One of the things I'm suggesting in my dissertation is that the one-drop rule for determining race in the United States is on the wane, or at least that it's more complicated when it applies than just the usual view that it always does. One piece of evidence I think is somewhat compelling is the linguistic fact that a lot of people feel perfectly comfortable referring to a set of twins with different skin colors as if one is black and the other white. I've also got some more outlandish intuition pumps that I think help the case a little.
But there's another way of departing from the one-drop rule that a lot of people I know seem to exhibit, one that a lot of race scholars seem to me to treat as at best marginal. A lot of people will talk about mixed-race people as if they are both races. Barack Obama is sometimes referred to as both black and white, for example. James Collier, a mixed black-white man, speaks this way. I think a lot of people we know see our kids as either both black and white or as neither black nor white. If someone can be both black and white, then it clearly contradicts the one-drop rule.
I discussed some of my work with a leading scholar of African-American philosophy a few months ago. He took me to task for a lot of assumptions that he refused to recognize as anything but ignorance. He spent a lot of time explaining that Plessy of Plessy v. Ferguson was 7/8 white, I suppose in order to show how significantly the one-drop rule has affected policy. What that ignores is that things are changing, however. That case was a long time ago. I think he may have thought I was denying that the one-drop rule ever operates, which is not only way beyond the evidence I've presented but almost certainly very easy to prove false. But that's not the view I was defending. I was simply arguing that it's more complicated than it was several decades ago, with some people at some times no longer relying on such a rule.
I don't know many non-blacks of my generation whose racial judgments rely on the one-drop rule, and I've discussed race issues with a lot of people of my generation from a broad range of backgrounds. The one place it still persists very strongly in the circles I've run in is among black people. I know of at least two black conservatives who have claimed that black Americans have a lot invested in the one-drop rule, although I haven't seen enough to figure out what they might be. It's a provocative claim, one I want to think about more. But I'm sure of one thing. At least in the northeast of the U.S., people of my generation are at the very least not consistently using the one-drop rule. I say good riddance. It's unfortunate that some scholars are a little more reluctant to acknowledge that than there seems to be evidence for.