cheddar man and the one-drop rule

I regret to inform British people that they’re descended from niggers:

The first modern Britons, who lived about 10,000 years ago, had “dark to black” skin, a groundbreaking DNA analysis of Britain’s oldest complete skeleton has revealed.

The fossil, known as Cheddar Man, was unearthed more than a century ago in Gough’s Cave in Somerset. Intense speculation has built up around Cheddar Man’s origins and appearance because he lived shortly after the first settlers crossed from continental Europe to Britain at the end of the last ice age. People of white British ancestry alive today are descendants of this population.

It was initially assumed that Cheddar Man had pale skin and fair hair, but his DNA paints a different picture, strongly suggesting he had blue eyes, a very dark brown to black complexion and dark curly hair.

The discovery shows that the genes for lighter skin became widespread in European populations far later than originally thought – and that skin colour was not always a proxy for geographic origin in the way it is often seen to be today.

Using the American understanding of race, based on the one-drop rule, the Brits are unfortunately to be considered Negroes until the end of time. Some much-needed context from Light, Bright, and Damn Near White: Black Leaders Created by the One-Drop Rule:

The One-Drop Rule was a determinant racial marker exclusive to the United States by which racial identity was defined, and a person was considered “black” if he or she had any African ancestry. No other country in the world has historically defined race in the same manner. This unique rule has been embraced by black and white Americans alike, both socially and legally. It began in the North and was enforced throughout the South during slavery.

The rule completely supplanted the notion that physical appearance alone determines race. And so, even a trace of “invisible blackness,” a drop of African blood, assigned a person to the Negro race. Prior to any state legislation on the matter, this principle was understood and widely embraced. According to Floyd James Davis, author of Who Is Black?: One Nation’s Definition, “One need not look black in order to be black, following the one-drop rule.” Davis says:

Because blacks are defined according to the one-drop rule, they are a socially constructed category in which there is wide variation in racial traits and therefore not a race group in the scientific sense. However, because that category has a definite status position in society, it has become a self-conscious social group with an ethnic identity…It is embedded in the social structures and cultures of both the Black and the White communities in the United States and strongly resistant to change.

The foundation for the One-Drop rule, also known as “hypodescent,” was laid around 1662, when the state of Virginia, in order to address the designation of mixed-race persons, decided to adopt into law the rule of partus sequitur ventrem, which held that the status of any child followed that of his or her mother. The edict read as follows: “Whereas some doubts have arisen whether children got by any Englishman upon a Negro woman should be slave or free, be it therefore enacted and declared by the present grand assembly, that all children born in this country shall be held bond or free only according to the condition of the mother.” Universally accepted throughout the southern United States, the partus law sealed the fate of every child whose mother was a slave.

The economic soundness of the One-Drop Rule during the antebellum years is obvious, in that it insured more slave hands to toil the southern plantations. Children produced by unions between slave owners and their female slaves carried the subordinate lot of bondage. In Red, White, and Black: The Peoples of Early America, Dr. Gary B. Nash describes the politics behind the rule, saying:

Though skin color came to assume importance through generations of association with slavery, white colonists developed few qualms about intimate contact with black women. But raising the social status of those who labored at the bottom of society and who were defined as abysmally inferior was a matter of serious concern. It was resolved by insuring that the mulatto would not occupy a position midway between white and black [It’s complicated]. Any black blood classifed a person as black…By prohibiting racial intermarriage, winking at interracial sex, and defining all mixed offspring as black, white society found the ideal answer to its labor needs.

By the 18th and 19th centuries, miscegenation or race-mixing had become so prevalent that American plantations had on them what some began to term as “white slaves.” And yet, there was still no wavering in the application of the One-Drop Rule. European dignitaries, who visited the United States, documented several accounts of this phenomenon….

Dr. Alexander Milton Ross attended a slave auction in New Orleans where, he states, many of the slaves were “much whiter than the white people who were there to buy them.”

