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Naomi Zack on ... Mixed-Race & The U.S. Census

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  • multiracialbookclub
    The following post is derived from an essay written by Mixed-Race Philosophy Professor, Naomi Zack. American Mixed Race: The U. S. Census and Related Issues --
    Message 1 of 6 , Jan 7, 2007

      The following post is derived from
      an essay written by Mixed-Race
      Philosophy Professor, Naomi Zack.

      American Mixed Race:
      e U. S. Census
      and Related Issues

      -- an editorial written by Naomi Zack

      Go to fullsize image
      Mixed-Race Philosophy Professor, Naomi Zack


      The average American, and many scholars as well, still believe that
      there is some coherent biological basis for the racial categories of
      `Black', `White', "Indian" and `Asian', and that relevant scientists
      have specialized information about the nature of that basis.

      Race, however, is a social-construction on all levels.

      Not only are the `links' between so-called biological-"race"
      and `culture' the result of history, tradition, and current
      "norms", but the existence of biological-"racial"
      taxonomies is itself the result of such social factors ...

      Nonetheless, no matter how it is parsed, [the construct and
      consequences regarding] "race" remains a powerful social
      mechanism for distributing status and privilege in the U.S.,
      and the … numbers of so-called Mixed … Multi-Racial
      individuals are likely to remain an interesting and complex
      [issue] of taxonomy and `identity', for some time to come.

      Readers … are likely to approach the subject of "race"
      from legal backgrounds with expectations of
      concrete arguments and specific advocacy.

      As a philosopher – however -- I offer a
      discussion that is more conceptually-driven.

      In Part I, I consider the treatment of "race" and,
      in particular, Mixed-Race in the U.S. Census.

      The logical and empirical weaknesses of common sense beliefs
      about "race" and Mixed-Race become evident through an
      examination of the Census 2000 questions pertaining to race.

      If common sense and the Census are vague and
      erroneous about the biological basis of race, this
      raises the question of what is precisely true.

      Therefore, in Part II, I offer a summary of
      current scientific findings about biological race.

      These findings indicate that the main problem with
      "race" in common sense is a failure to recognize
      that there is no biological basis for racial categories.

      But, since such common sense illusions about "race" exist,
      it is important to note that they have been accompanied by
      a general denial of official recognition of [via a `category'
      acknowledging] Mixed-Race `identity' [and lineage].

      This denial has supported ungrounded notions of "racial purity" ...

      In Part III, I consider how neither the traditional individual-based
      model of pluralism, nor its group-based multicultural
      contender, support Mixed-Race `identity' claims.

      Returning to the gap between common sense and science,
      in Part IV, I consider education and activism as ways of
      achieving Mixed-Race `identity'-recognition, on the
      heuristic grounds that such recognition will ultimately disabuse
      [people] of their false beliefs in the biological reality of "race".

      I.  The U.S.Census

      … although the U.S. Census is now broadly regarded as a
      valuable resource for corporate planning and a basis for various
      government allocations and representation, it has not provided
      `a stable system' of "racial categorization" from decade-to-decade.1

      There is, thus, no `precise numerical basis' for
      historical comparison of "racial" demographics.

      The shifting "racial" taxonomies have not reflected changes
      in scientific-consenses about "race", but have
      political power, social attitudes and economic interests.

      Racial categorization first appeared in the 1850 Census,
      when under the general group of free persons, `Whites'
      were not counted by "race", under "Color"
      ---- and `Mulattoes' [people of Mixed-Race lineage]
      were counted separately from [mono-racial] `Blacks'.

      By the 1890 count, distinctions were made within the `Mulatto' group
      down to "one-eighth or any trace of [mono-racial] `Black' blood".

      The `One-Drop Rule', whereby "black" designation resulted from any
      [visible or known mono-racial] `Black' ancestry, no matter how
      remote, become "the social rule of the land" by 1900 and
      it was adopted by the [U.S.] Census [Bureau] in 1930.2

      Anthropologists use the term "Hypo-Descent" to describe
      practices, such as the `One-Drop Rule', for categorizing
      [people of] Mixed-Racial [lineage] by assigning them
      to the … "racial" category with the lowest social status.3

      Hence, `The American One-Drop Rule' also required that
      any "degree" of `blackness' in Mixtures between `Black' and
      [`Asian'] or `Black' "Indian" ancestry, result in "black" designation.

      As applied beyond the "black" category, the `One-Drop Rule'
      required that Mixtures of `White' and `Asian' or `White' and
      "Indian", result in `asian' or `indian' designation, respectively.

      In the 1980 and 1990 Censuses, a new formation developed –
      `ethnicity', as Hispanic or non-Hispanic (replacing what was formerly
      labeled "Spanish") came to be counted separately from "race", but
      the `One-Drop Rule' remained in effect for "racial" `categorization'.4

      In all of the Census counts through 1990, an individual's "race"
      was supposed to be indicated by `checking only one of the boxes'
      presumed to correspond to the main social "racial" categories.

      Thus, there was no allowance made for Mixed-Race `identification'
      [nor `categorization'], although the category "Other" was recognized
      in the 1980 and 1990 censes, and on many local record-keeping forms.

      During the early 1990s, advocates for the federal recognition of
      Mixed-Race `identities' succeeded to the extent that the "check
      only one box" rule for race was rescinded in the 2000 Census.5

      This appeared to be the beginning of official
      recognition of Mixed-Race in the United States.

      Consider the text of the Census 2000 short form questions
      eight and nine, which pertain to ethnicity and race.

      (((Note: Please answer BOTH questions 8 and 9.

