The Last of the Mulattos

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A Full-Length Play by Langston Hughes

Table of Contents

Sollors points out that this etymology is anachronistic: "The Mulatto sterility hypothesis that has much to do with the rejection of the term by some writers is only half as old as the word 'Mulatto. The persistence of some authors in using this term, anachronistically, reflects the old-school essentialist views of race as a de facto biological phenomenon, and the 'mixing' of race as legitimate grounds for the creation of a 'new race'. In Namibia , an ethnic group known as Rehoboth Basters , descend from historic liaisons between the Cape Colony Dutch and indigenous African women.

The name Baster is derived from the Dutch word for "bastard" or "crossbreed". While some people consider this term demeaning, the Basters proudly use the term as an indication of their history. In the early 21st century, they number between 20, and 30, people. There are, of course, other people of mixed race in the country.

In South Africa , Coloured is a term used to refer to individuals with some degree of sub-Saharan ancestry but subjectively 'not enough' to be considered black-African under the Apartheid era law of South Africa. Today people self-identify as 'Coloured'. Other Afrikaans terms used include Bruinmense translates to "brown people" , Kleurlinge translates to "Coloured" or Bruin Afrikaners translates to "brown Africans" and is used to distinguish them from the main body of Afrikaners translates to "African" who are white.

Under Apartheid law through the latter half of the 20th century, the government established seven categories of Coloured people: Cape Coloured, Cape Malay, Griqua and Other Coloured - the aim of subdivisions was to enhance the meaning of the larger category of Coloured by making it all encompassing. Legally and politically speaking, all people of colour were classified "black" in the non-racial terms of anti-Apartheid rhetoric of the Black Consciousness Movement.

Obama: Cultural Mulatto

Based on the Population Registration Act to classify people, the government passed laws prohibiting mixed marriages. Many people who classified as in the "Asian" category could legally intermarry with "mixed-race" people because they shared the same nomenclature. In other parts of South Africa and neighboring states, the coloured usually were descendants of two primary ethnic groups - primarily Africans of various tribes and European colonists of various tribes, with generations of coloured forming families.

The use of the term 'Coloured' has changed over the course of history. For instance, in the first census after the South African war , Indians were counted as 'Coloured'. But before and after this war, they were counted as 'Asiatic'. Zimbabwean coloureds were descended from Shona or Ndebele mixing with British and Afrikaner settlers. Griqua , on the other hand, are descendants of Khoisan and Afrikaner trekboers , with contributions from central Southern African groups.

According to Nurse and Jenkins , the leader of this "mixed" group, Adam Kok I, was a former slave of the Dutch governor. He was manumitted and provided land outside Cape Town in the eighteenth century. With territories beyond the Dutch East India Company administration, Kok provided refuge to deserting soldiers, refugee slaves, and remaining members of various Khoikhoi tribes.

In colonial Latin America, mulato could also refer to an individual of mixed African and Native American ancestry. According to the IBGE census, A majority of mixed-race Brazilians have all three ancestries: Amerindian, European, and African. According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics census , some According to genetic studies, some of those who identify as White Brazilians Brazilians of Black African origin, make up 6. Such autosomal DNA studies, which measure total genetic contribution, continue to reveal differences between how individuals identify, which is usually based in family and close community, with genetic ancestry, which may relate to a distant past they know little about.

The test results showed that the proportion of European genetic ancestry was higher than students expected. In Haitian history, such mixed-race people, known in colonial times as free people of color, gained some education and property before the Revolution. In some cases, their white fathers arranged for multiracial sons to be educated in France and join the military, giving them an advance economically.

Free people of color gained some social capital and political power before the Revolution, were influential during the Revolution and since then. The people of color have retained their elite position, based on education and social capital, that is apparent in the political, economic and cultural hierarchy in present-day Haiti. Numerous leaders throughout Haiti's history have been people of color. In keeping with Spanish practice, for most of its colonial period, Puerto Rico had laws such as the Regla del Sacar or Gracias al Sacar.

A person with African ancestry could be considered legally white if he could prove that at least one person per generation in the last four generations had been legally white. People of black ancestry with known white lineage were classified as white, in contrast to the " one-drop rule " put into law in the early 20th century in the United States. In colonial and antebellum times in certain locations, persons of three-quarters or more white ancestry were considered legally white.

Historians have documented sexual abuse of slave women during the colonial and post-revolutionary slavery times by white men in power: planters, their sons before marriage, overseers, etc. Starting with Virginia in , colonies adopted the principle of partus sequitur ventrem in slave law, which said that children born in the colony were born into the status of their mother.

Thus, children born to slave mothers were born into slavery, regardless of who their fathers were and whether they were baptized as Christians.

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Children born to white mothers were free, even if they were mixed-race. Children born to free mixed-race mothers were also free. Paul Heinegg has documented that most of the free people of color listed in the — censuses in the Upper South were descended from unions and marriages during the colonial period in Virginia between white women, who were free or indentured servants, and African or African-American men, servant, slave or free.

