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What Comes Naturally Review

Essay by   •  March 28, 2012  •  Essay  •  712 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,524 Views

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What Comes Naturally is a phenomenal book by Peggy Pascoe. It explores and explains the roots of miscegenation, interracial marriage and sex, its laws. The book is full of history, facts, personal accounts and stories. The book serves to understand where race came from. Though misgenation is believed to be a thing of the past, the book was written in 2009. Therefore there is and underlying issue Pascoe is addressing.

In the introduction that the book "examines two if the most insidious ideas in American history". They are the theories that interracial marriage is unnatural and white supremacy. She begins the book with a case of a former slave named Leah. This is one of the most curucial and importants cases in the book. Leah was married to Alfred Foster, a white man and her former master. After a long marriage, which bore kids, Alfred died leaving everything to Leah and his kids. Due to white supremacists during this time, Leah was denied the property and valuables that her late husband left her. This was taken to court and she surprising won. Pascoe's use of a narrative in the beginning of the book is a great strategy that she uses frequently in her book to pull the reader in. What Comes Naturally is filled with emotion filled stories such as this one.

The idea of white supremacists was to keep the white or Caucasian pure. Pascoe begins in 1864 after the Civil War, the Reconstruction Era, when the term misgenation first popped up. With Blacks recently freed from slavery, Whites feared a loss of control. To keep Blacks from engaging in intimate relations with Whites, the term miscegenation and miscegenation arose. The term comes from two Greek word; miscere which means mix and genus which means race (Pascoe 1).

The first miscegenation laws prohibited illicit sex or fornication between Blacks and Whites. This was a major factor in the cases Pascoe describes in her books. The earliest miscegenation laws date back to the 17th century. Such laws "prohibited fornication between 'any Christian. . .with a negro man or woman'" (Pascoe 20). However they did not cover interracial marriage, it was simply something frowned upon. Pascoe emphasizies that during this time when cases were made against interracial couples this was an important concept. Lawyers for miscegenation would argue that interracial couples weren't married; they were just engaging in illicit sex. But as time progresses Pascoe stresses that white supremacists felt that they were losing power. The first to pass a miscegenation law that considered interracial marriages void was Georgia in 1750 (Pascoe 20)

. All of this was before The Emancipation Proclamation and The Constitution. The first part of What Comes Naturally these articles and how they shaped miscegenation laws. The Constitution is shaped around the idea of property, which is exactly what Blacks didn't have. With ideas of interracial marriage

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