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Giving Loving Day Its Due

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Posted on Jun 11, 2011
Associated Press

Namesakes: Mildred Loving and her husband Richard in 1965.

By Marcia Alesan Dawkins

If you’re reading this, then you’ve probably been invited to commemorate or at least think about Loving Day this year. And with good reason. In 1958, newlyweds Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving were indicted on charges of violating Virginia’s ban on interracial marriages and were banished from their home state. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the law in 1967.

Many multiracial individuals and interracial couples celebrate the anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia decision, June 12, as Loving Day. While celebrating this important civil rights milestone, we should remember that increased visibility of interracial couples and offspring does not promise increased racial harmony. Let’s face facts. It’s very sexy to congratulate ourselves based on reports that today’s interracial families can live harmoniously in the former Confederacy. We’re entertained as we watch Khloe and Lamar’s relationship work out. It makes us feel good to think that we have overcome, that we have reached a state of racial harmony and that we are all finally equal—and becoming equally beige and beautiful.

But a desire to congratulate ourselves doesn’t erase the fact that racial mixing has been occurring in our nation and hemisphere for more than 500 years. Colonists and indigenous people married and engaged in extramarital sexual relations. White indentured servants mixed with African indentured servants and then with African slaves. And there’s a long history of black freedmen and freedwomen intermarrying with Native Americans, as well as white males (often forcibly) having sex with black females. There are the interracial children fathered by U.S. soldiers and born to foreign lovers and “comfort women” in war-torn Asian and Middle Eastern nations. Add this to centuries’ worth of Asian and Hispanic immigration and 40 years’ worth of official interracial marriage patterns and you have what many might call the recipe for a melting pot where race doesn’t matter.

Sadly, this isn’t the case. 

Think about it. If the mere presence of interracial intimacy was enough to bring about racial harmony, it would have happened long ago. Instead, laws were passed to keep races apart. Punishments, including fines, imprisonment and death, were instituted to keep people from crossing the color line. Loving Day is a time for us to celebrate that many of these laws and punishments have been overturned—and it’s also a time to remember that the racism inspiring such laws and punishments lives on in many communities. As Diane Farr put it recently, some of us continue the interracial struggle having “been told there was a right and an ‘over my dead body’ [racial] choice for love.”

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Some of us have been told that there is a right and wrong gender choice for love too. In light of this, Loving Day is not just a commemorative anniversary for heterosexual interracial families and multiracial individuals. Loving Day is increasingly celebrated by supporters of same-sex marriage—a right that Mildred Jeter-Loving supported in her later years. Currently same-sex marriage is permitted in five of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, even though the Williams Institute reports that 9 million adults identify as LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender]. Compare that 9 million to the 9 million people in the 2010 census who identified themselves as being of two or more races and you’ll see that we’re talking about a population that deserves just as much attention and acceptance. Unfortunately, reliable data about how many LBGT people are multiracial or are partners in interracial romantic relationships is hard to find. However, discussions about Loving Day, multiracial identities and interracial romantic relationship issues are taking place within LGBT communities. Loving Day communities should return the favor.

As we celebrate Loving Day, we might also remember that some people choose not to have interracial romantic relationships and that this choice does not necessarily make them racists. Take singer-actress Jill Scott. About a year ago Scott came under fire for confessing that she sometimes winces in her spirit when she hears about black male-white female romantic relationships. Let’s add a bit of context here. Discrimination and violence have resulted in unequal racial populations and beauty standards. Our history of slavery, lynching and imprisonment has had a disproportionate effect on black males as a demographic. Black women face particular challenges when it comes to being considered beautiful candidates for long-term relationships. While many of us may not agree with Scott’s comments, it is important to acknowledge her perspective in context. That way we can create a space where it’s safe to escape our comfort zones and have conversations about race, love and relationships in the spirit of openness that Loving Day represents. 

So as we celebrate Loving Day this year, let’s do it justice. Let’s remember our ongoing interracial history, diversity and struggle. Let’s remember the truth that the Lovings fought so hard for—that every race, ethnicity, gender and faith is lovable.



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By jackyme, November 11, 2011 at 1:17 pm Link to this comment

perfect article on a perfect day [url=“http://myfundoo-blog.blogspot.com”]myfundoo-
blog.blogspot.com[/url]

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, June 16, 2011 at 10:48 am Link to this comment

J. Mezure Carter, June 15 at 11:19 pm:

‘Let us have a true conversation about race.  What is the purpose of this identity and why do we cling to such a silly notion? ...’

Obviously, the concept of race and the associated ideologies of racialism and racism serve one or more functions which at least some people find advantageous or interesting.

