At the turn of the twentieth century W.E.B. DuBois predicted that the central problem facing the United States in the new century would be that of the “color line.” Now, at the beginning of a new century, we find many people straddling the color line. These people come from the growing number of multiracial families in America, families who search for places of comfort and familiarity in a racially polarized society whose educational system, places of worship, and neighborhoods continue to suffer a de facto segregation. This group has provoked an ever-widening debate and an upheaval in traditional racial thinking in the United States.
Through in-depth interviews with individuals from black–white multiracial families, and insightful sociological analysis, Heather M. Dalmage examines the challenges faced by people living in such families and explores how their experiences demonstrate the need for rethinking race in America. She examines the lived reality of race in the ways multiracial family members construct and describe their own identities and sense of community and politics. She shows how people whose own very lives complicate the idea of the color line must continually negotiate and contest it in order not to reproduce it. Their lack of language to describe their multiracial existence, along with their experience of coping with racial ambiguity and with institutional demands to conform to a racially divided, racist system is the central theme of Tripping on the Color Line. By connecting the stories to specific issues, such as census categories, transracial adoption, intermarriage, as well as the many social responses to violations of the color line, Dalmage raises the debate to a broad discussion on racial essentialism and social justice.
Exploring the dynamic of race as it pervades the lives of those close to the color line, Dalmage argues that the struggle for racial justice must include an understanding that race is a complex construct that is constantly shifting, and is something we do rather than something we simply are.
Introduction: Thinking about the Color Line
1. Discovering Racial Borders
2. Redlines and Color Lines
3. We Are the Nation's Racial Rorschach Tests
4. Communities, Politics, and Racial Thinking
Conclusion: Challenging the Color Line
Dalmage presents the results of 47 interviews with members of interracial (black-white) families...This is a thoughtful and data-backed analysis for all collections, useful to readers at many levels.~Choice
Heather M. Dalmage provides unique insight into the dynamics of multiracialism both academically as a sociologist and personally as a woman in a black-white interracial marriage. As she writes on the first page of her work, "More than five hundred years" worth of socially, politically, economically and culturally created racial categories rest in the phrase "what are you?" Dalmage succeeds in capturing her audience with this compelling statement.~Sociology
Tripping on the Color Line provides a blueprint for discussions about race in a way no other text I have read has accomplished. Dalmage uses black-white interracial relationships and the experiences of persons of mixed racial heritage to provide accessible, yet sophisticated, explanations of a broad array of racial issues.~Maria P. P. Root, editor of The Multiracial Experience: Racial Borders as the New Frontier
This is a book at the borders' of the personal and the political, the lived and the researched, the family and the society. It is a splendid, provocative book. It will open minds, hearts, and discussion.~Barbara Katz Rothman, author of Genetic Maps and Human Imaginations: The Limits of Science in Understa