|Official population numbers are unknown.|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Latin America, Caribbean, United States, South Africa, Angola, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Mascarene Islands|
|Portuguese, Spanish, English, French, Dutch, Afrikaans, Creole languages, others.|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Europeans (mostly Irish, British, Dutch, French and Iberians), Native Americans and African people.|
Mulatto is a term used to refer to a person who is born from one white parent and one black parent, or more broadly, a person of any proportion of noticeable European and African ancestry. In the broadest sense, it is applied to persons of Black and White ancestry. Contemporary usage of the term is generally confined to situations in which the term is considered relevant in a historical context, as now most people of mixed white and black ancestry rarely choose to self-identify as mulatto.
The term is generally considered archaic by some and inadvertently derogatory, especially in the African-American community. Accepted modern terms in the United States include "mixed" and "biracial." The term is widely used in Latin America and Caribbean usually without suggesting any insult. In Latin America, many mulattos tend to be the result of generational "race-mixing" between white Europeans and black Africans since the slavery period. This is especially true in countries like the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Cape Verde, which are also among the countries with the highest proportions of mulattos. In most other countries around the world, the United States in particular, mixed European and African ancestry in mulattos tends in the majority of cases to be of more recent origin.
Historically in the American South, the term mulatto was applied also at times to persons with an admixture of Native Americans, and African Americans in general. For example, the Henings Statutes of Virginia 1705, reads as follows:
"And for clearing all manner of doubts which hereafter may happen to arise upon the construction of this act, or any other act, who shall be accounted a mulatto, Be it enacted and declared, and it is hereby enacted and declared, That the child of an Indigenous and the child, grand child, or great grand child, of a negro shall be deemed, accounted, held and taken to be a mulatto."
In colonial Latin America, mulato could also mean an individual of mixed African and Native American ancestry. However, today those who have indigenous and black African ancestry in Latin America are more frequently called Zambos in Spanish or Cafuzu in Portuguese. In the United States, persons who are mixtures of African American and Native American have been historically called blacks, or black Indians; in other cases they have been classified solely or identify as African American. Federally recognized Indian tribes have insisted that membership is related more to culture than race, and many have had mixed-race members who are fully members of the tribes as their primary identification.
In early American history, the term mulatto was also used to refer to persons of Native American and European ancestry. Certain tribes of Indians of the Inocoplo family in North Florida referred to themselves as "mulatto" as well.
The etymology of the term may derive from the Spanish and Portuguese word mulato, which is itself derived from mula (from old Galician-Portuguese, from Latin mūlus), meaning mule, the hybrid offspring of a horse and a donkey. Some dictionaries and scholarly works trace the word's origins to the Arabic term muwallad, which means "a person of mixed ancestry".
Muwallad literally means "born, begotten, produced, generated; brought up", with the implication of being born and raised among Arabs, but not of Arab blood. Muwallad is derived from the root word WaLaD (Arabic: ولد direct Arabic transliteration: waw, lam, dal), and colloquial Arabic pronunciation can vary greatly. Walad means, "descendant, offspring, scion; child; son; boy; young animal, young one".
In al-Andalus, Muwallad referred to the offspring of non-Arab/Muslim people who adopted the Islamic religion and manners. It specifically used to refer to the descendants of indigenous Christian Iberians who after several generations of living amongst a Muslim majority adopted their culture and religion. Notable examples of this category include the famous Muslim scholar Ibn Hazm. According to Lisan al-Arab, one of the earliest Arab dictionaries (c. 13th century AD), the term was originally applied to the children of Non-Muslim (often Christian) slaves or Non-Muslim children who were captured in a war and were raised by Muslims to follow their religion and culture. Thus, in this context, the term "Muwalad" has a meaning close to "the adopted". According to the same source, the term does not denote being of mixed race but rather being of foreign-blood and local culture.
According to Julio Izquierdo Labrado, the 19th-century linguist Leopoldo Eguilaz y Yanguas, as well as some Arabian sources muwallad is the etymological origin of mulato. These sources specify that mulato would have been derived directly from muwallad independently of the related word muladí, a term that was applied to Iberian Christians who had converted to Islam during the Moorish governance of Iberia in the Middle Ages.
