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The One Drop Rule: How Black Americans Became Black!

Biracial and Proud


What's Your Color or Race? How about Human Being!

The "one drop rule: was a way of defining who was a negro, (originally meaning an African).

It was a racial classification system designed to ensure that the "white" race would stay pure.

It was a widely practiced social law but wouldn't officially become law until 1910 in Tennessee and in 1924 in Virginia, when Virginia passed the Racial Integrity Act. Several others state passed similar laws..

The Classifications

The classifications were Mulatto if you were half black and half white.

Quadroon, if you were a quarter black and three fourth white.

Octoroon, if you were one eighth black.

If it could be proven that you had even "one drop" of black blood. You were considered to be black no matter how white you looked.

It was illegal to enslave white people, so a way of determining who was white had to be put in place. So they created the one drop rule.

The slave trade was a very profitable,but slaves were expensive.

So when an enslaved African had children, the children automatically became the slave owner's property. If a slave-owner fathered children with a slave They too automatically became the property of the slave-owner.

The "one drop" rule allowed slave owners to replenish their supply of slaves for free. (quite a deal wouldn't you say?)

Passing for White

Some mulattoes who looked more "white" than black, passed themselves off as being white.

This was a common occurrence, but blacks were treated so badly, who could blame them for doing it.

The most famous case of "blacks" "passing" for white, were the children Thomas Jefferson fathered with his young teen-aged slave, Sally Hemings.

Sally was a mulatto who was three fourth white, and was the illegitimate daughter of Jefferson's father in law.(They just had their way with any slave woman or teenager they desired or wanted to)

When Jefferson and Hemings' children were finally freed, all of them passed into white society as white people.

Who knows how many white families, they and their descendants, married into, who aren't aware of that heritage today.

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Hundreds possibly thousands of mulattoes passed themselves off as white, including other mix-raced people, like mixed raced "native" Americans during that time.

Obssessed with Racial Purity

So how pure can the white race in America be? (DNA studies say that all humans originated in Africa, so it's kind of moot point)

Mixed raced people in Europe passed for white in many European countries too. and many of them migrated to the United States.

in Virginia, politicians tried to get a "one drop" law passed into law, but some whites realized that if it passed, it could possibly affect their classification as a white people.

One of them wrote to a Virginia paper, that "If a one-drop rule were adopted. I doubt not, if many who are reputed to be white and are in fact so, do not in a very short time find themselves instead of being elevated, reduced by the judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction, to the level of a free negro".

In 1662 Virginia passed a law making interracial sex a criminal act.

Twelve of the original thirteen colonies passed similar laws.

But wouldn't you know it...while sex between black men and white women was violently frowned upon.

Sex between white men and black women was tolerated with a smile, a nod, and a wink

But probably not by white women, who even if they didn't like it, had no power to do anything about it, because White men ruled the colonies and pretty much did what they wanted to do.

Laws against interracial marriages was ostensibly to preserve the "purity" of the white race But I think it was really because they were a threat to white males' sexual ego. They wanted to be only males that white women sexually preferred..

Interracial marriages and families were completely banned. Having a mixed raced child was considered to be a parental crime.and a felony punishable by a month to a year in prison doing hard labor, (man these people were nuts).

Many white males, were so insecure about being the dominant sexually attractive male to white women, they couldn't tolerate the idea that "the flower of the white racer" (white women) would chose a black male, whom they considered to be more like an animal than a human, over themselves.

Obviously many white women, did find black males sexually attractive, that's why these laws had to be enforced with such violence in the first place...even leading to the forming of the so-called "Knights" of the Ku Klux Klan, who saw themselves as some sort of chivalrousness knights, protecting the flower of the white race, from black rape..

The Myth of the Ravenous Black Male

They created the myth that black men were ravenous sexual beasts, who's only goal was to deflower, white women and pollute the white gene pool.

But if white women weren't sexually attracted to black men, they wouldn't have had to go through all of that trouble to "protect" them from them, now would they?

