Recent Articles

How the Law Decided if You Were Black or White

The Early 1800s

The three legal rules that emerged in the early 1800s for deciding if you were a member of the Black endogamous group or a member of the White group: physical appearance, blood fraction, and association.


Why Did One-Drop Spread Nationwide in 1910? (C20)


Oral presentation recaps the history of the one-drop rule and shows that it spread nationwide during the Jim Crow era because it kept compassionate White families in line, forcing them to stand idle while African Americans were subjected to 50 years of state-sponsored terrorism. Session C20 is the final lecture 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 Rate of Black-to-White Passing (C5)


Shows several ways to compute the 0.10-0.14 percent per year rate at which European-looking youngsters born into the African-American community switch their self-identity from “Black,” to “White” or “Hispanic” after high school. Session C5 of a series of molecular anthropology topics discussed in my lectures on “The Study of Racialism.”

African-American Ethnicity in the Antebellum North (C13)

The imposition of an endogamous color line eventually led to the synthesis of a unique ethno-cultural community in the Jacksonian Northeast. Session C13 of a series of topics on the history of the U.S. color line discussed in my lectures on “The Study of Racialism.”

The U.S. Black/White Net-Worth Gap

This knol presents little-known, recently uncovered facts about the U.S. Black/White net-worth gap: It has been worsening at an accelerating rate for four decades. It is unrelated to income, lack of generational nest egg, overall inequality, depreciating homes, or single families. It is related to higher interest rates (which are caused by loan higher default rates). It may possibly be related to supporting poor relatives or to some aspect of oppositional culture.

The Invention of the Color Line: 1691

The Creation of America's Black/White Endogamous Barrier

Tells when, where, and how America’s endogamous color line was invented. The Years Before the Color Line was Invented describes colonial life before the turn of the eighteenth century. It shows that colonists of African and European ancestries mingled and married within each of the three rigid social classes: forced laborers, shopkeepers/artisans, and planters. The Transition Period narrates events in and around the Chesapeake leading up to the 1691 law, the first in history to outlaw Afro-European intermarriage. The Spread of the New Color Line describes the aftermath as punishments for violating the 1691 law became increasingly harsher, and similar laws were passed in subsequent generations throughout British North America.

Afro-Euro Genetic Admixture in the United States

Ancestry-Informative Autosomal DNA Markers

About one-third of White Americans have some detectable subsaharan DNA markers from slave ancestors who passed through the color line. Virtually all Black Americans have some Euro DNA markers.

The Perception of “Racial” Traits

This essay reviews what is known about the culturally dependent perception of “racial” traits in four topics. Harry Hoetink’s Somatic Norm Image considers whether predictable differences in colonial histories determine how people see “racial” group membership. How U.S. Children Learn to See Two Endogamous Groups examines the stages through which children learn to identify and to articulate what their culture sees as “racial” traits. The Instinctive Need to See “Otherness” identifies the cognitive system, selected by adaptation to hunter-gatherer life over 200 millennia ago, that has been co-opted to identify someone as having “racially” different looks—an encounter that no Paleolithic hominid could ever have experienced. Finally, The Decline of the Bio-Race Concept offers a brief explanation of why the biological concept of “race” as applied to humans has been abandoned by the hard sciences.

Introduction to the U.S. One-Drop Rule (C14)


Introduces a series on the history of the one-drop rule: how, when, where, and why this odd myth was invented. Session C14 of a series of contemporary issues topics discussed in my lectures on “The Study of Racialism.

The “Race” Notion’s Role in Ethnic Assimilation

Most of us realize that only so-called White folks have historically enjoyed the full privileges of U.S. citizenship. And most of us know that the definition of “White” has widened over the centuries. But grasping these points does not avoid all historical pitfalls.