Recent Articles

Myths Across the Color Line

“Myths” are counterfactual beliefs taught to the young in order to exemplify social standards that they will be expected to follow in adulthood. The U.S. endogamous color line is a rich source of myths, believed by African Americans and non-Blacks alike. Ten color-line myths follow.

The U.S. Black/White Color Line

North America's "Race" Notion is Unique and Important

The United States is the only nation on earth that has preserved for over three centuries a genetically discontinuous enclave of mostly African ancestry within a larger population of European ancestry. The phenomenon demands study.

What Caused the One-Drop Rule? (C16)

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Shows that two unpredictable events overlapped in the 1830s: First was a wave of White panic that African Americans, including White-looking ones, were secretly plotting to kill all Whites. Second was a need to strengthen solidarity among the newly emergent African-American ethnopolitical community. This is session C16 of a series on the emergence and triumph of the one-drop rule in U.S. history, discussed in my lectures on “The Study of Racialism.”

Earliest Precursors of the One-Drop Rule (C15)

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Uncovers the earliest hints that Americans around the 1830’s Ohio River Valley were starting to adopt an ideological rather than a biological concept of “racial” classification. This session traces the first emergence of this myth. This is session C15 of a series of topics on the emergence and triumph of the one-drop rule in U.S. history, discussed in my lectures on “The Study of Racialism.”

The Trouble With “Racism”

Like a once-sharp tool ruined by misuse, the word “racism” has become too blunted for intellectual discourse.

A Brief History of Census “Race”

The U.S. federal census was founded to apportion congressional representation among the states. In order to achieve additional goals, it switched in 1850 from recording households in summary, to recording individuals in detail. It became self-administered in 1960 to reduce costs. It has always been a political instrument of the administration in power. Today, the census encourages identity politics and so wavers between the goal of capturing “race” as a form of ethnic self-identity, and the equally desired but conflicting goal of capturing “race” as involuntary physical trait.

Slavery and the “Race” Notion

Slavery and the “race” notion were uncorrelated before the Civil War.

A question often asked by folks interested in the history of the “race” notion is why Northern Whites fought for a “race” that they considered inferior. The answer is that they did no such thing. A mirror-image question is why Southerners fought to preserve slavery when so many of them were biracial. Again, the two issues are skewed.

Why Did Virginia’s Rulers Invent a Color Line?

The Divide and Conquer Strategy

Why was the endogamous color line invented in the Chesapeake and nowhere else? Why was it invented at the turn of the eighteenth century and not before nor after? This essay suggests that it was a “divide and conquer” tactic, a deliberately calculated solution to a unique problem of: too few yeomen, too many European laborers, and too little time to prevent servile insurrection.

Jim Crow Triumph of the One-Drop Rule

When and How the Notion of Invisible Blackness Became Statutory Across the Land

The events of the decades that gave rise to notions of endogamous group membership still in force today. The word “Colored,” no longer denoted an intermediate group in the Franco-American culture of the Gulf Coast but became a polite euphemism for any member of the Black endogamous group anywhere. The strictest enforcement of the one-drop rule in these years was for school segregation, not intermarriage. The one-drop rule did not affect Blacks at all—it targeted only Whites. Far from resisting or challenging the one-drop rule, the political leadership of the African-American ethnic community embraced it. They enforced it from their side of the color line, as they had in the late antebellum North, as they continue to do today.

The U.S. Black/White Test-Score Gap (E2)

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Session E2 of a series on contemporary issues discussed in my lectures on “The Study of Racialism.” Three hypotheses have stood the test of time. For ages 3-10, that there is a difference in parenting skill at providing intellectual stimulation during a child’s first two years. For ages 6-18, that there is an impact of low teacher expectations of minority children. For ages 11-18, that there is “oppositional culture” peer-pressure against A-A youngsters.