From Publishers Weekly
The ``one-drop rule'' (referring to ``one drop'' of black blood) defines as black ``any person with any known African ancestry.'' Both blacks and whites embrace this overly broad definition, which is peculiar to the U.S. Davis ( Society and the Law ) argues that this ``Big Lie . . . causes traumatic personal experiences, dilemmas of personal identity, misperceptions of the racial classification of well over a billion of the earth's people, conflicts in families and in the black community, and more.'' During slave days and the era of Jim Crow laws, whites used the rule to minimize the potential disruptions of miscegenation--usually illicit or coercive sex between white males and black females--by classifying the offspring as black. Blacks currently accept the one-drop rule, often disapproving of those with lighter skin who ``pass'' for white or marry across perceived color lines. Early chapters are thick with statistics, and chapter summaries mark the work as a textbook wannabe. However, later sections, such as the gripping narrative of Lena Horne's troubled experiences as a light-skinned black, are enlightening. This is an eye-opening appraisal of an issue often taken for granted in America.
Copyright 1991 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
African Americans and white Americans have been inbreeding since the beginnings of slavery. Offspring of these matches were often defined by the "one-drop rule" (one drop of black blood made one black). Davis, a sociology professor, offers a well-researched history of this rule and its social and legal effects on the people of mixed race in America. Many were harassed by blacks because they were too light, while others tried to "pass" as white, ignoring the one-drop rule and, as a result, part of their heritage. Davis also compares the United States with other countries to see how they handled this issue. Though scholarly in tone, this fascinating book answers many questions but will leave readers with other questions that need to be answered. A definite addition to the available work on miscegenation and African American studies. For all academic libraries.- Danna C. Bell-Russel, Marymount Univ. Lib., Arlington, Va.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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