However, the Real Academia Española (Spanish Royal Academy) casts doubt on the muwallad theory. It states, "The term mulata is documented in our diachronic data bank in 1472 and is used in reference to livestock mules in Documentacion medieval de la Corte de Justicia de Ganaderos de Zaragoza, whereas muladí (from mullawadí) does not appear until the 18th century, according to [Joan] Corominas".[nb 1]
Other scholars such as Werner Sollors cast doubt on the mule etymology for mulatto. In the 18th and 19th centuries, racialists such as Edward Long and Josiah Nott began to assert that mulattoes were sterile like mules. And they projected this belief back onto the etymology of the word mulatto. Sollers points out that this etymology is anachronistic: "The Mulatto sterility hypothesis that has much to do with the rejection of the term by some writers is only half as old as the word 'Mulatto.'"
In Portuguese-speaking Africa, the term mestiço is used officially to describe people of mixed European and African ancestry.
Of São Tomé and Príncipe's 193,413 inhabitants, the largest segment is defined as mestiço and 71% of the population of Cape Verde is also classified as such. The great majority of their current populations descend from the mixing of the Portuguese that initially settled the islands from the 15th century onwards and the black Africans brought from the African mainland to work as slaves.
In Namibia, a current-day population of between 20,000 and 30,000 people, known as Rehoboth Basters, descend from liaisons between the Cape Colony Dutch and indigenous African women. The name Baster is derived from the Dutch word for "bastard" (or "crossbreed"). While some people consider this term demeaning, the Basters proudly use the term as an indication of their history.
In South Africa, the term Coloured (also known as Bruinmense, Kleurlinge or Bruin Afrikaners in Afrikaans) used to refer to individuals who possess some degree of sub-Saharan ancestry, but not enough to be considered black under the law of South Africa. In addition to European ancestry, they may also possess ancestry from India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, China and/or Saint Helena. There was extensive combining of these diverse heritages in the Western Cape, but in other parts of southern Africa, the coloured usually were descendants of two distinct ethnic groups - primarily Africans of various tribes and European colonists.
Thus, in KwaZulu-Natal, most Coloureds were descended from British and Zulu heritage, while Zimbabwean coloureds were descended from Shona or Ndebele mixing with British and Afrikaner settlers. Griqua, on the other hand, are descendants of Khoisan and Afrikaner trekboers. Despite these major differences, in the South African context, they were historically considered "coloured," as descended from more than one "naturalised" racial group. Such persons may not use the term, and individually identify as "black" or "Khoisan" or just "South African". The Coloureds comprise 8.8% (about 4.4 million people) of South Africa's population.
- Sherbro Hubris
- Sherbro Tuckers
- Sherbro Caulkers
- Sherbro Rogers
- Sherbro Clevelands
- The ruling branch of the Tswana Khamas[disambiguation needed]
- Xhosa Abe Lungu
- Yoruba Saro Ransome-Kuti family
Latin America and the Caribbean
Mulattoes represent a significant part of the population of various Latin American and Caribbean countries: Dominican Republic (73%) (all mixed race people),[nb 2] Brazil (49.6% mulattoes, mestizos/mamelucos and blacks), Belize (25%), Cuba (24.86%), Colombia (25%), Haiti (15-20%).
The roughly 200,000 Africans brought to Mexico were for the most part absorbed by the mestizo populations of mixed European and Amerindian descent. The state of Guerrero once had a large population of African slaves. Other Mexican states inhabited by people with some African ancestry, along with other ancestries, include Oaxaca, Veracruz, and Yucatán.
In a 2002 genetic study of maternal and paternal direct lines of ancestry of 800 Puerto Ricans, 61% had mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from an Amerindian female ancestor, 27% inherited MtDNA from a female African ancestor and 12% had MtDNA from a female European ancestor. Conversely, patrilineal direct lines, as indicated by the Y chromosome, showed that 70% of Puerto Rican males in the sample have Y chromosome DNA from a male European ancestor, 20% inherited Y-DNA from a male African ancestor, and less than 10% inherited Y-DNA from a male Amerindian ancestor. As these tests measure only the DNA along the direct matrilineal and patrilineal lines of inheritance, they cannot tell with certainty what percentage of European or African ancestry any individual has.
