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More Than Black

More Than Black: Multiracial Identity & New Racial Order

G. Reginald Daniel
Copyright Date: 2002
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    More Than Black
    Book Description:

    In the United States, anyone with even a trace of African American ancestry has been considered black. Even as the twenty-first century opens, a racial hierarchy still prevents people of color, including individuals of mixed race, from enjoying the same privileges as Euro-Americans. In this book, G. Reginald Daniel argues that we are at a cross-roads, with members of a new multiracial movement pointing the way toward equality.Tracing the centuries-long evolution of Eurocentrism, a concept geared to protecting white racial purity and social privilege, Daniel shows how race has been constructed and regulated in the United States. The so-called one-drop rule (i.e., hypodescent) obligated individuals to identify as black or white, in effect erasing mixed-race individuals from the social landscape. For most of our history, many mixed-race individuals of African American descent have attempted to acquire the socioeconomic benefits of being white by forming separate enclaves or "passing." By the 1990s, however, interracial marriages became increasingly common, and multiracial individuals became increasingly political, demanding institutional changes that would recognize the reality of multiple racial backgrounds and challenging white racial privilege.More Than Black? regards the crumbling of the old racial order as an opportunity for substantially more than an improvement in U.S. race relations; it offers no less than a radical transformation of the nation's racial consciousness and the practice of democracy.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0483-1
    Subjects: Sociology
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface (pp. ix-xvi)
  4. Acknowledgments (pp. xvii-xx)
  5. Introduction (pp. 1-22)

    In 1931 George Samuel Schuyler (1895-1977) published the first successful satirical novel in African American literature. EntitledBlack No More, the novel centers around Dr. Junius Crookman, an African American doctor who invents an electronic treatment that will “change Black to White in three days,”¹ and promises, in Crookman’s view, to cure the race problem in America. A former numbers racketeer, Hank Johnson, helps the doctor promote his invention. Together they establish a chain of extremely successful “Black-No-More” clinics throughout the United States. As the African American population begins to vanish, entrepreneurs of both races face potential economic ruin because...

  6. PART I. White Over Black
    • CHAPTER ONE Eurocentrism: The Origin of the Master Racial Project (pp. 25-33)

      Racial formation is a specifically modern phenomenon that coincided with the colonial expansion of various West European nation-states—specifically Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Germany, Holland, Denmark, and England—beginning in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. It was an outgrowth of encounters between Europeans and populations that were very different culturally and, above all, phenotypically, from themselves as they established colonial empires in the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific Islands. More important, racial formation was instrumental as the justification for a unique form of slavery. Although expansion, conquest, exploitation, and enslavement had characterized the previous several thousand years of...

    • CHAPTER TWO Either Black or White: The United States and the Binary Racial Project (pp. 34-46)

      The Anglo-North American racial order, like other racial orders in the Americas, originated in the Eurocentric paradigm. In the United States as in Europe blackness and whiteness represent the negative and positive poles of a dichotomous hierarchy premised on the “Law of the Excluded Middle.” Racial formation in Latin America, particularly in places like Brazil, however, has involved a less rigid implementation of the “Law of the Excluded Middle,” which is reflected in Latin America’s pervasive miscegenation and the relative absence of social stigma attached to it. In places like Brazil, racial blending is sanctioned by the implementation of a...

  7. PART II. Black No More
    • CHAPTER THREE White by Definition: Multiracial Identity and the Binary Racial Project (pp. 49-67)

      In the United States, multiracial individuals of African American and European American ancestry for the most part have internalized the one-drop rule and have identified themselves as black. Various forms of resistance to rules of hypodescent, however, have always challenged both legal and commonsense constructions of blackness. European American control over the boundaries between black and white has always been relative rather than absolute.

      One historical form of resistance has been “passing,” a radical form of integration in which individuals of a more European American phenotype and cultural orientation make a clandestine break with the African American community temporarily or...

    • CHAPTER FOUR Black by Law: Multiracial Identity and the Ternary Racial Project (pp. 68-90)

      Scattered throughout the eastern United States, particularly in the southeast, there are some two hundred communities of varying combinations and degrees of European American, Native American, and African American descent, commonly called triracial isolates, They are pluralistic in nature, like the blue-vein societies, yet whereas the latter formed an urban elite within the African American community, the former live apart from both blacks and whites, in communities on the fringes of villages and towns or in isolated rural enclaves, Many individuals have remained in these rural communities as unskilled laborers or as impoverished tillers of the soil. Others have migrated...