      8.  Is Person 1 Spanish/Hispanic/Latino? 
      Mark X the "No" box if not
      __  No, not Spanish/Hispanic/Latino
      __ Yes, Puerto Rican
      __ Yes, Mexican, Mexican Am., Chicano
      __ Yes, Cuban
      __  Yes, other Spanish/Hispanic/Latino 
      Print group ___________________

      9.  What is Person 1's race?
      Mark X one or more races to
      indicate what  this person considers himself/herself to be.
      __ White
      __ African Am., or Negro
      __ American Indian or Alaska Native -
      Print name of enrolled or principal tribe.____________

      __ Asian Indian
      __ Japanese
      __ Native Hawaiian
      __ Chinese
      __ Korean
      __ Guamanian or Chomorro
      __ Filipino
      __ Vietnamese
      __ Samoan
      __ Other Asian
      Print race____________________________________

      __ Some other race 
      Print race____________________________________)))

      Several aspects of questions eight and nine
      are theoretically interesting, if not fascinating.

      In question eight, the general category, "Spanish/Hispanic/
      Latino" is not `identified' as "racial" or `Ethnic', and it is
      presumed that respondents already know the criteria
      for self-inclusion in one or another of the subcategories.

      Common sense alone yields many such criteria:
      language, national origin, culture of origin, culture
      of marriage or adoption, ancestral national origin,
      name (both given and surname) and appearance.

      No allowance is made that a person might identify
      as `more than one of the subcategories', such as
      Cuban and Puerto Rican, or that a person might be
      both Spanish/Hispanic/Latino and not-Spanish/
      Hispanic/Latino, for instance German and Spanish.

      In question nine, the phrase "considers himself/herself to be"
      clearly bases racial `categorization' on "self-identification".

      It is remarkable in this regard that no guidelines
      are available for making this' identification',
      for instance: "race" of ancestors, culture of origin,
      geographical origins of ancestors, or appearance.

      The list of "racial" boxes does not distinguish between
      "presumptive biological-racial" groups, and
      "racial" groups based on national-origin.

      That is, "'White' and `Black' are "presumptive-biological" groups,
      whereas all of the other listed groups refer to `national-origin'.

      The designation "other Asian" suggests that respondents already
      know that the group names from "Asian Indian" to "Samoan"
       refer to Asians --- although "Asian" itself is nowhere defined.

      The lack of either `explicitly structured taxonomies' or `criteria
      for membership in specific categories' suggests that those who
      composed the Census form [falsely] assumed that Americans have
      'unequivocal and ready answers' to questions about their' identities'
      in the Spanish / Hispanic / Latino category, and in terms of "race".

      And since these answers were deemed worthwhile to collect, it
      must have been further assumed that they were accurate according
      to some unstated criteria for `Ethnic' and "racial" categorization.

      If there are no independent criteria for "racial"-`identification'
      apart from ordinary practices and perceptions, which as we shall
      see in the next section, are not coherent, then the data collected
      through the Census cannot be informative as it purports to be.

      While Mixed-Race is not mentioned explicitly in question
      nine, those who identify as `Mixed' usually do so on
      the basis of `known' ancestry of `more than one' "race".

      Therefore, the Census 2000, almost explicitly, and
      for the first time in American history, allows for
      Mixed-Race `identity' in ways that appear to do more than
      create subcategories within non-`White' races, i.e., the
      `One-Drop Rule' does not appear to be active in this enumeration.

      Although, without an application of a the `One-Drop Rule', or
      `Rules', there is a dizzying array of possible "racial" categories.

      In March 2000, when [the U.S.] government began distributing the
      Census forms, the `New York Time's reported that the five "racial"
      categories and their possible combinations would yield sixty-three
      recognized racial categories, a number that would be doubled
      by the options in the "Spanish / Hispanic / Latino" category.

      Official plans, however, for interpreting the data tell a different story.

      Anita Hodgkiss, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for
      Civil Rights, commented on the Clinton Administration's
      policy concerning interpretation of the data:

      "The first allocation rule is that if you are White' --
      and anything else -- you are allocated to `the minority.'"

      Sally Katzen, Counsel to the Director of the Budget Office,
      reported that this `Allocation Rule' "reflected a determination
      that people who have suffered discrimination in the
      past should be subject to certain protections."7

      Thus, the justification for this [same] application of the old
      `One-Drop Rule' is that it is [an alleged] response to lobbied
      requests by civil rights groups a [strangely convenient accusation
      which has been repeatedly proven to be, for the most part, false,
      by the way] that the new classifications not "dilute the power
      and protection of minorities in the enforcement of
      anti-discrimination and voting rights laws."8

      The pill of Hypo-Descent is thus turned into a placebo,
      sweetened by referring to all of the "racial" categories other
      than `White'," as "Minorities," rather than [as] non-`White'."

      One local paper went so far as to paraphrase Hodgkiss's statement
      in a headline that turned [the adjective] "Minority" into a noun:

      While the word "Minority" may now be a euphemism for non-`White'
      "racial" group" or even "member of a non-`White' "racial" group," its
      traditional literal meaning is "the smaller number in a political body" or
      "the group having less than the number of votes necessary to control."10

      But few who work towards and hope for "racial"
      egalitarianism in the United States believe that
      when non-`Whites', both "presumptively pure"
      [Mono-racial] and Mixed [Multi-racial] are no
      longer numerical-minorities, "racial"-quality
      will thereby automatically be achieved.

      Indeed, in South Africa, as well as many locales in the
      American South, [non-`Whites'] have been "racial" `majorities',
      under conditions of extreme …  racism and oppression.11

      It should be noted that despite the rich array of possibilities for
      "racial"-`identification', the Census 2000 does not allow
      respondents to reject "racial"-identification completely,
      or even to' identify' [or have themselves `categorized']
      as `Mixed' without specifying how they are `Mixed'
      [thus, the decision of `how' to `categorize' them –
      once again – is left up to the personal biases,
      motives and perceptions of the Census taker].

      The use of the[racist] `One-Drop Rule' in [forcing people of
      Multi-racial lineage into being mis-categorized as being of
      mono-racial lineage was now being falsely perceived] received as
      [a force which was]"supportive of the rights of those who belong
      to groups that have suffered race-based discrimination in the past.

      But, the new `One-Drop Rule' [i.e. `The Allocation-Rule'], like the
      old, which was instigated to ensure that everyone who might possibly
      qualify for "race"-based discrimination would be forced to do so
      [only via being mis-categorized within a mono-racial group], does
      not seriously allow for the recognition of Mixed-Race `identity'.

