The Mulatto Problem

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, United States on 2011-01-15 03:07Z by Steven

The Mulatto Problem

The Journal of Heredity
Volume 16, Number 8 (August 1925)
pages 281-286

Ernest Dodge
Washington, D. C.

The numerous races and subraces of mankind could hardly have maintained their distinct existence to so late a date in history save for the geographical barrier generally found between different stocks. The only other bulwarks against amalgamation are artificial caste distinctions and such degree of mutual repulsion or lessened attraction as may exist when racial characteristics differ in the extreme.

Whenever and wherever the one dependable barrier of geographic separation between two radically different types is swept away, it should be the business of Eugenics to investigate the biological results of crossing. If these prove to be beneficial or even neutral, then artificial walls of caste should be discouraged, as these are always inconvenient and may become intolerable. But if the results of amalgamation are found to be markedly injurious, then eugenic research will not only strengthen the force of social inhibition but lift it from the plane of mere prejudice or pride to the level of an ethical mandate. In the United States a problem exists which demands extensive and impartial eugenic research,’ but which unfortunately has never received it on any adequate scale. Nine-tenths of our population are a heterogeneous mixture of many European races which collectively we call by the misnomer of “Caucasian.” The other one-tenth belong to a type so different and so prepotent for perpetuating their differences in mixed offspring, that present-day sentiment is strongly crystalized against amalgamation of the two populations.

We should err, however, if we assumed that caste barriers now existent keeping black and white America distinct throughout all centuries to come. Past history would point to a different expectation. Probably one in five of the Afro-American people has enough of the Caucasian in his makeup to be noticed by an observer, while doubtless many considered to be full blacks have one-eighth or one-sixteenth part of white ancestry. True it is that the major part of this influx of white blood occurred a considerable time ago, having been tolerated by a- sort of patriarchal moral code under slavery and in the earlier years after emancipation. Improvement in education, economic condition, and racial self respect has doubtless reduced the number of colored mothers willing to consent to extra-legal unions; and the sentiment also of the majority race is probably less tolerant than formerly toward such alliances. As for legal intermarriage, it has always been too infrequent to be the leading factor in the problem.

But the saying is a true one that “you can’t un-scramble eggs.” Unless it should be a fact that the children and grandchildren of mulattoes are inferior to pure negroes in fertility and viability, the composite complexion of the Afro-American community must inevitably grow lighter as the centuries succeed one another. For it cannot be expected that the interbreeding of two contiguous populations will ever be reduced to zero. And every child that shall ever be born of a mixed union increases permanently the percentage of European blood in the colored population. The process might indeed be slow, but it could work in only one direction.

It becomes, therefore, a matter of real importance to learn what the ultimate results of past or future intermingling will be. The present article is meant in part as a plea for the endowment of scientific research in ways that will be indicated before we close…

…(IV.) There is one final possibility that must be reckoned with, though it is contrary to all prevailing ideals. That is that race and caste barriers may sometime in the long centuries be quite swept away and the entire American people become a race of quintroons. Such a thing will not come about by any cataclismic break in existing customs. But the foregoing discussion points the way to its final possibility—unless eugenic researches should prove such a result to be so radically undesirable that society would erect against miscegenation a bulwark of caste thrice stronger even than now…

…And then as for the white race: if impartial research should conceivably prove that’even the smallest admixture of colored blood is a pronounced racial handicap, lessening the mental processes, the moral fiber, fecundity and the resistance to disease, then it would become a duty to the future to maintain and further strengthen at any cost all barriers against amalgamation. But if, on the other hand, the most careful research should indicate that the results of an ultimate “quintroonifying” of America would be at the utmost no worse – than neutral, then would our people be justified in ceasing to worry about the future and in letting each coming generation handle its own caste problem with whatever degree of laxity or vigor shall best suit its own predilections, immediate conditions, or conscience…

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Hybrid Types of the Human Race: Racial Mixture as a Cause of Conspicuous Morphological Changes of the Facial-type

Posted in Articles, Europe, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2011-01-14 03:30Z by Steven

Hybrid Types of the Human Race: Racial Mixture as a Cause of Conspicuous Morphological Changes of the Facial-type

The Journal of Heredity
Volume 12, Number 6 (June 1921)
pages 274-280

Herman Lundborg (1868-1943)
Race-Biological Institution, Uppsala, Sweden

It has been possible for recent hereditary research to show that some racial qualities are inherited according to Mendel’s law. In 1913, Eugen Fischer, the anthropologist, made a close study of questions of this kind and laid a scientific foundation for hybrid research in the human world.

The morphological race-characters, which are formed through an early and complete ossification—for instance the form, the length, the breadth of the skull etc.—seem to be depending upon heredity in a higher degree than, for instance, the length of the body, which is more easily modified by environmental factors, which depend upon an ossification completed at a later period. I have treated this latter question in a recent communication.

During my travels and investigations in the far north of Sweden, among the population there, which has originated through strong race-mingling among Lapps, Finns and Swedes principally, I could not help noticing that the types vary in a very high degree, and that not unfrequently certain obvious changes of the facial type appear, which do not appear among individuals of a purer race. The numerous recombinations of the genetic structure are probably important causes for this circumstance. There will spring up, it seems to me, in these racial hybrids, besides qualities depending solely on the germ-plasm, in many respects stronger modifications, which probably are to be considered as a partial atrophy. Similar phenomena are often observed in crossings in the vegetable and the animal world…

List of Figures


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The Skin Color of Children from White By Near-White Marriages

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2011-01-13 05:17Z by Steven

The Skin Color of Children from White By Near-White Marriages

The Journal of Heredity
Volume 38, Number 8 (August 1947)
pages 233-234

Curt Stern (1902-1981), Professor of Zoology and Genetics [Read a biographical memoir by James V. Neel here.]
University of California, Berkeley

It is well known that the inheritance of color differences in negro-white crosses is based on multiple genes, as first postulated by Gertrude C. and Charles B. Davenport in 1910. Most textbooks present the specific hypothesis first proposed by Davenport  that two pairs of genes are involved which act cumulatively and with intermediate effects in heterozygotes, so that negro pigmentation may be symbolized by AABB, white by aabb and various shades of diverse hybrid pigmentation by AABb, and AaBB (dark mulatto) AAbb, aaBB, and AaBb (mulatto), and aaBb and Aabb (light mulatto). In a general way this hypothesis fits the data on negro-white hybrids collected by Davenport. Undoubtedly, however, it is at best only a first approximation. Pigmentation is greatly variable in either whites or negroes. While it is known that much of this variability is inherited, little information is available as to the specific genetic conditions underlying the degrees and types of pigmentation found in either group. Correspondingly limited is our knowledge of the interaction of the “minor” genes for pigment variability with each other and with the “major” ones in negro-white crosses.

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