Monday, December 24, 2007
MULATTO Derived from the Latin mulus, meaning mule, and from the Spanish mulato, meaning a mixed breed, the term mulatto is currently used in reference to a person with mixed white and black ancestry, regardless of the extent of admixture. Formerly, however, the term denoted a person with one black parent and one white parent. During the antebellum South, an elaborate classification existed to describe individuals with a mixture of white and black ancestry. Following the mulatto was the quadroon, a child of a mulatto and a white, and the octoroon, a child of a quadroon and a white. Such distinctions are seldom used today. In fact, the term mulatto itself is rarely used today, having been displaced by the generic use of the term black to refer to all African Americans regardless of the degree of black skin pigmentation.