The Pocahontas Exception

The Pocahontas exception was established in response to the white law-makers wives who claim their ancestry can be traced back to Pocahontas and John Rolfe. However, these are the wives of the same lawmakers who passed the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which established that if you have one drop of non-white blood, you are not white. This was the first act of legislation in America that codified white-ness, and the white lawmakers managed to inadvertently disenfranchise themselves. Maillard discusses these exceptions made for Native American blood in antimiscegenation laws in Virginia. These laws effectively caused the erasure of the Native American tribes in Virginia. All of the various loopholes when it comes to who is codified as what race, Maillard argues, “underscor[es] the argument of race as a social construct” (353). The Pocahontas exception is one of these loopholes. In addition to this, the antimiscegenation laws contribute to the eugenics movement that was prevalent in Virginia during the 1920s.

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