As historian JC Furnas points out, these “near-white” slaves were often auctioned off at a higher price because of their use as sexual objects. The mulatto slave woman approximated the white ideal of feminine beauty, and yet she was property and had no rights. And though female slaves, regardless of color, were raped, Furnas says, “the mulatto afforded the slave owner the opportunity to rape, with impunity, a woman who was physically white (or near-white), but legally black.” Hence, slave children continued to be born whiter and whiter. Reverend Francis Hawley of Connecticut said in 1839, “It is so common for the female slaves to have white children, that little or nothing is ever said about it.”

Lighter-skinned blacks were generally house slaves. They were sometimes afforded educations, trades, and other considerations not available to field slaves…Despite some privileges, mulattoes also had to contend with the fact that they were constant reminders of rape and concubinage, which took place throughout the slave institution. This often exposed them to additional punishment at the hands of their mistresses.

Of course, all of that is the result of a court decision that could’ve gone the other way. In another former British colony, it did. From the anthology Global Mixed Race:

Nevertheless, in contemporary Zambia the Eurafrican community is known as “Coloured.” This concurs with the current application of “Coloured” as an ethnic identity and cultural classification characterized by Eurafricans’ and so-called Indo-Africans’ historical experiences of marginalization and alienation in colonial Zambia. The “illicit born half-caste child of a white father and native mother” was of particular interest to British administrators, beginning in 1928 with Northern Rhodesian governor Sir James Crawford Maxwell’s (1927-31) biological assimilative efforts to breed Eurafricans into the predominant African community. Indo-Africans were not considered a threat because there were not many and more importantly their Indian fathers were not part of the colonial elite in Northern Rhodesia. On the other hand, “the colony of half-castes” whose “tendency is European-wards” were viewed as a particular menace to White hegemony as they did not conform to the administration’s “ideal…that half-castes should identify with and be absorbed in the native population.” White officials discovered that “in effect this was not likely to happen in all cases”–particularly in the Eastern Province of Northern Rhodesia, where the largest number of Eurafricans resided with their British fathers and African mothers. Consequently, Eurafricans were governed as contagions that needed to be constrained to empire and denied admission to the metropole. In contemporary Zambia many Eurafricans and Indo-Africans have married, and their familial connections can no be traced back to British/European pioneers.

Consequently, British lineages are a fundamental characteristic of Colouredness in Zambia. The majority of Zambian Coloureds are the descendants of British men who for the most part were pioneers and the colonial elite in Northern Rhodesia. Similarly, to a large degree Eurafrican mothers were of noble birth, the daughters of various African rulers. Consequently, in Zambia the creation of a mixed-descent Coloured community and identity cannot be separated from the larger issues of gender, race, class, and sex in the British Empire.

White officials in both colonial Zambia and London were particularly concerned about Eurafricans’ British paternity mainly because of its capacity to qualify Eurafricans for British nationality and citizenship in the metropole. Beginning with Maxwell in 1928, several generations of British officials prevented this from happening, first by discrediting Eurafricans as rightful descendants of British men and second by advancing Eurafricans’ biological assimilation into Northern Rhodesian society. Paradoxically, in the contemporary context, the historical questions concerning Eurafricans’ British genealogies, legitimacy, and nationality exclude Eurafricans/Coloureds as a separate category in Zambia’s national census and facilitate their return migration to Great Britain…

The Zambian government’s elimination of “Eurafrican” as an official category in 1980 impeis Eurafricans/Coloureds vanished from Zambia’s social landscape, a memory of Zambia’s colonial past. Ironically, in 1981 Britain changed its immigration laws to incorporate sanguinous clauses. This was a significant change in British immigration policy. Prior to 1981, British citizenship was awarded to the legitimate children of British men. The British Nationality Act 1948 introduced a legitimacy clause wherein only children born in legitimate marriages of their British fathers were entitled to British citizenship. The British Nationality Act 1981 revoked Eurafricans’ transgenerational humiliation and stigmatization of illegitimacy; providing they could prove they were consanguineous descendants of a specific British person (regardless of their ancestor’s marital status), they could apply for “the right of abode” in Great Britain and subsequently apply for British citizenship. Zambian Coloureds seized this opportunity and claimed what historically had been denied them–British citizenship.

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