The Gracias al Sacar, a fascinating and seemingly inconceivable practice in eighteenth century colonial Venezuela, allowed certain individuals of mixed Black and White ancestry to purchase "Whiteness" from their King. The author exposes the irony of this system, developed in a society obsessed with "natural" ordering that labeled individuals according to their precise racial ancestry. While recognizing that the Gracias al Sacar provided opportunities for advancement and an avenue for material and social struggle, the author argues that it also justified the persistence of racial hierarchy. The Article concludes that the Gracias al Sacar, along with their present-day implications, undermine an essentialist view of race, revealing the negotiability of race status and its dependence on social and material norms
Estelle T. Lau,
Can Money Whiten? Exploring Race Practice in Colonial Venezuela and Its Implications for Contemporary Race Discourse,
Mich. J. Race & L.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mjrl/vol3/iss2/4