaries. Mexicans are a mixture of Indian (predominately), Spanish and black (from the slaves brought to colonial Mexico by the Spanish). Though they usually fail to mention the third element in their ancestry, many Mexicans have clearly Negroid facial feature and hair texture.

“Colored and Catholic: The Lebanese in Birmingham, Alabama” by Nancy Faires Conklin and Nora Faires. In “Crossing the Waters: Arabic -Speaking Immigrants to the United States Before 1940” edited by Eric J. Hooglund — Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.

This article relates the efforts of Lebanese immigrants in Alabama to establish “white” status and make themselves an exception to the Jim Crow laws. The Lebanese were too dark for their claim to “white” status to go unquestioned. You might say they were unknowing victims of the degradation of “Anglo” mulattoes.

“Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans” by Ronald Takaki — Little, Brown and Company.

Takaki states that “In 1909 federal authorities classified Armenians as “Asiatic” and denied naturalized citizenship to Armenian immigrants.” Armenians had to go to court to have themselves declared “white.” South Asians also were also denied “white”status due to their dark skin colors (despite the efforts of Anthropologists who claimed that skin color in “Caucasians” range from very pale to very dark brown or almost black).

“Pocahontas: The Evolution of An American Narrative” by Robert S. Tilton — Cambridge University Press.

Tilton explores the role of Pocahontas and the “Indian Princess” legend in creating white elite identity and legitimizing the stealing of Indian lands. The claim of descent from an Indian Princess is very popular among many whites. Tilton argues that is a way of saying that we didn’t steal the land but inherited it.

Here’s another interesting quote from Tilton:

“…for many base wretches amongst us take up with negro women, by which means the country swarms with mulatto bastards, and these mulattoes, if but three generations removed from the black father or mother, may, by the indulgence of the laws of the country, intermarry with the white people, and actually do every day so marry. Now, if instead of this abominable practice which hath polluted the blood of many amongst us, we had taken Indian wives in the first place, it would have made them some compensation for their lands. …We should become rightful heirs to their lands and should not have smutted our blood…”

The Rev. Peter Fontaine of Virginia, 1757.

“Mixed-Bloods and Tribal Dissolution: Charles Curtis and the Quest for Indian Identity” by William E. Unrau — University Press of Kansas.

Unrau relates how mixed blood or “white Indians” were promoted by government as a “civilizing” influence on real or full-blood Indians. Charles Curtis is often listed as an “Indian” (1/8) Vice President of the U.S., but he was fully “white” in every caste or social sense. We should ask what is the difference, if any, between a “mixed blood Indian” and a part-Indian “white?” What is the role of a “mixed” elite (for either Indians or blacks) in reinforcing ideas of white superiority and institutions of white supremacy? Indeed, whenever blacks insist on claiming people who aren’t of Negroid phenotype for their “race” aren’t they really expressing an inferiority complex and a tacit belief that their genetic stock needs to be improved with the blood of their hatred but adored white “enemy?”

WHEN JESUS CAME, THE CORN MOTHERS WENT AWAY: MARRIAGE, SEXUALITY AND POWER IN NEW MEXICO, 1500-1846. By Ramon A. Gutierrez (Stanford University Press, 1991),

This is an excellent study of racial intermixture in New Mexico under colonial Spanish rule and the early days of the Mexican republic. Check out this passage regarding the origin of the word “mulatto”:

“Professor John Nitti of the University of Wisconsin’s Medieval Spanish Dictionary Project informs me that the word `mulato’ initially meant a racial mixture of any sort. Offspring of Spaniards and Moors were known as `mulatos’ in medieval Iberia, as were later mixtures between blacks and Indians, and between Frenchmen and Indians. Eventually `mulato’ came to mean specifically a mixture between a black and a white. `Mulato’ appears in New Mexican church records, though there is no evidence that the individuals classed as such had any black African ancestry”

Here’s a passage that reminds us of many of today’s Latino leaders:

“Don Pedro Pino, New Mexico’s representative to the 1812 Cortes at Cadiz, reported to that assembly that `In New Mexico there has never been any caste of people of African origin. My province is probably the only one in Spanish America to enjoy such distinction.’ Don Pedro was patently wrong, but advanced the claim to validate a myth he wished to perpetuate, namely that New Mexico’s nobility had preserved their honor and racial purity over the centuries.”


This book SHOULD be called “THE FREE MULATTO OR MULTIRACIAL…” However, Berlin would never have won the National Historical Society Book Award if he had been that honest. Most of the “free colored” caste could be called multiracial as opposed to “black.” The best thing about Berlin’s book is how he details the antebellum laws that acknowledged varying admixtures of black ancestry in the white population (as opposed to the “one drop” rule that really had its origins in the 20th century). Here’s an interesting passage:

“Fearful of pushing too many persons of both colors to the wrong sides of the color line, the South Carolina legislature never legally defined the Negro and left the problem of distinguishing between mixed-bloods and whites up to the courts. South Carolina jurists generally drew the line between white and black at somewhere between a quarter and an eighth Negro ancestry, but they also made legal passing contingent on social acceptability as well. .. Allowing the question of whiteness to turn on public acceptance as well as genealogy enabled many well-placed whites to free their mulatto children from their proscribed status.”

MEXICAN AMERICANS: LEADERSHIP, IDEOLOGY, & IDENTITY, 1930-1960. By Mario T. Garcia. (Yale University Press, 1989).

A really interesting history of Mexican American political leadership and its quest to fight racial discrimination against Mexican-Americans while pretending to be a pure “white” ethnic group. The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) constantly went to court arguing that position. However, you’ll never see them denounced for “passing” by black or liberal elites.

SLAVES OF THE WHITE GOD: BLACKS IN MEXICO, 1570-1650. By Colin A. Palmer (Harvard University Press, 1976).

The author details the black slavery in Mexico and the ancestry that Mexicans and Mexican-Americans pretend doesn’t exist.

BETWEEN RACE AND ETHNICITY: CAPE VERDEAN AMERICAN IMMIGRANTS, 1860- 1965. By Marilyn Halter (University of Illinois Press, 1993).

Struggle of Cape Verdean (Portuguese/African) Americans to establish their identity in the United States and their relationship with “white” (still pretty dark) Portuguese.


The origins, persecution and re-emergence of a Southern multiracial ethnic group. Kennedy provides fascinating accounts of the politics of racial classification.

CREOLES OF COLOR OF THE GULF SOUTH. Edited by James H. Dormon. (University of Tennessee Press, 1996).

How multiracial Creoles have maintained their ethnic identity despite oppression.


This book is interesting to students of racial classification because of the racist smear campaign conducted during Harding’s presidential campaign in 1920 – that he was part Negro. Russell provides fascinating detail on this campaign, an issue that the Harding family is still sensitive about. Harding won anyway.

THE SWEETER THE JUICE: A FAMILY MEMOIR IN BLACK AND WHITE. By Shirley Taylor Haizlip. (Simon and Schuster, 1994).

Haizlip starts out as a devoted believer in the “one drop” myth who wonders why she and her mother are the only “white” members of her “black” family. She decides to trace her mother’s missing relatives, imaging them to be “blacks” who are “passing” as white. She’s forced to change her mind as she encounters white relatives who remain “white” despite the revelation of their partial black ancestry. Haizlip herself moves more toward a multiracial as opposed to a purely “black” identity.