In the early colonial years, such working-class people lived and worked closely together, and slavery was not as much of a racial caste. Slave law had established that children in the colony took the status of their mothers. This meant that multi-racial children born to white women were born free. The colony required them to serve lengthy indentures if the woman was not married, but nonetheless, numerous individuals with African ancestry were born free, and formed more free families.

Beyond poverty : the Negro and the Mulatto in Brazil

Over the decades, many of these free people of color became leaders in the African-American community; others married increasingly into the white community. A daughter born to a South Asian father and Irish mother in Maryland in , both of whom probably came to the colony as indentured servants, was classified as a "mulatto" and sold into slavery. Rapes occurred, and many slave women were forced to submit regularly to white males or suffer harsh consequences.

However, slave girls often courted a sexual relationship with the master, or another male in the family, as a way of gaining distinction among the slaves, avoiding field work, and obtaining special jobs and other favored treatment for their mixed children Reuter, Sexual contacts between the races also included prostitution, adventure, concubinage , and sometimes love.

In rare instances, where free blacks were concerned, there was marriage Bennett, — Historically in the American South , the term mulatto was also applied at times to persons with mixed Native American and African American ancestry. But southern colonies began to prohibit Indian slavery in the eighteenth century, so, according to their own laws, even mixed-race children born to Native American women should be considered free.

If the description given above is correct, the changes in social structure that have occurred in Brazilian society from the abolition of slavery until now, have had no profound effects or very slight effects on the racial concentration of wealth, social prestige and power. The lack of objective indicators do no permit a complete verification of this conclusion.

The last census in has excluded the racial aspects of the Brazilian population. Nevertheless, the census of offered some useful information. As is well known, the percentage of the different racial stocks or color categories varies in each physiographic region of the country cf. Table I. In consequence, the degree of concentration of each racial stock or color category in the different regions varies with clear intensity cf. Table II. Nevertheless, the two basic indicators — occupational position and level of schooling — which we could use through the census data, reveal a basic trend of monopoly of the best opportunities by the whites.

We have selected the position of employer and the completed educational levels in some representative states and in the country as the best indicator accessible They involve roles, values and cultural traditions expressive in terms of white evaluations of prestige, control of power and upward social mobility. The basic sociological evidence of the data is not negative, considering that slavery was ended only sixty-two years ago with reference to the census of , the total negligence of the human problems of the " poor people " in general and of the destitute population of slave origin, the lack of value orientations and of experience with the economic, social and cultural requisites of the developing competitive social order predominant among negroes and mulattos, the indifference or disguised opposition of whites to a democratic sharing of economic or educational opportunities with both.

Most of the issues, naturally, are connected with the gradual acquisition of new value orientations and cultural traditions, the importance of negroes and mulattos as economic agents as labor force or as predominantly small entrepreneurs , and the discovery and use of educational opportunities as a ladder to social integration and upward mobility. The importance of these aspects is greater than could be realized at first glance, because of the cumulative effects of the economic, social or cultural process involved in the future of new generations. Nevertheless, the progress has been too moderate and deceptive.

In reality, the Negroes and the Mulattos were projected into the strata of the poorest people, which doesn't share or shares very little the trends of economic development and sociocultural change. Even in the regions in which the Negroes and the Mulattos constitute the majority of the population, as in the Northeast and in the East in which they constitute, conjointly, In terms of the states selected, the range of inequality relating to the employers' positions gives to whites a striking supremacy they share these positions in a proportion of 3, 4, 5 and even 6 or 8 times to one of the Negroes.

The same occurs in relation to the Mulattos, instead of their being in a better situation than the Negroes the whites share the employers' positions, on the average, in a proportion which oscillates between 2, 3 or 4 times more than the Mulattos, excepting the case of Rio de Janeiro.

The same trends are reproduced in the sharing of educational opportunities, especially at the levels of the secondary shcools and the universities, in some states, in a shocking manner.

The Rap Game - Miss Mulatto

The comparison of the data furnished by these tables with that of Table V shows that the exclusion of the Negroes and the Mulattos from the best economic and educational opportunities follows the same general pattern, in the eight selected states. The predominance of Mulattos, considered alone, or of Negroes and Mulattos, considered together, makes only a slight difference even in the more " mixed " and more racially " democratic " states.

The meaning of this data is evident. The racial structure of Brazilian society, until now, favors the monopoly of wealth, prestige and power by the whites. The white supremacy is a reality in the present, almost in the same way it was in the past. The organization of society impels the Negro and the Mulatto to poverty, unemployment or underemployment, and to the " Negro's job ".

Only now are Brazilian social scientists trying to discover the real explanation of this deplorable situation. As Costa Pinto has pointed out, the basic explicative factor is inherent in the persistence of some deep-rooted attitudes and racial orientations of the whites, to treat the Negroes and the Mulattos as subalterns then to subalternize them. These attitudes and racial orientations are predominant among the upper and middle white classes ; but they appear also in the lower classes and even in the rural areas, especially in the South.