The 1915 silent movie "The Birth of A Nation" depicts this perfectly.

Its shows the Klan as chivalrous heroes, formed to save their precious white women, from the ravenous the "black beasts", who were white actors made up in black face, to look like and act like the stereotypical image, that white racists, wanted to portray about black men.

This racist movie was national hit.But it also caused widespread protests around the country,

The Hemings of Monticello

Black Identity

So back to the point of this hub. Isn't It interesting that, the idea of who or what a black person is in America, was actually created by white, racists, during slavery, using the "one drop".rule as their standard of measure? They actually created the concept of black people. Many blacks still use this concept, to determine who is or isn't a black person to this day. Does that's really matter? Or should we reevaluate this racial designation and classification?


Levertis Steele on November 25, 2017:

Ancestry DNA testing has put 18-wheeler brakes on the idea of a one-drop rule. I find it very ironic that the one-drop rule today would mean that the black race is probably the majority race by the definition of bigots! No wonder some people are afraid to undergo ancestry DNA testing!

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on October 14, 2016:

I think that is very interesting and worthy courtellis. But one nagging issue always bothers me. (and know we just celebrated indigenous peoples holiday and not Columbus day)

What in the hell reason did the Caucasoid rule? It is beyond me. Why in the hell did industrialization win out over naturalization? It befuddles me.

courtellis on October 14, 2016:

The one drop rule huh? I beat there is a group of knuckleheads sitting in a room somewhere thinking of what to each other. I bet they are being paid well. You can call them Statisticians, or even add a bio to the front of that word. Ever since the The 1775 treatise "The Natural Varieties of Mankind", by Johann Friedrich Blumenbach proposed five major divisions: the Caucasoid race (including the Abyssinians, later designated as Ethiopid Mediterraneans), the Mongoloid race, the Ethiopian race (later termed Negroid), the American Indian race, and the Malayan race, we've been beating each other about the head and shoulders ever the word; he did not propose any hierarchy among the races. Blumenbach also noted the graded transition in appearances from one group to adjacent groups and suggested that "one variety of mankind does so sensibly pass into the other, that you cannot mark out the limits between them".

VC L Veasey (author) from Detroit,MI on September 20, 2016:

AP Gifts (allpeoplegifts AT gmail DOT com)

That's not to taken literally. Calling people Black is a political racial designation. It's "the one drop rule". No matter how light your skin is, you're still considered to be "Black".

Big E on October 07, 2015:

Some white women will have children with black or latino men so their kids will benefit from affirmative action. Many low to mid income whites would actually benefit from being a minority. It is only the rich whites who are privileged.

VC L Veasey (author) from Detroit,MI on May 15, 2015:

There is only the Human Race!

VC L Veasey (author) from Detroit,MI on May 03, 2015:

AP Gifts [allpeople AT gmail DOT com]

There no such thing as a black person

VC L Veasey (author) from Detroit,MI on April 03, 2013:

Alecia Murphy

Thanks for commenting

I agree one should strive to be ones self. But can't that be hard

for some people, especially kids and young people because of

the portrayal of beauty, good looks and glamour in movies in music videos etc, with white and "light-skin black" people as the standard of beauty and desirability?

Alecia Murphy from Wilmington, North Carolina on April 03, 2013:

Racial identity is so confusing to me. I understand that many people changed their appearance to easily pass as white but if most people are not purely white, all of this seems to be more of a show to fit in with the social construction than actuality. I think at this point you should strive to be yourself and whoever can't accept it it's their loss. Great hub!

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on January 07, 2013:

How interesting. I must live in la la land. Around here, bigots come in all colors with some interesting similarities. Big, Fat, arrogant, drunk and angry. Maybe the rest of them have been run into hiding. I don't think I could tell you the regional/racial/ethnic backgrounds of most people on my block. Of course I am just one proud, Black Irish writing.