THE LIVES OF JEAN TOOMER: A HUNGER FOR WHOLENESS. By Cynthia Earl Kerman and Richard Eldridge.. (Louisiana State University Press, 1987 — 1-800-861- 3477).

Falsely labeled as a “black” author because of his book of poetry and short stories, CANE (which deals almost exclusively with multiracial people), Toomer fought a life-long battle to be recognized for what he truly was. His theories of a “universal man” beyond racial demarcation makes him an important dissenting voice against the hypodescent status quo.
Also see The Jean Toomer Pages

DESEGREGATING THE ALTAR: THE JOSEPHITES AND THE STRUGGLE FOR BLACK PRIESTS, 1871-1960. By Stephen J. Ochs. (Louisiana State University Pres, 1990).

Readers should know that there is a movement among black and liberal American Catholics to create a “black Catholic” history that rightfully belongs to multiracial Americans. Louisiana Creoles are the victims of this attempt to create “black” Catholics, but the most prominent victims are three brothers born to an Irish-American father and a mulatto mother in antebellum Georgia. James Augustine Healy was bishop of the diocese of Portland, Maine from 1875 until his death in 1900. Patrick Francis Healy served successively as professor, prefect of studies, vice-rector, and, from 1874 to 1882, as rector of Georgetown University. Alexander Sherwood Healy served as rector of Holy Cross Cathedral and, for a few months before his death in 1875, as pastor of St. James Parish in Boston. Ochs admits that the Healys did not identify with blacks but with their Irish heritage and were not considered “black” by others. Indeed, not only were the Healy brothers only one-quarter “black” and of caucasian phenotype, but it was their Irish father who reared them as Catholics and paid for the educations that allowed them to rise to such high positions in their Church. Nevertheless, hypodecent fanatics like Ochs claim that “blacks” deserve all the credit.

THE MISSISSIPPI CHINESE: BETWEEN WHITE AND BLACK by James W. Loewen. (Waveland Press, 1988).

Loewen describes how the Chinese moved from “colored” to “white” in Mississippi by agreeing to the demands of the white elite that they cut all ties with part-black Chinese and those married to “colored” wives. You’ll never see the Chinese denounced for “passing” in black or liberal publications.

CHINESE IN THE POST-CIVIL WAR SOUTH: A PEOPLE WITHOUT A HISTORY. By Lucy M. Cohen. (Louisiana State University Press, 1984).

How the Chinese used their in-between status to intermarry with both whites and “colored” in the South.

WHITE BY LAW: THE LEGAL CONSTRUCTION OF RACE. By Ian F. Haney Lopez. (New York University Press, 1996).

How is “white” defined in the U.S.? The definition varies tremendously. Lopez concerns himself mainly with immigration issues and how East Asians, South Asians, Latinos, Armenians, Arabs and others made legal efforts to prove themselves “white” in order to gain U.S. citizenship.

MAKING ETHNIC CHOICES: CALIFORNIA’S PUNJABI MEXICAN AMERICANS. By Karen Isaksen Leonard. (Temple University Press, 1992).

When men from India’s Punjab province were not allowed to bring women with them from India due to racist immigration laws, they intermarried with Mexican women. A multiracial Punjabi-Mexican American ethnic group was the result.


The author describes how her multiracial Chinese and European American family thrived in Los Angeles, California despite anti-miscegenation laws. Marriages between family members of Chinese ancestry and “whites” were conducted in nearby Mexico and then the couples moved back to California. California obviously did not prosecute couples who evaded its anti-miscegenation laws the way Southern states did.

THE TEMPLE BOMBING by Melissa Fay Greene (Addison-Wesley Publishing Compnay, 1996).

The title refers to the infamous bombing of Atlanta’s oldest and most prominent synagogue on October 12, 1958 by white supremacists. However, the books is also a social history of Southern Jews, their marginal position in Southern race relations, and their constant fear that their “whiteness” (the “passing” theme) could be challenged.

SCENES IN RED, WHITE AND BLACK: THE EUGENIC ASSAULT ON AMERICA by J. David Smith. (George Mason University Press, 1993).

Smith shows the 20th century link between anti-miscegenation laws and the eugenics movement. Forced sterilization of the institutionalized, racial registration and restricting miscegenation were all linked to the idea of “improving” the [white] gene pool. The best part of the book is the hidden history of the minority of fanatical racial purists who wanted to ban all non-caucasian ancestry (with the exception of small amounts of American Indian ancestry possessed by white elites such as the descendants of Pocahontas) from the white “race.” Special emphasis is placed on Virginia and the men whose names are unknown but should go down in infamy: Walter Plecker (who headed Virginia’s bureau of vital statistics and delighted in hunting down “impure” whites and Indians) and Virginia aristocrat John Powell of the Anglo-Saxon Clubs. Showing the link between black nationalism and white racism, Smith details the friendship between John Powell and Marcus Garvey (both believed in promoting racial purity).

THE RAMAPO MOUNTAIN PEOPLE. By David Stephen Cohen. (Rutgers University Press, 1974).

Also called “Jackson Whites,” this is the story of a multiracial community of Dutch, Indian and black ancestry that has existed since colonial times.

AMBIGUOUS LIVES: FREE WOMEN OF COLOR IN RURAL GEORGIA, 1789-1879. By Adele Logan Alexander. (University of Arkansas Press, 1991).

While the author slavishly subscribes to hypodescent, she provides good historical detail on how the privileged social and educational opportunities of Southern multiracials were due to their often close ties with whites fathers and other relatives (as opposed to the myth of the callous white rapist slavemaster “breeding” more slaves). These privileges created the myth that mulattoes and mixed-whites were the “flower of the colored race.” These “mulatto elites” filled the “Negro” colleges and universities and reinforced the idea that intelligence comes from “white blood.” When you recognize this history, you can see why the NAACP makes the ridiculous claim that losing non-blacks to a “multiracial” category will somehow destroy all the progress that “blacks” have made. Many of them probably still have the tacit belief that intelligence comes from “white blood.”

WOMEN OF COLOR, DAUGHTER OF PRIVILEGE: AMANDA AMERICA DICKSON, 1949-1893. By Kent Anderson Leslie. (University of Georgia Press, 1995).

This book should be read with AMBIGUOUS LIVES. The biography of an “elite mulatto lady” who inherited her white father’s plantation and became the richest “colored” woman in the U.S.

INDIAN SLAVERY IN COLONIAL TIMES WITHIN THE PRESENT LIMITS OF THE UNITED STATES by Almon Wheeler Lauber (reprinted 1970 by Corner House Publishers).

This work, originally published in 1913, proves that extensive Indian slavery existed side-by-side with Negro slavery in colonial America in virtually all the colonies.


The history of the Lumbee Indian tribe of North Carolina (now officially the largest Indian tribe east of the Mississippi) should be required reading for the study of racial intermixture in the United States. Listed as “free colored” (a generic term for “non-white”) during the antebellum period, they fought a long and constant battle against the state of North Carolina for the right to call themselves “Indians” instead of “Negroes.”

POWHATAN’S MANTLE: INDIANS IN THE COLONIAL SOUTHEAST. Edited by Peter H. Wood, et. al. (University of Nebraska Press, 1989).

