Cultural mulatto

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The cultural mulatto is a concept introduced by Trey Ellis in his 1988 essay, The New Black Aesthetic. While 'mulatto' typically refers to a person of mixed black and white ancestry, a cultural mulatto is defined by Ellis as a black person who is highly educated and usually a part of the middle or upper-middle class, and therefore assimilates easily into traditionally white environments. Cultural mulattoes are skillful code-switchers and they may be equally comfortable around blacks as around whites. Members of the New Black Aesthetic are typically cultural mulattoes. Their ability for easy interaction with both blacks and whites is what ultimately allows cultural mulattoes opportunities for class and status upward mobility.


  • Ellis, Trey. Platitudes and the New Black Aesthetic. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2003.