Twelve years of research on race relations in Virginia have culminated for Arica Coleman, who will be sharing her finished product with attendees at Bull's Head Bookshop today.
Coleman, professor of Black American Studies at the University of Delaware, will be leading a talk and reading from her book, “That the Blood Stay Pure: African Americans, Native Americans, and the Predicament of Race and Identity in Virginia,” at the Bull's Head.
The book examines race relations between African-Americans and other racial groups in Virginia. The long-term research that led to the book began after Coleman discovered Native American traces in her own ancestry.
“The interesting thing is that today the issue of race and racial identity — racial formation — is largely within a black-white paradigm,” said Coleman.
“Race has never been that simple in this country, and it never will be. My objective is to go beyond that black and white binary.”
Coleman’s book delves into the late 19th century eugenics movement toward racial purity and the associated identity issues Native Americans and African-Americans faced.
“When people think Jim Crow, they don’t think about living in a racial binary,” Coleman said.
“But if you’re an Indian, what school do you go to? What water fountain do you drink from? Which public facilities do you go to? It’s far more complicated."
Segregation was furthered among Native Americans and African-Americans when certain laws restricted tribal identities because of their marital relations or living situation with African-Americans.