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
The term mestiço is used to describe people of mixed European and African ancestry in
Africa. The great majority of their current populations descend from the mixing of the
Portuguese that initially settled the islands from the 15th century onwards and the black
Africans brought from the African mainland to work as slaves.
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. Their development has usually been the result of the
meeting of two distinct groups.
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.
According to the IBGE 2000 census, 38.5% of Brazilians identified themselves as pardo,
i.e. of mixed ancestry.
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. Today they constitute about 5% of the population. Distinguished
mulattos such as Nicolas Suard and others were prime examples of mulattoes who devoted
their time, energy and financial means to this cause. 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. Although the term mulatto commonly
used to describe individuals of mixed European and African descent, it originally referred
to anyone with mixed ethnicities; in fact, in the United States, "mulatto" was
also used as a term for those of mixed white and Native American ancestry during the early
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". Muwallad literally means, "born, begotten, produced,
generated; brought up, raised; born and raised among Arabs" (but not of pure Arab
blood). Walad means, "descendant, offspring, scion; child; son; boy; young animal,
young one." Muwallad referred to the offspring of Arab men and foreign, non-Arab
women. The term muwalladin is still used in contemporary Arabic to describe children of
Arab fathers and foreign mothers.
"The 1850 and 1860 censuses only allowed an
individual to describe himself as white, black, or mulatto. In 1870, these categories were
expanded to include Chinese and Native American as well.