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Conservatively liberal, moderately well-educated, and highly opinionated...

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

"Unity" and the One Drop Rule

Between one thing and another, it looks like New Orleans' image problem is picking up steam, folks... and that's a major issue about now, when the city is dependent on outside money for any hope of recovery from Katrina.

While Nagin's faux pas with "God" and the "Chocolate City" isn't the only major problem brewing in the background, it is certainly going to kick the city right in the teeth. Because it absolutely was racist.

I'm just not sure the racist is Nagin.

What happened to Nagin on Monday was more than his mouth disconnecting from his brain. He finally succumbed to the pressure he's been under from his "black" constituents -- the folks who haven't trusted him or didn't vote for him because he wasn't "black" enough.

For months, every single thing he's done has been analyzed in terms of black and white. We've heard, in excrutiating detail, about the racial composition of every meeting, panel, and commission he's been involved with. He even had the daring audacity to meet with some "white" business-people in Dallas right after the storm. Horrors!

Nagin's been walking a fine line that mixed-ancestry people have tried to walk for generations... because they're not "black" enough, and they're also not "white" enough.

This, folks, is the One Drop Rule in action.

TMI moment: I'm a genealogist. More specifically, I'm a specialist in mixed ancestry... for the obvious reason that my ancestry is mixed. I have two paternal lines that descend from 18th century slaves in New England. Culturally speaking, my family has been "white" since about 1885.

When I visited New Orleans recently, I had a disturbing conversation with someone about race and ancestry. I was told that in New Orleans, I would be considered "black"... because of the one-drop rule.

It is a seriously bizarre thought for me - not because I have a problem with my ancestry, but because I don't have a point-of-reference, culturally. How many people would actually think that? I have no clue, but I'm 100% sure that some would - because I've heard it before. "Wow. I'd have never guessed you're black" (which has only been said to me by "white" people). Furthermore, the "black" community wouldn't see me as "black", either.

What Nagin fell prey to was the very divisive fallacy that you can group an entire "people" by "race".

No. This whole "black community" thing is hogwash. "Black" people are as diverse as the stars in interests, colors, educational levels, economic status - the whole kit and kaboodle. Just like "white" people are.

The very call to "black unity" is a lie. And Nagin fell for it.

To learn about the One Drop Rule, and what it's doing to society today, I strongly recommend this site: Backintyme: History of the U.S. Color Line.


  • At 6:16 PM, Blogger blueshead said;

    Nagin screwed up..He flaps his mouth at the wrong times..He needs an aid sticking his face in a teleprompter..I forgive him..He is a non politically connected Mayor dropped in a huge pot of gumbo..He has tried hard.. Oh, I'm a middle aged carpenter that lives in the French Quarter, Works out of a shop in the 9'th ward..and stayed here through and after Katrina..
    and I'm Vanilla..don't bitch unless you are here..

  • At 7:45 PM, Blogger dillyberto said;

    Great point....

    conveyed with grace and class.

  • At 12:44 PM, Blogger Polimom said;

    blueshead couldn't have missed the point of this post more. That's too bad, actually, because it's an interesting phenomenon.

    As it happens, I feel for Nagin. There isn't enough money on the planet for the job of Mayor of NOLA, to my mind.

    And... New Orleans isn't functioning in a vacuum. It's actually a big fishbowl at the moment, with pretty much everybody watching the situation develop. Attacking those of us who are doing our utmost to help is a smidge counter-productive.

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