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Critical Race Theory: Black-White Intermarriage in American History, Literature and Law Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Sep 13th, 2021

Introduction

Critical race theory emphasizes the socially constructed nature of race, considers judicial conclusions to be the result of the workings of power, and opposes the continuation of all forms of subordination. The major themes in this theory are: a critique of liberalism; story telling/ counter story telling and naming one’s own reality; revisionist interpretation of the American civil rights law and progress; applying insights from social science writing on race and the racism to legal problems; structural determinism, how the structure of the legal thought or culture influences its content; the intersections of race, sex, and class; essentialism and anti-essentialism; cultural nationalism/ separatism as well as encouraging black nationalism, power, or insurrection; legal institutions, critical pedagogy, and minorities in the bar; and the criticism and self-criticism.

This theory is linked to the development of African American thought in post rights era. The historical origins of this theory provide a contextual understanding to contemporary legal debates concerning the effectiveness of the past civil rights strategies in the current political climate.

Main text

The theory is clearly defined most by its recognition of law as both a product and the promoter of racism and its commitment to race consciousness versus color blindness which is seen to have fostered ignorance with respect to the central role of racism in structuring North American societies. Although no one set of doctrines or methodologies single-handedly defines the theory, scholars and the activists where they have these commitments; exposing the relationships between the ostensible race – neutral ideas, like the rule of law, merit, and equal protection and the structure of the white supremacy and racism and also proposing ways to use the vexed bond between law and the racial power to transform that social structure and to advance the political commitment of the racial emancipation.( Crenshaw,1995)

The theory has been effective in the lives of the black and the white men and women in dealing with their activities from the time of slavery and even at this present time. The history of the interracial relationships in America is a painfully loaded issue which is still evolving in the consciousness of the 20th century because of the first instances of the sexual i9ntergratiopn that occurred under the institution of slavery, our understanding of them is necessarily beset with the dominance, violence, and the rape.

These relationships and the children produce the manifestation of power relationships between whites and the blacks in the contorted social atmosphere and even the present day the interracial relationships are often looked upon as being propelled by impure motives and compounded by the social dynamics that have been inherited in our culture. One of the themes addressed is that of the African Americans that can pass the white, yet reject that selfish option in order to proudly identify themselves as black. Many of the white and black men and women have been intermarrying but have different views of their children as the color of their off springs mostly matches that of the whites and not the blacks.

The miscegenation is a term that refers to the interracial marriage and the interracial sex and more generally to the global process or the racial admixture that has taken place since the age of discoveries, particularly through the European colonization of the Americas and the Atlantic slave trade. Historically it is used in the context of ethnocentric or racist attitudes and practices, such as the enactment of laws banning interracial marriage and sex. Race mixing between the black and the white people has been a taboo in United States and today a majority of Americans are not against black- white marriages. (Calvin, 1965)

The taboo among American whites surrounding white-black intermarriage can be seen as a historical consequence of the oppression and racial segregation of African- Americans and the first law banning interracial marriage were a response by the planter elite to the problems they were facing due to the socio-economic dynamics of the plantation system in the southern colonies. At the time many forced laborers on the plantations were indentured servants, and they were mostly white and some historians suggest that the at–the–time unprecedented laws banning interracial marriage were originally invented by the planters as a divide and rule tactic after the uprising of the servants.

This banning was done to split up the racially mixed, increasing mixed- race labor into the whites, who were given the freedom, and the blacks, who were later treated as slaves rather than as indentured servants. By forbidding interracial marriage, it became possible to keep these two new groups separated and prevent a new rebellion.

During and after slavery, most American whites regarded interracial marriage between the whites and the blacks as a taboo. During the slavery, many white American men did conceive children with the female black slaves and these children automatically became slaves, although they were sometimes freed from the slavery by the slave-holding fathers. The most mixed-raced descendants merged into the African- American ethnic group, while over the centuries a minority of the mixed-raced Americans passed and became white. After the civil war and the abolition of slavery in 1865, the intermarriage of the white and black Americans continued to be a taboo, but not only in the former slave states.( Kathleen, 1998)

For a century after the civil war, it was common for white segregationists to accuse abolitionists and later advocates of the equal rights for the African Americans of the secretly plotting the destruction of the white race through intermarriage and after the Second World War the white segregationists commonly accused the U.S. civil rights movement. The physical violence and the violent threats are used by the white men to control white women and black men.