During this whole period, Puerto Rico had laws like the Regla del Sacar or Gracias al Sacar, by which a person with African ancestry could be considered legally white if he could prove that at least one person per generation in the last four generations had also been legally white. People of black ancestry with known white lineage were classified as white, the opposite of the "one-drop rule" in the United States.
Studies carried out by the geneticist Sergio Pena conclude the average white Brazilian is 80% European, 10% Amerindian, and 10% African/black. Another study, carried out by the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research, concludes the average white Brazilian is (>70%) European.
According to the IBGE 2000 census, 38.5% of Brazilians identified as pardo, i.e. of mixed ancestry. This figure includes mulatto and other multiracial people, such as people who have European and Amerindian ancestry (called caboclos), as well as assimilated, westernized Amerindians and mestizos with some Asian ancestry. A majority of mixed-race Brazilians have all three ancestries: Amerindian, European, and African. According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics census 2006, some 42.6% of Brazilian identify as pardo.
The majority of White Brazilians (48.4%) have some mixed-race ancestry (both Subsaharan African and Amerindian ancestry). The average ancestry of Afro-Brazilians who self-identified as de raça negra or de cor preta, i.e. Brazilians of Black African origin (6.9%) and not self-perceived multiracials (42.6%), is 50% European, 10% Amerindian and 40% African.
The term mulatto (mulato in Portuguese) does not carry a racial connotation and is used along with other terms, such as moreno, light-moreno and dark-moreno. These refer more to skin color and features than purely ethnicity, although they can also refer to hair color alone - e.g. "light-moreno" would be "caucasian brunette". Such terms are also used for other multiracial people in Brazil, and they are the popular terms for the pardo skin color used on the 2000 official census.
An autosomal DNA study, which measures total genetic contribution, of students at a school in the poor periphery of Rio de Janeiro, found that the "pardos" (including mulattoes) were genetically more than 80% European. "The results of the tests of genomic ancestry are quite different from the self made estimates of European ancestry", say the researchers. The test results showed that the proportion of European genetic ancestry was higher than students expected. The "pardos", for example, identified as 1/3 European, 1/3 African and 1/3 Amerindian before the tests. Students classifed as white had overestimated their ratio of African and Amerindian genetic ancestry.
Mulattoes make up at least 15% of the nation's population. In Haiti history they are known as the influential groups of people who held positions in office and they having privileged over slaves though their mothers were slaves. The mulattoes have retained their elite position, based on education and social capital, which is highly evident in the political, economic and cultural hierarchy in present-day Haiti. Numerous leaders throughout Haiti's history have been mulattoes. Alexandre Pétion, born to a Haitian mother and a wealthy French father, was the first President of the Republic of Haiti. His father had arranged for his education.
The struggle within Haiti between the mulattoes led by André Rigaud and the black Haitians led by Toussaint Louverture devolved into the War of the Knives. In the early period of independence, former slaves of majority black ancestry led the government, as it was slaves who had done most of the fighting to achieve independence.
United States of America
During the European colonization of the Americas, many African women were raped or sexually abused by white owners or overseers. (Rape was not held to be a crime under Colonial Law) Author and historian F. James Davis wrote:
Rapes occurred, and many slave women were forced to submit regularly to white males or suffer harsh consequences. However, slave girls often courted a sexual relationship with the master, or another male in the family, as a way of gaining distinction among the slaves, avoiding field work, and obtaining special jobs and other favored treatment for their mixed children (Reuter, 1970:129). Sexual contacts between the races also included prostitution, adventure, concubinage, and sometimes love. In rare instances, where free Blacks were concerned, there was even marriage (Bennett, 1962:243-68).
Mixed-race children resulted from relationships between African men and European women who were indentured servants in the colonial years before the hardening of slavery as a racial caste. Some of their descendants, like those of Anthony Janszoon van Salee, assimilated, marrying white over extended generations, passing into the European population because of their appearance.
Some wealthy planters, especially widows or young men before they married, took women slaves as concubines, as did John Wayles, after being widowed three times. His daughter Martha Wayles, born to his first wife, married Thomas Jefferson. Wayles' youngest daughter by his slave concubine, Elizabeth Hemings, was Sally Hemings. The half-sister of Jefferson's late wife, she became Jefferson's concubine and had six children with him, four surviving to adulthood. They were seven-eighths white. Three passed into white society as adults. John Wayles Jefferson, a grandson of Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson, was accepted as white and served as a colonel in the Union Army in the Civil War, later becoming a successful cotton broker in Memphis, Tennessee.
