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. 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 mestišo is used to describe people of mixed European and African ancestry in Africa.

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". Miscegenation is the interbreeding of Whites and non-Whites. May 13th is Mulatto Day in Brazil. Historian Lezley Saar, professor emerita from 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.

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.

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.

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.