The Tragic Mulatto, or One-Drop Rule* Hits the Silver Screen (ca. 1930)

by M. Ayodele Heath



          Our brave White hero,
upon unveiling his mulatto mistress’s
villainous dark secret, slices
her shadowy wrist; then
in the ultimate sacrifice, pulls it
to his quivering mouth & sucks
               a single drop
of her Negro blood, enough to become…

a Negro himself! The frenetic Whites
Only
cinema—half in awe, half in disgust—half
applauds our newly-mulattoed hero & his lover’s
fateful walk, hand-in-hand into the darkening
     sunset.
If I could, the green-eyed projectionist thinks,
I would have them

burn