It’s time to drop the “one drop rule” and let Blacks define Blackness

Race is a social construct however race has real world implications. We see it with systematic racism in our everyday lives. I wrote this when I read The Root article, “Beyond Blackness: When Blackness is a Small, Nearly Invisible Fraction.” 


Carol Channing colour Allan Warren.jpg

According to the one drop rule Actress Carol Channing would have been considered Black even though she identified as White.

What is Blackness? It’s not a feeling or a culture. It’s not how someone says you should walk, talk or even act. It’s a racial identity. For me Blackness is when you look and identify as Black. 

Ever wonder why half Blacks,  multiracial Blacks and others can be Black but only White people can be White? Why is it that Whites can define Whiteness and Blackness in America but Black Americans cannot define Blackness? It’s the legacy of racism and White supremacy.

Even though President Obama identifies as Black he is a biracial man.

 President Obama is a biracial man who identifies as Black

I say this with all love, biracial and multiracial looking people are not Black. As Kola Boof has coined,” they are not authentically Black”. They are mixed race and have every right to be proud of it. Just as White people have defined Whiteness for centuries only Black people can and should be able to define Blackness.

Many people in America point to the “one drop rule” as a point of reference.  The  one drop rule means that “a single drop of “black blood” makes a person a black.”  The one drop rule was created to maintain the purity of Whiteness and White supremacy. Whites did not want to pass on their wealth to their mixed  race offspring and they did not want Whiteness to be a space for mixed race people. Instead, they created laws that stated that anyone could be Black but not everyone could be White. They made sure there was no value in being Black and maintaining Black identity.

Booker T. Washington on the left and Frederick Douglass on the right. Both were products of slave rape.

Booker T. Washington on the left and Frederick Douglass on the right. Both were biracial products of slave rape.

There was a time when the biracial Black identity was needed. Due to slavery and the epidemic of slave rape many Black Americans today have slave owners and overseers rapist as distant ancestors. That’s why we vary in shades and features. Because of slave rape in the 18th and 19th century America, biracial Blacks like Frederick Douglass,  Booker T. Washington and our early Black American ancestors  identified as Black because it was the law and they were slaves. They had to stick together out of necessity. Other biracial Blacks had access to education, resources and privileges Black Americans did not have at that time. They set up schools and organizations with a singular cause. To benefit Blacks. The biggest difference between now and then is that back then our mixed Black ancestors actually sought to uplift the Black race. 

When self hating Blacks and nonBlack people promote and use the “one drop rule”  they are maintaining White supremacy. Only the mentally enslaved and their masters still hold on to that racist legacy. So as matter of pride, reclaiming and valuing our identity, Black people must define Blackness.

For an awesome explanation, it’s even better than this post, please read Muslim Bushido’s “The Importance of Context and Nuances.”



  1. Mary 4 June, 2014 at 02:43 Reply

    “For me Blackness is when you look and identify as Black. ”

    and then
    ” I say this with all love, biracial and multiracial looking people are not Black.

    I see a problem. I would argue that biracial people still face antiblackness thus be Black .THe article you link to talks about being Afro-American, which overlaps with being Black but is not the same.

  2. Eva 4 June, 2014 at 09:10 Reply

    I am confused about this. Maybe I’m old but when I was growing up, if you had a white parent, you considered yourself black. I have a friend who’s mother is white. She does NOT look white at all. She’ll say, “I’m black but my mother is white.” What is wrong with a biracial person, especially someone who LOOKS black, saying they are black. I don’t know if I want this country to be like South Africa where there was a completely different category for “biracial.” But maybe that’s where we are going.

    Take someone like Vanessa Williams; both of her parents are/were black. Should she consider herself biracial? What if the white person in the family was from three or four generations back? Should that person call themselves biracial? I am confused.

    IMO It was simpler when people of all colors just said, “I’m black.”

