The phrase “grandfathered in” is a common expression used to describe a situation where someone is exempt from a new rule or regulation due to prior agreement or authorization. Today, this expression is commonly used in both conversations and in written form.
However, the origins of this phrase are rooted in a history of racism in the United States.
The phrase “grandfathered in” originated in the late 19th century when grandfather clauses were used to deny African Americans the right to vote. These clauses were added to state constitutions and laws to prevent newly freed slaves from exercising their right to vote by exempting from the new restrictions those citizens whose grandfathers had been eligible to vote. This meant that while African Americans were technically granted the right to vote after the Civil War, many were still effectively disenfranchised due to these grandfather clauses.
Grandfather clauses were eventually declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1915 in the case of Guinn v. United States. However, the legacy of these clauses and their racist roots have lived on through the use of the phrase “grandfathered in.” This phrase perpetuates the idea of privileged exemptions and serves as a reminder of the systemic racism that has been woven into the fabric of American society.
The phrase “grandfathered in” has a racist origin rooted in the use of grandfather clauses to deny African Americans the right to vote. It is important to acknowledge the history behind this phrase and recognize the ongoing impact of systemic racism in our society.