VC L Veasey (author) from Detroit,MI on January 07, 2013:

No Doyl

The real issue is people like you, who are so "smart" that you can't see that you can't send "blacks" who are American citizens

who were born in this country and whose families have probably been in this country longer than yours,

back to Africa because they weren't born in Africa and have probably never been to Africa.

The better solution would be to send people like you, who refuse to wake up from your racial slumber, back to the country your ancestors came from.

Doyl on January 07, 2013:

This wouldn't be an issue if we just sent all the blacks back to Africa to throw spears at each other with the natives.

VC L Veasey (author) from Detroit,MI on January 06, 2013:

AllPeople (AP) GIfts [soaptalk AT hotmail DOT com]

My comments have nothing to do with you personally

I'm living in this century and I don't bow to white supremacist or anyone for that matter

Yep the one drop rule was legally banned So was racial discrimation

But do you think that all racist attitudes and racial discrimination disappeared when those things were legally banned?

We know that didn't happen

That why you have to keep posting what you posted in your comments that there is no such thing as a light skinned black person, because when it comes to black people a lot people's racial attitudes haven't changed.

Aren't people still called black no matter what they're mixed with as long as someone can "see" anything " black" about their appearance?

That's the one drop rule in action...not the legal's dead...but the social one is still alive and kicking

AllPeople (AP) GIfts [soaptalk AT hotmail DOT com] on January 06, 2013:


LOL -- what century are you living in that you (or anyone)

would think for one minute that I could give a rat's hole

about what any racial-supremacist believes in or feels?


Perhaps others on the planet are willing to 'bow-at-the-knee'

to the opinions and demands of racial-supremacist -- but I,

my friend (like many people in the modern world) am not.


The Racist-'One-Drop Rule' was BANNED in the U.S.

waaaaayyyy back in 1967 – and THERE IS NO SUCH



Society needs to accept the fact that -- the world is NOT

divided into Black and White -- but rather Mixed-Race;

Asian; Amerindian and other groups exist too -- and we

will not have our existence dictated or ignored by anyone.


Thanks for listening.












-- AllPeople (AP) G.i.f.t.s.


soaptalk AT hotmail DOT com


Founder and Moderator of the following

online Lineage-Discussion Communities







AllPeopleGifts [soaptalk AT hotmail DOT com] on December 22, 2012:


More people need to realize and accept the FACT


A so-called "LIGHT-SKINNED BLACK" person

... but rather ... such individuals and groups are

actually people who are of a 'Multi-Generational

Multiracially-Mixed' (MGM-Mixed) Lineage that

some may have been pressured or encouraged

to ignore or downplay -- AND -- even the very term

of "Light-Skinned Black" is a racist-oxymoron that

was created as part of the racist-'One-Drop Rule'

in order to degrade racially-Black ancestral-lineage.



People of Mixed-Race lineage should NOT

feel pressured to 'identify' according to

any standards other than one's own.



The legal -application of the racist-'One-Drop Rule'

(ODR) was banned in the U.S. way back in 1967.









Listed below are related Links of 'the facts' of the histories

of various Mixed-Race populations found within the U.S.:





There is no proof that a 'color-based slave hierarchy'

(or that 'color-based social-networks') ever existed

as common entities -- within the continental U.S.




It was the 'Rule of Matriliny (ROM) --

[a.k.a. 'The Rule of Partus' (ROP)] -- and

NOT the racist-'One-Drop Rule' (ODR) --

that was used to 'create more enslaved

people' on the continental U.S.


This is because the chattel-slavery system that was

once found on the antebellum-era, continental U.S.

was NOT "color-based" (i.e. "racial") -- but rather

-- it was actually "mother-based" (i.e. 'matrilineal').



There were many ways (and not solely the sexual assault

and sexual exploitation of the women-of-color) in which

'white' lineage entered the familial bloodlines of

enslaved-people found on the continental U.S.





An 'Ethnic' category is NOT the

same thing as a "Race" category:




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