    • Raymond Nolan Scott 17 June, 2015 at 09:30 Reply

      When multiracial people were fighting to be acknowledged as such, NAACP opposed them and wanted the one drop rule to be enforced.
      They urged multiracial people w/ black ancestry to check only black on government forms including the Censuses.
      This was after the adoption of OMB Directive 15 on October 30, 1997.
      It allowed people to select multiple options for race/ethnicity while collecting federal race/ethnic statistics.
      It was multiracial people’s activism that led to people being able to mark down multiple races on government forms including the 2000 and 2010 Censuses and future Censuses.
      Only 2.4 percent of U.S. Census takers checked multiple boxes for race for the 2000 Census.
      Only 2.9 percent of U.S. Census takers checked multiple boxes for race for 2010.
      I checked multiple boxes for race for the last two Censuses.
      Considering that even 12 percent of the U.S. population is African American/Black population and most of them are actually mixed and the Latino population is even larger and most Latinos are mixed, there are a lot more multiracial people than 3 percent.
      In a country that is supposed to be a melting pot with so much diversity and where race-mixing is legal everywhere, why do multiracial identities seem to be something that is not encouraged and even discouraged?
      It makes no sense in this nation of diversity in this modern age.

      • Raymond Nolan Scott 17 June, 2015 at 09:32 Reply

        My Genealogical ancestry

        My father’s side:

        His father was African American with French Creole.

        His mother was African American with Acadian (Eastern French Canadian) and English.

        There are also genetic connections to Amerindians (USA,Canada,or both), but I don’t know which side of the family it’s coming from

        My mother’s side:

        My mother’s ancestry is very mixed and diverse, and so I have to break it down.

        My maternal grandfather’s paternal grandparents were immigrants from the Cape Verde Islands which were a part of Portugal. They were of mixed Portuguese and SubSaharan African ancestry. My maternal grandfather’s maternal grandmother’s parents were immigrants from the Madeira Islands of Portugal. My maternal grandfather’s maternal grandmother’s paternal grandfather was from the Azores. They were Portuguese and might have had some recent African ancestry. My maternal grandfather’s maternal grandfather was an immigrant from Puerto Rico. He was of mixed Spanish,African,and Taino ancestry. I suspect that there was Sephardic Jewish ancestry in all the relatives that I mentioned.

        My maternal grandmother was a bit of a Euro-mix. My maternal grandmother’s father was the descendant of American Colonial lines from England,Germany (Prussia),Ireland,Scotland,Wal­es,Holland,and Switzerland. He also had a late 18th Century Scottish immigrant ancestor. There was also supposed to be some Cherokee Nation ancestors, but I don’t know for sure. There are genetic connections to Quebecois French,Acadians,and Danes.

        My maternal grandmother’s mother was Ashkenazi Jewish with a father from Romania and a mother from Riga,Latvia. There are some genetic connections to Eastern Europeans,Swedes,and Finns.

      • ProudRedAndYellowBones 27 September, 2016 at 12:50 Reply




    • Raymond Nolan Scott 17 June, 2015 at 09:55 Reply

      Vanessa Williams did DNA testing.
      She is not all African.

      She has a significant amount of European in her.

      My DNA breaks down as follows: I’m 23% from Ghana, 17% from the British Isles, 15% from Cameroon, 12% Finnish, 11% Southern European, 7% Togo, 6% Benin, 5% Senegal and 4% Portuguese.

      This so-called lightskinned black woman is really a multiracial woman.

    • Liz Vasquez 24 August, 2015 at 09:39 Reply

      Vanessa WIlliams is obviously mixed…You can’t say with a straight face that both of her parents are black….Black people don’t usually have blue eyes. If you ever watched “Who do you think you are,” her episode featured members of her family and her father and father’s side are clearly mixed. Her father and her uncle both have strong European ancestry in their appearances and their families originated in the northern section of America, where they were among free blacks (because of the one drop rule is why they were still considered “free blacks” in the north) She researched her mother’s side of the family where she discovered more of the slavery aspect of her heritage. Her father’s side has Italian & Finnish ancestry in their background. It’s not logical to assume that she is “just black” when she looks as she does.

  3. Lady A 4 June, 2014 at 12:01 Reply

    Yeah people forgot about the origin behind the one drop rule, and it was for whites to make sure their race remained pure. So even if you were quadroon looking biracial, and looked like you teeter from white to mixed race, the fact that you could teeter was enough to deem you black in their eyes. I guess black people feel like labeling people like Adrian Lama as black when she’s multiracial or Cassie as black, adds to the army. We basically want high body count to strengthen the army. Whites are like this too when it comes to Mexican Americans, Jessica Alba is never called Mexican she’s just white to them.