This book also deals with Indian slavery. Important mention is made of uneven sex ratios among Indian and early black slaves, with women predominating among the former and men among the latter. Black and Indian intermixture probably far outnumbers black-white intermixture. Colonial merchants waged slave-raids against Indian tribes and “An inestimable number of Indains from many tribes found themselves either being shipped away as slaves from colonial ports or working as slaves in and around them.”


Emphasis on Indian slavery and intermixture with whites and blacks.

SOUTHEASTERN INDIANS SINCE THE REMOVAL ERA. Edited by Walter L. Williams (University of Georgia Press, 1979).

Good essays on the history of the Lumbees of North Carolina, the Houma of Louisiana, the Catawba of South Carolina and the Indians of Virginia in their struggle for ethnic survival and dignity within a white/black Jim Crow dichotomy.

SLAVERY AND THE EVOLUTION OF CHEROKEE SOCIETY, 1540-1866. By Theda Perdue (University of Tennessee Press, 1979).

THE CHEROKEES: A POPULATION HISTORY. by Russell Thornton (University of Nebraska Press, 1990).

CREEKS AND SEMINOLES. By J. Leitch Wright, Jr. (University of Nebraska Press, 1986).

The three books listed above contain important information on the social and legal implications of Cherokee intermixture with whites and blacks.

THE DEATHS OF SYBIL BOLTON: AN AMERICAN HISTORY by Dennis McAuliffe, Jr. (Times Books, 1994).

This book provides valuable information regarding the legal status and psychology of mixed-blood “white” members of Indian tribes. The author, a journalist, started out by investigating the death of his maternal grandmother, who was part-Osage Indian and an enrolled member of the tribe. Concentrate on the history and ignore the author’s attempt to impose a “one drop of Indian blood” rule on himself and his family – using the “one drop of black blood” myth to justify it. I note that in the many book reviews that appeared when the book was first published, McAuliffe’s historical research was praised but no one took his claim of being a white “Indian” seriously – quite the opposite of what happens when whites claim to be “black” (e.g., Gregory Howard Williams).

THE LIFE OF OKAH TUBBEE. Edited by Daniel F. Littlefield, Jr. (University of Nebraska Press, 1988).

This book is an introduction to the autobiography of a Choctaw Indian who was enslaved as a child. The book is marred by Littlefield’s racist introduction, in which he insists on referring to Tubbee as a “black” passing for “Indian.” Littlefield claims that Tubbee was born to a black slave mother and a white father who emancipated the mother and two older children (who later became prosperous members of the “free colored” community but kept Okah Tubee (then called Warner McCary) as the slave of his own mother and siblings. Littlefield, in his devotion to hypodescent, does not want to consider that Tubbee was most likely a Choctaw slave trying to claim his lost heritage.

LONG LACE; THE TRUE STORY OF AN IMPOSTER. By Donald B. Smith. (University of Nebraska Press, 1982).

This story is fascinating history as long as you ignore the racist (“black” passing for Indian) remarks of the author. Long Lance (born Sylvester Long) was born in North Carolina of Indian, white and black ancestry. If his ancestry had been Indian and white only, Smith would praise him to the skies for seeking out his Indian heritage. Smith, however, insists throughout the book that Long was only good enough for his small amount of black ancestry. Long Lance launched a career as a journalist and gained fame as a provocative writer and eloquent speaker for the cause of the North American Indian.

THE LUMBEE PROBLEM: THE MAKING OF AN AMERICAN INDIAN PEOPLE by Karen I. Blu. (Cambridge University Press, 1980.)

How the multiracial people now called the Lumbee Indians of Robeson County, North Carolina fought the state’s attempts to classify them as “Negroes” and finally achieved recognition as Indians. Fascinating details on how Robeson County depends upon associations and social ties to “define” people since phenotype and “black blood” cannot be depended upon to determine racial classification in the county.


Forbes, a prominent scholar of Native American studies, explores the evolution of racial terminology and the changing meanings of racial terms such as “black,” “mulatto,” and “mestizo.” Forbes emphasizes the constant racial mixing that has occurred throughout the centuries between Native Americans, Africans and Europeans.


What is especially interesting to students of racial classification is how Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924 (its infamous “one drop” law) was used to persecute Native Americans.

MANY TENDER TIES: WOMEN IN FUR-TRADE SOCIETY, 1670-1870. By Sylvia van Kirk. (University of Oklahoma Press, 1980).

THE NEW PEOPLES; BEING AND BECOMING METIS IN NORTH AMERICA. Edited by Jacqueline Peterson and Jennifer S.H. Brown. (University of Nebraska Press, 1985).

The two books listed above are excellent histories of the origins, flowering, persecution and resilience of Metis (European and Native American) society in both Canada and the northwestern U.S.

ROBERT STAFFORD OF CUMBERLAND ISLAND: GROWTH OF A PLANTER by Mary R. Bullard (University of Georgia Press, 1995).

Robert Stafford was a wealthy Georgia planter who had several children by mulatto women and provided handsomely for them. The book provides fascinating information on how wealth could socially “whiten” people of known multiracial ancestry.

POOR RELATIONS; THE MAKING OF A EURASIAN COMMUNITY IN BRITISH INDIA 1773-1833 by Christopher Hawes (Curzon Press, 1996; may be purchased from University of Hawaii Press).

The Anglo-Indians were created by intermarriage and mating between British soldiers and Indian women. As early as the 1830s, Eurasians (later called Anglo-Indians) already exceeded the number of British civilians in colonial India. At the time of India’s independence, they outnumbered ALL British residents. Yet, there has been little historical attention to the development of this mixed-race community, the problems which it faced (social, economic and attitudinal) nor to the questions which its rise posed to British authority.

Hawes describes how the mixed-race experience in India is typical of the “European colonial adventure” worldwide. The social and legal experiences of mixed-race people is influenced by class status (especially the father’s status), birth within marriage versus the stigma of bastardy (British discrimination against people born outside of wedlock was especially harsh), and the conflict between the law and family ties.

Hawes’ research shows that the British as individuals had no real qualms about interracial marriage and, contrary to the hypodescent rule, wanted their biracial offspring to be British. The problem lay with British elites whose devotion to the new “scientific” racist doctrines resulted in oppression typical of the mixed-race experience:

a) The mixed-race communities are utilized to maintain colonial authority but denied the highest offices reserved for “pure” whites (with a few exceptions for multiracial persons of great wealth).

b) The colonial power fears that the mixed-race community will present a challenge to “white” authority and blur the lines between the “superior” European and the “inferior” non-European.

c) The mixed-race community (especially its educated elites) maintains its ambition to be treated as part of the European caste, but is subject to laws that prevent a full identification with the ruling nation to which it is bound by blood and culture.

“Eurasian populations…undermined, in the most public manner possible, concepts of colonial rule which depended ultimately on maintaining the illusion of the racial superiority of white European males. The consequent dilemma for Eurasian populations was how they might identify fully with their parent colonial societies, on which they were economically dependent and to which they were culturally bound. They shared in what has been termed the `imagined community’ of nationalism as fully as their European fathers and forefathers, but were denied participation on equal terms. In turn the predicament of colonial authority was how far should it go in acknowledging its children of mixed race. In practice it seems that there was an uneasy compromise in colonial societies between disavowal and acceptance. Parental responsibility and considerations of Eurasian utility to the regime were in tension with concepts of Eurasian political unreliability and the damage which full acceptance might do to perceptions of white prestige.”


