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Race and Childhood in U.S. Context

Children are not born with race. Race is a social and political category that is mapped onto children from the beginning of their lives, often starting with the assignment of official categories on government documents (e.g., birth certificates). However, this process has deeper origins as over time, laws about intermarriage and immigration have determined, for example, who could marry whom or who could immigrate and thus have shaped how groups of people physically look. These physical characteristics shape how and what racial meaning is circumscribed onto bodies.

While racial assignments have historically been at least somewhat connected to ancestry, race and ancestry are not the same. For example, the history of the one-drop rule in the United States meant that children whose parents had any Black ...

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