Thursday, March 11, 2010

One Drop Rule

While reading Puddin'Head Wilson and Iola Leroy, we have been talking about the one drop rule/law, where if a person had one drop of "negro" blood in them, then they were not considered white and were considered black. I started to think about a few things with this rule. One of them was how many people around us would be affected by the "one drop rule" and be looked down upon back in the day because of our background and how much of our heritage we are currently unaware of and the other was the fact that now-a-days, our society generalizes your ethnicity and does not focus on the specifics.
A lot of times, many people lose track of geneology. Now that specifics in ethnicity is not such a big deal as it used to be, people know the basics of what they are, but they do not know all the specifics. A few years ago I actually found out I have Native American blood in me and nobody would guess that. Society generalizes what I am by my more dominate cultural background or skin tone appears to be. I am white or caucasian. My more dominate background is German, Irish, Italian, and English. Because of this, combined with my appearance, I am considered white. A lot of times in present day, we are acclaimed to be what we appear. If you appear black, or white, or Asian, people assume you to be such. The specifics do not matter any more. In some ways, I find this a good thing. Society does not judge you based on miniscule amounts of an ethnicity in you as they once did in the time of Puddin'head Wilson and Iola Leroy, but in another way, we are overlooking our cultural background by taking off the importance of what we have in us. And even though we do not focus on the specific cultural backgrounds each one of us has, we do generalize our ethnicity into main categories of African-American, Caucasian, Asian, Hawaiin, and others. We are still considered one or another. We are not considered more than one. Your background cannot get recognized fully, just generally, because now that is all that matters.
I find that focus on race has not lessened at all. If you fill out a form, it still asks for your ethnicity, and a lot of times, people will ask what someone is or use the terms white or black to categorize someone, along with prejudices being widely known and believed. We still put a lot of importance on our ethnicity. Overall, discrimination has been extinguished at a lawful level, preventing discrimination in business and such, but socially, society is a long ways behind putting everyone on the same social standards.
Back in my hometown of Sunnyside, Washington, the majority of the city is Hispanic. I have never received more of an eye opener than with my hometown. The majority of a population, whether it is on a national level where it is still whites/Caucasians, or if it is in a small town such as Sunnyside where it is Hispanics, the majority of an ethnicity will look down on the minorities.
Every ethnicity or race is a culprit of this. My sister was put into counseling for being bullied because she was of white skin. Appearance and race still have a lot to do with our social levels and how you are treated by the others in the public. No matter where you go, there is discrimination against all and prejudice against all. Now-a-days though, it is solely based on appearance. Not blood. There is no one drop rule that society stands by present day. Society as a whole, judges on look.
I feel I got a bit off topic with this post, but there are so many angles you can take regarding ethnicity, background, race, culture, et cetera, and I had a lot of thoughts running through my mind. I feel that as a whole, we have improved on discrimination and lowering it publicly. But socially, we have come to judge others by looks and generalities.


  1. I like your point about looks vs. geneology. I'm a Heinz 57 mutt of mostly European origins, with a dash of Cherokee, but I'm still white. It's funny how we can be in the majority, yet be so closely related to the minority.

  2. Your post points out that these are still important issues, Ashleigh. On one hand, people of all ethnicities can take pride in their heritage, and we've come a long way from the overt racism of the early twentieth century, but as you say, the emphasis on identifying with one particular race or group can lead to tensions and racism, too.