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Quadroons, Octoroons and MGM Whites: The Other Faces of Colonialism and Slavery

The Octoroon girl by Archibald Motley

When speaking about racism, slavery and colonialism, the brutality of these events are still vague but they also only focus on two strict sides which are black and white. In reality, in most cases, the factor of ambiguity is never really taken into account by a great portion of researchers. The main purpose of slavery was to not only crush the black group, but to also promote the idea of ambiguity through the creation of new races, new social structures and historical phenomena. If many researchers and activists in the West have recently unearthed the brutal episodes of the past by evoking the scientific racism and experience from which enslaved black women were submitted to, if the issue of colonial rape is still mentioned, few scholars want to focus on the children born out of these racist criminal sexual policies. Often, when the mixed white descendants are talked about, they are presented through the forced black identity politics without their true heritage, as ambiguous as it is, is even introduced rightfully.

It is an undeniable fact that black people were the victims of the inhumane colonial system of slavery, but whiteness can not only be synonymous with domination, especially when white colonizers created white groups, through racial admixture, with the only purpose of dominating black people. In the New World, as early as the 17th century, Spanish, white American, French and Portuguese colonizers promoted policies of racial quantification. New castes were created and placed under a specific group of elevation depending on their blood admixture. If categories were made, the cases of the white mixed groups remain hidden by both black and white clans.

Due to the brutality of the slave trade, the modern humans wrongly think that issues related to race mixing can only go hand in hand with colonial rape. In reality, ancient history in the Bronze Age revealed that North Africa and Canaan (the modern Levant) were originally inhabited by indigenous black groups with various roots ranging from Egypt, Kush, or North Africa. These groups were the co-founders of the Mediterranean culture as we know today, and were the first to embrace the idea of multiracialism and multiculturalism as well. If the ancient Kushites and Egyptians did not mix with white groups in order to protect their power, the Canaanites and North Africans had no issue with intermixing with white groups or with letting these white groups assimilate into their culture and traditions.

After four hundred years of slave trade, as soon as the enslaved Africans were sent to live in the New World, the rupture with their native Africa was marked. The DNA of the blackest West Indian today will differ from that of the African who remained in the continent, since the slave trade probably modified the bodies and gene markers of the enslaved descendants. The same way the slave trade led to the creation of MGM Black people, hence black people who descend from mixed and black people overtime (this group is totally different from biracials, who have one black and white parent), the MGM white group, whether in Brazil, Cuba, the Dominican Republic or the USA, have members who were colonial creations to serve the purpose of domination by the white elite.

Quadroons, Octoroons, Hexadecaroons

The quadroons, octoroons and hexadecaroons are white people whose identity can not be compared to that of the biracials and MGM Whites. If a great part of them were created during the slave trade, recognised by their white planter parent, sent to the most important schools to remain educated and dominate the Blacks, they can still endure the stigma of racism, slavery and colonialism. Whether in the US, the Caribbean or the Congo, slavery and colonialism let behind groups of quadroons, octoroons and hexadecaroons.

Alfred Roy Carey, late father of Mariah Carey, was wrongly called a “black man”. In reality, the Carey siblings are not biracial but rather quadroons. Alfred was a mixed-race man of African-American (possibly of US Native and white ancestry already on his mother’s side), and the son of a Venezuelan man of Native, Spanish and African descent. Mariah Carey is rather a multiracial white woman.

The specificity of these members relies upon the fact that they descend from one specific black ancestor in their direct lineage. If the biracial experience is often evoked, the plight of the quadroons and octoroons is often ignored. In the United States, the supposed black parent and ancestor of these groups are lumped into the black group. Indeed, the eradication of the quadroons, octoroons and hexadecaroons can be explained by their either ability to merge into the white group they belong to for being white, or by the constant obsession with black Westerners to call them “light-skin” when they are white people who also happen to be mixed-race.

Meghan Markle is wrongly described as biracial. Her mother, Doria is racially mixed, making Markle closer to a quadroon than a biracial person. Though white, Markle endured racism and brutality from the white side. Jealous white women were angry with her marrying a white man they cherished.

The quadroon/octoroon group was exploited as a colonial and racist creation by the white colonizers in order to create an inferior class attached to the white elite which could dominate the Blacks. Later, due to their education in the best schools, the quadroon/octoroon group left a tremendous impact in black culture. They wrote books, defended black rights, were leaders in movement aimed at fighting against colonialism. If many others, especially in the colony of St-Domingue, used their whiteness and privilege to fight the black revolutionaries in Haiti, they managed to navigate through the brutality of their experience. At the height of the Jim Crow era, the quadroon/octoroon group members faced the horror of passing for white in order to survive, thus dealing with psychological trauma.

pictured above: Tina Kunakey is one fourth black but she looks biracial.

