Interracial relationships indebted to the Lovings’ courage

Interracial relationships indebted  to the Lovings’ courage

Adannaya Binder, Staff Writer

When sophomores Amanda Paulino and Jayden Jones hold hands as they walk to class, they talk about the things most high-achieving students discuss: upcoming tests, college plans and their friends. One thing that never enters their mind is breaking the law.

Almost 50 years ago, interracial marriage and relationships were illegal in most places, including the United States. Socially, interracial relationships were frowned upon because many parents taught their kids that it was always better to “stick to their own kind.”

But for one couple, love was stronger than the law and the social stigma associated with interracial relationships.

Mildred Loving was of African and Native-American descent and she married Richard Loving, a caucasian, in 1958 in Caroline County, Virginia. Both were arrested by local law enforcement just five weeks after their wedding for violating the state’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924 which prohibited White-Black marriages.

On January 6, 1958, the trial judge suspended the sentence for a period of 25 years on the condition that the Lovings leave the state and not return to Virginia together for 25 years. After their convictions, the Lovings took up residence in the District of Columbia. On November 6, 1963, they filed a motion in the state trial court to vacate the judgment and argue that the Virginia laws which they had “violated” didn’t adhere to the Fourteenth Amendment, that requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination.

In 1967, their case went all the way to the U.S Supreme Court where the justices ruled in favor of the Lovings, a ruling that followed the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. Still, interracial relationships remained taboo and according to Mildred Loving, the judge said during their trial, “If God intended Whites and Blacks to mix, he wouldn’t have put them on different continents.”

Even though the Lovings were not the only interracial couple in the 1960s, they are among the most symbolic due to their tenacity and determination to challenge and reign victorious against miscegenation laws that prevailed at the time.

Soon after the Loving v Virginia case, couples of different racial backgrounds no longer needed to hide their relationships to avoid prosecution. However, even though interracial marriages were legal, they were still considered a social taboo in many places, especially the South.

Today, it is common to see interracial relationships, but these couples sometimes still face prejudice, social stigmas and more.

One misconception is that people of color who date white people hate themselves. Of course, there are instances where issues of self-acceptance may be at play, but the reason why people are attracted to other people vary with each couple. If people of color date someone outside of their race and/or culture, their feelings should not automatically be called into question.

“Society has gotten better at being accepting of interracial relationships, but they still have a lot of work to do,” junior Gabriella Larez said. Matthew Hodge and Larez have been dating for about 11 months and say that the myths they’ve heard about interracial relationships do not apply to most people.

“I love interracial relationships,” Matthew said. “They make me feel comfortable and they make me feel like everyone’s equal.”

Not everyone has parents who support their child’s interracial relationships, but the ones who do say they are very lucky.

“Both of our parents are really accepting and we do a lot of things together,” Larez said. “We go to church together, I help his mom cook and everything. My mom taught me to accept everyone for who they are.”

The couple says that society has changed since the Loving v. Virginia case, but it still needs improvement.

“I think that everyone is entitled to their own opinion,” Hodge said, “but no one should come between love including the law, because we are allowed to be with any gender, color, and culture.”

Another couple who is fortunate to have supportive parents is Paulino and Jones, who have been dating for about three months now.

“My family is very accepting of basically everything,” Jones said, “because I’m half white and black, and I was raised to respect everyone’s decisions.”

Jones and Paulino say that they both love the idea of interracial relationships and that they are evidence of how much society has improved with acceptance.

“My family is accepting of my relationship with Jayden,” Paulino said. “They were just taken by surprise that I was dating someone that wasn’t Filipino. My parents love Jayden, they say that he’s a great guy, but I guess they never really imagined me with a non-Filipino.

“It’s hard to think of a reason why anyone would be against interracial relationships,” Paulino said. “I mean since the Loving v Virginia case, we’ve evolved into a better society, but it still needs to be said that as long as two people love each other, there shouldn’t be a problem.”

If Mildred and Michael Loving were alive today, they might be surprised at society’s progress. Thanks to the Loving’s love for one another, society now knows that love knows no race and that interracial relationships can be the start of something beautiful.