      Paradoxically, an examination of the flimsiness of all
      presumptively biological "racial" `identity' will illuminate
      how the recognition of Mixed-Race `identities' is important.

      II.  Contemporary Science and Race

      The contemporary biological human sciences do not
      support common sense notions of "racial" taxonomy.

      While such notions vary and cannot often be stated with precision, until
      very recently, American school children have been [falsely] taught that
      there are three main human racial groups – `Black', `White', and `Asian'
      -- a taxonomy which was upheld in anthropology textbooks and general-
      reader encyclopedia entries [of] "race", throughout the twentieth century.

      Obvious biological facts that are now broadly accepted undermine
      such [false and racist] notions, as do more sophisticated accounts
      of the history of Homo sapiens in population genetics.

      Let us begin with the broad facts.

      In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, biologists posited
      "racial  essences" [were] inherited through the blood as a physical
      as well as psychological and cultural determinant of racial `identity'.12

      This notion has never found empirical support.

      No specific "essences" of "race" have ever been identified for
      the main social racial groups either in the blood or any
      other component of human physiology or genetics.

      The lack of proof for the existence of" racial essences" makes
       it highly improbable, if not impossible, that there is any general
       "racial" factor for each of the "racial" groups, which determines
      more specific traits associated with "racial" membership.13

      The lack of general "racial" factors means that there is no
      known biological-method by which "racial" identities could
      cause either specific physical "racial" traits or nonphysical
      psychological or cultural traits associated with "race".

      There is also independent evidence that the nonphysical differences
      associated with race are the result of historical events, tradition and
      culture, evidence that anthropologists have accepted since the 1930s.14

      For instance, human talents are distributed irrespective of "racial" groups.

      Many "traditions" develop as the result of `historical events',
      and there are cultural commonalities between
      "racial" groups and diversity within them.

      The recognized environmental and historical causes of those
      cultural and psychological traits which are associated with
      distinct "racial" groups means that --- the human capital
      represented by culture is in principle attainable to all
      human beings, regardless of their designated "racial" groups.

      This "equal opportunity" view of human culture is
      widespread among scholars, scientists and others who are
      concerned with social justice and remedies for racism.

      A recent expression of this view is the `
      1998 American
      Anthropological Association Statement on Race'

      Prior to this promulgation, the United Nation sponsored statements
      on "racism" which were published in the 1950s and 60s.15

      During the last third of the twentieth century, however,
      the egalitarian view of the acquisition of cultural assets was often
      opposed by [a few] members of [various] non-`White' "racial"
      groups -- who sought to support the `identities' of their groups
      on the basis of `cultural' traditions and practices valued by them.

      The right to distinctive "race"-based group cultural `identities' has come
      to be generally accepted as a necessary component of democratic
      pluralism, and it is usually referred to as "Multi-Culturalism."16

      In ordinary usage, except when the term "Ethnicity" is used [mistakenly]
      as a synonym for "race," the cultural aspect of group `identity' is called
      `Ethnic' if the group in question is "racially" `White' (e.g., Italian,
      German, Jewish ethnic identities as developed in the United States), and
      "racial" if the [`Ethnic'] group is African American, Asian American or
      American Indian (e.g., "black", `Asian', `Indian', "racial" `identities').

      Some contemporary scholars view `Ethnicity' as a matter of
      `culture' and "race" as a matter of (presumptive) `biology'.

      Insofar as "race" is biologically-false, but `Ethnicity' is pervasive
      in daily life and universal as a narrative and social science subject,
      the restriction of biology to "race," and culture and psychology
      to "Ethnicity" is useful for analytic purposes.17

      This line having been drawn, it can safely be said that distinctive
      'Ethnic' practices, which are often assumed to be linked to
      distinctive "racial" `identities', are in themselves worth preserving.

      The right to participate in, maintain, and pass on the distinctive
      'Ethnic' practices of what are, mistakenly or not, thought to be
      different "racial" lineage --- is often part of what is claimed by
      those who advocate for the recognition of Mixed-Race `identities'.

      Just as there is independent evidence of the causal separation
      between race and culture in ways that preclude biological
      determinism, there is also evidence of great (relative) biological
      diversity within the main socially-determined "racial" groups.

      Contemporary biologists agree that there is greater diversity
      within [the] so-called "racial" groups than between them.

      Within Homo sapiens, there is an average
      genetic-difference of .2% or 1/500.

      The "racial" part of this difference is 6%, which is .012%,
      or less than 1/8000 of any human's genetic material.18

      Furthermore, the physical traits in which human beings differ
      in ways identified as "racial"
      do not all get inherited together
      but disperse and recombine at conception when individuals are
      formed with half of their genetic material coming from each parent.

      The lack of "racial essences", the high degree of variation of
      "presumptive racial traits" within "racial" groups, the great
      genetic similarity of all humans, and the facts of genetic
      recombination preclude the possibility of an empirical
      foundation for biological "racial" identity.19

      Thus far, I have discussed the [im-]possibility of a
      biological-foundation for [the social construct of] "race"
      ---  based on similarity or difference among human
      groups and individuals existing at the same time.

      Population genetics tracks human migrations since the
      origination of modern Homo sapiens in Africa .

      As a result of this migration, or diaspora, the traits of skin, hair and
      skeletal structure associated with "race" are viewed as clines, because
      they vary continuously over large geographical areas and on
      that basis, exist in continua rather than discrete categories.

      Cavalli-Sforza and his colleagues who worked on mapping human
      [migratory] history, have found it possible to identify human
      geographical groups in ways that roughly correspond to races.20

      But since the classifications are based on probable ancestry,
      rather than similarity or difference, they do not provide an
      objective foundation for "race" unless location in a certain place
      at a certain time is arbitrarily used to indicate racial identity …

      On this model, there is no independent way to
      divide humans into `Blacks', `Whites' and `Asians'.

