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Whiteness in the Twenty-First Century

Whiteness in the Twenty-First Century

The Decline of One-Drop Reasoning in Jurisprudence after 1980

Chapter:
(p.100) 4 Whiteness in the Twenty-First Century
Source:
The Construction of Whiteness
Author(s):
Erica Cooper
Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781496805553.003.0005

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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