Blood and Race in America: The "one Drop Rule"

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Blood does not determine race in the United States of America, unless you are considered black. The term “black” is used to distinguish anyone with Negro-African lineage. To be considered black in the United States, not even half of one's ancestry must be African black. However, without knowing one’s ancestry, all there is to go on is physical traits. Where then does the litmus test lie when determining if you are black or not black? Hence the “one drop rule” was used. The nation's answer to the question “Who is black?” has for a very long time been that a black person is anyone with any known African black ancestry. This definition reflects the long experience with slavery and later with Jim Crow segregation. In the South it became known as the "one-drop rule,'' meaning that a single drop of "black blood" makes a person a black. Courts have also called it the "one black ancestor rule," or the "traceable amount rule," meaning that racially mixed persons are assigned the status of the subordinate group. [1] The term “mulatto” and “colored” were often used because whites needed to distinguish blacks from each other during slavery. Although the root meaning of mulatto, in Spanish, is "hybrid," "mulatto" came to include the children of unions between whites and so-called "mixed Negroes." For example, Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglass, with slave mothers and white fathers, were referred to as mulattoes. The original purpose of the one-drop rule was to prevent interracial relationships and thus keep the white race "pure." In 1924, Walter Plecker, first registrar of the U.S. Bureau of Vital Statistics wrote, "Two races as materially divergent as the White and Negro, in morals, mental powers, and cultural fitness, cannot live in close contact without injury to the higher." [2] Not only does the one-drop rule apply to no other group than American
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