      The question of how to classify human beings based on the
      continental origins of their ancestors can be answered only by
      making arbitrary classifications based on time spans of habitation.

      Neither can it be claimed, without begging the question, that we
      are all Africans because our ancestors originated in Africa, if by
      "African" is meant `Black' or `Negro' in a "racial" sense.22

      Given the great degree of human migration and intermixture
      between groups with different ancestral origins, some
      writers have claimed that we are all "of mixed race".
      (But note that there cannot be Mixed-Race or
      Mixed-Races unless there are "races" beforehand).

      Had human history been different, with less migration and more
      isolation between groups, human races might have evolved.
      But this did not happen and not even stringent regimes of `White'
      "purity" and segregation have succeeded in accomplishing it.

      Most writers on the subject of American Black-White miscegenation, for
      instance, estimate that seventy to ninety percent of
      African Americans
      have [a fairly large amount of] `White' [and Amerindian] ancestry --
      whatever that could mean in "racial" terms, given the
      lack of any biological foundation for "race" itself.23

      Despite the lack of biological foundation, what
      is thought of as "racial" distinction continues to
      have a powerful social effect on reality in American life.

      This is because the social categories of race are the result of history.

      The modern concept of biological race was invented during the period
      of European colonialism in order to establish and perpetuate European
      domination over the inhabitants of Africa, Asia and the Americas.24

      It is in this social, economic, and political context that claims by
      individuals who view themselves or their children as Mixed-Race for
      a different system or order of "racial" `recognition' must be addressed.

      III.  Models of Pluralism

      Keeping in mind that "racial" `categories' are `social constructions',
      two models for pluralism in American contexts emerged in attempt to
      provide justice for those whose group [`categories'] are disadvantageous.

      The first model was developed in response to `Ethnic' diversity during
      the great waves of European immigration in the early twentieth century.

      Ethnic-pluralism, at that time, was based on a melting-pot
      ideal of equality and nondiscrimination in public life.

      Individuals of different national origins, languages, and customs,
      were expected and encouraged to adopt the `identity' of
      generic, non-Ethnic Americans in public and civic life.25

      The second model of pluralism was driven by
      "race"-based egalitarian projects beginning in the 1960s.

      Members of non-`White' "racial" groups, particularly
      [the largely Multi-racial `Ethnic' group – currently referred
      to as being] African Americans and [the many varied tribes
      found among the] Native Americans [i.e. Amerindians], have
      argued for the right to retain and recognize their non-`White'
      `identities' as fully-functional in [both] civic and public life.26

      It is not accidental that the subject of the first model is an
      individual who can be conceptualized as `Ethnically'-neutral.

      Whereas the subject of the second model is
      a group defined by its `Ethnicity' or "race".

      Thus, the first pluralistic model emphasizes public
      neutrality of `Ethnic' identity and the second pluralistic
      model emphasizes public distinctiveness of "racial" identity.

      Insofar as the first model has individuals as its subject, it has
      been closer to the legal model for rights in the United States .

      The second, group-based model has functioned more as a moral
      critique of the individual legal model, than as a legal model itself.

      The discourse of rights in American history has always
      focused on the rights of individuals and not even
      individuals as members of particular groups.

      Thus, both the Civil Rights legislation and revision of immigration laws
      in the 1960s addressed the rights of individuals to be free of discrimination.

      For example, The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits
      discrimination against individuals on the grounds
      of race in all major American institutions.

      The Voting Rights Act of 1965 protects the voting rights of all
      Americans as individuals, and The 1965 Immigration Act forbids
      the exclusion of individuals based on race or national origin.27

      In recent decades, this individual subject of rights in situations of
      "racial" discrimination has been criticized as a symbol of an impossible
      ideal because positing such a subject assumes a nonexistent neutrality.

      The critique is that individuals do not appear in public and civic
      contexts with undetermined "racial" `identity', so that it can be
      stipulated that their "race" is not to be a reason for discrimination.28

      Rather, "racial" `identity' [and `categorization'] is believed
      to be immediately attached to individuals at all times, in all
      places, and in ways that shape how laws are created and applied.

      This belief has led to arguments that the subjects of egalitarian legal
      discourse ought to be affirmatively identified by "race" from the outset
      rather than negatively protected on the basis of "race", after the fact.29

      The Census 2000 becomes even more interesting in terms
      of the individual model as compared to the group model.

      The Census form is meant to be filled
      out by individuals about themselves. …

      In recent years, the arguments against official Mixed-Race
      `identities' have often been implicit within "racial"
      scholarship, varied discussion fora, and the media …

      These arguments include:

      --- a multiplicity of recognized Mixed-Race categories
      will create social confusion – [possibly] to the
      detriment of neighborhood and family ties;
      --- the recognition of people who are Mixed … will deprive [the people
      represented by the `lower-status' portion of their lineage] of political
      representation … because they will [seen as being] fewer in number;
      --- most of the Mixed-Race people have a long history of [falsely being
      declared to both have and be] "the best of both worlds" – [i.e. having]
      both access to `White'-Privilege and [also having access to]
      Special-Consideration for being "members of minority groups"
      -- and it is not fair that they should have these unique advantages.31

      A critique of these objections to Mixed-Race identity include:

      --- social confusion about "race" is not a bad thing if "racial" categories
      are [and always have been] confused and unfounded to begin with;
      --- special interest `Coalitions' are [more than] possible
      among [and between all] non-`White' groups;
      --- the historical advantages of Mixed-Race people
      occurred before most non-`White']" Americans had
      a recognized voice, which is no longer the case;
      --- [many] Mixed-Race people [have] a different
      story [to tell] about their "alleged advantages".32

      Most important is the question of whether Mixed-Race
      individuals have a right to be recognized as members
      of groups [that are] different from the non-`White'
      groups in which they have partial ancestry.

      On an individualist model of pluralism, they would seem to have
      the same right to claim "racial" `identities' [i.e. Multi-Racial] as
      do individuals who 'identify' as members of groups falsely
      believed to be "racially pure" [i.e. Mono-Racial].

