Triracial isolates: runaways and refuseniks

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Daniel, G. Reginald. “Triracial isolates: runaways and refuseniks.” More than Black? Multiracial identity and the new racial order. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 2002. See especially pages 68-75.


Provides a brief, helpful discussion of “triracial isolate,” a social science term, noting at the outset that “many of their members reject such labeling, and they are not a single identifiable group. . . . The common attributes of these communities have less to do with cultural bonds than with similarities in experience and in living conditions that unite them in their refusal to accept the United States binary racial project” (p. 68). Daniel also notes, in defining this concept, that there are approximately two hundred triracial isolate groups in the eastern United States (especially the southeast); that they have varying amounts of Native American, African American, and European American ancestry; and that they tend to live (at least, they did during the formation of the community) in the edges of towns and in isolate rural areas. He characterizes them as pluralistic in terms of their stance toward race, meaning that they believe an oppressed group should work to “recover its own sense of itself and become more effective as a collective force in the world. They envision . . . a process of dissimilation that would create intergroup accommodation, or a mosaic of mutually respectful, separate social and ethnic pluralities with equal status both in law and in fact” (pp. 119-120).The specific discussions of the Lumbee are brief, recounting basic historical facts. In another section, Daniel discusses an incident in 1954-1955 involving Allen Platt and family, who moved from Holly Hill, South Carolina to Mount Dora (Lake County), Florida. When Platt’s children started attending school, their classmates speculated to their parents, who then talked to the county sheriff, about their racial background. The White supremacist sheriff visited the Platt home, urging the children to stay out of school until the matter could be investigated. The principal, school board, and superintendent agreed. The matter escalated into a court case (Allen Platt et al. v. the Board of Public Instruction of Lake County, Florida). The defendants’ case alluded to the fact that on some public records, the Platts were called Croatian (Daniel’s error for Croatan) Native Americans, “. . . and Webster’s dictionary defined Croatians (sic) as people of blended Native American, European American, and African American ancestry” (p. 71). See PLAT001 for more details on the Platt case.

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Pluralism | <i>Allen Platt et al. v. the Board of Public Instruction of Lake County, Florida</i> (1955)