What Things Are Like For Interracial Couples On The 50th Anniversary Of Loving V. Virginia
It's been 50 years since Mildred & Richard Loving's historical Loving v. Virginia case, legalizing interracial marriage.
June 12, 2017 at 10:44 pm
Ever since the 2016 film, Loving starring Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton, was released, the story of Richard and Mildred Loving has reached a much wider audience.
Their controversial interracial relationship helped facilitate and aid the historical 1967 decision in the U.S. Supreme Court Loving v. Virginia case, essentially ending state laws that restricted interracial marriage.
Before the case, state restrictions prohibited marriages between whites and Native Americans, Filipinos, Indians, blacks and Asians. In some states, the restriction was all-encompassing, including "all non-whites."
After Mildred and Richard Loving were caught in Virginia, they were each sentenced to a year in prison.
Today, for to commemorate the case's 50th anniversary, the Lovings' sentence will be memorialized with a marker, which will be displayed on Monday in Richmond, Virginia.
Though we have certainly come a long way, we still have a ways to go. FOX 5, notes that despite the fact that 1 in 6 of the marriages performed in 2015 were interracial marriages, the interracial couples of today still receive nasty looks and even violence in response to their love merely existing.
"I have not yet counseled an interracial wedding where someone didn't have a problem on the bride's or the groom's side," Washington D.C.’s St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church Reverend Kimberly D. Lucas told FOX 5. As part of her ministry, she often counsels engaged interracial couples, drawing on her own interracial marriage to help them.
"I think for a lot of people it's okay if it's 'out there' and it's other people, but when it comes home and it's something that forces them to confront their own internal demons and their own prejudices and assumptions, it's still really hard for people," Lucas added.
In honor of the 50th anniversary, The New York Times released a call to the interracial couples of today that asked them to share their thoughts and perspectives on society’s evolution in regards to themselves and couples like them.
“We learned quickly that we couldn’t answer all of the questions that our families had," Barb Roose, a black woman who is married to a white man told the Times, "Luckily we were young, bullheaded and foolish, so we decided not to let other people’s issues with our marriage become our own. We had to focus on us. This meant that my husband had to sacrifice some of his relationships for a short season in order to marry me. Thankfully, they have since reconciled.”
That very tension amongst families was definitely a common denominator between the couples’ testimonies.
“As much as our relationship seemed normal to both of us, we learned that it wasn’t for my parents and relatives. It took a year of argument, tears, anxiety, smiles and patience for my parents to finally accept our relationship," Eileen Lin Goutier, a Taiwanese American woman who married a Haitian American man in 2016 said. "We waited for their blessing before we had our wedding. Unfortunately, my aunt, whom my family is very close to, decided to stop talking to me because she feels ashamed of me. We learned that sometimes things just take time for acceptance.”
Overall, despite the tensions, what truly matters to the couples is the love they share for each other.
“When you’re a couple, having different backgrounds simultaneously enriches and stresses your relationship. Race is only one element of difference, and, in my experience, a minor one,” said David L. Gilmour, who told the Times that he was raised as “whiter than white” since he actually has ancestors that arrived in America on the Mayflower. “I’m only reminded that we are a 'mixed couple' by others, when our appearance triggers some kind of reaction, most often — but not always — love, approval and sometimes what seems like a tiny bit of envy.” His wife, Anula Kusum Jayasuriya, is from Sri Lanka and identifies as South Asian.
It’s always interesting to see that the more things change, the more they stay the same. And that goes for both the positive and negative. Not unlike Richard and Mildred Loving, despite whatever social tensions these couples face and have to fight off, their love is ultimately what drives all of their relationships forward.