      The 126 possible categories of Mixed-Race
       [created] by the current Census, however,
      do not yet exist as `recognized groups'.

      Therefore, on a group-based model of pluralism,
      Mixed-Race people have not yet been
      constructed as `rights-bearing subjects'.

      This is partly why Mixed-Race `identities' are at
      this time [occasionally] perceived as deviant and
      anti-social by [certain elements of] the "mainstream."

      Another reason is that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down all
      remaining state laws against racial intermarriage in its 1967
      opinion in `Loving v. Virginia' … and … a comparison of the
      majority opinion in `Loving v. Virginia', with the decision in the
      `Jane Doe v. State of Louisiana' [hereinafter the Phipps case],
      brought in opposition to the `One-Drop Rule', is instructive in
      regard to the workings of the individualistic model of pluralism.

      In Loving v. Virginia, the appellee argued for retention of
      anti-misegenation law in the state of Virginia on the grounds
      of the desirability of "racial integrity" [i.e. racism].35

      The court's decision was based on the premise that marriage is a
      basic social liberty, which could not be regulated on what Justice
      Warren called the "invidious" basis of "racial"-difference alone.36

      Insofar as a liberty is what individuals are not constrained from
      doing by law, this decision would seem to be an application
      of a more general `doctrine of individual rights'.

      Now, consider the Phipps case, decided by the Fourth Circuit
      Court of Appeals in Louisiana and refused review by the
      Louisiana Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court.37

      Susie Guillory Phipps was denied `White' `categorization'
      because, at the time of her birth, her parents had considered
      themselves and her to be "Colored". [i.e. Mixed-Race]38

      This ruling was made despite the fact that Phipps looked
      [like most of the people around her who were `categorized'
       as being mono-racially] `White', thought of herself as [having
      been `categorized' as being mono-racially] `White', and "had
      twice married as [being a mono-racially] `White' [person]."39

      The Louisiana Appellate Court noted that "racial"-classification
      of individuals was "scientifically insupportable," and
      claimed that "racial"-perceptions were `purely social'.40

      The relevant question was taken to be whether Phipps's
      parents had `correctly-recorded' her "race "based on
      social-perceptions and it was concluded that they had.41

      The higher courts apparently did not disagree.

      In this case, an individual's choice of "racial" `identity'
      is not accorded the same protection from regulation
      as is the choice of a marriage partner.

      Neither is a "racial" `identity `claim or denial taken to
      be justified or not justified on the basis of group rights.

      If Phipps [was officially `categorized'] as "black" an adult
      [no matter her personal `identity'] --  because according to
      social-perceptions at her birth, it was "correct" to consider her
      "black" at that time -- then the courts seem to be implicitly `
      deferring to tradition' as a basis for the assignment of "racial"
      `categorization' (again, no matter her personal `identification').

      A judicial `deference to tradition' in matters of "racial"
      [`categorization'] puts Mixed-Race `identity' claims
      in a kind of legal-limbo between the individual
      and group-based models of pluralism.

      [The courts, in this decision, seemed to be saying that,] individual
      rights [and `identification'] are not recognized and protected
      from `the invidious bias of "race" `, as they were in `Loving'.

      But, group rights do not exist.

      There cannot be claims on behalf of members of the
      group(s) of Mixed-Race Americans, unless the
      existence of the group(s) is recognized.

      Phipps, to be sure, was going beyond a claim for Mixed-Race
      [`categorization'], because she believed that her "racial" `identity'
      [via her "assumed" `categorization'] was [mono-racially] `White'.

      But the [`categorization''] as `White' of someone who appears to be
      [mono-racially] `White'--- but who [also] has non-`White' ancestry,
      is in fact [seen as being far] less transgressive of the  `social "racial" order'
      --- than the recognition [/ categorization] of that person as [being
      Mixed-Race]--- because the category of `White' is already recognized.

      It is amazing and often overlooked that the courts are willing to
      acknowledge the social and non-biological nature of "racial" categories.

      There is no indication that beyond this, however,
      that they are willing to oppose custom.

      There is no basis on which to expect that remedies for either
      false notions of "race" or lack of recognition of Mixed-Race
      identities will be developed through common law.

      IV.  Mixed-Race Recognition as a
      Heuristic Device for Social Change

      The First Amendment allows people
      to think and say what they choose.

      One result of this right is that there is no legal basis
      on which false beliefs can be excluded from the
      domains of public or private discourse …

      But, the First Amendment creates challenges for those
      who have reason to believe that the public is in error
      about a major aspect of life in the society.

      Such error can be corrected by education, which is easily
      accomplished when students are consensual adults.

      But, the education of children depends on the consent of their
      parents and false ideas about race, taught early in life, are
      often defended by parents on emotional and moral grounds.

      The public has never been taught either informally in public fora
      or systematically on different levels of the educational system,
      that contemporary biology offers no support for its persistent
      anachronistic belief in the existence of human "racial" divisions. …

      Anything that disturbs the ontological premises underlying the racial
      status quo, no matter how liberating it may be in principle, [can], at
      this time, be [mistakenly] perceived as a threat to the gains justly
      secured by non-`Whites' on the group-based pluralistic model.

      That a wide-scale revision of received opinion about the existence of
      "race" may undermine racist thought and behavior is almost beside the
      point, insofar as it appears to be either a merely theoretical enterprise or
      a threat to what is desirable about the status quo in terms of liberation.

      Nevertheless, widespread realization of the scientific emptiness of
      human "racial" taxonomy would be a great social good, because it
      could undermine human interactions based on the belief that some
      groups are different from others in the manner of subspecies.

      Despite the celebration of diversity and its positive private and
      political uses, when `diversity' has been "racial" in the United States ,
      it has never been viewed as mere variety, but as natural-kind type
      difference lending itself to comparison in terms of human worth.

      The reality of human biological diversity is both subtle, in
      that we
      are all overwhelmingly similar, and vast, in that no two of us are
      exactly alike genetically (except, perhaps for identical twins).