  8. PART III. More Than Black
    • CHAPTER FIVE The New Multiracial Identity: Both Black and White (pp. 93-111)

      Alongside the phenomenon of passing and the formation of pluralistic blue-vein elites, triracial isolate communities, and the Louisiana Creoles of color, there were other, more egalitarian racial projects that sought to resist the rule of hypodescent. Although most individual experiences of the past remain unknown and unreported, there have been a few notable cases, such as those of Jean Toomer, Harlem Renaissance author, and Philippa Schuyler, who took the road less traveled by embracing both their African American and European American backgrounds. Several groups for interracial families that emerged between the 1890s and 1940s (such as the Manasseh Societies, Penguin...

    • CHAPTER SIX The New Multiracial Identity: Neither Black nor White (pp. 112-124)

      Multiracial consciousness is both an explanation of racial dynamics and an effort to reorganize the social structure along racial lines. It involves both an interpretation of racial dynamics and a political initiative that seeks to bring about changes in official racial classifications. The inclusion of a multiracial identification in official racial classifications would have consequences for the distribution of resources, such as the enforcement of civil rights legislation, the tracking of historical and contemporary patterns of discrimination, and the pursuit of social and economic equity.

      To date, interracial couples and multiracial-identified individuals have not mobilized on the basis of multiracial...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Black by Popular Demand: Multiracial Identity and the Decennial Census (pp. 125-152)

      The new multiracial identity is a form of resistance to “commonsense” notions of race based on the one-drop rule. This resistance has taken the form of microlevel racial projects in which singular actors are the agents of resistance. It has also been manifest in collective action that calls on the state to play a significant role, particularly in amending the federal standards for collecting data on race and ethnicity to make possible a multiracial identification.¹ In the 1990s, this initiative was pursued most vigorously with respect to the decennial census;² and activists succeeded in getting census officials to accept and...

  9. PART IV. Black No More or More than Black?
    • CHAPTER EIGHT The Illusion of Inclusion: From White Domination to White Hegemony (pp. 155-171)

      African American concerns surrounding multiracial identity are not limited to the potential impact it may have on the collection of data needed to support civil rights claims and the tracking of racial discrimination. There are also fears that multiracial identity will undermine the solidarity of African-descent Americans, as “passing,” blue-vein societies, Louisiana Creoles of color, and triracial isolate communities have done. Those multiracial identity projects were products of the prevailing Eurocentrism and were responsible for a divisive and pernicious “colorism” among African-descent Americans that has historically driven a wedge between the black masses and the privileged few, who have historically...

    • CHAPTER NINE The New Millennium: Toward a New Master Racial Project (pp. 172-188)

      Nowhere is the power of the one-drop rule for cultural and political mobilization more obvious than in currents of Afrocentrist thought that advance the notion of a primordial African “race” and nation. But the effectiveness of any organizing principle as the basis for essentialized collectives (viewed as if they were “natural,” static, and eternal units), is inherently fraught with irreconcilable contradictions. Some of the discourses and practices of radical Afrocentrists are not merely pro-black but anti-white, if not actually “racist” in the strict sociological meaning of the concept. Prior to the late 1960s sociological definitions of racism relied heavily on...

  10. EPILOGUE: Beyond Black or White: A New United States Racial Project (pp. 189-194)

    The new multiracial identity reflects a fundamental postmodern shift in consciousness premised on the “Law of the Included Middle,” which seeks to incorporate concepts of “partly,” “mostly,” or “both/neither,” and acknowledges shades of gray. Although embodied in individuals, the new multiracial identity is perhaps best characterized as a cluster of new possibilities in the nation’s collective racial consciousness that seeks to transform traditional racial categories and boundaries by expanding definitions of blackness and whiteness.¹ While the new multiracial identity is a flagship for this alternative consciousness, it should not be viewed as the solution, in and of itself, to racism...

  11. Notes (pp. 195-242)
  12. Index (pp. 243-259)