    Race is a controversial yet confusing topic. I don’t mind black people who’s DNA is mainly black to define what black is. You can’t try to argue against a black person about what’s black.

    But I also have no problem with biracial people identifying as black either. But I do have a problem with biracials who claim black only when it’s convenient, but then reap all the societal benefits of being biracial when it comes to advancements. That’s selfish, and I’ll gladly tell them “you’re not in the circle”.

  4. Doll_ 17 June, 2014 at 11:03 Reply


    So I follow you on twitter, and read your blogs sometimes and I just had to comment. Let me start off by saying I think you are very intelligent and make some good points sometimes and we as Black women definitely need these kind of debates for better understanding.

    With that being said I also believe you are VERY stuck on color/hue. You have made multiple statements about mixed people and even light skinned Black people. I am light skinned but my mother is Darker and I also have a sister that’s dark skinned that went through hell growing up from her peers because she was “the only dark one” out of all us sisters, so while some statements hurt to read I completely understand how dark skinned women began to have these feelings. But what I don’t think you understand is that you are preaching European/White ideals yourself! While the “one drop rule” was a way for whites to keep the race white it was actually true! The reason why biracial people can’t say their White is because their not. Black is a DOMINANT RACE. Which means no matter what 1 parent is, if one is Black or even half Black, that child is BLACK. No matter how light they are, how curly their hair is, how light their eyes are THEY ARE BLACK. You are too stuck on color and appearance! Blackness comes out so strong on “biracial” people bc our genetics are stronger and more authentic in every way. I use the terms Black as being a person who has the majority of the MOST authentic genetics of the original people.

    You need to understand the history of the World, not just the last few hundred years. EVERY RACE ON EARTH EVOLVED FROM AFRICAN PEOPLE. The first 2 people on Earth, some people call “Adam & Eve” are Black from Africa. We actually spent 3/4 of our entire history in Africa before we began migrating to other continents. So to put this into perspective we’ve only spent the last 1/4th of our time here on earth outside of Africa, meaning that’s when “other races” evolved. We migrated all throughout Africa, moved on to the Middle East, Asia, Australia, South America, North America, Europe etc. THATS how “other races” formed. But what you need to understand is that these “other races” are really not other races at all THEY’RE BLACK!! These are Africans that over time began to develop similar features. If you can imagine a group of Africans moving to a brand new continent they are reproducing with the same people over & over & over- that’s why these people began to look alike, creating different “races”.. But they’re are technically just different variations of Black.

    My great grandmother was Native American, and my grandfather explained to me (and this all is scientific proof, btw) that the White race was the last race to evolve. They had the weakest amount of Black genetics in them. They were specifically targeted by an evil entity, some believe it was an evil race of Aliens. The Native Americans call it “wetiko” it is basically the disease of a civilization. (It’s much more as well-you should research it) This evil was able to effect the Whites because they had the WEAKEST GENETICS. This evil entity is what created RACISM. It needed a way to crate a rift in humanity. To make us believe we are different from one another. To make us believe we are not all Black & that in fact the Black race was inferior. The lighter you were the better. They needed this to happen so it would be easier to INFECT THE ENTIRE WORLD. If we all knew and accepted our African roots our genetics would remain too strong to infect. Race is actually and technically INEXISTENT. It was created by White people infected by Wetiko to cause hate & separation. And they most certainly needed to keep the African race (aka the strongest genetics) as contained as possible. So over time the cause is to not only just separate & think we are different but they needed to make sure no one WANTED to be Black. The one drop rule seems like bullshit, but it’s actually true. The only thing corrupt about the teachings were the false statements of dehumanizing & making the Black race seem inferior. But that’s what they had to do to keep is separate.

    So what you need to understand is YOU ARE PREACHING EUROPEAN/WHITE ideals yourself! You just don’t know it! Blackness doesn’t mean the darkest or the kinkiest hair or the largest nose. They want you to believe that! They want you to believe our Blackness is determined by our looks but our power goes WAYY deeper than that. There is NO SUCH THING AS BIRACIAL! Or “Authentically Black” as you put it. We’re all Black! Theres actually no such thing as race at all! They’ve lied to us. This was all in their plan. “they” as in the creator & vessels of “Wetiko”.

