2008-06-25

A History of Miscegenation



I often wonder why black female and white male interracial relationships have not yet mainstreamed into society the way that white women and black male interracial relationships have. I then figured it out. Miscegenation laws in America. The majority of miscegenation laws in America were to prevent white men from sleeping with black women, not black men with white women, as I assumed. We always assumed that white women were being protected from black men, but the truth of the matter is, white males had way greater access to black women than a black male could ever have to a white woman. There were some concerns with black men having access to white women, but the bigger concern was white men with black women, as it was seen as a barbaric and shameful act to interact sexually with black women. Then with slavery, not only do you have shame to deal with, but what about all the children of these relations? Are they free because of their father, or slaves because of their mother? The one drop rule fixed that issue.

Race mixing has always occurred in this country contrary to popular belief. Between native americans, blacks, and whites. It was actually by some encouraged, so that the nation could become "one people". This was due to the origins of slavery, indentured servitude. Before slavery, this was the norm, there were white and black servants, they worked a contract and were often freed. Then came the tobacco trade, and the slave trade then followed. Indentured servants although nice were high in turn over. Slavery guaranteed lifetime commitment.

The first laws found on miscegenation were formed in Virginia in 1630. It forbade white men from having sexual relations with black women, freed or slave. It appears many of the laws that were created to prevent mixing of the races mention white men and black women, it was only later as slavery grew, such as in South Carolina where slaves outnumbered whites, did the concern grow to include black men and white women.

Here is the account of Hugh Davis' punishment for having relations with a black woman in 1630:

September 17th, 1630. Hugh Davis to be soundly whipped, before an
assembly of Negroes and others for abusing himself to the dishonor of
God and shame of Christians, by defiling his body in lying with a negro;
which fault he is to acknowledge next Sabbath day.
(Statutes 1:146)


In 1662 laws were put in place to define the status of slavery and race of children based upon the mother, rather than the father, as was typically done prior to this law. It was to ensure children of white men and black women slaves remained slaves.

[1662] Act XII Negro womens children to serve according to the
condition of the mother
Whereas some doubts have arrisen whether children got by any English-
man upon a negro woman should be slave or ffree, Be it therefore enacted
and declared by this present grand assembly, that all children borne in this
country shalbe held bond or free only according to the condition of the mother, And that if any christian shall committ ffornication with a negro
man or woman, hee or shee soe offending shall pay double the ffines
imposed by the former act.
(Statutes 2:170)


Even with these laws in place, it is estimated that the mixed race population increased significantly in the 1800s, mostly due to white slave owner/black women relations.

These laws, rules, and experiences still affect us to this day. I guess I should not be surprised as Loving v. Virginia occurred in 1967. The double standard of black men being able to date white women, but it being unacceptable for black women to date white men is a result of these experiences and laws. Even though slavery has been abolished since 1865, we still have the mentality that a black woman/white male union is one of inequity and shame. Why have we not evolved from this? How can we get past this?

Most unions in this day and age between white men and black women are consensual and not a result of rape, violence, or inequity of power. I guess it is the perceived power that white men still hold in this country that continue the bias against the concept of white men and black women? Even with all these laws created to keep the mixing of races from happening, how many white men were punished by the law? How many were convicted of rape of black women?

I guess what is the most threatening in these relationships is the shift of balance of power, it will no longer white men and white women? Maybe if white men start to date and marry black women in higher numbers, the balance of power in the black community will be shifted causing a further divide in education and career success between black men and black women? White women will be relegated to a lower status as a result of these unions? I don't think so, but is this a concern?

***Information on this painting can be found here. This post was inspired by a video I found on youtube.***