The quadroon/octoroon women were also made exotical symbols, through the horrific “Tragic Mulatto” myth which created controversy in both black and white groups at the time.

Quadroon and Olympian athlete Lolo Jones, born to a white American mother, and a father of Native and black ancestry
Octoroon French singer Julien Clerc, of Guadeloupéen heritage

In the French speaking colonies, the quadroons/octoroons were seen as white but their mixed blood was often highlighted. Alexandre Dumas, a quadroon, contributed to the beauty of French literature. If his race did not prevent him from having relations with white women, he was, at times, the victim of racist abuse. In the ambiguity of French racism, the quadroon/octoroon group was not forced to be placed under a black category, but rather allowed to navigate through both sides, whether white or black. Even today, French personalities such as Corine Touzet or Julien Clerc, respectively quadroon Martinican and octoroon Guadeloupéen, are recognised as white, despite their black Caribbean heritage through which they navigate with no problem.

In the United States, the quadroons/octoroons wrongly call themselves black due to the legacy of the one drop rule, or are forcibly placed under the black group, and referred to as “sell outs” if they do not claim total blackness.

It is also wrongly thought that the quadroons and octoroons, due to their higher white blood quantum, can not be validated in history. For this reason, they are often ignored and despised. In reality, though being white in higher portion, their phenotypes and personalities are not always similar. Indeed, some quadroons, though being only one fourth black, can look more biracial, while some octoroons can also look more biracial, while being whiter. Octoroons and quadroons, depending on their environment, can be white in blood, but culturally black African if their mixed parent remained attached to the black African culture, as illustrated by the case of the mixed-race Congolese living in Belgium or in the Congo.

Jade Goody’s son, Bobby Brazier is an octoroon, but he looks like a quadroon. His mother, the late reality star Jade Goody had a biracial Jamaican father and a white English mother

The impact of the quadroon/octoroon group in black history is still enormous, whether in literature, politics, music, but they remain ignored out of pure disdain when they endured some of the worst treatment in history, since they were colonial creations. Many of them are still the victims of racial fetichism too.

The MGM White Category

Singer Veronica Vega, of Cuban and Venezuelan descent. Possesses Afro-Cuban ancestry, though her Cuban family members are not directly black. Since she used the “n-word” and never apoligized for it, and due to the racist attitude of Miami Cubans, Vega was evicted from the industry and no longer has a career. She displayed a typical white Meszito behavior
Danileigh is a white Dominican who is also an MGM White person. She cosplays as a black woman and darkens her skin but is mostly Iberian with black African ancestry. None of her direct parents are black but she is a descendant of Africans, too. She has displayed an attitude of disdain towards black women with colorist songs
Danileigh parents are not black, but though white, they also possess African-Dominican ancestry, though none of their direct ancestors are black. They are multiracial white people
Babalawo Nathan Lugo, of Boricua ancestry is white, but he descends from Yoruba ancestors, though none of his parents are black. He is iinvested in the protection of Yorubaland spirituality and rejects syncretism, speaks fluent Yoruba and Brazilian Portuguese. He is involved in African matters and helps protect black spirituality

The multi generationally mixed-race white category incorporates white Caribbeans, white Brazilians, white US Southerners such as the Melungeons and white (mixed-race) Louisiana Creoles. This category is the equivalent of the MGM black group but on the white side. The individuals who belong to this class were colonial creations, and the descendants of colonial rape.

Actually, their condition differs greatly from that of the quadroons, octoroons and hexadecaroons. The latter can trace one direct ancestor in their lineage which is black depending on the era they come from. Their identity is rather shaped through and by this black ancestor which was often looked down upon as inferior due to colonialism. As stated above the quadroon/octoroon category members have to nagivate through race on their own.

Rafael Trujillo was a Dominican dictator, born to a mother of MGM white ancestry. He was notorious for his anti-Haitian policies and hatred of black people.

The MGM whites who are connected to the black African side have a total different approach to race. Indeed, none of their direct ancestor is black, they have no visibly black parent, but descend from direct groups of mixed-race black people who intermarried with white people overtime. Contrary to the mixed-race people who were recognised by the planters and sent to be educated in the wealthiest schools, the MGM white group descend from mixed individuals who evolved on the poor and black side. It is not rare that their white ancestors were either slave masters or poor white servants considered inferior by the white elite.

The problem related to these white MGM groups is rooted in the trauma of slavery and colonialism, and the fact that the black groups do not always understand them nor their heritage, especially when they can not prove their black blood as their family members are white. In reality, these white individuals in their clans are white, multiracial whites who intermarried. It was scientifically proven that a great portion of white Cubans possess twenty per cent of black African blood. In Latinized America, identity goes hand in hand with how one looks like. A dark skin person, though mixed, will be referred to as “black”. While a multiracial white individual will be called “white,” when not, for being mixed-race too.