    I hope you take the time to read this and do some research on your own. You need to understand the truth if your gonna have such a blog. I am a lighter skinned AA, my mother is black, my father is Black, my grandparents & so forth. I’m also related to Fredrick Douglass as well. That doesn’t make me any less Black than a person darker than me. Get out of that colorist mindset. Stop thinking & categorizing people based on their skin tone & you will really get to the root of it all. Know that by separating YOUR people, and other races, you are actually doing the “White man” a favor! They want you to believe everything you think you’re preaching. It’s all false. We are all one. We are ALL AFRICAN!


  5. T. Elizabeth 17 June, 2014 at 13:27 Reply

    As a proud Black woman and future mom of biracial children, it’s one of those things I just don’t know how to go about. I love, acknowledge and embrace my Blackness and I don’t know how I can tell people who were formed in my body that they are not. I reject the One Drop rule as it was tool of White supremacy, I see through it. It also treats being Black like it soils/taints and that’s what I really don’t like. I guess my huge fear is that I ,as their mother, will get rinsed away in the wash on the “biracial” label . My kids will be Black as well as White. I will not be erased because their father isn’t Black too. I’m glad topics like this are being discussed as this is something I want to have plenty of time to think about. It’s too heavy to cross that bridge when I get there.

    • kitten 15 July, 2014 at 12:28 Reply

      If you are so proud of your blackness, why do you choose to reproduce with a white man?

      Black women like you are part of the problem. You want to be free to mate with whomever you please and still have your children identify as black, be accepted as part of the black race. You don’t care that the mixed race children–especially girls–that you produce are elevated above full black children, end up replacing black women and become the standard of beauty for black women and girls.

      Marry and reproduce with whomever you choose. But don’t expect black people to accept your mixed race children as black. They will be mixed race, NOT black. If you don’t like that, then don’t make babies with a non-black man.

      You are the one who is erasing your blackness. Our black fore mothers were raped, they did not have a choice about having mixed race children. You do have a choice and you don’t want full black children so keep your mixed race kids away from black girls. Go and force white people to accept you mixed race offspring and leave black people alone.

      It is very interesting that the black people who loudly proclaim pride in their blackness are usually the ones who date and marry IR.

      • Richard 28 July, 2014 at 18:50 Reply

        Amen @Kitten! I couldn’t have said it better myself. One thing that I’ve also noticed is that it is the same people (men & women) who claim about colorism who marry outside of their race. I just doesn’t make any sense complaining about colorism and then perpetuating that institution at the same time..

        Personally, I don’t have any interest in non-black/african women. People like to be all kumbayah & shit, but things haven’t really changed one bit. We’re still being looked at, as cum-dumpsters of all the other races, caucasians are still racist as fuck, pale-arabs still own africans as SLAVES, they call us “abed” (which means slave in arabic) and worse. But stupid black people don’t think about LINEAGE and rebuilding our nation(s) (this goes for MEN & WOMEN) . Everybody else understands the importance of STICKING TOGETHER to gain power, wealth & influence. We just don’t understand that (for the most part) a white person WILL NOT LOSE his/hers place in the socio-economic ladder.. Black people have been the worst tacticians & strategists for at least a millennia. It just makes me sick watching all this IRR/Swirling websites on the interwebz. How PATHETIC are we trying to portray ourselves as being?

  6. Htizzo 17 June, 2014 at 15:35 Reply

    Here’s the thing… Race is made up. It doesn’t actually exist. Nations are real, culture is real, but race is not. Human beings are human beings. Our human genes have the ability to produce different skin colors, hair textures, and facial features. Groups of people who lived together ended up with a pool of genes that were turned on for that group of people. Some folks who thought they were brilliant, observed this and decided there are different races. This became very handy when someone else figured they could tell people one race wasn’t as smart as the others and they deserved to be enslaved. We need to figure out how to embrace our cultural differences (and yes, our differences are primarily cultural) while recognizing that we are all the same. I am what would be considered biracial, by the way, though I’ve decided to call myself multicultural because it’s a much more accurate description of who I am.