Benfey spends less time on the famous French painter Edgar Degas and the alleged influence that New Orleans and his Creole relatives had on his work than he does in relating the story of one of Degas’ relatives: a brilliant “quadroon” engineer named Norbert Rillieux who invented an efficient steam-driven apparatus for refining sugar.

When you ignore Benfey’s racist use of the term “black” to describe people who are far from it, you find important information about the privileges and oppressions experienced by mixed-race Creoles in 19th century New Orleans. Rillieux (who is often falsely listed as a “black” inventor) was a highly respected professional whose predominate white ancestry allowed him to utilize his talents in a way that would not have been possible if he had been black.

One of Rillieux’s close friends and major supporter in Louisiana sugar circles was Judah P. Benjamin, the Jewish Confederate luminary who later served as Jefferson Davis’s Secretary of State. In a nice touch of irony, Benfey compares the image of the “mulatto” in American literature with than of the “Jew” in European literature:

“Almost white, almost free, `oriental,’ and effeminate, at once wealthy and a social pariah, the free man of color in his literary depictions occupies much the same place as the Jew in literary Europe. (The first article of the eighteenth-century `Code Noir,’ or Black Code demanded the expulsion of the Jews from New Orleans.) Jews and free men of color were difficult to detect; they often LOOKED like white citizens, and passed for such. It was against the radical `otherness’ of Jews and free people of color that the proper Englishmen and proper Louisiana Creoles respectively sought to define their own uneasy identity.”

A Brief History of the Color Line By Frank W. Sweet

A Brief History of the Color Line
By Frank W. Sweet

(Originally published in “Interracial Voice”)

Most of us unwittingly suffer from a fallacy which historians call “presentism.” We assume that folks in other places or other times shared our beliefs. We imagine that America’s odd racial attitude is global. We suppose that the “race” notion has persisted for thousands of years. In fact, North America is unique and the very concept of “race” was invented around 1676. How did Americans manage to paint ourselves into such a strange corner?

To illuminate the past, scholars define “the race notion” as the existence of a color line — an endogamous, impermeable social boundary. Endogamous means that folks do not marry across the line. Whether this is enforced by law (as in most of the United States before the Supreme Court ruled in Loving v. Virginia, 1967) or by social pressure from family and peers (as in all of the United States today) is irrelevant; the Black community is endogamous. Impermeable means you cannot switch sides. You are expected to die on the side of the color line where you were born. Again, whether fair-complexioned Americans of part-African descent are dissuaded from re-labeling ourselves White by law or by social pressure is unimportant; Americans seldom change caste.

Three features of the U.S. color line are historically important: how strong it has been, where it has been located along the complexion spectrum, and whether there was one line or two. This article sketches the history of these features. It uses the past to shed light on the present. It concludes by plugging the author’s books. Fair warning: it advocates no ethical or political position regarding the “race” notion; it is purely informative. So if you seek solutions, stop reading now. But if you are curious how we got into this predicament, read on.

How Strong Was The Color Line?

Consider endogamy. Today, about 60 percent of U.S. Hispanics marry non-Hispanics. The exogamy rate (the opposite of endogamy) of Native Americans is 54 percent. Irish-, German-, and Polish-American exogamy is at 50 percent. About 45 percent of Italian- and Japanese-Americans out-marry, and 40 per cent of Jews marry Christians. In contrast, African-American exogamy is a tiny 3.5 percent as of the 1990 census, and even this negligible rate is a recent historical maximum. From 1880 through 1970, Black exogamy languished below one percent.

Or consider impermeability. Today, the number of U.S. citizens born into Jewish, Hispanic, Native American, Irish-, German-, Polish-, Italian-, or Japanese-American families who switch to census-reporting themselves as vanilla non-ethnic adults also ranges from 40 to 60 percent. But only 2.1 percent of Black Americans switch to labeling themselves White in adulthood.

These numbers come from easily available census data. For references, see this article’s last paragraph. What’s more, since the census is constitutionally mandated, similar numbers are available from 1790 and state-collected data go back even further.

Looking into the past, we find that endogamy and permeability moved in precise lockstep over the years. They rose and fell together because they quantify the same social phenomenon — the strength of the color line. They measure how fiercely Americans believe in our odd “race” notion.

The first surprise is that the color line was weaker before the Civil War. Intermarriage was higher, and fair-complexioned biracials were knowingly accepted as White at a higher rate than ever again. (Census numbers apply to free U.S. citizens of part-African descent — about 400,000 in 1860 — and not to slaves because slave marriages were illegal. But then, slavery per se is ancient and tangential to the modern “race” notion.)

The second surprise is that the color line was nonexistent before 1670, it peaked in the 1720s, fell to a minimum in the 1790s, rose again to near-Jim Crow level in the 1820s, fell to a minimum around the Civil War, rose to its most extreme manifestation in the 1920s, and recently fell to a 1990 minimum. In other words, since its invention, the “race” notion has waxed and waned regularly in a hundred-year cycle.

Tracking the strength of the color line is not mere ivory-towerism. Other race-inspired phenomena like genocide, lynching, and Black/White ratios of segregation, crime, income, education, even intelligence precisely follow the rise and fall of color line endogamy and impermeability. For example, the Black/White ratio of wealth in 1666 Virginia — before the color line was deliberately invented — was closer to parity than today’s national figure.

Social historians study the color line as well as its consequences for two reasons. First, with a little instruction anyone can measure it from publicly available census data. Second, it avoids the focus-blurring plaint that, “cruelty, injustice, oppression, and hatred have always been endemic,” by answering, “true but irrelevant; we are concerned only with damage caused by the race notion.” For example, as defined above (endogamy, impermeability), the Muslim world and Latin America lack color lines. Indeed, dozens of nations in both hemispheres imported millions of African slaves. All but one totally absorbed their former slaves by intermarriage soon after freeing them. Yet no one would claim that those places are Eden today.

Today, “race” enthusiasts of every shade and party demand a government-enforced label in order to detect incidents of bigotry. One may examine their logic under the historical lamp that it is precisely by teaching our children to recognize and shun the Other that we bequeath such incidents into each new generation.

Where Was The Color Line Along The Complexion Spectrum?

The one-drop rule is not global. It is unique to North America. For example, England’s highest social level welcomed Afro-European intermarriage as late as 1761. King George III’s wife of more than 50 years, Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, whom he wed that year, was openly biracial, a dark-complexioned noblewoman descended from Margarita de Castro y Sousa, of the Afro-European branch of the Portuguese Royal House. Her biracial features are clear in contemporary portraits, the most famous being the one by Sir Allan Ramsay. Queen Victoria was her granddaughter. Two centuries later, during Queen Elizabeth II’s 1953 coronation, the Royal Household referred to the present queen’s African bloodline in a white paper it published defending her position as head of the Commonwealth. Every knowledgeable Briton knows of the present Queen’s African ancestry. Yet none considers her (or her ancestors Queen Victoria or Queen Charlotte, for that matter) to be “Black.”

