African American Poetry (1870-1928): A Digital Anthology

Interracial, Multiracial, and Race Relations Poems

This tag references poems dealing with relationships that cross racial borders, including friendships, antagonistic relationships, and romances.

We also use this category for poems that reference mixed-race or multiracial people, such as W.E.B. DuBois' poem "The Quadroon," Georgia Douglas Johnson's "The Octoroon" or Rosalie Jonas' "The Quadroon's Ball."  Some poems use the term 'mulatto' to describe mixed race people; this term is now of course archaic and might be considered offensive, but it was widely used during this historical period. 

(See our note on Historical Language.) 

In the poems linked below, some use the "tragic mulatto" trope, where the true nature of a person's mixed heritage might be a secret liability; the "tragic mulatto" is of course also a well-known trope in fiction from this period. An example of such a poem might be Countee Cullen's "To One Who Crossed a Line (She Crosses)," which describes a woman who passed as white for a time before returning to the African American community. (As of this time, we have not separately tagged peoms dealing with racial passing, though we may begin to do so. For now, "passing" poems are also included in the list below.) 

Other poems below are more celebratory and proud (see Joseph S. Cotter's "The Mulatto To His Critics" for an instance of a proud 'mulatto' poem). 

Contents of this tag: