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AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum

Re: Inquiry on the Color Line
In Response To: Inquiry on the Color Line ()

In addition to the case laws, stories of 'passing' for economic purposes, etc., we also have to keep in mind that census takers, doctors/nurses and others recorded based on the 'eye of the beholder'.

In my research I've seen census records that contain various descriptions for members of the same household. One may have been recorded as Black, another White, yet the children or other family within the same household are listed as Mulatto.

A closer and very good example is the recording of race on birth records. My older brother and I were born in OH and our birth certificates list us a Negro. My younger brother was born in MI and he is listed as White, yet we have the same parents. When I asked my mother about why we were identified differently, she said the nurses recording the information never asked, they just wrote down what they ASSUMED based on complexion.

As others have mentioned, for economic purposes it is/was to one's advantage to pass for White, especially many years ago. We also have to keep in mind that during the Affirative Action era, it was an advantage for that blonde-haired, blue-eyed, very light complected person to proclaim they were Black to gain employment and/or be promoted to a higher level position.

There are a multitude of 'color lines', as well as reasons. We must learn not to judge but accept the reasons our ancestors 'passed', and to accept others for WHO ... not WHAT they are. Without stepping on any toes ... we are all God's children.

Irita (Goins) Canady


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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