      The rules [in the United States] for established "racial"
      groupings differ according to the "race" at issue:
      ---- [Those people who are categorized as being the]
      `Whites' have no [known] non-`White' ancestry;42
      ---- [Those people who are categorized as being the] "blacks"
      have at least some[amount of] mono-racial `Black' ancestry;43

      Asians encompass a multiplicity of national-origins;44 and
      [Amerindians]ns have recorded Indian ancestry to an approved
      [and obviously racist and One-Drop Rule enforced] "blood quantum."45  

      Despite the different bases for the received "racial" `identities',
      `appearance' is `the rough guide', which is [often] considered
      to be the' normal indicator' of "racial" identity [/categorization].

      In this sense, the major "racial" groups are socially-intelligible.

      Recognition of even a fraction of possible Mixed "racial" `identities',
      however, will render "racial" [`categories'] unintelligible, at a glance,
      at least to those who take the new complexity of categories seriously.

      If racial `identity' is widely accepted to be something that
      cannot be accurately determined at a glance, racial divisions
      will begin to crumble on epistemological grounds alone.

      Even if Mixed-Race identities are not officially recognized
      [i.e. via "official" `categorization and fair-definition]
      Mixed-Race `identity' advocacy is not likely to go away …

      However, Mixed-Race `identity' tends to support the
      family-history aspects of "racial" `identity', which are real …

      In conclusion, it should be noted that there is no
      constitutional provision, body of law, or established
      case precedent according to which Americans *must*
      `identify' [or even `categorize'] themselves "racially".

      Also, the "racial" `categories' which are offered as
      choices on official forms are not established by law,
      but by the vague dictates of administrative policy.

      In the past, such policy has followed what administrators
      have `understood' to be `custom and public opinion',
      and the courts have upheld these understandings.

      But custom and public opinion are never as stable as traditionalists
      would like them to be, and the twenty-first century may very well
      sustain exactly those historical processes which will unravel the
      false taxonomy of "race" established during the eighteenth and
      nineteenth centuries and attenuated during the twentieth.

      And if the past is a guide, as custom and public
      opinion change in these matters, so will the courts.

      Go to fullsize image
      Naomi Zack works as a Professor of
      Philosophy at the University of Oregon .
      Naomi's analyses are informed by her
      own experience as a person of Mixed-Race
      ('Black', 'Amerindian' and `White') lineage.





