The End of the “One-Drop” Rule? Hypodescent in the Early 21st Century

C. Matthew Snipp, Stanford University
Carolyn A. Liebler, University of Minnesota

For well over a century, the so-called “one-drop” rule has played a decisive role in the determination of African-American ancestry. That is, any amount of African-American ancestry, no matter how little or how obscure pre-destines the race of an individual to be African-American; regardless of how he or she might actually prefer to be identified. However, data from the 2010 produced a remarkable 130% increase in the number of persons identifying themselves as African-American in combination with another race, most often White or American Indian. This signals a profound shift in thinking about the meaning of race for African-Americans and may even spell the end of ideas about the role of hypodescent in the determination of race. This paper explores this change by looking at the ecological characteristics that might be implicated in this dramatic shift.

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Presented in Session 68: Rethinking Racial Distinctions: Mixed Race Populations, Identity, and Measurement