Children are better off of one race and with the parents, who are of the same race, period and the blacks are very consciences of race and only the whites do not matter about their race. The interracial relationship brings the view that the children will suffer because they are different and there will be confusion about the identity. These couples are seen as selfish, irrational, and unconcerned with the children well being which they base on the assumption that biracial children have identity problems.

Much of the population views intercultural relationships as negative and the reasons exist for building and sustaining intercultural relations. These relationships are recognized as unacceptable, abnormal and mixed up throughout the long stretches of history and our past conceptions, ideas, and laws have created strong attitudes towards how the majority of people perceive the intercultural relationships and it shows that both men and women hold negative attitudes toward interracial relationships.

Through building and the sustaining relationships with others from different cultures and races one can acquire knowledge about the world, break stereotypes and also acquire new skills. The reminiscences of the former slaves reveal that they had been aware of the interracial relationships around them and their heritage as the progeny of these relationships. The white women have been mistreated by the authorities as they travel through rape and despite the complaint on such acts then no one seems to keep heed to them. The interracial relationships between the black and the white races in the time of slavery were very much selective as the whites been in authority.

The African Americans faced a lot of problems as much harm had been done to them such as rape as they worked for their bosses. In the United States, the segregationists and the Christian identity groups have claimed that several verses forbidding inter-religious marriage. (Werner, 2000)

The past perception of the interracial relationship has been that most of the whites and the blacks accepted intermarriage with the view that they will live peacefully and also have the activities done giving the blacks their rights to work. This intermarriage during that time of slavery their children were not allowed to go in the same schools as the whites as there was boundary that if the children were not in the field then there own schools were established to give them the minor education. The children born by the black slaves were taken as slaves until been helped by their white fathers but the attention the got was not different from that of been slaves as at the end of the slavery trade then they had to go back with their black parent.(Yasmine,2000)

Although the whites felt that they should not mistreat the blacks as they led to intermarrying, this was done to do away with the interracial relationship that existed between the blacks and the white races. These couples in the time of slavery were not in strong union as there was the feeling that the black slaves should not have any part to play except been slaves and working for the whites therefore the view that one was married by a white in those days was seen as just but been misused by the whites.

The black slaves also had the skills on the medicine that is they extracted medicine from the plants and because the whites had no this skill they came up with medicines which they used but the blacks used the herbal medicine.

This skill helped the blacks as even if the whites never cared for them they had a better way of treating their young ones and also themselves. The white could not use the herbal medicine as they had the knowledge on the chemical medicines therefore they viewed the blacks as people who are of less value even though most of these medicines are even used today as a cure for certain diseases as the researchers have found out that the herbal medicines have less effect in the bodies of most people and unlike the chemical medicine.

This is the reason why almost all products are been converted to be herbal. The literature of the blacks on most issues was very different from that of the whites as their children had no time to go to school and if given the chance they received very low standard of education that could not make them be enlightened and come to the know-how that the whites are mistreating them. these whites ensured that their children had better schools where they learned how to exercise power on the blacks as at that time the only knowledge they had was just traditional and even they were not allowed to exercise them. (Decoste, 2003)

The law that governed these black slaves ensured that they work for the whites and no allowance of having freedom to do what they thought was right. The whites provided the rule governing all the activities and any wrongdoer was punished accordingly.

The art, literature, medicine and law were made in such a way that it was very easy to differentiate between a black and white. That is why in those times there were limited interracial relationships as the blacks had their own standards that were different from that of the whites. Multiracial couples and families are becoming increasingly more common yet the opposition to these relationships still exists even if it is often hidden in the color-blind language.

