Sociology Index

Mulatto

A mulatto is legally considered to be an individual with mixed black and white heritage. Though, some individuals who were designated mulattos may have a slightly more mixed parentage, including Native American blood. Miscegenation is the interbreeding of Whites and non-Whites. The term mulatto is used to describe a person with one white parent and one black parent, or a person whose ancestry is a mixture of black and white. The term mestiço is used to describe people of mixed European and African ancestry in Africa. According to the IBGE 2000 census, 38.5% of Brazilians identified themselves as pardo, i.e. of mixed ancestry. The term mulatto may be derived from the Portuguese and Spanish word mulato, a small mule. The term mulatto may have origins in the Arabic term muwallad, which means "a person of mixed ancestry".

Historian Lezley Saar, professor emerita from MU (Mulatto University) and a lifelong outspoken activist for the Mulatto Movement, traces the history of the Mulatto Nation from its bumpy beginnings to its conflicted present. She has codified the five stages of its history, depicted here in visual form, as follows: "Birth of a Nation", "The Founding Mothers and Fathers of the Mulatto Nation", "The Mulattoville Athenaeum", "Alienation" and "Materialism and the Mulatto". The site "mulattonation.com" is dedicated to all the Mulattos, Quadroons, Octoroons, Lily-skins, Creoles, Cafe-au-Laits, Hybrids, Half-Breeds, and High Yellow House Niggers who have championed this great Nation.

Known as Bruinmense, Kleurlinge or Bruin Afrikaners in Afrikaans the term refers to individuals who possess some degree of sub-Saharan ancestry, but not enough to be considered Black under South African law. In addition to European ancestry, they may also possess ancestry from Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, and St. Helena. Mulattoes represent a large portion of various countries' populations in Latin America. The Africans brought to Mexico were absorbed by the mestizo populations of mixed European and Amerindian descent. The state of Guerrero once had a large population of African slaves.

May 13th is Mulatto Day in Brazil. The date is a reference to all that participated in the struggles for abolition of slavery in the country, as José do Patrocínio, Luis Gama and André Rebouças and recalls the signing of Lei Áurea, on May 13, 1888, which abolished slavery in Brazil.

In Haiti mulattos represented a smaller proportion of the population than in many other Latin American countries. Many mulattos were slaughtered by Black Haitians during the wars of independence in order to secure Black political power over the island. Earlier some Black volunteers had already aligned themselves with the French against the mulattos during the first and second mulatto rebellion. Mulattos initially possessed legal equality with the white French population.

In the United States the term mulatto is no longer commonly used. The term mulatto existed as an official census category until 1930. In the Southern United States, mulattos inherited slave status if their mothers were slaves. In the United States, "mulatto" was also used as a term for those of mixed white and Native American ancestry during the early census years.