Descendants of interracial unions tended to marry more white or black over generations. Their children had varying degrees of sub-Saharan and European genetic ancestry and a broad range of phenotypes. For example, present-day descendants of these mulattoes can appear solely sub-Saharan in lineage, including having extremely afro-textured hair, or possess purely Nordic physical traits. This type of legacy has produced the sub-Saharan/Caucasian admixture of many contemporary Americans.
Some mixed-race persons in the South became slave owners and supported the Confederacy during the Civil War. For example, William Ellison owned 60 slaves. Andrew Durnford of New Orleans, which had a large population of free people of color, mostly of French descent and culture, was listed as owning 77 slaves. In Louisiana free people of mixed race constituted a third class between white colonists and the mass of slaves. Other mulattoes became abolitionists and supported the Union. For example, Mary Ellen Pleasant and Thomy Lafon used their fortunes to support the abolitionist cause. Francis E. Dumas of New Orleans, who was a free person of color, emancipated all his slaves and organized them into a company in the Second Regiment of the Louisiana Native Guards.
Mulatto was used as an official census racial category in the United States until 1930. (By that time, several southern states had adopted one-drop rule as law, and southern Congressmen pressed the US Census Bureau to drop the mulatto category: all persons had to be classified as "black" or "white".) At that time, the term was primarily applied as a category to persons of mixed African and European descent. During the colonial and early federal period, in the Southern colonies and states, it was sometimes applied persons of any mixed ethnicity, including Native American and European. During the early census years of the United States beginning in 1790, "mulatto" was applied to persons who were identifiably of mixed African-American and Native American ancestry. Mulatto was also used interchangeably with terms like "Turk", leading to ambiguity when referring to North Africans and Middle Easterners, who were, however, of limited number in the colonies. In the 2000 United States Census, 6,171 Americans self-identified as having mulatto ancestry. Since then, multi-racial people have been allowed to identify as having more than one type of ethnic ancestry.
In addition, the term "mulatto" was also used to refer to the children of whites who intermarried with South Asian indentured servants brought over to the British American colonies by the East India Company. For example, a daughter born to an South Asian father and Irish mother in Maryland in 1680 was classified as a "mulatto" and sold into slavery. The more usual case was the use of the principle of partus sequitur ventrem, adopted by Virginia in 1662, which made the status of a child dependent on the status of the mother. Children born of slave mothers were born into slavery, regardless of who their fathers were; children born to white mothers were free, even if mixed race.
Although still in use by some, the term mulatto has fallen out of favor, and is considered offensive by some in the United States. Today, more popular terms include biracial, multiracial, mixed-race, and multi-ethnic.
- Afro Argentine: Colonial racial categories
- Afro-American peoples of the Americas
- Afro-Hispanic people
- Afro-Latin American
- Tragic mulatto
- Rhineland Bastard
- Corominas describes his doubts on the theory as follows: "[Mulato] does not derive from the Arab muwállad, 'acculturated foreigner' and sometimes 'mulatto' (see 'Mdí'), as Eguílaz would have it, since this word was pronounced 'moo-EL-led' in the Arabic of Spain; and Reinhart Dozy (Supplément aux Dictionaires Arabes, Vol. II, Leyden, 1881, 841a) rejected in advance this Arabic etymology, indicating the true one, supported by the Arabic nagîl, 'mulatto', derived from nagl, 'mule'."
- In the Dominican Republic, the mulatto population has also absorbed the Taíno Amerindians once present in that country, based on a 1960 census that included colour categories such as white, black, yellow, and mulatto. Since then, racial components have been dropped from the Dominican census.
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|Look up mulatto in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- A Brief History of Census “Race”
- Surprises in the Family Tree
- The Mulatto Factor in Black Family Genealogy
- Dr. David Pilgrim, "The Tragic Mulatto Myth", Jim Crow Museum, Ferris State University
- At "Race Relations", in-depth research links on Mulattoes, About.com
- Encarta's breakdown of Mulatto people (Archived 2009-11-01)
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Mulatto". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
|Casta terms for miscegenation in Spanish America|