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The Construction of WhitenessAn Interdisciplinary Analysis of Race Formation and the Meaning of a White Identity$
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Stephen Middleton, David R. Roediger, and Donald M. Shaffer

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781496805553

Published to University Press of Mississippi: September 2017

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496805553.001.0001

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date: 21 October 2018

Whiteness in the Twenty-First Century

Whiteness in the Twenty-First Century

The Decline of One-Drop Reasoning in Jurisprudence after 1980

(p.100) 4 Whiteness in the Twenty-First Century
The Construction of Whiteness

Erica Cooper

University Press of Mississippi

In this chapter, I examine the extent to which one-drop ideology continues to dictate the legal definition of whiteness. The following questions serve as the basis of my research: 1) How do “white,” “mixed race or colored,” and the “one-drop rule” operate as ideographs in post-civil rights legal discourse? 2) Has the codification of the one-drop rule and whiteness been severed in contemporary legal discourse? To address the first research question, I use an ideographic analysis to examine legal briefs from the Malone Brothers and Mary Walker cases. To address my second research question, I complete a content analysis of state and/or federal court cases, 12 involving racial identity from 1980 to 2012, thereby demonstrating that a dramatic shift occurs in how white and mixed race are defined in the language endorsed by court justices.

Keywords:   One-drop ideology, Ideograph, Legal definition of whiteness, Contemporary legal discourse, Post civil rights legal discourse

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