History On One Drop Rule

The one-drop rule is a historical colloquial term in the United States that holds that a person with any trace of African ancestry is considered black unless having an alternative non-white ancestry which he or she can claim, such as Native American, Asian, Arab, or Australian aboriginal.[1] It developed most strongly out of the binary culture of long years of institutionalized slavery.

Despite the one-drop rule being held illegal (ever since the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967 overturned the Racial Integrity Act of 1924), as recently as 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a decision by the federal Office for Dispute Resolution to refuse to hear a case attacking Louisiana’s racial classification criteria as applied to Susie Phipps (479 U.S. 1002) (In 1985, the fair-complexioned Phipps had checked “White” on her passport application. It was denied because, decades before on her birth certificate, a midwife had checked “colored” for one of her parents. Phipps sued, testifying that “this classification came as a shock, since she had always thought she was White, had lived as White, had had twice married as White.” 479 So. 2d 369). In addition, several authors and journalists have found it very profitable to “out” as black famous historical mulattoes and whites, who were regarded as white in their society, who self-identified as such, and who were culturally European-American, merely because they acknowledged having (often slight) African ancestry (Anatole Broyard, Patrick Francis Healy, Michael Morris Healy, Jr., Sir Peter Ustinov, Calvin Clark Davis, John James Audubon, Mother Henriette Delille — a Louisiana Creole).