For that matter, every Spaniard and Portuguese alive today carries eight-to-ten percent African genes from the approximately 100,000 sub-Saharan slaves who were imported between 1490 and 1590, and who were promptly assimilated into the Iberian melting pot. Yet most upper-class Latins consider themselves lily white nonetheless. In short, outside North America, even in countries that have a form of “race” notion, you are what you appear to be.

The one-drop rule is not old. It was not invented to support slavery. It spread across the United States after 1880. Slavery was 30 years dead when Southerners learned it from Yankees.

For example, antebellum South Carolina had a sharp color line. Passing and miscegenation were serious social transgressions. But the color line was shifted far to the dark end of the complexion spectrum. You were accepted as legally White in every way if you were reasonably pale and had “good hair,” no matter your parents’ appearance. Indeed, it was the upper-crust Brown Fellowship Society of Charleston who, in the 1760s, invented the grocery-bag rule of today’s Black elite (to be admitted, the skin of your forearm must be lighter than Kraft paper). As of 1830, 474 South Carolina biracials owned 2,794 slaves, about one South Carolina slave in a hundred. These legally White but genetically mixed slaveowners fought to preserve their way of life. Some were Confederate officers in the Civil War. Their sons and nephews served in the ranks.

One of history’s ironies happened in 1895, when South Carolina’s post-Reconstruction Constitutional Convention adopted the Jim Crow one-drop rule. Then, a hundred wealthy families were ripped apart by being re-labeled Black overnight when the color line shifted. Amid tears, knowing they would never see each other again, light complexioned former slaveowners passed into the White world. Their darker brothers, sisters, and cousins merged into today’s African-American community. One does not know whether to weep at their calamity or consider it just retribution. Either way, one suspects that opponents of a “multiracial” census “race” today may fear another family-destroying color line shift (but in the opposite direction).

Was There One Line or Two?

The United States is unique among former British or French colonies in having just one color line. Like the Spanish and Portuguese, British and French colonies were unable to periodically repopulate their European slaves as often as they could acquire new Africans. But neither France nor England had Iberia’s tradition of assimilation. So planters were encouraged to marry slave women, expand the growing biracial population, and select their own children as yeomen. They thus created the three-caste societies common to most colonial empires — White rulers, Coloured or biracial yeomen, and Black peasants.

For example, contrast the single U.S. color line with the two lines of apartheid South Africa. There, everyone had to carry identification papers indicating “race” as officially determined by the local Race Classification Board. Although the bureaucracy was cumbersome and inconsistent, it enabled change. Different members of a family were often classified differently and some people changed more than once. South Africans often requested reclassification and could appeal local decisions to the national Population Registration Board, thence to the Supreme Court. Like U.S. draft boards of the 1970s, South Africa’s local Race Classification Boards reflected local public opinion and often found it helpful to cooperate with those wanting to upgrade from Negro to Coloured or from Coloured to White. For example, school principals of White schools could keep up enrollments (and funding) by getting some Coloured children reclassified as White. But if they pushed too hard, they risked having the whole school reclassified as Coloured.

Antebellum Louisiana also had three “races” separated by two lines. A typical colonial system had emerged in Louisiana by 1780: a few White Europeans, a large majority of biracial Creoles, and a population of Black former slaves. It superficially resembled Haiti or Jamaica. Like South Africa a century later, but in contrast to the West Indies, Louisiana’s castes were relatively permeable. As Black descendants of former slaves ascended the economic ladder they were accepted into the Creole community. Similarly, impoverished planters fleeing the bloody chaos of Haiti’s 1791-1806 revolution descended into Louisiana’s middle caste. Within their own group, the Creoles developed a social system resembling that of pre-Reformation Europe: a social hierarchy based on religion, breeding, and wealth, with little significance given to shades of skin color among themselves. Many were powerful slave owners whose customs forbade intermarriage with free Blacks (former slaves). They founded the earliest “blue-vein” societies for Afro-Europeans of preponderantly European appearance.

The wealth, social standing, education, and unique history of the Creole community set it apart from other Americans of part-African descent. They identified more with European than with American customs. Most spoke only French and many enrolled their children in private academies in Brussels or Paris. As aristocrats, they were acutely self-conscious of a military tradition dating back to when they had helped Andrew Jackson win the 1814 Battle of New Orleans. As of 1830, 967 of them owned 4,382 slaves, about one Louisiana slave in twenty-five.

Incoming Americans gradually eroded Louisiana’s three-caste society after the U.S. acquisition in 1803. Before the Civil War, English-speaking slaveowners passed laws labeling dark-complexioned Creoles as “free blacks.” After the war, Reconstruction governments enforced those laws against desperate Creole resistance. The second color line, the Creole-Black boundary, gradually shifted towards paleness. By Jim Crow times, the two color lines had merged and Louisiana adopted the now-national one-drop rule. In short, the Louisiana Creoles tried to regain their old political power after Reconstruction’s collapse. They failed. And yet, to this day a handful of the older ones, especially in the bayous, still call themselves “gens de couleur libre” (free people of color) and resent being called either White or Black.

Again, we must not lose sight that biracial Creole planters were as ruthless in exploiting their slaves as any biracial Spanish or Portuguese grandee. Whether you think their culture’s destruction just or tragic, merely knowing about it makes it easier to understand opponents of a “multiracial” census category who fear the creation of another federally sponsored “race.” After all, very dark Louisianans suffered under two oppressors, not one.

Readers interested in the history of the U.S. “race” notion may wish to acquire some of the author’s booklets on the subject. These titles contain far more detail than the brief sketches above. More importantly, they contain hundreds of well-referenced footnotes and each offers a bibliography of scholarly, peer-reviewed sources. The booklets are available online at or from They are also sold at numerous historical site and museum gift shops in Florida, or can be borrowed from many libraries (the Miami Dade Public Library has multiple copies).

Biographical Data

Frank W. Sweet is a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He recently retired from a lifelong career in electrical engineering as a computer scientist. He has earned a master’s in Civil War studies at American Military University in Manassas, Virginia and is now working on his doctorate. A well-known nineteenth century living history interpreter, he is the author of numerous booklets currently sold at museum and state park gift shops throughout Florida. His two areas of interest and expertise are (1) military tactics of the Civil War and (2) antebellum race relations. He lives with his wife (also a re-enactor) in Palm Coast, Florida. Their web site is at

Multiracial Movement: A political alliance between ALL multiracial/multiethnic individuals!?

 A political alliance between ALL multiracial/multiethnic individuals!?
By A.D. Powell (A.D. Powell’s assessments should be required reading for “blacks,” academicians, “white” “liberals” and especially Latinos. Eloquently stated and entirely necessary. –William Javier Nelson, author of the “Racial Definition Handbook”)

An alliance between all groups and individuals who have suffered because of the refusal of government elites to recognize the legitimacy and normalcy of interracial ancestry is certainly desirable. The obstacles to such an alliance, however, are cultural and political and these differences must be aired.

The main victims of “one drop” mythology have been the mixed-blood descendants of “whites” (however that is defined) and those blacks from the American ethnic group that was formerly enslaved in the United States (predominately in the South). While Southern elites took pains to stigmatize intermixture in order to confirm their doctrine of black racial inferiority, most of the propaganda promoting the “one drop” mythology has come from black and mulatto elites and their “white liberal” allies. Unlike avowed racists, they stressed their supposed belief in racial equality while expressing absolute panic at the thought of “white blood” escaping from the Negro “race.” The tacit assumption was that “white blood” was the source of intelligence and beauty (especially beautiful women) and that mulattoes and creole whites would perform great deed in the name of the Negro, thereby “proving” that race’s equality with whites. The latter statement is a contradiction, but human beings are nothing if not contradictory.

