Despite growing numbers, public images of interracial people – who have been part of the American landscape since the first Africans reached America’s shores. Confusion surrounding race stems from the illogic used to define it. Slavery laws and social practices set a precedent – which survives to this day. Traditionally, “White America” as a whole has disenfranchised a people who appears or by definition has physical characteristics that challenge their hue as “White”, today, this challenge is more evident than ever as marriages of different races has climbed in the United States.
According to the United States Census data, there are over one million interracial marriages. Marriages between white men and Asian women are highest, supporting almost 25 percent of all interracial covenants. It is estimated that one out of every four marriages is between blacks and whites. This research proposal will designate its focus and energy toward the offspring of interracial couples. Until recently, conventional wisdom typically classified an interracial child as being of the same race as the minority parent.
It is this limited and compartmentalized approach that has warranted a push for reclassification of interracial children. A child of an interracial partnership should have the right to choose which race identifies them. This analysis will examine the need for affirming the uniqueness of the child and why a full racial heritage will conceal a more settled, secure child. Once a child has cultural security, this research will prove that interracial children will dissipate the belief of inferiority among the minority parent.
The basis of this analysis will contrast the studies that interracial children are inferior, abnormal, lack true identity, and challenge the classification of “The one drop rule” identification codes from American Minority Peoples a study in racial and cultural conflicts in the United States: by Donald Young. Donald Young, American Minority People, 1932, believes, historically, the major contribution toward race mixture in the United States primarily resulted from exploration, immigration, excess of males among the mobile group.
He adds, “The sex impulse is a constant factor in men whose home family relations have been broken or interrupted from a long journey of exploration. ” These hardy adventures that first settled the eastern region of the United States began a mixture of white and Indian blood. With the introduction of slavery in the United States, the presence of slaves and minority women of inferior social status was a temptation to illicit relationships, for such women were property and were held cheap by the white men of the highest social class.
Women of an inferior group were considered prey to the white males causing an inferior mixture of interracial offspring. The legal definition of the “inferior” race is any degree of mixture from one-half down to the slightest trace. This historical mindset is the real basis and justification for popular pressure against the mixture of peoples who may readily be distinguished from each other either because of racial features or because of cultural differences. Donald Young suggest “Children of mixed cultures are much more likely to be social liabilities than those whose parents accept a common culture.
“The mixed blood is thus an unadjusted person. His immediate presence has no respected place in society. The significance of all this in the problems of race mixture lies in the fact that the attendant group break down social as well as political barriers separating or mixing cultural groups leaving percentages of more than one culture thus creating “inferior races. ” Politics have been the forum for defining race and the hierarchy of racial privilege in the country since the first African slaves were brought here in 1619.
Since then, individuals and groups have sought redress in matters of race through the powers of law, political office, and the interpretation of our government underpinning: the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Measurements of progress and regress are marked by legislative acts (including Dred Scott verse. Sandford , the Emancipation Proclamation or Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution , Brown verses Board of Education , the voting Rights Act of 1964, and Loving verse Virginia).
It wasn’t until 1967, in the U. S. Supreme Court’s Loving verse Virginia decision, that remaining anti-miscegenation laws (still on the books in seventeen states at the time) were overruled. Richard and Mildred Loving were the appellants in the case. In 1958 the newlywed Loving were arrested in their Virginia hometown for being married to each other. She was black he was white. Rather than face incarceration, they moved back in with their respective parents, then moved together to Washington, D. C. , where they lived for several years. The Virginia judges ruling also ordered that they never visit Virginia together. (Funderburg p26)
For as long as interracial couples have chosen to settle down and marry in this country, they have confronted the question. “But what about the children. ” What category will serve to identify the mixed race child. Laws and the threat of social censure never successfully precluded interracial relationships and the conception of biracial children. Still, since the Loving decision, black-white marriages have increased dramatically: According to the census, they jumped 378 percent from 1970 to 1992 (from 65,000 to 246,000). (Funderburg p26) Americans are tired of being divided and categorized along racial and ethnic lines.
A multiracial box would unify Americans and help heal racial tensions,” said Jennifer Nelson executive director of ACRI, “We urge President Clinton to reject the federal task force’s recommendations and support a multiracial box on the U. S. Census. ” Some citizens feel uncomfortable when asked to place themselves in a single category, in effect denying half their ancestry. So the request arose for a generic “mixed-race” category on the census. The American Civil Rights Institute denounced the federal government’s rejection of the “multiracial” category on the U. S. census and other federal forms.
The federal task force said the idea for a multiracial box was turned down because the category “would, in effect, create another population group and no doubt add to racial tension and further fragmentation of our population. “The best approach to this argument would be to eliminate race as a category on the census altogether, said Nelson. The most vocal opponents of such a course were the professional leaders of various ethnic groups, fearful that allowing people to choose “mixed” would mean fewer in their own category and, by extension, likely would result in less political clout for them.
So the politicos came up with the “pick more than one” option which will allow the so-called leaders of many groups to claim they “represent” at least as many and more people than before. Sadly, the government of a nation dedicated to liberty and equality under the law is using arbitrary racial characteristics as a wedge to pry Americans further apart. ” Dasbach said. It used to be that Americans of mixed parentage had to identify with one parent only. The parents, at best, think they’ve done something wonderful in putting together a family that defies racial convention. Funderburg p27).
The theory that any amount of “black blood” makes a person black has no corollary within other racial groups, especially not whites. On e can be black and have “white blood” (even to the point of having a white parent, but one cannot be white and have “black blood. ” Joy Zarembka of Harenford, Pennsylvania says” I’m biracial” – when to some extent, some interracial people in this country are classified as black, have white blood and can pass as white. The one drop rule needs to be eliminated. Larene Lasonde of Decatur, Georgia says ” The one-drop theory, if you think about it, clearly is the last vestige of the slave codes; it’s the only law left that is still enforceable, if not by statue, by pattern and practice. I have black professors at Atlanta University who took that position.
“You’ve got a drop of black blood, you’re black. ” “You’re quoting a slave coed! ” Quoting a slave code to me! I’m not denying that drop of black blood, but I am not going to be dictated to by it. Get rid of it and let me choose. Counting people as “black” when they have a non-black parent is a return to the old racist “one drop rule”.
But now some civil rights advocates would support such a means of identifying people – one that this census 2000 is supposed to eliminate. ” This new plan of checking multiple boxes will lead to further racial and ethnic divide. Instead of adding more hyphens, the federal government should be advocating for one simple box – American,” said Jennifer Nelson. In any of the two methods in this research, discrimination against interracial person would easily continue.
The multiracial category would serve civic health by undermining the obsession with race and ethnicity that fuel identity politics. Such politics proceed on the assumption that individuals are defined by their membership in this or that racial or ethnic group, often a group that cultivates its senses of solidarity by nurturing its grievances. The interracial child will benefit in a society that categorizes him or her as American. The significance of all this is the problem of race mixture lies in the fact that the attendant groups break down social as well as political barriers separating or mixing cultural groups.
After assessing both sides of the argument, I conclude that my research yet circumstantial extended a political view those interracial children could not benefit from the “one drop rule” and question the intent to add a multiracial box as a means of identifying interracial children. The challenge of classification causing a lack of true identity was researched from a perspective of actual multiracial children who are now adults was limited to a one-sided view that only was against the “one drop rule” and had no input for a multiracial category.