Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Today is a day for Loving
Forty years ago today, just five years before my parents got married and seven years before I was born, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional the last state laws forbidding people of different races from marrying. Richard and Mildred Jeter Loving just wanted to be able to raise their children close to their family in Virginia - what they did was so much more. During my college identity-activism days, I used to call my peers "the Loving Generation" because we were the first generation born after the Loving v. Virginia decision to grow up and come of age, wrangling with multiracial identity issues in a world that, for the first time, saw us as completely legal and legitimate.
Four years ago, a hapa design student used his master's thesis to found a holiday commemorating the day of the court decision, and he called it Loving Day. Besides regional celebrations including one hosted in the D.C. area by hapa filmmaker/activist Eric Byler and his parents, this milestone anniversary year's observances include a big conference in Chicago at the end of this month.
Our sisters at Kimchi Mamas are already talking about the significance of this day, and about an NPR piece that ran on All Things Considered yesterday. The first part of the piece talked about the historical impact of the case, but the second part brought things to the present day, via a a young family (white mom, black dad) living in the Lovings' own county in Virginia today. And though they were legally free to marry, it seems that not enough has changed. The wife talks about constant harassment and a recent incident in which her husband was beat up by a bunch of white men in the presence of their children. But even she isn't immune to the history of racist attitudes that may just be more obvious in a place like rural Virginia, calling her children "mulattos" and worrying about what kind of clothes her kids wear (and her husband wants them to go to the school with more white kids). Take a listen, and you're reminded of two things.
One, we've come a long way since that day in 1967.
And two, we ain't done yet. Not by a long shot.
Happy Loving Day, y'all.