Enforcing the “one drop” mythology has, ironically, depended almost totally on self-policing. Not even the dreaded South had a system designed to “hunt” impure whites as the Nazis hunted Jews. Racial classification trials tended to focus more on “reputation” rather than proof of “impurity.” Southerners may have been racists, but they were not total fools. They knew well that “the tarbrush” could happen to any white person, and it was best to not look too far into another white’s background. The task of truly policing “white purity” fell to the black and mulatto elites. It was their job (which they performed with great enthusiasm) to scare mulatto and creole whites within their families into thinking that the entire white race had met and blackballed them from the fraternity. Novels and films that condemn “passing” (a racist term implying that the offender is destroying white “purity”) are inevitably produced by blacks and mulatto elites (mulattoes who consider themseves the elite of a “race” that includes blacks).

In contrast to the above, the government has gone to great pains to hide the tri-racial ancestry (Indian, black and white) of Latinos. The Census Bureau was ordered to classify them as white (regardless of looks or genetic background), and they were not segregated in the armed forces (despite skin colors as dark as that of any black). Despite these privileges obtained from the federal government (which didn’t want to admit that Latin America is racially mixed), Mexicans and Puerto Ricans were discriminated against by ordinary people and local governments (which refused to ignore their dark skin). Latino elites have often looked the other way when the “one drop” myth is being discussed, pretending that they aren’t involved (Ray Suarez of National Public Radio’s “Talk of the Nation” is a Puerto Rican (i.e., mulatto) and a prime offender). Also, most Anglos of mixed ancestry don’t get to meet Latinos and see the “one drop” myth being openly violated.

Indian/white intermixture has an inherent contradiction. We have all seen Westerns in which the “half-breed” is denigrated and the Indians alone are described as his/her “people.” However, we also know that many “whites” openly proclaim Indian ancestry (Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Will Rogers, Burt Reynolds, Cher and many, many others) while claiming total membership in the white “race.” Such people have often discriminated against Indian/black or Indian/black/white people by banning the latter from tribal memberships. The “white Cherokees,” for example, brought slavery to the Cherokee nation in order to have workers for their plantations and banned Cherokees mixed with black from the nation. They also were enthusiastic supporters of the Confederacy whose states had kicked their tribes out of the Southeastern U.S. Whenever you hear Cherokees whining about the “Trail of Tears,” remind them of this!

The truth is that most Americans are not concerned with “racial purity” but government elites are concerned with promoting the myth that they are. Latinos and Arab-Americans often clearly show black ancestry but are not forced to call themselves “black.” I have seen many Italians, Jews, Greeks, etc. who are supposedly of “pure” European descent but look like mulattoes. Europe itself is not “pure,” especially Southern Europe. If you remind academic and political elites of this, they will quickly change the subject because they know they are lying when they claim a “white” consensus for the “one drop” mythology. Indeed, if black elites stopped advocating “one drop” mythology, I give it a year to disappear altogether!

In summary, an alliance between all “mixed” groups is necessary and can come about if some individuals take the lead. However, they must all denounce “one drop” mythology, white racial “purity,” and show solidarity with each other.

Harold McDougall at “Multiracial Identities and the 2000 Census” Panel

Harold McDougall at “Multiracial Identities & The 2000 Census” panel
By A.D. Powell

I encourage IV readers to view Harold McDougall’s performance at the “Multiracial Identities & The 2000 Census” panel on C-Span (5/30/98, ID# 106489, 1-800-277-2698, $29.95 plus $7 shipping).

It is my strong OPINION that Harold McDougall is a sneaking, lying s.o.b. He is obviously a “hired gun” retained by the NAACP to assassinate the Multiracial Identity movement.

1) Harold states that a “multiracial identity” will not end “racism,” therefore there should be no recognition of multiracial identity. Apply that to other identities. Latino rights, gay rights, women’s rights, etc. will not end “racism” (which is being continually redefined so that things we used to consider flaming liberal are now being denounced as “racist” and “right-wing”), but would Harold and his NAACP confederates dare to say that those other movements should disband or put their needs aside until “blacks” have achieved “paradise” (by the NAACP’s definition of the term)?

2) Harold says that interracial marriages will do nothing to “end racism” because married people still argue and therefore social problems will remain. This is similar to argument #1, in that the movement must achieve some vaguely defined version of paradise or be labelled a failure or irrelevant (a condition the NAACP would not dare to impose on any other movement). This is also similar to the frequent argument that racial intermixture has been “tried” and “failed” because antebellum concubinage, Latin American intermixture, the South African “colored” caste, etc. failed to achieve racial “paradise.” The dishonesty here falls into two parts:

a) A society in which racism has been officially repudiated and (most) racial discrimination outlawed (the current U.S.) will supposedly become like societies in which racism was never repudiated and racial discrimination was legal and mandatory simply because multiracial ancestry is officially recognized. This is impossible. The NAACP and its allies are implying that racial mixture was the cause of racial discrimination – a ridiculous contention that cannot be supported.

b) McDougall and his ilk deliberately fail to distinguish between interracial marriages in a society of legal equality with concubinage and casual encounters in societies where racial hierarchies were legally mandated. Interracial marriage does not “end” but does DECREASE racism because family relationships are openly acknowledged and legally recognized. Interracial mixture in societies where interracial marriages were outlawed were burdened with legal restrictions that encouraged the denial of family relationships precisely because elites feared that marriages would break down the racial hierarchy.

3) Harold and his allies constantly emphasized the importance of “looks” and the opinions of people with whom one has casual encounters (such as cab drivers). Of course, if Tiger Woods is “black,” because he “looks black,” then Mariah Carey is definitely “white” because she “looks white.” Of course, the NAACP doesn’t want to say the latter. The truth is that Latinos, Indians (both American and from India), darker Europeans, etc. are constantly mistaken for the people the NAACP wants to claim as “black” (just as Anglo multiracials are constantly relating how they are “mistaken” for Hispanic). Most “racial” identifications of people who are not very “white” or very “black” depend upon a variety of social clues. If a guy who looks like Tiger Woods is seen hanging around the Chicano Studies office, most people will assume he is Chicano. If he is hanging around the South Asian Studies office, then he must be of Indian or Pakistani origin. If the Pakistani kid is seen at the mall, most people will assume he is Hispanic. When the Indian customer hands his credit card or check to the clerk and she sees an Indian name, she knows that she was mistaken and Mr. Singh is not Mexican or whatever identity she had casually assigned to him. The NAACP would never have the nerve to say that Latinos or South Asians should change their identities because some clerks or cab drivers think they are “black” because of their dark skin.

4) If the multiracial identity applied only to multiracials who are NOT partially “black,” you can bet the rent that the NAACP would have no objection to it.

5) If no one had expressed concern about the biracial baby of that Danish actress being left in a stroller outside the restaurant in New York City, and something had happened to the child because no one called the authorities, you can be sure that Harold McDougall would be denouncing the “racism” of people who did not intervene to protect a helpless biracial infant. Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. McDougall and his ilk are afraid that there isn’t enough racism to put “uppity” multiracials in the place the NAACP has assigned to them. That’s why he’s grabbing at straws and repeating this Danish woman’s story over and over.

