During the colonial period, the Mulatre (Mulatto) was a person born to a parent White European origin and a relative of Black African or two Mulatto parents. The term Mulatto is little used in France but is widely used in the West Indies to refer to a mix-raced person. If the French word is not derogatory, its English translation "Mulatto" is a discredited and racist term.
The term "Metis" used to replace is not correct because the term Metis can designate different crossbreeding while the term "mulatto" designates only one type of mixing, that of an African black parent and one White parent.
In slave society, a classification from "black blood" made to prioritize the generations and established social position :
- A child of a black-white union is a Mulatto (mulâtre in french)
- A child of a mulatto and white union is a Quadroon (Quarteron)
- A child from a quartet - white union is Octoroon (Octavonne)
- A child of a mulatto - black union is a Caper (Capresse) or Claw (Griffe)
In Anglo-Saxon settlements, the classification was more important than in Martinique. At the top of the pyramid, there were white settlers or Békés and in the end we found the negro slaves . A Mulatto born free. He enjoyed his position of descendant of White. He could attend school. He could own land and slaves.
However, the mulatto's situation was not the best because many mulattoes born of romantic relationships or rape between the master and his slaves (servants) were not recognized. On the one hand, it aroused the jealousy of whites who were disappointed to see new people mingling at their table and having the same rights and the hatred of Blacks to see people who had part of their blood denying them in order to eat at the dinner table of the White.
Many slaves preferred working in the fields of racist White rather than the mulatto who enjoyed a position simply by his "white blood".
Today the term always refers to a mestizo (black and white) in the Caribbean but also a person who has powers and enjoys little indiscreet manner ("Ga milat-la" : Look what mulatto).