Mentality of Racial Hybrids

Mentality of Racial Hybrids

American Journal of Sociology
Volume 36, Number 4 (January 1931)
pages 534-551
DOI: 10.1086/215474

Robert E. Park (1864-1944), Professor of Sociology
University of Chicago

Racial hybrids are one of the natural and inevitable results of migration and the consequent mingling of divergent racial stocks.  The motives bringing peoples of divergent races and cultures together are, in the first instance, economic.  In the long run, economic intercourse enforces more intimate personal and cultural relations, and eventually amalgamation takes place.  When the peoples involved are widely different in culture and in racial characteristics, and particularly when they are distinguished by physical marks, assimilation and amalgamation take place very slowly.  When the resulting hybrid peoples exhibit physical traits that mark them off and distinguish them from both parent-stocks, the mixed bloods are likely to constitute a distinct caste or class occupying a position and status midway between the two races of which they are composed.  The mixed bloods tend everywhere to be, as compared with the full bloods with whom they are identified, an intellectual and professional class.  The most obvious and generally accepted explanation of the superiority of the mixed bloods is that the former are products of two races, one of which is biologically inferior and the other biologically superior.  In the case of the Negro-white hybrids in the United States, other and less obvious explanations have been offered.  It has been pointed out, for example, that the mulatto is the result of a social selection which began during the period of slavery, when the dominant whites selected for their concubines the most comely, and presumably the superior, women among the Negroes.  There is, however, the fact to be considered that in a society where racial distinctions are rigidly maintained, the mixed blood tends to be be keenly conscious of his position.  He feels, as he frequently says, the conflict of warring ancestry in his veins.  The conflict of color is embodied, so to speak, in his person.  His mind is the melting pot in which the lower and higher cultures meet and fuse…

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