I’ll never forget a time when I was sitting at the lunch table at school. I was in middle school, either 7th or 8th grade. Like many young girls, we were talking about our crushes. I liked a funny guy who was in our math class. He was really smart, not the cutest guy, but he made me laugh. I’ve always had a thing for that.
Well, he was white, and one of the girls I was sitting with asked me if my parents would care if I had a white boyfriend. It didn’t matter if the guy was white, black or purple my parents didn’t want me to have any boyfriend. So we’d have to keep these relationships on the DL at school.
My white friend then proceeded to tell me that her dad would never let her date a black guy.
“It says in the Bible that we shouldn’t mix,” she told me.
Now I didn’t ask her what verse she was referring to because well, maybe she knew the Bible better than I did, or maybe she chose to interpret things differently. So I brushed it off. I wish I could say that was the only time I heard that sorry excuse for racism but it wasn’t.
Years later, I’ve searched for that scripture she may have been referring to. Maybe it was Deuteronomy Chapter 7:3: 3 -“Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.”
Could that be it? Or possibly Leviticus 19:19 – “Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee.”
But are we talking about cattle or people? I’m not sure.
Back then I took a stance I mostly still like I take now regarding religious interpretation. If your religion believes our marriage is wrong then fine, don’t marry someone outside of your race, but don’t stand in the way of mine. Oh, and while you’re entitled to your beliefs, I’m entitled to consider you a racist.
In Georgia, heart of the Bible belt, interracial dating and marriage was taboo. Actually, I don’t know if it’s gotten much better, depending what part of the state you’re in. Every time we visit the stares seem to be less vehement, maybe it’s a sign things are easing up. If you know, let me know!
Ok, I’m going somewhere positive with all of this… Yes, there is a point. Fast forward 17 years from middle school. I went through a few other fake boyfriends and rejections and wound up with a husband who loves me BECAUSE of who I am. Not in spite of. And our differences in race have never, not once in our entire 10.5 years of marriage been a source of conflict between us.
Yea, we may argue about which channel to watch (I am so sick of ESPN) or where to eat, or who has to get up with the kids, but racial issues? No. We are actually pretty darn normal.
It’s hard to imagine our family being seen as anything but that, but less than 50 years ago, our marriage would have been illegal in 16 states. IL-freaking-LEGAL.
You didn’t know you’d be getting a little history lesson today did you?
Short story about the Lovings (Richard and Mildred Loving) … They were an awesome couple, white man and black woman, who were having a baby together. In June of 1958, they left their home state of Virginia and went and got married in Washington D.C.. Well, that was not good enough for Virginia. Police raided the couple’s home at night when they were in bed and they were charged for leaving the state to get an interracial marriage then returning to Virginia.
The trial judge wrote: “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”
Years later, after being frustrated about not being allowed to travel to visit their families together in Virginia, they began to protest the law.
In 1967 the United States Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia struck down all anti-miscegenation laws citing “There can be no doubt that restricting the freedom to marry solely because of racial classifications violates the central meaning of the equal protection clause.”
So now, June 12th is known as Loving Day, the biggest multiracial celebration in the U.S. (I hear they’re making a movie out of their story which will be awesome!)
Every year, on this day for the past… I don’t know, five or so years I’ve known about this holiday, I’ve took some time to stop and reflect on this little difference we have, and my gratitude for the fact that it doesn’t keep us apart. I can’t imagine not being with my husband because of some stupid law, and people who thought us loving each other was wrong. Just because of our genetics… How we look. Isn’t that ridiculous?
I’m sure back in the 1950 and 60s people were afraid, and they didn’t understand how mixed-races marriages would affect their lives, and their families, schools. Would their kids grow up thinking interracial marriage was ok and normal? Was that what they wanted?
Fear holds us back. Hatred, misunderstanding, and lack of empathy pushing those who love each other away from one another, instead of spending more time just loving one another.
So how does my interracial family celebrate Loving Day? We don’t throw a big party or bake a cake (though that’s an idea I’m sure my kids would get on board with) we just take some time to talk about the past, the present, and the future. Specifically with families like ours, and other families striving to be.
You don’t need to be in an interracial marriage to celebrate this holiday. It’s something we all can appreciate and share with out families. Looking at how far we’ve come as a people, and how we can continue to do better. I want my kids to lead with love, not hate or fear. I hope we can spread that message together.
I’m thankful for the Lovings, as well as the people who backed them up, supported them, and continue to support what they stood for.
I hope you’ll take some time to read a little more about Mildred and Richard Loving and maybe even share the story with your families. You can learn more here and find out about celebrations going on near you.