In this lingering societal opposition to black-white unions, the strongest opposition often comes from the couples’ families. The social institution of the family plays an integral role in reproducing the dominant ideologies of race that exist in the society and more specifically a racialized discourse that actively discourages interracial unions. The families reproduce racial boundaries, by patrolling who their members can and also cannot become involved with and the society where the group membership is all important and identity are based primarily on one’s racial group. (Foeman, 1999)

The black and white families that reproduce the image of these unions are different, deviant, and even dangerous and the interracial relationships and marriage often bring forth certain racialized attitudes and beliefs about the family identity. Most of the marriages in the United States are between people of the same races, reflecting the strong tendency toward the racial endogamy. Those in the interracial marriages keenly perceive the attitudes of the community around them and these perceptions have something about the social support.

The union of the whites and the blacks was banned but in the modern-day language the interracial dating has been prohibited and it has been very much serious in that one was not allowed to intermarry. There has been a legacy in this modern-day interracial relationship that deals with the issue directly than in a peripheral or oversimplified manner although there are criticisms. As the American population becomes increasingly more diverse ethnically and culturally, the opportunities for the individuals of differing racial backgrounds and ethnic groups to mix interracially when engaged in romantic relationships also increase. In the recent history, the society was more likely to hold fast to social norms, with the result that the racial boundaries were rarely crossed in the dating and the marriage realms.

The possible consequences then and now include the family rejection and the social ridicule. This is because like the majority of the U.S. population continues to view interracial dating as a taboo, and as the society becomes more heterogeneous, then the interracial dating and marriage seem to be more prevalent today than ever before.

One of the most salient features of any one living in today’s society is the skin color which have an effect on life including job placement, earnings, access to education opportunities, and the interpersonal relationships. As the heterogeneity of society spreads through every facet of the world in which we live, and the integration evolves in every existing social class, the prevalence of the interracial- interpersonal relationships continues to increase and most of the interracial marriages occur between individuals who are much older and live and work within the integrated environments. (Kathleen, 1998)

The African American relationships were known to exist soon after the first Africans came to America as slaves and soon after this marriage were outlawed in most states and such relationships were essentially nonexistent until the emancipation. Since then, there has been a steady increase commencing in the 1990s and continuing until today. Intimate interracial relationships increases when a community’s structure endorses such unions and that the people involve themselves in interracial relationships for the same reasons people enter into racially homogenous relationships. There are some indications in literature that the gender differences and the perceptions of the interracial relationships do exist although all do not agree on the nature of that relationship and it is found out that women are less prejudiced than men toward interracial relationships. (Yasmine, 1992)

African American women and the Anglo men favor interracial relationships over the preferences of the African American men and Anglo women, it is found out that the evidence that pointed out the idea that African Americans are significantly more receptive to interracial relationships than Anglos it suggests that African Americans are significantly more tolerant of these types of relationships than the Anglos. Although the acceptance of the interracial relationship seems to be on the rise, the level of the acceptance varies to some degree across the races and as the people grow older then it is more likely that they will conform to the social norms. The interracial marriage has more effects on perceptions of men than the women and that most of the men enter these marriages more than women. (Henry, 1986)

A law was set in U.S. known as the loving v. Virginia which was a land mark civil rights case in which the United States Supreme Court declared the Virginia’s anti- miscegenation stature. The church found no theological grounds for condemning or prohibiting marriage between the consenting adults merely because of the racial origin. The interracial extramarital sex was deemed a felony, where as extramarital sex was only a misdemeanor and on the appeal, the united states supreme court ruled that the criminalization of the interracial sex was not a violation of the equal protection clause because whites and the non- whites were punished in equal measure for the offense of engaging in interracial sex.

The court did not need to affirm the constitutionality of the ban on interracial marriage that was part of the law and was chosen to appeal that section of the law. The supreme court overturned the convictions in a unanimous decision, dismissing the commonwealth of the Virginia’s argument that a law forbidding both the white and the black persons from ,marrying persons of another race, and providing identical penalties to white and the black violators could not be constructed as racially discriminatory.

