Mixed Race America and the Law: A Reader (Review)

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2010-02-05 21:46Z by Steven

Mixed Race America and the Law: A Reader (Review)

Law and Politics Book Review
American Political Science Association
Volume 13,  Number 4 (April 2003)

Barbara L. Graham, Professor of Political Science,
University of Missouri, St. Louis

Mixed Race America and the Law: A Reader. By Kevin R. Johnson (Editor). (New York and London: New York University Press, 2003. 505 pages. Cloth ISBN: 0-8147-4256-4. Paper ISBN: 0-8147-4257-2)

In Mixed Race America and the Law: A Reader, Kevin R. Johnson has edited one of the most important and timely anthologies on the general topic of race mixture and the law. The anthology addresses a range of provocative issues concerning the mixed race experience and the law and its impact on mixed race peoples. For readers who are unfamiliar with the vast literature on the mixed race experience, I am confident that they will find this book’s interdisciplinary approach indispensable in its grappling with issues raised by multiracialism and the law. Johnson’s book, part of the Critical America Series published by New York University Press, takes critical race theory into another direction in its emphasis on mixed race scholarship.  As with many of the writings of critical race theorists, Johnson’s book has seriously challenged the conventional wisdom of the black-white paradigm. The writings persuasively demonstrate that America has always been a mixed race society, that the law has played a major role in shaping racial categories, classification schemes, intermarriage, immigration and trans-racial adoption issues to name a few. Race is addressed as a social construct and Johnson – as well as the other contributors – acknowledges how law has not kept up with the fluid racial boundaries in the American context. This book covers the diversity of the mixed race experience in America, including African American, Indian, Latina(o) and Asian populations. Johnson argues in the introduction that “racial mixture will undoubtedly shape the future study of race and civil rights in the United States. As minorities of many different types intermarry and rates of immigration of diverse peoples to this country remain high, more racial mixtures and mixed race peoples will emerge.”  The writings in the anthology take the reader on a journey in an effort to understand the complexities of racial mixture in the United States and abroad.

Johnson has carefully selected eighty-seven edited scholarly writings, primarily law review articles published in the 1990s and a few court cases.  The reader is divided into twelve parts in an attempt to examine the complexities of racial categories and what they mean for a mixed race society.  Part I addresses the history and slow demise of anti-miscegenation laws. The edited selections cover issues such as an historical overview of these laws, the history of racial identification and the regulation of interracial sex in colonial Virginia, and the relationship between lynchings and interracial relationships.  As expected, Johnson includes writings on an analysis of Loving v. Virginia (1967) and its impact.  Readers may be unfamiliar with an important precursor to Loving, Perez v. Sharp (1948), where the California Supreme Court held that the state anti-miscegenation law violated the Constitution.  Going beyond the white-black context, the other writings in Part I cover attempts to regulate intermarriage between Indians and whites and Asians and whites…

Read the entire review here.

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