  7. roni 20 June, 2014 at 14:51 Reply

    I am a black woman with a biracial daughter who looks completely white and she identifies her self as a black woman… and it has nothing to do with the o e drop rule… in that case im multiracial cuz my grandma was creole and white… and i definetly identify as black

  8. mztazzyjones 21 June, 2014 at 00:00 Reply

    i say this with love, if someone with a multi cultural background wants to identify themselves as black who the f*ck are you to tell them they can’t. You and Kola Boof are arrogant enough to think that you can define blackness. You can not. Get over yourselves and let people live without your ignorance.

  9. ak 22 June, 2014 at 18:14 Reply

    If black people accept every single person in humankind as black people they would be the only set of people to do that. Because…….white people don’t accept everybody else non-white who want to be called white, Asian people (meaning people from China, India, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Nepal, Vietnam, Cambodia, etc.) don’t accept everybody else non-Asian who want to be called Asian and Native American/First Nations people of North America in particular (but they’re probably not alone) don’t accept everybody else non-Native American/First Nations who want to be called Native American/First Nations. I mean Native Americans had a fit about black descendants of freed slaves who were allowed to join the tribes of Native American people in the 19th century being recognized in the registries for certain different Native American tribal people in the present day. And don’t forget that Native American/First Nations people’s numbers of their full-blooded people dwindled down to nothing practically a long, long time ago but they don’t seem to be concerned about taking a bunch of outsiders and ‘others’ to make up their numbers in the present day.

    They would never accept just anybody, or just any old black body, calling themselves a full or fully recognized Cherokee, Seminole or whatever. Why do black people just HAVE to be the vacuum cleaner or mop of the human race just sucking up or soaking up everybody else when NOBODY else seems to do that?

    Don’t you think that even that itself seems a bit strange and out of place in the world?

  10. cb 27 June, 2014 at 20:49 Reply

    How can you say that blackness is defined by how you look, but then dismiss the plethora of biracial and multiracial people who look black? Are you defining blackness by the old fashioned “paper bag” rule? Clearly then, you haven’t seen enough of the skin tone diversity in Africa. By your definition, you would have siblings within the same family that would have different racial identities even though they are born from the same parents. Pure silliness.

  11. Peace 27 January, 2015 at 13:56 Reply

    What an amazing writer! She’s bright and I’m honored to read her thoughtful works. I’m sorry so many black people are angry and confused for very good reasons. She’s not supporting white supremacy or racism. She’s thinking and speaking her mind. These are the types of thoughts that lead to greater understanding, and you should applaud her.

    Just because she hasn’t gone as far in her thinking to conclude we are all basically the same, of the same heritage, not black – but human, because all groups of varying colors do have roots in Africa. But having roots in Africa doesn’t make all people – black people. Black is only a color! Let me remind you the idea of race was also created to support white supremacy, so stop identifying with its foolishness. Those of you who understand the Out of Africa history should be the first to let go of race. Race is a lie! Get off your high horse and accept that we are all looking for the truth, and when you present your truth with love and care, that is when you can spread your knowledge. Let’s stop letting frustration steal from truth.

    We must understand that because of historical lies, we are all at different levels of understanding in this journey of reconnecting to the human race, the one and only race. We are confused and say ignorant things because we are still using a system that was created to support a lie to make sense of our diversity. That’s odd. Let go of race and we will defeat the lie of white supremacy. We will become one.

    You are only black because of skin color but what identifies you is your culture.

  12. mc1010 29 May, 2015 at 02:27 Reply

    Why do U.S. “blacks” state “everybody hails from Africa” as a reason to justify that everyone should claim “blackness” as if by default there is an inherent communal and/or economic benefit to doing so? Yet they make no moves to learn an African language like Twi, Fante Swahili, etc. that would allow for the creation of kinship and networking to create economic opportunity with Africans in Africa that might help folks here and over there, you know, like how China, Japan and South Korea has figured out to do.

    We’re in a new Age. Allow folks to claim the identity they want to. I say less talk about who’s black or not because the tribe that you really want to belong to right now is the one that’s fluent in an Asian and/or African language that will take you outside USA’s borders to many new opportunities.

  13. ProudRedAndYellowBones 27 September, 2016 at 12:45 Reply

    WELL … FINALLY !!!



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