Delusional Robyn Dixon had the audacity to bully her biracial comrades into forcing a toxic black identity upon them. None of her parents are black, since her mother is an MGM white woman and her father an MGM black man. Upon testing her DNA, she discovered that she was only 39 per cent black.

The MGM white members are the products of colonial rape, hence the mixed-race children produced after the planters abused the enslaved black women. They were not only uprooted, but also submitted to brutal policies of racial quantification.

Since Brazil recognises a mixed or multiracial white person as being white, many of them also contributed to the promotion of anti-blackness. Often, especially through the propaganda of mestizaje, this black ancestry allows many mixed whites, or white mestizos, to shut down any revendication from the black side. Many of them are colonial agents.

In other ways, many MGM whites who pander on the black side, wish to act more black than black people themselves, going as far as bullying mixed people who do not identify exclusively as black.

Yet, a good portion of them remained attached to the black side, as they were raised within African spirituality, food, customs, and do not know much about Europe, Spain or Italy at all. This racial category was rooted in colonial violence and was created to accentuate the white presence in the Caribbean and Latinized America.

The MGM Whites’ existence was exploited by white colonial agents such as Jessica Krug and Rachel Dolezal in order to claim a blackness they never had.

The White Mediterraneans or the “N*ggers of Europe”

Melissa Gorga, (all rights to Melissa Gorga)

The cases of Jessica Krug, CV Vitolo Haddad and Rachel Dolezal raised a lot of questions. Since white people, especially white women, were presented as the epitome of beauty, class and elegance, the black groups had a hard time understanding how and why white women could exploit the multiracial white identity in order to find their place in the black world.

Calabrese ancestors

Why can’t white people leave the black members in peace? This constant white presence in black spaces also takes place in spirituality. As African descendants suffered from the erasure of their faith and identity during the slave trade, the preservation of hoodoo, voodoo, ifa and lukumi among many other forms of spirituality attracted white men and women who also want to be a part of a spirituality they can not practice for not being mixed-race or possessing black African ancestry.

Catherine Yronwode is one of them. A white American scholar, the latter is a poser who aims at exploiting southern black spirituality through the writing of fradulent books related to academic hoodoo. Other santeria writers, take on Yoruba names, while white, to further confusion when real black Yoruba descendants such as Obafemi Origunwa try to spread the reality of the Ifa spirituality.

Slavery in Andalucia, documentary from 1999

In Europe, the southern Europeans were the constant victims of racist ideologies. They were not only one of the first people to have been scientifically submitted to racist theories, but they were also constantly reduced to the status of inferiority since the downfall of the Moors in 1492. Indeed, with this downfall, came the idea of racial purity associated to Christianity.

As stated in our previous articles, the Mediterranean Basin which was always multiracial, was exploited by the northern European powers to promote the fraudulent thought that the Great West took root in the Hellenic heritage. The latter was synonymous with whiteness and thus, elevation. In reality, proto-Greek groups found in the Basin before the arrival of the Hellens proved to be of both black and white Phoenician heritage, black Egyptian descendants and North African dwellers as well. As proven by the Cyrene colony in ancient Libya, white people in the ancient world had no issue assimilating into black cultures they adopted. In both North Africa and Canaan, racial admixture and multiracialism were frequent. The same way Kushites/Aethiopians could assimilate into Hellenic culture, white Greeks could also settle in black African cultures.

The dehumanization of the black Africans in the 7th and 15th centuries also affected the white southern Europeans. Considered lazy, inferior and poor, their supposed black blood set a real difference between them and the northern Europeans. The southerners are called the “N*ggers of Europe”.

By the time the European Union was created, the first six Northwestern European countries were reluctant to welcoming southern European countries they called “les pays du Club Med” (the Club Med countries). Even today, Andalucians, Sicilians, Calabrese, Neapolitans, southern Greeks and inhabitants from the Balkans are perceived as inferior and born-criminals by the Northern European powers. Often, these same southern Europeans have a complex of inferiority which leads them to become even more racist in order to assert a pure whiteness. The existence of recent far-right and neo-Nazi Greek political parties highlight this reality, the same way both Italian-Americans and southern Italians have been guilty of attacking and killing black people to elevate themselves. (e.g Yusuf Hawkins).

If the southern Europeans are not a monolith, since they belong to various branches, whether they are Jews, Christians or Muslims, a good portion of them descend from the original black branches which have contributed to the foundation of Mediterranean culture. In reality, the black presence in the Mediterranean Basin was not restricted to the Bronze Age, but it carried on overtime.