The Melungeons: A New Path By Brent Kennedy

The Melungeons: A New Path

(Originally published in “Interracial Voice”)

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The Melungeons: A New Path

By Brent Kennedy


The long-awaited DNA results are in and as many of us have maintained, the Melungeons are indeed a mixture of all races and many ethnic groups. The DNA samples in this study represent the oldest, most established Melungeon male and female lines in the Hancock County (Tennessee) community, and the Wise County (Virginia) community. Extensive genealogies for these two populations — and those sampled — are known and documented. Respected members of each community assisted in the collection of the samples, and these samples can be examined separately (by community) and compared against one another.


In addition to Native American (approximately 5% of the sample), African (approximately 5%) and European (approximately 83% of the sample, but representing Europeans from north to south), the study also showed approximately 7% of the samples matching populations in Turkey, Syria and northern India. In other words, the surviving genes from Middle Eastern and East Indian ancestors are in equal proportion to those of Native Americans and Africans. My gut feeling is that the original, seventeenth-century percentages of all three groups (i.e., African, Native American, and Middle Eastern/East Indian) were higher than what we’re seeing today. Time, admixture, and out-movement of some of our darker cousins into other minority groups have likely lowered the genetic traces of their earlier presence. But enough of them were there to still be traceable among the Melungeons of today. The long discounted Mediterranean and Middle Eastern heritages are irrefutably there.

Very importantly, this study is only a sampling. It’s impossible to get to every single bonafied Melungeon descendant. Consequently, all this — or any other — DNA study can do is CONFIRM heritages — it cannot dismiss them. But via the genetic sequences found, it can give us a hint at the ethnic make-up of the earliest Melungeons. In this regard, I am still keeping an open mind regarding the theories that are out there. Four hundred years has allowed a great deal of time for population admixture and each family has its own distinct cultural and ethnic legacy. The original people referred to as Melungeons may have been Africans, or East Indians, or Native Americans, or Turks, or Gypsies or Portuguese or whatever. Not one of us knows with absolute certainty. What we do know is that very early on these various populations combined into one people known as Melungeons.


As those who attended Fourth Union heard, from both Dr. Jones and Dr. Morris, this finding is incredibly important from a healthcare standpoint alone. Native Americans, Europeans, and African Americans can — and do — carry Middle Eastern and Mediterranean diseases. It takes very few individuals in a founding population to have a dramatic impact on a gene pool. African Americans and Native Americans can – and do – have Familial Mediterranean Fever. White Americans can — and do — have Sickle Cell Anemia. Having the genetic and genealogical data to explain why is critical to improving healthcare.


The study also underscores another important aspect of the origins debate: nearly all theories are correct to some extent. The only ones wrong are those that have been exclusive in their premise. The long-standing academic position that Melungeons are a “tri-racial isolate” consisting of strictly northern Europeans, strictly West Africans, and Native Americans is incorrect. Those unwilling to add any other ethnic group to the mix have been wrong. This is what I stated in my book and have maintained for years: we are mixed and highly inclusive, and that inclusiveness includes Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and East Indian.


We should also keep in mind that these non Native-American ethnic groups could have arrived in a myriad of ways, and likely did. Those who have read my book or heard me speak know that this has always been my position. I have never been wed to any theory of arrival – what I have been wed to is, simply, arrival. Santa Elena and its outlying forts continue to help explain how some of these people — and their genes — might have gotten here. There were Gypsies and Conversos (e.g., Jews, Arabs, Berbers, East Indians, Turks, Moors, Africans, etc.) at Santa Elena who, even as “good Catholic Spaniards” and “good Catholic Portuguese” would have carried their ancestral genes from their ancestral homelands. The finding of Turkish genes (both male and female lines) in the Melungeon population seems to indicate full families, so Santa Elena remains an origin possibility for some of the Melungeon ancestors. There were no women with Drake’s Turks and the Turks themselves weren’t sending families here, at least as far as I know.


The British, however, were doing so. Turkish and Armenian families were documentably present in Jamestown, serving the English colonists as indentured servants and artisans. Whatever the case, historians are best equipped to determine HOW the genes arrived. Finally, East Indians were brought to these shores in significant numbers from the early 1600s on and Romany (Gypsies) are also well documented in Virginia and the Carolinas during the same time period. There was, simply said, no shortage of the people necessary to provide the genetic proof to back up the Melungeon claims of origin.


I don’t yet know my full family DNA results but when I do I, and hopefully others, will share the information in an effort to help solve the roles specific families have played in the Melungeon odyssey. But I do know one sequence and this single piece of information is enlightening. My Mitochondrial DNA, which I inherited from my Mother, matches the Siddis of India. The dark-skinned Siddis likely originated from what today is Ethiopia, Eritrea, or Somalia — sub-Saharan, east Africa. They were transported to India in a variety of ways, most not so pleasant, and formed a major component of what became known as the Untouchable Caste. Their lives — and the life of my ancestral Mother — must have been horribly difficult. But she survived long enough to have at least one daughter and that daughter did likewise. And generation after generation this original Ethiopian girl’s DNA was passed along until, in 1950, it came to me.


How my particular East Indian ancestor made her way to America remains unclear. It may have been as the wife of a sixteenth-century New World Portuguese settler (the sixteenth-century Portuguese soldiers married northern Indian women by the thousands). Or she may have been the spouse of a seventeenth-century British ex-patriot, or an East Indian female sent to the Caribbean as an indentured servant. Still again, she may have arrived on these shores as a Rom (or so-called, Gypsy) girl. Many Romany share the Siddi mitochondria and the Romany-related surnames that follow this particular mitochondrial line in my family (Mullins, Bennett, Rose, etc.) would seem supportive of a Romany origin. Regardless of her mode of arrival to the New World, what is clear is that she –and her genes — did indeed make their way here. My Mother and I are living proof of this woman’s legacy. All this to say that had a young, sub-Saharan east African girl never lived, never been transported to India, and never had a daughter of her own, I wouldn’t be here.


So, what is the meaning of all this? For me, I can sum it up this way:


While I am likely — and proudly — of northern European heritage, I am also of Siddi heritage. And I am equally kin to the Scotsman tilling his field outside Glasgow, the Chickahominy Indian fighting to keep tribal pride alive, and the various east Africans at one another’s throats in Somalia. The Israelis and Palestinians dealing out death on a daily basis, the Appalachian blue grass banjo picker, the Indian and Pakistani soldiers staring one another down in Kashmir, and — yes — the down-beaten Untouchable in the poorest ghettos of southern India are also family. All are literally, not just figuratively, MY people. Genocide in the Balkans, earthquakes in Turkey, riots in Argentina, and repressive regimes in Afghanistan are no longer faraway occurrences of little consequence. In every tragedy on this Earth, a relative is suffering. And this leads me to a deeper understanding of just what the Melungeon story really means, and the transition that I must make.


We in Appalachia are known for our powerful storytelling tradition. Beginning today we have the opportunity to tell the most important story in our history — the story of the Oneness of Mankind and how this Oneness is exemplified in the Appalachian heartland. The irony that we in Appalachia and those whose roots lie in these mountains — long considered the lowest of the low — could play a role in World ethnic harmony is staggering in its implications. But it’s not a pipe dream. We can send a powerful message to all people everywhere, that:


No place, no region, no human being is too small, too remote, or too insignificant to justify dismissal. We are all of the same flesh and each of us matters.


