Keepin' It 100:

Spotlight on the One-Drop Rule

Black faces all around me,
From coffee to the color of sand
A rainbow shining through eyes
Blue, green, bright shimmering brown,
Short 'fros, locks, curls, and waves--
Pin my face in this sea of faces,
Do I look the same?
I am them; we are the same...
Past the eye's limited view
Internally and emotionally we are
Connected the same...
A few percents here and there
Unknown variables and equations,
Since when is algebra the definition of me?
Questions of lineage and descent
Overshadowing the here and now
One drop, one box
An argument for the ages
Who is the blackest box?
Simplify your equations,
Ignore or solve for the unknowns--
It's a personal choice.
But a personal choice is a public face
And I wonder if you already assume,
Why do I check this box...
Maybe I fudge the math
Make it add up to 100--
Maybe I don't want to exist outside the box
Or, maybe I do,
But what does that mean to you?

What is the One Drop Rule

The "One-drop rule" became legal in 1910, with questionable origins rooted in American slavery and proclaimed anyone with African ancestry was to be considered black or African-American (funny, considering science has proven we are all from Africa...).  This "rule" of identification has propagated through time, leaving quite the confusion surrounding the definition of black. Upon meeting someone of black and white ancestry, most likely they will identify as black, possibly biracial but it is very unlikely that they would identify as white (that would be considered passing). Most blacks (Americans in general actually) are probably multi-racial with African, European, and Native-American ancestry. This mixture is the reason the image of black spans a range of features and complexions. Yet there is still an "image" that comes to mind when one identifies as black. If one does not fit that image, the typical question "What are you mixed with?" will be asked. Due to the one-drop rule however, a person could easily have no knowledge of non-black ancestry and be genetically biracial. Step back into the era of slavery. Many slave master had children with their slaves, but these children were still black. If two biracial slaves had children, their children would have been considered black, but they too would have biracial DNA. And if those children married someone of similar origin... Easily these traits could be passed   down several generations without another "white" addition to the family. This leads to numerous people who may not "look black" but are adamant that they are black. It also leads to multi-ethnic people who feel pressured to identify one way or the other. At the end of the day, the one-drop rule makes us all black. Otherwise, the term is quite subjective and dependent on both how the world perceives a person and how how the person perceives themself. 

    References

  1. F. James Davis. "Who is Black? One Nation's Definition". PBS.
  2. Jason Plak. "The One Drop Rule: How Black Is 'Black?'". Psychology Today. April 7, 2011
  3. Sarah Barness. "Striking Photos Challenge The Way We See Blackness". Huffington Post. February 13, 2014
  4. Steve Bradt. "One Drop Rule Persists". Harvard Gazette. December 9, 2010
  5. Shifting the Lens on Race". 1ne Drop; visited February 2014

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Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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