Multiracial Family Traditions
I recently was asked to write an essay about my favorite family tradition. My family has lots of traditions. We have Christmas traditions, New Years Eve traditions, Super Bowl traditions and NCAA tourney traditions, but my favorite tradition is how we celebrate Loving Day! You may know that Loving Day is celebrated in June, but since I wrote the essay now, I thought it would be nice to share it with our Project RACE members and everyone who reads our blog.
So, here it is… Karson
I smell Chinese food as soon as Dad and Didier walk in… barbecued spare ribs, dumplings, chicken, rice and noodles. This night is my favorite family tradition. Our two families, the Baldwins and the Mukendis, or the Mu-baldis, as we nicknamed ourselves, have a great time every year. We eat Chinese food and play spoons. Our spoons game always becomes very intense. We’ve even left permanent scratches and dents in the dining room table. But the food and fun and games aren’t the most important thing about this night.
We are celebrating Loving Day. Have you heard of it? It’s a holiday that celebrates two people that made it legal for the Mukendis and Baldwins to even exist. In 1958 Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving lived in Virginia where interracial marriage was illegal. They went to Washington, DC where a Black woman and White man like them could get married and went back home. But the laws also stated that the couple could not live together in Virginia even if their wedding was in another state. One night they were arrested for being married. Isn’t that crazy? The judge gave them the choice to go to jail or leave Virginia. They choose to move to Washington, DC. But they missed their family and home. So Mildred wrote a letter to Robert Kennedy. He helped them get lawyers and their case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court. In 1967 the court unanimously decided in the Loving’s favor, finally making it legal in all states for people to marry whoever they wanted no matter their race.
In 1967 my parents and Wendy and Didier Mukendi were all little kids and had no idea how important that day would be for their lives or mine. My Dad is Black and grew up in Texas. My Mom is White and grew up in Ohio. Wendy is White and from California. Didier is Black and from the Republic of the Congo in Africa. Those are very different backgrounds, but each couple met and fell in love and was able to legally marry in 1989. Our families have been friends all my life. We’re so close that our two families are like one big family. When Didier was between jobs, they moved in with us for a while. When my sisters accidently burned down our house we lived with them until we found a new house. We have a lot more in common than being multiracial families. We go to church together and do all kinds of fun things. But on Loving Day being multiracial is what we celebrate and I love it.
I’m glad my parents had the freedom to marry the person they loved. I’m glad Wendy and Didier had the freedom to marry the person they loved. And I’m glad that while we’re celebrating the history of interracial families like ours, we have the freedom to eat the food we love, even though none of us are Chinese.