      1. David Theo Goldberg, Made in the USA , in AMERICAN MIXED RACE:
      237-57 (Naomi Zack ed., 1995).
      2. Id. at 240. See also JOEL WILLIAMSON,
      NEW PEOPLE 98-129 (1980).
      3. See F. James Davis,
      The Hawaiian Alternative to the `One-Drop
      , in AMERICAN MIXED RACE, supra note 1, at 115-32.
      4. See Goldberg, supra note 1, for further citations on the history of the Census. On the legal history
      of the application of the One-Drop Rule to Mixed-Race categories, see NAOMI ZACK,
      RACE AND
      77-85 (1993). For discussion of the empirical and logical problems with the
      One-Drop Rule, see id. at 9-18 and NAOMI ZACK, THINKING ABOUT RACE 5-6 (1998).
      5. For discussions of the grounds for Mixed-Race recognition, see the following articles by Carlos
      Fernandez, founder of The Association of MultiEthnic Americans, Carlos A. Fernandez,
      Testimony of
       the Association of MultiEthnic Americans
      , in AMERICAN MIXED RACE, supra note 1, at 191-200;
      UNITED STATES Census 2000 Form D-1 (UL) (2000).
      7. Steven A. Holmes,
      New Policy on Census Says Those Listed as --White and
       Minority--  Will Be Counted as `Minority'
      , N.Y. TIMES, Mar. 11, 2000, at A-9.
      8. Id.
      9. Steven A. Holmes, Census will count Mixed-Race people as minorities, ALB. TIMES
      UNION , Mar. 11, 2000, at A4. (This was substantially the same as Holmes's article in the
      New York Times, but condensed slightly and given a slightly different title, which reads as
      though "minority" is not only a name for a group but for an individual member of a group.)
      11. ROGER OMOND,
      12. Discussion and sources for the blood-based essentialist notion of race can be found in IVAN
      supra note 4, at 14-15, 121-22. For direct sources, see excerpts from: François Bernier,
      A New
      Division of the Earth
      (1684), reprinted in
      THE IDEA OF RACE 1 (Robert Bernasconi & Tommy
      L. Lott eds., 2000); François-Marie Voltaire, Of the Different Races of Men (1765), reprinted in
      THE IDEA OF RACE, supra, at 5; Immanuel Kant, Of the Different Human Races (1777),
      reprinted in THE IDEA OF RACE, supra, at 8. See also W.W. Howells's 1940 historical survey
      of attempts to construct scientific racial classifications in W.W. Howells's,
      Physical Determinants
       of Race
      INTERNATIONAL LITERATURE ON THE RACES OF MAN 654-65 (Earl W. Count ed., 1950).
      13. Naomi Zack, Race and Philosophic Meaning, 94 AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL
      ENTERPRISE 114 n.1 (1994), reprinted in 99 id. 141 n.2 (2000).
      14. See Claude Levi-Strauss, Race and History, in RACE, SCIENCE, AND
      SOCIETY 95-134 (Leo Kuper ed., 1965); UNESCO,
      Four Statements on
       the Race Question
      , in RACE, SCIENCE, AND SOCIETY, supra, at 341-64.
      15. See UNESCO, supra note 14, at 341-64; American Anthropology Association,
      AAA Statement on
      9 ANTHROPOLOGY NEWSLETTER 3 (1998). See also Naomi Zack,
      Philosophical Aspects
       of the 1998 AAA Statement on 'Race,'
      ANTHROPOLOGICAL THEORY (forthcoming Dec. 2001).
      16. For an analysis of multiculturalism in this sense, see the introductions to the following:
      David Theo Goldberg, Introduction to
      1-41 (David Theo Goldberg ed., 1996); YEHUDI O. WEBSTER, Introduction to
      1-11 (1997).
      17. On the contemporary distinction between the terms 'race' and 'ethnicity,' see Walter Benn
      Michaels, Race into Culture: A Critical Genealogy of Cultural Identity, in
      IDENTITIES 32-62
      (Kwame Anthony Appiah & Henry Louis Gates, Jr. eds., 1995); J. Angelo Corlett,
      Parallels of
       Ethnicity and Gender
      , in
      83 (Naomi Zack ed., 1997); Zack, supra note 4, at 67-75.
      18. K. Anthony Appiah, Race, Culture, Identity: Misunderstood Connections, in
      68-69 (K. Anthony Appiah & Amy Gutmann eds., 1996); Alan R. Templeton,
      Human Races: A Genetic and Evolutionary Perspective, AM. ANTHROPOLOGIST, 632-50 (1998).
      See also Natalie Angier,
      Do Races Differ? Not Really, Genes Show, N.Y. TIMES Aug. 22, 2000, at F1.
      19. Ashley Montagu, The Concept of Race in the Human Species in the Light of Genetics, 23 J.
      HEREDITY 243-47 (1941), reprinted in THE IDEA OF RACE, supra note 12, at 100.
      The facts about genetic recombination can be found in contemporary high school biology textbooks,
      although Ashley Montagu first applied them to presumptions about racial heredity in the early 1940s.
      GENES, PEOPLES AND LANGUAGES 57-66 (2000).
      22. See LEWIS GORDON,
      82-83 (2000).
      23. Daniel G. Blackburn, Why Race is not a Biological Concept, in
      3 (Berel Lang ed., 2000).
      24. See AUDREY SMEDLEY,
      25. See Michael Walzer, Pluralism: A Political Perspective, in
      THE RIGHTS OF MINORITY CULTURES 139-54 (Will Kymlicka ed., 1995).
      26. See Nathan Glazer, Individual Rights Against Group Rights, in
      THE RIGHTS OF MINORITY CULTURES, supra note 25, at 123-38.
      27. Id. at 136.
      29. See Amy Gutman, Responding to Racial Injustice, in COLOR CONSCIOUS,
      supra note 18, at 110.
      30. HOLMES, supra note 7, at A-9.
      31. See Ursula M. Brown,
      Between Two Worlds: Psychosocial Issues of Black / /White
      Interracial Young Adults in the U.S.A.
      , in
      89-104 (Nikongo BaNikongo ed., 1997).
      32. See Naomi Zack, Mixed Black and White Race and Public Policy, in 10 HYPATIA
      120-32 n.1 (1995), reprinted in LEADING ISSUES IN AFRICAN-AMERICAN
      STUDIES, supra note 31, at 121-34. See also ZACK, supra note 4, at 20-28.
      Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1968).
      34. See Maria P.P. Root,
      The Multiracial Experience: Racial Borders as a Significant Frontier in
      Race Relations
      , in
      THE MULTIRACIAL EXPERIENCE xiii-xxviii (Maria P.P. Root ed., 1996).
      It will be interesting to compare the figure of two million, based on children with
      married parents of different races, with the data gathered from the Census 2000
      questions, BUREAU OF THE Census, supra note 6, which includes adults.
      35. Loving, 388 U.S. at 11.
      36. Id. at 12
      37. Jane Doe v. State of Louisiana , 479 So. 2d 369 (La. Ct. App. 1985).
      38. Id. at 371.
      39. Id.
      40. Id. at 372.
      41. Id. at 372. To view Walter Benn Michaels's interpretation, with which I agree, see
      Walter Benn Michaels, The No-Drop Rule, in IDENTITIES, supra note 17, at 401-12.
      42. See JAMES RIDGEWAY,
      BLOOD IN THE FACE (1990).
      43. See F. JAMES DAVIS,
      WHO IS BLACK? (1991).
      44. See Yoko Arisaka, Asian Women: Invisibility, Locations, and Claims to Philosophy,
      (Message over 64 KB, truncated)

    • Heather Stimmel
      In my very humble, albeit honest, opinion... Naomi Zach is one woman who knows her stuff=) Not only is her research backed by fact and reason... most of what
      Message 2 of 6 , Jan 8, 2007
        In my very humble, albeit honest, opinion...
        Naomi Zach is one woman who knows her stuff=)
        Not only is her research backed by fact and reason...
        most of what she says about those in opposition to the
        theory of Mixed-Race people is extremely convincing.
        Giving the little bit of American history I do remember
        from grade school, I always wondered why the
        heck people classified themselves as "white."
        When the so-called "whites" did come to America, there
        were so many instances of white men raping and having
        relations with women of other races (Indian, Black, etc.),
        that it's kind of hard to believe that any "whites" living
        today could be anything other than Mixed-Race. Common sense.
        Then, the "one-drop rule..." let's not even go there!
        That ticks me off just thinking about it!!!
        But... there are many, many people who still (subconsciously
        or not) adhere to this archaic and ignorant way of thinking.
        I've seen it many different times... especially with my own son.
        Naomi Zack says it correctly when she said that, "race"
        categories were formed so the Englishmen could be the
        dominate ones, or the ones in a role of physical dominance.
        If society knew the reasons behind how/why people
        are/have been "racially" classified, then I (like Zack)
        have to believe that they would re-think not only their own
        "racial" identity, but that of other people living in the world.
        This article definitely has me thinking...about people, in general.
        So- thanks to whomever printed the article! It's a great one=)
        Have a good one!

        Related Link:

      • multiracialbookclub
        You make another really good point here, Heather !!! [=D ] What you have stated also touches on another important (and rather shocking, for some) bit of
        Message 3 of 6 , Jan 8, 2007

          You make another really
          good point here, Heather !!!=D>

          What you have stated also touches on
          another important (and rather shocking,
          for some) bit of information that Naomi
          Zack has both researched and also shared
          with the world -- in regards to just one 
          of the many "historically" Mixed-Race 
          (i.e. Multi-Generational Mixed-Race)
          populations found in the United States::-?



