Who is Black?: One Nation's Definition

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9780271007397: Who is Black?: One Nation's Definition

"Who is Black? is a major contribution to our understanding of how ‘race’ is defined in American society. Unlike most other countries in the world, the United States still adheres to the ‘one–drop rule,’ but only for American Blacks. The rule doesn’t apply to other racial groups. How and why this rule developed, efforts to change it, and the impact it has had are discussed in clear, non–technical language. Davis has written an important book for social scientists and the public at large."—Rita J. Simon, American University

"[Davis] addresses an increasingly important and timely question in this scholarly social science study, one of the most comprehensive to date. . . .An interesting objective, in-depth study."—Booklist

"An eye-opening appraisal of an issue often taken for granted in America."—Publishers Weekly

"This book is a very important contribution to the field. Scholars in sociology, history, race and ethnic relations, anthropology, and black studies will all be very interested in this book. It could be assigned in undergraduate and graduate courses on race and ethnicity because it makes a central point that is often hard to get across to student—that a race is a social and not a biological concept.; This book could also have appeal to a general audience because of its use of biography and references to historical figures and to literature. No other book so widely surveys this phenomenon, although it is widely known that it is a very important subject."—Mary C. Waters, Harvard University, author of Ethnic Options: Choosing Identities in America

"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."—Library Journal

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About the Author:

F. James Davis is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Illinois State University and the author of Society and the Law (Free Press, 1962), Social Problems (Free Press, 1970), and Minority-Dominant Relations (AHM, 1978).

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 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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