If the Portuguese are a Celt people, the arrival of the Moors contributed to an increase of race mixing. As early as the 16th century, West Africans were sent to work in both Spain and Portugal. Scientifically, evidence recently showed the traces of black heritage in southern Spaniards, Portuguese, Greeks, Jews (whether Ashkenazis and Sefardic) and North Africans. The municipality of Alcàcer do Sal in Portugal was an important place where slavery took place. In 2010, a team of researchers discovered that up to 22 per cent of the inhabitants of the disctrict were of sub-Saharan descent. The Azores, Madeira, the majority of Southern Spain.

When it comes to history, due to the whitewashing and Eurocentrism, geography was also manipulated to block any other argument regarding race-mixing. The higher proportion of black blood in Southern Europe has to do with geography. Indeed, Spain is a part of a triangle which involves West Africa. North Africa faces southern Europe, while ancient Egyptians controlled the totality of the Mediterannean Basin. In that sense, the black populations in the south navigated through these spaces which were also there and were not sporadically present as modern Eurocentric historians want us to believe.

Therefore, if it is impossible to place all modern Southern Europeans under the same group, a good portion of them are white descendants of black branches whose ancestors let a cultural impact in the southern European nations they evolved in, such as flamenco, for example.

As the world is becoming more and more multipolar, Africa will be at the center again and it is more than possible that, along with the discussions related to race-mixing, racial passing and racism, more and more white scholars, historians, musicians will want to explore the black ancestry that they possess.

The rise of the multipolar world will lead to a movement of white Mediterraneans and even white Americans who will go back to their black African roots.

By Victoria “V.K.Y” Kabeya, All Rights Reserved 2023

[1] Di Gaetano, C., Cerutti, N., Crobu, F. et al. Differential Greek and northern African migrations to Sicily are supported by genetic evidence from the Y chromosome. Eur J Hum Genet 17, 91–99 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1038/ejhg.2008.120

[2] A. Arnaiz-VillenaK. DimitroskiA. PachoJ. MoscosoE. Gómez-CasadoC. Silvera-RedondoP. VarelaM. BlagoevskaV. ZdravkovskaJ. Martínez-Laso First published: 23 December 2001 https://doi.org/10.1034/j.1399-0039.2001.057002118.x

[3] Arnaiz-Villena A, Dimitroski K, Pacho A, Moscoso J, Gómez-Casado E, Silvera-Redondo C, Varela P, Blagoevska M, Zdravkovska V, Martínez-Laso J. HLA genes in Macedonians and the sub-Saharan origin of the Greeks. Tissue Antigens. 2001 Feb;57(2):118-27. doi: 10.1034/j.1399-0039.2001.057002118.x. PMID: 11260506.

[4] “Sicilians have 10% sub-Saharan African DNA”, Ethnic Genome, 2009 https://ethnicgenome.wordpress.com/2009/03/02/sicilians-have-10-sub-saharan-african-dna/

[5] Guglielmo, Thomas, “Title: White on Arrival: Italians, Race, Color, and Power in Chicago, 1890-1945“, Cameron Blevins, 2003 http://www.cameronblevins.org/cblevins/Quals/Guglielmo_WhiteonArrival_FullNote.html

[6] Pereira V, Gomes V, Amorim A, Gusmão L, João Prata M. Genetic characterization of uniparental lineages in populations from Southwest Iberia with past malaria endemicity. Am J Hum Biol. 2010 Sep-Oct;22(5):588-95. doi: 10.1002/ajhb.21049. PMID: 20737604.

[7] Herzog, Tamar “How Did Early-Modern Slaves in Spain Disappear? The Antecedents”, Republic of Letters, https://arcade.stanford.edu/rofl/how-did-early-modern-slaves-spain-disappear-antecedents

[8] Ruth Pike; Sevillian Society in the Sixteenth Century: Slaves and Freedmen. Hispanic American Historical Review 1 August 1967; 47 (3): 344–359. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00182168-47.3.344

[9] “The Black Andalucians”, Naturanda, https://naturanda.com/en/the-black-andalusians/

[10] Molina, Ismael “Negritud y esclavitud en Andalucía: una herencia invisibilizada”, El Salto Diario, 2019 https://www.elsaltodiario.com/pensar-jondo-descolonizando-andalucia/negritud-y-esclavitud-en-andalucia-una-herencia-invisibilizada-

[11] Perez Corona, Eduardo, “Demografía de la esclavitud en Andalucía, siglos XVI-XVII”, Grupo, https://grupo.us.es/encrucijada/demografia-de-la-esclavitud-en-andalucia-siglos-xvi-xvii/

[12] Badcock, James “El monumento a los esclavos que enfrenta a Portugal con su pasado colonial y con el racismo de hoy”, BBC, 2018 https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-44997945

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