From this point on, our mission lies in spreading this message beyond these mountains. And we need to start at the earliest levels of teaching — our elementary schools — as well before the seeds of racism and hate have been sown.


Beginning this week, I commit myself to this mission. The time has come for me to leave the historical and origins research, further DNA analysis, and other academic pursuits to those more qualified. My task was to be a catalyst — an instigator.


Fourteen years ago, very few people cared about the Melungeons or any other mixed race population for that matter. That deeply bothered me, as I felt that these various populations deserved more attention from academia and, indeed, had played a far larger role in building this nation than they’d ever been given credit for. Placing them all into a box labeled “tri-racial isolate” and closing the lid seemed a grave injustice. I wrote my book to force the acknowledgment of our multi-racial communities and, in a sense, to help bring them out of the closet in which academia had shoved them. I believe I’ve contributed to an increased awareness and, hopefully, an increased pride. The level of interest and the sheer volume of books and articles being written today is enormous compared to the late 1980s and early 1990s. This was my dream and I am now confident that this interest will not dissipate.


There are a myriad of talented researchers exploring a variety of Melungeon related issues. Dozens of younger scholars are joining the older established writers and researchers in the search for Melungeon origins and the meaning of that search. Over the past decade, people like Jack Goins, Manuel Mira, Eloy Gallegos, James Nickens, Pat Elder, Mike Nassau, Wayne Winkler, Tim Hashaw, Carroll and Betty Goyne, and Virginia DeMarce have added substantial knowledge to what we might soon begin calling “Melungeon Studies.” Each of these individuals deserves our gratitude and our praise. My long-standing hope has been, and continues to be, that all those researching this important topic can somehow pull together. That we acknowledge our differing opinions on historical matters, but that we come to recognize our shared commitment to (1) caring for these people and their culture, and (2) abhorring racism in any form. These shared commitments far outweigh the debate over who showed up first, where the name came from, or what color John Doe might have been. Perhaps my greatest disappointment over the years has rested in the inability or unwillingness of what should have been fellow travelers on a very bumpy road to travel together. It’s not too late.


In closing, I’ve done all that I can do for those who came before us. From this point on, I plan on devoting my efforts to making this Earth a better place for the living. If I’ve learned anything in this nearly fifteen-year journey, it’s the sobering reality that human prejudice exists everywhere — even within the very groups that have been the target of such prejudice. The heated debates over who can — or cannot be — a Melungeon are reminiscent of the earlier debates over who can — or cannot be — white. I know we don’t intend it to be this way, but this is what invariably happens when we humans insist on categorizing and refining human ethnicity. It’s this same mindset that, when carried to an extreme, results in prejudice, ethnic cleansing and, ultimately, genocide. “Race” is cultural, not genetic. I’ve been accused time and again of “diluting” Melungeon ethnicity to the point of blurring the boundaries and, in the words of one critic, “making them related to everybody.” This is precisely what I intended to do and the DNA study results have supported this contention. That’s the underlying beauty of this story, and to miss that point is symptomatic of the too narrow focus that inevitably leads to ethnic tensions.


And so, what energy and time I have will be expended in bringing people together wherever and whenever I can. In teaching and engaging in projects that can impact how human beings — and especially our children — view their fellow human beings. That we are not just figuratively– but literally — one human family. From Africa and India, to Turkey, Portugal, and the United States of America, we are one race. Where I can make a difference in helping others to understand this, I will. Where I cannot, I’ll try.


And I pledge to live by our Melungeon creed, “One People, All Colors.”

I thank God for an amazing fourteen years of Chapter One and, God-willing, at least that many more for Chapter Two.


Of further interest to readers is Mr. Kennedy’s book “The Melungeons: The Resurrection of a Proud People: An Untold Story of Ethnic Cleansing in America.”

Obama, Anatole Broyard and the Double Standard of Hypodescent

Obama’s Election and the Double Standard

December 4, 2008

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While I wish him well and hope that he restores the economic and moral health of our country, I see in Barack Obama’s victory a certain danger to those who oppose forced racial classification and wish to promote the legitimation of multiracial identities and racial ambiguity.  Why?  Too many of the black-identified members of the political and intellectual elite and their “white” allies will probably be emboldened to try and silence us forever because their Democratic comrades now rule the roost.
On the other hand, I have been struck by the large number of fellow “white” Americans who have openly asked why Obama is “black” when he is half white and was reared by white relatives in a totally non-black environment.  “Mixed race” is no longer an abstraction to growing numbers of “whites.”  They may not be interracially married themselves, but they are the grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. of mixed-race people.  They see their relatives, who are usually white women and often single mothers, pour all of their love and resources into their biracial children (just as Obama’s mother and grandmother did).  They are far less afraid to say that there is no logic in claiming that those children are totally “black” or “African American” and not entitled to claim their white parents’ “race” and ethnicity.
I propose that the multiracial movement see the election of Obama as an opportunity to reach out to more ordinary “white” Americans with the question “Why is Obama “black” when he is equally “white”?  I propose that we contrast Obama with the late New York Times book critic Anatole Broyard.  Obama was born into  and reared in a Hawaii-based white-identified family and had no ties of blood or culture to the native “African American” community.  Broyard was born in New Orleans to a Creole family falsely labeled as “Negro” by the racist government of Louisiana, which was determined to subject its mixed-race Creole population to a documentary genocide of forced assimilation into the “black” Anglo population/caste.  Obama left Hawaii with the intention, according to his autobiography, of finding a “racial community” of people who looked like himself.  Broyard, whose family moved to New York City when he was a small child, refused to self-police himself and accept a “Negro” or “colored” classification.  In the free environment of New York, he chose to be identified as white.  Indeed, his parents had themselves moved back and forth across the color line because they also had European phenotypes.  Obama married a woman “blacker” than himself and produced two children who look “black” to most Americans.  Broyard married a woman “whiter” than himself (Norwegian-American) and produced two children who look totally white to most Americans.  Why is Obama praised for moving toward “blackness” while Broyard is demonized by the black and white liberal intellectual elites for moving toward “whiteness”?  How about some equal rights here?  I would be far more impressed by an open defense of Broyard’s whiteness than I am by Obama’s election.  White racism has always rested on the assumption of white racial purity.  Obama claims that he is “black” because he “looks black.”  Why wasn’t Broyard “white” because he “looked white”?  The Obama/Broyard comparison would require open criticism of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (foremost advocate of the “one drop rule” in the U.S. who first “outed” Broyard as a so-called “light-skinned black”) and Anatole’s daughter Bliss Broyard (who has openly sided with Gates and denounced her father as “black”).  This is a chance to strike at the “one drop rule” and we should not miss it.  The fact that Obama, Gates and Bliss Broyard are already all over the media should make the task easier.
No matter how much Obama might call himself “black,” his white ancestry and white upbringing are too well known to be denied.  Other “white” Americans are already asking questions.  We must encourage them to do so and point out that the denial of freedom of racial/ethnic identity and the abuse of black political power in support of that denial affects their own families, now and/or in the future.