          Between 1850 and 1860, the Mulatto slave population
          increased by 67 percent -- in contrast -- the Black
          slave population increased by only 20 percent. :O


          Naomi Zack, Race and Mixed Race
          (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1993)"

          Related Link:



          In Generation-Mixed@yahoogroups.com,
          Heather Stimmel <heather21230@...> wrote:

          In my very humble, albeit honest, opinion...
          Naomi Zach is one woman who knows her stuff=)

          Not only is her
          research backed by fact and reason
          most of what she says about those in opposition to the
          theory of Mixed-Race people is extremely convincing.

          Giving the little bit of American history I do remember
          from grade school, I always wondered why the
          heck people classified themselves as "white."
          When the so-called "whites" did come to America, there
          were so many instances of white men raping and having
          relations with women of other races (Indian, Black, etc.),
          that it's kind of hard to believe that any "whites" living
          today could be anything other than Mixed-Race.

          Common sense.

          Then, the "one-drop rule..." let's not even go there!
          That ticks me off just thinking about it!!!
          But... there are many, many people who still (subconsciously
          or not) adhere to this archaic and ignorant way of thinking.
          I've seen it many different times... especially with my own son.

          Naomi Zack says it correctly when she said that, "race"
          categories were formed so the Englishmen could be the
          dominate ones, or the ones in a role of physical dominance.

          If society knew the reasons behind how/why people are/have
          been "racially" classified, then I (like Zack) have to believe
          that they would
          re-think not only their own "racial"
          identity, but that of other people living in the world.

          This article definitely has me thinking ... about people, in general.

          So- thanks to whomever printed the article! It's a great one=)

          Have a good one!


          Related Link(s):

        • Heather Stimmel
          I agree! Another point that really gets me, that she made in the article, was that... most of the population believes that Mixed- race people are the
          Message 4 of 6 , Jan 9, 2007
            I agree! Another point that really gets me, that she made in
            the article, was that... most of the population believes that
            Mixed-"race" people are the minority, instead of what they
            really are, which (I'm sure), is more like the majority,
            given the history of people today. I can't imagine
            that whites are still or have ever been the majority.
            Research like Zach's makes you think long and hard about
            why people are classified in the first place, and then...
            consider, honestly, how we, as human beings, fit into
            those "classifications." I know it's got me thinking =)
            Very, very well thought out and prepared article!!! Heather

            Related Link:

          • Rodney Sam
            That was a very interesting article and confirmed a lot of ideas I have been exploring on my own. My social designation is black or african-american even
            Message 5 of 6 , Jan 9, 2007

              That was a very interesting article and confirmed
              a lot of ideas I have been exploring on my own.
              My social designation is "black" or "african-american"
              even though I have found out in exploring my family
              history, I have quite a bit of racially mixed ancestry
              going into the colonial era on my fathers side in Louisiana.
              My maternal grandmother also had racial mixture due to
              a white ggrandfather who had children by an unknown
              black female ancestor of mine after the Civil War.
              And my maternal grandfather as well, because he has grey
              eyes, and his father had blue-grey eyes, and HIS mother was
              light-skinned slave from Alabama ... so the circle continues.
              It made me question what is "black" or "white" anyway since
              many of my "mlatto" ancestors were grouped with other
              people of African ancestry. Today, I can look at myself
              in the mirror, and see the evidence of the mixed history
              in my family. In the records, my ancestors color changes
              from black to mulatto to white and vice versa..
              And I wonder how "black" were some of my ancestors were.
              Matter of fact, I will upload an old picture of one
              of relatives ... who was the father of an Italian
              planter and businessman and a free mulatresse or
              Indian woman (records say both) of New Orleans.
              Was he "black" or "white"?
            • Heather Stimmel
              Hi, Rodney! Wow! Sounds like you have a rich, cultural heritage=) I know what you mean. I am in the process now (in my free time- which I have little of-LOL)
              Message 6 of 6 , Jan 10, 2007
                Hi, Rodney! Wow! Sounds like you have a rich, cultural heritage=)
                I know what you mean. I am in the process now (in my
                free time- which I have little of-LOL) of researching my
                genealogy, back to the Cherokee/or Shawnee Indian tribes.
                Based on a conversation I had with my biological
                mother(who I met in my mid-20's), I'm attempting
                to follow a trail that may lead me nowhere.
                I did have the opportunity to go to our local library today
                (which just so happens to be in the city I was born in,
                and abandoned by my biological mother... later, to be
                adopted), and I spent HOURS in the genealogy room.
                I've been there, doing research, many times before
                ... but, with little success. Today was different.
                I came upon a different set of books I
                hadn't seen the previous times I'd visited.
                They were books that discuss, in great detail, the
                timeline of American Indians, where each tribe
                settled (and eventually moved to- some of them
                moving many times) and other pertinent information.
                Oh, it was exciting=)
                I came across a book listing surnames
                that are predominately Native American.
                In the 1st book I looked in, it didn't list that many names,
                so my biological mother's surname was not listed.
                Then, I checked a 2nd book and the list in that one was extensive.
                My bio. mother's surname WAS in this book! It also
                said this, specific surname is most-likely Cherokee=)
                I couldn't believe it!
                Then, just out of curiosity, I checked for my bio. father's
                surname, which I knew (through geneological research) to
                be of English decent, but it was not listed... in either book.
                Then, I got to thinking. The only other surname I know on
                either, my biological mother or father's side of the family
                is my paternal grandmother's... which I also looked up.
                I couldn't believe everything I found on her name!!!!!
                It was unbelievable! Very exciting=)
                Now, I know this is not concrete evidence of direct lineage to
                the Cherokee/or Shawnee Indian tribes... but, I am excited.
                The thing is... all the information I found totally corresponds
                with the movement of the Cherokee/or Shawnee Indian tribes=)
                That gives me hope!
                You know, when it comes down to it... I can't imagine
                any of us, in the world, are 100 percent anything??!
                That's the way I like it, too=)


                Related Link:

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