And then there was Loving Day

By Guest Columnist May 11, 2007

(Photo: Ahead of the 40th anniversary of the legalization of interracial marriage June 12, mixed-raced couples have been in tnews lately. And the stories seem to have two major themes– that there are more interracial couples in the United States than ever before and that these couples are enjoying increasing social acceptance. While it’s true there are more interracial couples now, I’m not so sure they’ve gained freedom from prejudice and stigma. Every day, many people share with me their personal stories through—my website dedicated to celebrating interracial relationships–and at least half of these stories include first hand experience with racism. Many couples complain about everything from stares from strangers to discriminatory treatment from superiors at work and commanding officers in the military. Sadly, the most common thing I hear about is prejudice within families. Part of the problem may be that many people do not connect intimate relationships to our civil rights. For example, if someone were to suggest segregating our school system, many people would cite Brown v. Board of Education and the fact that “separate” is inherently unequal. But the idea of segregating love doesn’t often ring as a violation of civil rights despite the 1967 Loving v. Virginia, Supreme Court case that finally gave interracial couples equal protection under law. Many don’t know that a constitutional amendment against interracial marriage was proposed, or that most states had laws against interracial relationships, or that a newlywed couple by the name of Loving fought a nine-year legal battle that resulted in the nationwide legalization of interracial marriage. That’s where Loving Day—the project– comes in. I founded Loving Day in 2004 as a way to teach people about the history of interracial couples in America, and to make the Loving decision common knowledge like Brown v. Board of Education. The Loving Day project encourages people to host celebrations for friends and family around June 12th and to start a dialogue about this history as a way to fight prejudice. One day, I hope, Loving Day will be a national holiday that recognizes the legal mandates that uphold our right to love freely. Until then, l’m getting ready to celebrate on June 12. What will you do to celebrate? Check out my website for LovingDay event listings and resources. –Ken Tanabe