It is seen that marriage is a basic civil rights of man fundamental to the very existence and the survival and to deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statures, classification so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the amendment is surely to deprive every one the liberty. The court had the conclusion that there is patently no legitimate overriding purpose independent of the invidious racial discrimination which justifies the classification. (Derrick, 1987)

The interracial couples still had to overcome many fears of possibly losing respect from friends, family, and the community in which they lived while others were still adapting to the new law change involving interracial marriage in the United States. Some people believe that the loving ruling will eventually aid the marriage equality movement for the same – sex partners, if they allow the equal protection clause to be used. Most activists maintain that miscegenation laws are to interracial marriage as sodomy laws are to homosexual rights and that the sodomy laws have been placed upon the society to maintain traditional sex roles that have become part of the American society.

The historical background for loving is different from the history underlying the case as racism has been recognized over the centuries at first by a few people, and later by many more as a revolting moral evil.

The country fought a civil war to eliminate racism’s worst manifestation, slavery, and passed three constitutional amendments to eliminate the curse and its vestiges. Loving was part of the civil rights revolution, the triumph of a cause for which many heroes and many ordinary people had struggled since the nation began and it is true that there has been serious injustice in the treatment of the homosexuals also, a wrong that has been widely recognized only in the relatively recent past. But the traditional definition of marriage is not merely a by- product of historical injustice and its history is of a different kind.

The idea that the same-sex marriage is even possible is a relatively new one and it was an accepted truth for almost everyone who ever lived, in any society in which marriage existed, that there could be marriages only between participants of different sex. It is clear that restricting the freedom to marry solely because of the racial classifications violates the central meaning of the equal protection clause.

Although the court characterized the right as a choice it did not articulate the broad right to marry the spouse of one’s choice and a statutory scheme that burdens a fundamental right by making conduct criminal based on the race of the individual who engages in it is inimical to the values embodied in the state and the federal due process clauses.

Far from recognizing a right to marry extending beyond the one woman and one man union is evident from the loving decision that the Supreme Court has viewed marriage as fundamental precisely because of its relationship to human procreation. The past perceptions of interracial relationships showed that the African Americans went into this relationship immediately slavery got established and the present view is that it is increasing with people having different views concerning this relationship. (Werner, 2000)

Conclusion

The interracial relationships between white and black men and women in the times of slavery was high mostly on men and that as the slavery ended then it became a taboo to most countries to have interracial relationships as people knew their rights unlike that time. In the present some rules had been set to avoid the interracial relationships but it has proved hard for the laws to work and therefore there is a high increase in this relationship as the American population increases. There is the indication that many people have the view that to engage in the interracial relationship brings the idea that there will be no conflicts and that movement from one country to another will be cheaper.

But the view that the children whose parents are of different races bring the fear that lack of identity to such children will be seen as something that will lead to discourage this relationship and agree to have the same- race marriage. The idea is because when it comes to the identification of one’s race the children becomes confused on which race to identify with as the skin color differs to most of the born children by different races.

Reference

Calvin, Hernton. (1965). Sex and racism in America.

Crenshaw, kimberle, et al., eds. (1995). Critical race theory: the key writings that formed the movement. New York: new press.

Decoste, F. C. (2003).same- sex unions and the law: the halpren transformation: same- sex marriage, civil society, and the limits of the liberal law, 41 Alberta L rev 619.

Derrick Bell. (1987). the elusive quest for racial justice. New York: basic books. Expansion of the civil rights chronicles.

Foeman, Anita Kathy and Nance, Teresa. (1999). from miscegenation to multiculturalism: perceptions and stages of interracial relationship development. Journal of black studies 29(4), 540-557.

Henry Louis gates. JR. (1986). Race, writing and difference.

Kathleen Odell Korgen. (1998). from black to biracial.

Werner sollors. (2000). Interactionalism: black- white intermarriage in American history, literature and law.

Yasmine Alibhai- Brown. (1992). Color of love.

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IvyPanda. "Critical Race Theory: Black-White Intermarriage in American History, Literature and Law." September 13, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/critical-race-theory-black-white-intermarriage-in-american-history-literature-and-law/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Critical Race Theory: Black-White Intermarriage in American History, Literature and Law." September 13, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/critical-race-theory-black-white-intermarriage-in-american-history-literature-and-law/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Critical Race Theory: Black-White Intermarriage in American History, Literature and Law'. 13 September.

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