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One-Drop Rule

Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 8 months ago

What is the One-Drop Rule?


The One-Drop Rule states that any person with even the smallest amount of non-white ancestry can be classified as "colored" or non-white essentially. This line of reasoning rose to prominence in the United States in order to prevent interracial marriages and keep the White race free of non-white ancestry.


Legislation and the One-Drop Rule


Wikipedia provides a detailed account of how the One-Drop Rule has been interpreted and enforced in American legislation.

As Jim Crow laws became prevalent many states adopted variations of the One-Drop Rule into their own laws.


One fascinating aspect of the One-Drop Rule is how it applies to non-whites who are also not African American. For instance, in Virginia the "Pocahontas Exception" came into being because many of the prominent families there could trace their lineage back to Pocahontas. In order to be classified as white special laws were passed stating that a person could be considered white as long as they had no more than one-sixteenth Indian blood. It is in this light that the ugly reality of the One-Drop Rule is exposed.


The One-Drop Rule and America Today


In 1967 the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Virginia Racial Integrity Act which resulted in the One-Drop Rule as being illegal. However, in present times there are more and more occurrances of mixed race and interracial issues coming to light.


Many academic, employment, and governmental opportunities hinge upon a persons racial ancestry. Students may be eligible for grants or other academic opportunities if they claim to belong to an applicable minority. Employers may be put in difficult positions with Equal Employment Opportunity laws and applicants claiming different backgrounds.


It is difficult to tell whether the influence of the One-Drop Rule will be felt much by future generations. With programs such as Affirmative Action taking effect and a general movement toward viewing diversity in a positive light it is not beyond reason to hold the optimistic belief that the One-Drop Rule will fade into obscurity.


Additional Resources


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