Final%2520book%2520jacket_edited_edited.

Historian, authory, and Meyer Distinguished Professor of history at Washington State University Vancouver. 

Scholars seeking to understand the ties between slavery and race in the New World have long found critical evidence in the array of laws that colonies and states passed linking African descent and servility. Increasingly, however, legal historians have demonstrated that these laws' impact was not predetermined. Instead, local officials and ordinary people established the laws' functional meanings by adhering to or ignoring top-down mandates and by permitting extralegal traditions and interpersonal relationships to shape the laws' application. Enslaved and free people of color played a critical role in this process. Though everywhere excluded from many of the rights guaranteed to citizens, enslaved and free people of color nevertheless took advantage of legal openings to liberate themselves, structure their families, and impose distance between themselves and bondage. In this slim volume, Alejandro de la Fuente and Ariela J. Gross probe how negotiations between enslavers, African-descended peoples, and the law shaped race, freedom, and belonging in Cuba, Virginia, and Louisiana. Through a close examination of African Americans' and Afro-Cubans' encounters with racialized legal structures, de la Fuente and Gross demonstrate how these men and women used opportunities embedded within each system to fend off slaveholders' consistent efforts to render servitude and Blackness indistinguishable...