That the Blood Stay Pure: African Americans, Native Americans, and the Predicament of Race and Identity in Virginia

That the Blood Stay Pure: African Americans, Native Americans, and the Predicament of Race and Identity in Virginia

That the Blood Stay Pure: African Americans, Native Americans, and the Predicament of Race and Identity in Virginia

That the Blood Stay Pure: African Americans, Native Americans, and the Predicament of Race and Identity in Virginia

Synopsis

That the Blood Stay Pure traces the history and legacy of the commonwealth of Virginia's effort to maintain racial purity and its impact on the relations between African Americans and Native Americans. Arica L. Coleman tells the story of Virginia's racial purity campaign from the perspective of those who were disavowed or expelled from tribal communities due to their affiliation with people of African descent or because their physical attributes linked them to those of African ancestry. Coleman also explores the social consequences of the racial purity ethos for tribal communities that have refused to define Indian identity based on a denial of blackness. This rich interdisciplinary history, which includes contemporary case studies, addresses a neglected aspect of America's long struggle with race and identity.

Excerpt

With this timely and important new book, Arica L. Coleman extends discussions first opened by the pioneering work of scholars and activists who challenged the way Native American–African American interactions have been depicted in academic literature, political struggles, and popular culture. As she notes, scholarship using Black–Indian relations as an entry point, thus challenging the legal foundations of racialized thinking at both the federal and state levels, has proliferated over the last twenty or so years. We could even argue, convincingly, that problematizing the relationships between African Americans and American Indians has provided the most important new conceptual approaches to the study of race, identity, and place. Sadly those openings, though promising, have not produced the paradigm shifts that, if followed to their logical conclusions, would have fundamentally altered the way we study African Americans and American Indians. By extension, we would also have seen a transformation and perhaps fruitful expansion of various fields of study both disciplinary and interdisciplinary, including African American, American Indian, cultural studies, and almost every area of the social sciences and humanities. Fortunately, it is these kinds of contradictions that attract the interest of the new cadre of scholars of Black–Indian relations.

Coleman’s work, which sits comfortably among new critical studies of Black–Indian lives, does not sidestep the many contradictions, conflicts, and questions that complicate the history of Black–Indian relations. In particular, the genesis and evolution of Virginia’s racial state demands this kind of scrutiny as it remains one of the states that has always had a difficult time dealing with its less-than-inspiring history around matters . . .

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