When One Of New York’s Glitterati Married A ‘Quadroon’

When One Of New York’s Glitterati Married A ‘Quadroon’

Code Switch: Frontiers of Race, Culture and Ethnicity
National Public Radio

Theodore R. Johnson III

Coverage of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s recent nuptial ceremony was only remarkable in what most reporters left out: he’s black, and she isn’t.

The generalized lack of interest in Kanye and Kim’s race stands in sharp contrast to the 1924 marriage and separation of Leonard “Kip” Rhinelander, son of the New York glitterati, and Alice Jones, a blue-collar woman with at least one black grandparent. Theirs became perhaps the most examined interracial relationship in our nation’s history when Kip sued Alice for annulment on the grounds that she’d hid her “Negro blood” and intentionally deceived him into believing she was white.

The newspapers of the day alternatively called Alice a quadroon and octoroon. Quadroon was once used to describe someone who’s one-fourth black. An octoroon was the offspring of a quadroon and a white person. (All this talk of quadroons and octoroons now feels more than a little offensive and silly.) Contemporary accounts vary as to whether Alice had one or two black grandparents. No matter the ratio of the mix, much of American society and statute adhered to the race standard colloquially called the “one-drop rule.”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,