In the United States, for example, the creation of the races as two separate pseudo-ethnicities or tribes, allowed the numerous differences between the Whites as to ethnicity, religion, politics and class, and their violent history, to be set aside in the orgy of nationalism, capitalism, imperialism and extermination which formed the country.  This racialization was probably more a felt need than a deliberately worked out plan, but it operated the same way: the innumerable conflicts and hatreds of Europe could be suppressed by the new, simple hatred of one single tribe for another.

But that is just one use of race.  There are probably many.

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By J. Mezure Carter, June 15, 2011 at 11:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Let us have a true conversation about race.  What is the purpose of this identity and why do we cling to such a silly notion?  There are literally tens of thousands of books written about the subject of race, yet there is still so much ignorance about this man made concept.  Over the past few centuries humans have spent untold intellectual energy attempting to define and redefine race.  Some times it is defined by language groups, some times by body shapes, some times by skin and hair color.  Race is used to stereotype human abilities such as reproductive abilities or intellectual abilities.  The Lovings were caught in a period where humans supported ignorant ideas about these abilities and fought wars that killed tens of millions of people.  We hate each other because of the ability of our bodies to adapt to our natural environment.  Skin and hair and eye color along with body shape and even speech are stellar examples of our body’s ability to adapt to the various environments on planet earth.  To dislike people because the melanin in their skin protects them from the sun or to dislike people because the lightness of their skin color allows them to receive more vitamin D from the sun, seems silly.  But we have come to hold on to the idea that skin color was meant to divide us into specific racial groups.  We wallow in this silly notion and reinforce it in our daily lives and in our laws. And although we should be grateful for the Lovings’s lawsuit that struck down the last of the anti-miscegenation laws in seventeen states, we should be wary of this concept of race that was designed to distort our endowed adaptive attributes, thus keeping us hating one another based on the silly notion of race.

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By Peter Knopfler, June 14, 2011 at 4:50 pm Link to this comment

HALF BREEDS WELL LOOK AT OBAMA< MOTHER KANSAS WHITE
FATHER BLACK KENYA, now president of USA! THomas
Jefferson and Sally Hemmings had six children, all
lived to make more white black or black white people!

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AnAlienEarthling's avatar

By AnAlienEarthling, June 14, 2011 at 12:02 am Link to this comment

I am somewhat baffled by the article. I don’t
understand what the author is trying to argue. Is it that socially recognized inter-ethnic/-racial
marriages do not eliminate racism or fail to promote ethnic/racial tolerance? I don’t think anybody would argue that they do (read the case of Keith Bardwell) - similarly, I seriously doubt that anyone would argue the blatantly ignorant view that Obama’s being elected President is conclusive proof that the US has ‘overcome’ its ethnic/racial prejudice and discrimination.

When one reads the decision, there is no celebration of ‘racial harmony’; rather, it is the right to marry (or not marry) whom one chooses that is celebrated. The Lovings were not arguing for some ‘cute’ “equal lovability” of earth’s several ethnicities. I can’t imagine what that might mean. Not only does that sound patronizing, but it seems to belittle the efforts of the Lovings’ roughly ten-year legal battles!

We love. Sometimes the person we love happens to be of a different ethnicity / race. Love embraces the lover - it is blind to the lover’s ethnic/racial depiction or characterization. Thus, I don’t think any of us can know “what it is like” to genuinely love “a person of a different ethnicity / race.” Love doesn’t pause for these contingent accoutrements - I think we could venture that Richard Loving loved Mildred Jeter, that he did not love Mildred the African-American woman, but “just” Mildred.

The article should have argued for the legal
similarities between the Lovings’ case and the case of same-sex marriage instead of spilling so much ink over a shallow construal over the mystery that Love is.

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By California Ray, June 13, 2011 at 6:26 pm Link to this comment

How about props to Roger J. Traynor? He wrote the majority opinion in the 1948 case Perez v. Sharp which struck down, as a violation of the 14th Amendment, California’s antimiscegenation law.

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By The Prisoner, June 13, 2011 at 4:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Loving Day should be every day!

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By batesdon1@msn.com, June 13, 2011 at 11:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Frankly, I hate it when people suggest or ask questions but don’t give their own take before getting someone else’s. What, dear writer, are you trying to infer?  That Loving was murdered?  Committed suicide?  Let me know before I reply.  Thanks.

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By Anarcissie, June 13, 2011 at 11:05 am Link to this comment

I don’t think most people have any choice over what they believe in.  Beliefs are impressed on children before they can even talk.

However, at least there is some reality to them, unlike ‘race’, a categorization imposed from the outside, usually on account of perceived dermal albedo.  It’s hard to think of anything nuttier.

In any case, it would be nice if people would just stop killing other people because the latter are seen to belong to a different category or tribe.  Maybe then we can move up to loving one another every day of the year.

