The ‘Ferociously Contested’ Story of How Blackness Became a Legal Identity

In Cuba, Virginia, and Louisiana, Colonial Laws Defining ‘Freedom’ Still Affected the Status of Citizens Centuries Later

How did Africans become “blacks” in the Americas?

Those who were forced into the ships of the infamous slave trade probably thought of themselves using ethnic and territorial terms that have been lost to us. But across the ocean, enslavers and local elites lumped Africans of many different backgrounds into a single category of debasement, “Negroes,” and sustained this category through laws that regulated freedom.

But the creation of racial identity through legal means took some surprising turns.

From the beginning, enslaved people and free people of African ancestry used those …

The Carpinteriazation of Banned Bags

California Is Voting on Whether to Catch up With a Beach City Transformed by a Ban on Single-Use Bags

Next month, California might almost catch up with Carpinteria.

The small beach town in Santa Barbara County, population 13,500, is rarely cited as a leader in anything. But when it comes …

Why Is It So Hard to Stop Rave Overdoses?

Heavy-Handed Calls to Ban the Music Events Have Done Little to Curb Their Drug-Related Deaths

When the music comes on at a rave, a synergetic feeling of mass escape and euphoria runs through the crowd. But this unparalleled collective high has come at a cost. …

Did Protestant Christianity Create the Dismal American Prison System?

Puritans’ Focus On “Right Living” Helped Justify Our Harsh Treatment of Prisoners

While in Ireland teaching a criminal justice course this past semester, I had the opportunity to take a tour of an Irish prison.

The Irish prison service states one of …