The Price of Being Born of Mixed-Race During Slavery

7 Posted by - November 7, 2015 - LATEST POSTS, Looking Black On Today

It is easy to think of mixed children during as the product of white slave owners, white overseers, and African slave women. The truth is not all mixed-raced children were the result of the African women being raped. A free woman of color could have had a child or children fathered by a white man. The biracial children in this case were considered free; it was the mother’s status that determined whether a child was free or not.  “The child’s status determination was due to the 1662 law “in the case of a child one of whose parents was free and one slave, the status of the offspring followed that of the mother,” (Foner 52), these children would often then become their father’s property.

White women did not just have a new found revelation and start loving the arms of a man. Many white women and black men also had affairs, more often than expected. The offspring of these couples were also considered free since, the mother’s status of slavery or freedom was the determining factor. No, mix-raced children did not have it easy, just because the color of the skin. In actuality, these children had a difficult life, very rarely were they accepted by the white communities or the black communities. Most white fathers usually denied that a slave’s light-skinned offspring was his, even though sometimes the resemblance could not be denied.

slave girls

“The poor white children of the slave mother are sold like brutes to the highest bidder, by their worse than brute father, while their free born brothers and sisters, who are not whiter than they in complexion, or purer in heart, inherit the father’s wealth, and enjoy the blessings of that freedom which is the choicest earthly gift from God to man. Thus slavery degrades and makes fiendish the dearest relations and the purest instincts of humanity. “(MerryCoz)

A mixed-child born to a white woman was often abandoned or sold secretly. If the children were the product of a slave owner’s dalliance with a slave woman, they received the same enslaved treatment as any other slave, and were also looked upon with contempt by their mistresses. The children would often be singled out for all sorts of abuse from forcing them to wait on their white half-siblings to enduring physical mistreatment.

Mixed-race women were particularly sought after by white men. Their fairer complexion often gave them more attractive features, and white men desired to buy them and use them as concubines. After the Civil War, most people of mixed-race, especially if they resembled the white parent in skin tone and other features, simply moved away from the area in which they were born. They could often ‘pass,’ as the term was at the time, meaning to claim that they were not racially mixed.  Many would form new identities and create a new life for themselves never looking back.




  • Marie August 24, 2016 - 8:11 am

    Mixed people still try to “pass”. If only every one could pass as another identity when things got tough.

    • Rhonda Murray June 18, 2019 - 2:53 pm

      When we’re u born…. & in what state..

  • […] persons born of black or mixed-origin enslaved women raped by white slaveholders (source 46)] were, based on their genetical origin, legally subject to enslavement under then-US Federal […]

  • Christian November 19, 2017 - 10:45 am

    No Marie we fucking don’t

    • Maya May 7, 2019 - 2:59 pm

      So are you saying you account for every single mixed person? It is very common for people people of mixed backgrounds to be more racially biased and take on one side more than the other.

  • Teresa January 10, 2018 - 2:03 pm

    What would you know? These women were raped tortured and worked til death.
    No one wants to lose their identity, but until you lived a slaves life, you wouldn’t understand

    • Gloria December 18, 2020 - 2:52 pm

      Thank you Teresa for putting them straight!! Love it!!

  • Chris January 24, 2018 - 10:33 pm

    Teresa your absolutely correct.

  • Leah May 6, 2018 - 12:58 pm

    “Because they had more attractive features” fuck off you ignorant slut

    • Maya May 7, 2019 - 3:02 pm

      That’s because back then mixed woman were considered better looking than fully black woman. You don’t know the author so you can’t call her a slut.

    • Mark Barnhart June 20, 2020 - 7:36 pm

      Yeah, I caught that observation too.

  • Karen May 29, 2018 - 2:21 pm

    I am the product of a maternal grandfather who was passing in the early 1900’s. He married a black woman had 6 children half of which looked white with straight hair and freckles the other looked black (my Grandmother was one of the ‘white’ looking children) My Great Grandparents lived in secrecy in Richmond, Va. – always living in houses that were isolated with no neighbors in the middle of nowhere because my Great Grandfather had a supervisory job with the railroad. If it were known that he had a black family he would have lost everything. This was never discussed until after his death in 1980 when I was told he & his sibling were all ‘passing’ but he was the only one who married a black spouse which insured he would never see his siblings again because they lived in fear of being discovered.

    • Cheri Albrecht-Martinez July 25, 2019 - 10:07 am

      OMG, we have to talk. Was the last name Wright or Harris. I have some crucial information. I was put up for adoption because I wasn’t ‘”white” enough to pass.

  • Meme October 12, 2018 - 10:45 pm

    Give examples

    • Q April 29, 2019 - 10:03 pm

      She was a bed wench nd stupid to married a white male after all that shit they did smh…

  • Quinn December 12, 2018 - 7:18 am

    Are you mixed? I doubt it by what you comments obviously so ignorant because you would never know. (Assuming you are not of course) if your mixed it actually is hard too fit in with one group without ignoring the other. Of course it is nothing and cannot be compared to these poor slaves and the daily life’s of the unfortunate people.

    • miss independent April 9, 2019 - 2:27 am

      I agree with you that in certain situations it probably is hard to fit in. I am the white grandmother of a mixed granddaughter and she is my entire heart! I could care less if she had been born fuchsia colored. We all love her and her mother who is black. You rarely see white men with black women but recently it is becoming more common. I think acceptance comes from how you learn from birth up about love and tolerance. I live in the south in an area that is more racially diversified and the tolerance is much better as more generations come along and people are not taught ignorance. We have grown so fond of her mother that I don’t see any color when I see her I just see her. She is the one who has to school me on the different things that she can use in her hair and her skin she says is more dry. In fact we have another granddaughter who is also a child of the same father and her mother is white. She loves the different things that her stepmother does with hair and she is always wanting something tried on her hair that her stepmom has in hers. Its cute and she loves her baby sister fiercely. She informs everyone that nobody is to smoke a cigarette anywhere near her sister. Her father and stepmother smoke and they do go outside which still isn’t good but at least the kids are not breathing it. In closing of this long reply, tolerance and education and acceptance is the key. ignorance in racial issues is normally taught. Not a very good thing to do

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    • Vivetkah August 5, 2020 - 11:15 pm

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  • Lindsey May 23, 2019 - 5:38 pm

    Slaves in America were treated as any other slaves in history. They were treated as property and they would get beaten and abused by their masters. Slavery in America was no worse than other forms of slavery throughout history. The people who say that American slavery was the worse in human history and saying that it’s white peoples fault are just finding a justification to demonize white …

    • george February 2, 2020 - 4:24 pm

      I agree Lindsey. It was horrible what happend and its still happening today. No matter what race you are we where all enslaved at some point in history. I come from an Italian Irish backround my ancestors where slaves. There is no justification for the abuse that happened to the slaves in America. But instead of focusing on the past we should put our minds into the future and try to stop the slavery that is happening everywhere now.

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  • Ricardo Johnson September 14, 2019 - 1:39 pm

    Hi, my name is Ricardo Johnson and I am a mulatto born and raised in England where there are many people of mixed race. Very interesting reading and I enjoyed the various comments as well. I wish I could trace my ancestors as my African-American father was born in Mississippi however my mother was British.