For many Brazilians, these attitudes and racial orientations are products of " external influence ", a negative contribution of immigrants and of the modern mass media of communication. They were and are considered an " imported cancer " 10, to be extirpated by law and formal control. Fer- nandes ; L. Costa Pinto ; Octavio Ianni, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, and Renato Jardim Moreira have shown that the described attitudes and racial orientations are an inherited cultural pattern, widespread in Brazilian society as much as slavery was in the past.

Thus, at the core of the Brazilian racial problem is the persistence of an asymmetrical pattern of race relations, built to regulate the contact and the social ordination between " master ", " slave " and " freedman ". As hap- ned in the South of the United States, this type of asymmetrical race relation involves a sort of ritualization of racial behavior n. The master's domination and the slave's or freedman's subordination are part of the same ritual, by which emotions and feelings could be put under control and masked.

In Brazil, this type of ritualization had the same functions, reinforced by Catholic pressure to preserve, in some apparent sense, the Christian way of life of masters, slaves and freedmen. Racial prejudice was inherent in the asymmetrical pattern of race relations, because it was a necessary element in basing the slave-master, or freedman-white relations in the " natural inferiority " of the Negroes and in the efficient performance of slavery and subjugation of the slaves and freedmen.

At the same time, the discrimination was inherent in the slave- master social order, in which the proper manner of behavior, the clothing, the language, the occupations, obligations and rights of the slave and the freedman were rigidly prescribed The persistence of the two elements. It is necessary, nevertheless, to take into account that this result is not only part of a process of cultural lag. Under dependent capitalism, the class system is unable to perform all the destructive or constructive functions it has had in the developed capitalistic countries Two processes run together — the modernization of the archaic, and the archaization of the modern, as a normal factor of structural integration and of evolution of the society.

In reality, as soon as the Negro and the Mulatto were put predominantly outside of economic, social and political reconstruction, they became a marginal partner. The crisis of the asymmetrical pattern of race relation started even before the Abolition. However, as the Negro and the Mulatto had lost their importance as historical social agent, they suffered the static effect of their new social position.

Only now, thanks to internal migrations, the economic progress produced by national integration of society, and the weak upward social mobility, they acquired conditions to cope with white supremacy, predominantly in a disguised and accomodative way. In spite of some active resistance of Whites, not to these phenomena, but to some outstanding upward-mobile Negro and Mulatto personalities, this long period of starvation contributed to maintain the ritualistic freezing of racial relations.

The Negro and the Mulatto, as individuals, but especially as a color minority, are not free to use aggressive competition against Whites, and to explore social conflict to fight against racial inequality. In this context, it is very clear that the price of race tolerance and race acco- modation is paid for by the Negro and the Mulatto. For these reasons, color is not an important element in racial perception and racial consciousness of the world by the White.

Tragic mulatto - Wikipedia

He has never been menaced, up until now, by the disintegration of slavery and by competition or conflict with Negroes and Mulattos. The White only perceives and is conscious of the Negro or of the Mulatto when he faces a concrete, unexpected situation 15, or when his attention is directed to questions related to the " color problem. For the same reasons, the " Brazilian racial dilemma " is also complicated. Not so much because the Whites, Negroes and Mulattos play the expected roles of disguising or denying the " color prejudice " and " color discrimi-. Under this aspect, it is out of the question that prejudice and discrimination, in the forms that they assume in Brazil, contribute more to maintain the asymmetric pattern of race relations, than to eliminate it.

This means that, sociologically considered, color prejudice and discrimination are a structural and dynamic source of the " perpetuation of the past in the present ". The Whites do not victimize the Negroes and the Mulattos consciously and willfully. The normal and indirect effects of the functions of color prejudice and discrimination do that, without racial tensions and social unrest.

Because they restrict the economic, educational, social and political opportunities of the Negro and the Mulatto, maintaining them " out of the system " or at the margin and on the periphery of the competitive social order, color prejudice and discrimination impedes the existence and the emergence of a racial democracy in Brazil. This general discussion was oriented by some basic assumptions. Considered sociologically, the structural element of the Brazilian racial situation has two distinctive dimensions. One, which is specifically social.

It is connected with the impossibility, faced by underdeveloped capitalistic and class societies of Latin America, of creating a competitive social order able to absorb the different sectors of population, even partially, in the occupational and social strata of the system of production. The other, which is, by its nature, the " color problem ", a complex heritage of the past, continuously reinforced by the trends assumed by inequality under dependent capitalism, and preserved through the conjoint manifestation of prejudiced attitudes and discriminatory behavior on the basis of " color.

These two elements work together, in such a manner that they produce cumulative effects dynamically adverse to the change of the racial structure of society, inherited from the past. The social order is changing and, with it, the patterns of race relations. Nevertheless, the relative position of color groups tend to be stable or to change very slightly. It is beyond question that the most important factor, on the average, is the structure of a class society under dependent capitalism. View Preview. Learn more Check out. Related Information.

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