chapter  4
30 Pages

Miscegenation and intermarriage in the formation of society

WithEvandro Camara

The story is told, in the 1920s musical Showboat, of a young couple in love, in a Mississipi town - he is white, she is black -and the young man is confronted by the local sheriff, who charges him with violation of the state's anti-miscegenation law. The norm of biraciality may be said to influence US social life as deeply and as pervasively as economic status once influenced early-industrial society in the 19th century or developing industrial societies in the present century. From a procedural standpoint, biracial social organization requires that the intermediary racial categories obtaining from the intermixture of white and black be neutralized and disregarded, conceptually and empirically. In Brazilian society the extensive pattern of miscegenation often took the form of legal intermarriage because, as the record indicates, neither the Church nor the State erected barriers to the union between the Portuguese settlers and the Amerindian and the African groups.