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mulatto  

Peter Martin

The word ‘mulatto’ is derived from the Arabic muwallad, which originally referred to persons who were not ‘genuine’ Arabs, especially individuals born of black–white ‘misalliances’. With the beginning of the transatlantic African slave trade in the fifteenth century, the word mulatto first found its way into Portuguese, and then into almost all European languages, as the term for offspring of mixed European (Caucasian) and African (Negroid) parentage. (Only Afrikaans used the word ‘Bastard’ for such persons.)

The social position of these half breeds varied from place to place and over time On the sugar plantations of Latin America in several Caribbean colonies and in southern and western Africa where white masters faced an overwhelming number of black workers in bondage to them the mulatto and his or her descendants formed a buffer zone between blacks and whites that was indispensable for maintaining the authority and prosperity of the Europeans ...