Laura Miller

What Blood Won’t Tell

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From the Article “Are you White Enough” in Salon

October 11, 2008

“Gross’ book, a history of cases in which people have challenged their official racial designation, eloquently demonstrates just how difficult it can be to say what race—mine, yours, anybody’s—actually consists of… What Blood Won’t Tell is largely a catalog of delusions and the strategies by which Americans tried to prop up those delusions in courts of law… The very fact that some people with African ‘blood’ (not a biologically valid concept, but a common term, then and now) could pass themselves off as white betrayed the reality; blacks, whites and Indians had been marrying, having sex and producing mixed-race children from the very beginning… A book like What Blood Won’t Tell—which is, after all, a history, not a prescription—may not offer much that’s usable as a guide to the future. But it does provide us with plenty of evidence of how badly we can and have screwed up, and how much imagination and determination it will take to do it better.”—Laura Miller, Salon

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