Or, as François Villon wrote, ‘So much do men cry out for Christmas that it comes.’

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By azythos, June 12, 2011 at 7:51 pm Link to this comment

“Let’s remember the truth… that every race, ethnicity, gender and faith is lovable”

What a bunch of nonsense! “Faith” (the author doubtless means religion) is not an accident of birth, like one’s skin color, facial features, ethnic origin, language or sex. Religion is a deliberate choice; at the very least the individual is responsible for it.

What are you trying to do? Force the religious to tolerate the non-religious? Force the religious to tolerate other religions? This is nothing but absurdity.

“Some… choose not to have interracial… relationships and that this choice does not necessarily make them racists… Scott came under fire for confessing that she sometimes winces in her spirit when she hears about black male-white female romantic relationships.”

Well, “choos[ing] not to have interracial… relationships” is totally different from “wincing in spirit” when others have them! And yes, this is the open expression of the rawest, most nauseating form of racism! It has been “acknowledged” enough and then some, in this country. Tolerating such nonsense is nothing but an encouragement to continue group-thinking and auto-segregation, no matter if white, black or blue.

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By azythos, June 12, 2011 at 7:31 pm Link to this comment

“Let’s remember…  that every race, ethnicity, gender and faith is lovable.”

“Faith”? What a revolting thought!

What are you trying to do?

Impose love of religious bullshit on everyone?

Or impose tolerance of other religions, or tolerance to the absence of superstition, on the religious people, who by definition wouldn’t be observing their religion if they were tolerant?

What exactly is the meaning of mixing religion, a choice (and in any case one’s own responsibility), with accidents of birth like one’s skin color, ethnicity/language or sex?

“...Scott came under fire for confessing that she sometimes winces in her spirit when she hears about black male-white female romantic relationships… While many of us may not agree with Scott’s comments, it is important to acknowledge her perspective in context.”

So you want us to acknowledge racism? As if this kind of nauseating, despicable stuff had not been “acknowledged” enough in this country. Said by white, black or blue it still is naked, offensive racism and nothing else.

This looks like one more paper trying to muddy the waters with the intent of making the continuing group solidarities and racial auto-segregation tolerable.

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By Inherit The Wind, June 12, 2011 at 7:15 pm Link to this comment

Just what are the details of Richard Loving’s death in a street accident? I always found it questionable and too convenient.

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By christian96, June 12, 2011 at 6:46 pm Link to this comment

I welcome “Loving Day” with open arms.  Look around
the globe and “love” seems to have left the planet.
I’m watching the Miami-Dallas NBA Finals.  At half-time T-Mobile runs a commerical where an oriental
man gets on the phone and says, “Mom, in your face!”
I cringe every time I see the commerical.  Who developmented that commerical?  Obviously, a very
sick mind.  “Mom, in your face!” Whatever happened
to “respect your mother and father?”  Oh, that’s right, the supreme idiots took the Ten Commandments
out of the classroom. So, whoever wrote the commerical doesn’t know anything about honoring your
parents.  They think it’s funny to denigrate your
parents.  What a disturbed mind.  Wonder how many
children heard “Mom, in your face!”  I welcome “Loving Day”  with open arms.  It’s long over due.

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By Scott Supak, June 12, 2011 at 12:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Almost half of Mississippi Republicans still think
interracial marriage should be illegal.

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/04/nearly-of-
mississippi-republicans-think-interracial-marriage-
should-be-illegal.php

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By gerard, June 12, 2011 at 11:07 am Link to this comment

Start with stopping:  Stop killing Afghanis, Palestinians.  Stop allowing billions of dark-skinned children to starve to death.  Stop allowing police to mistreat people of color, especially if they are poor or drunk or belligerent. Stop filling prisons with hapless (mostly dark-skinned) users of “crack”. Stop white middle-class racists from discriminating against people of color.  Stop torturing dark-skinned captives in Guantanamo and elsewhere.

Insist that the US Government pay native peoples for the land the “white man” stole, provide equal rights, education and opportunities for all, regardless of skin color. Pay the Japanese for the houses and farm land that were stolen from them when they were incarcerated at the beginning of WWII.  Etc. etc.

Then, after stopping all these and other widely-overlooked, noxious, discriminatory practices, start
getting to personally know people whose skin is darker than yours. Organize informal groups in churches, schools and community activities where people of all colors feel welcome and useful.  Engage everybody’s talents and best attitudes. Equalize opportunities. Make friends. Play together. Work together. Meet together. Live together. Value everybody as just as “good” and “deserving” as yourself. Stop the current anti-Muslim frenzy.

Then talk about how to observe holidays together—not just one day a year.  Until we all bring about a 365-day celebration of differences, one Loving Day per year is a farce.

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