South and blatant racial discrimination elsewhere

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South and blatant racial discrimination elsewhere still prevailed during the 1950s. The first Gallup Poll on the topic of interracial marriage, conducted in 1958, found that only four percent of Whites approved Black/ White intermarriage nationwide, and in the South, only one percent approved (Kennedy, 2003:88). Myrdal described Whites' aversion to amalgamation as the "common denominator" that sustained America's racial caste system. The boundary between Negro and White is not simply a class line which can be successfully crossed by education, integration into the national culture, and individual economic advancement. The boundary is fixed. It is not a temporary expediency during an apprenticeship in the national culture. It is a bar erected with the intention of permanency (Myrdal, 1944:58). Race, Family, and Intermarriage In the remainder of this essay, I direct my gaze at the family, which is at once the most intimate of social groups touched by interracial marriage and the site in 12 The Western Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 35, No.l, 2011
which received ideologies of race are first learned. For most of American history, deeply ingrained racial fears and myths have seamlessly passed to the newest gen- eration through family portals. By their very existence, multiracial families upset the connections between family and race held by most White Americans. Kim- berly DaCosta writes that "the notion of a "multiracial family," has, until very recently, been an oxymoron in American cultural consciousness" (DaCosta, 2004:20). In their determination to keep race and family in their proper relationships to one another. White Americans needed at once to reify race as an immutable feature of individuals and to assign individuals with "one drop" of Black blood to the Negro race. DaCosta discusses how racial classification systems and anti-miscegenation laws together reinforced peculiarly American notions of race and family throughout most of American history. Because race in America is determined by descent, kin- ship configurations such as the family reflect supposed continuities in racial classification. Racial intermarriage upsets these deeply-ingrained expectations. As a cultural rite of passage in family life, marriage precipitates new roles, new alliances, new rights and obligations, and sets the stage for the transmission of family wealth, values and traditions to the next genera- tion. Racial intermarriage disrupts the otherwise smooth relationships tying race, family, and marriage together in the popular imagination. Anti-miscegenation statues both monitored and controlled threats to the proper controls separating Black race and Black family from White race and White family. Interracial marriages were declared illegal and any children borne from the union were designated as bastards and prevented from inheriting material and symbolic wealth or prop- erty from their White parent. Interracial marriage and multiracial families flew in the face of American folk logic insofar as they challenged "practices of White

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