Living AFTER Loving

Living After Loving

by

Susan Graham

June 12 is the 50th Anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, the landmark decision by the Supreme Court that made interracial marriage legal in the United States. We were legally able to marry someone of another race, which I did in 1981. Life didn’t change much for my husband and me in those days. No one taunted or insulted us and we rarely got those crazy stares that some interracial couples report. Then we had children.

My children are multiracial. You might also call them biracial, mixed-race, or other terms. Terminology is important. We choose to use “multiracial” because it is inclusive and covers people who are not only two, but even more races. A Pew Research Center analysis recently found that one-in-seven infants were multiracial or multiethnic in 2015—that’s a whopping 14% of the population and is nearly triple the number in 1980. That’s huge. In Hawaii, 44% of infants are multiracial or multiethnic. Our children’s population will only continue to grow. What we call them—and what they answer to—will be vital to their future. I personally do not like the term “mixed.” It just hits me the wrong way, so I really thought about it one day. Why do I find the word so distasteful? I think it’s because “mixed” is the opposite of “pure,” and do we really want to separate people by purity? Perhaps it’s my Jewish heritage that puts me at odds with that terminology.

Multiracial Heritage Week (June 7 to 14) is also celebrated to coincide with the anniversary of the Loving Decision. It is a national celebration of multiracial children, not interracial marriage. We hold this annual event because inclusion also matters and there are real benefits to seeing yourself represented. At 14 percent of the population, you bet multiracial people matter. They matter to elections, advertisers, corporations, media, and the United States Census Bureau, which tracks them as “two or more races,” over the preferred terminology of “multiracial.” Our families have to live with that for now, but certainly not forever. Diversity starts with the decision makers, and the bigger the multiracial population gets, the more they will listen to us—at least that’s the hope.

 

Wishing the Best!

 

Wishing the Best for this Week’s Celebrations!

Project RACE members, Board of Directors, Advisory Board, Executive Director

Project Teens and Project RACE Kids

extend our best wishes for

Multiracial Heritage Week (June 12 to June 19)

Loving Day (June 12) with weekend festivities

The Mixed Remix Roots Fest (June 14)

and

Juneteenth Day (June 19)

 

We hope everyone enjoys the celebrations! Thanks to the hard work of all the organizers!

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.