This week marks the 50th anniversary of a historic Supreme Court decision, Loving v. Virginia, overturning the laws against interracial marriage in the US. Like all civil rights milestones, this decision represented a progressive step forward for our country.
50 years later, the impact of this decision is plainly obvious when I watch television commercials, admire celebrities and public figures, go grocery shopping at my local Wal-Mart, and when I look at my partner.
A little over 17 years ago, as teenagers, we met and began dating. Even then, the images and representation of our love weren’t as prevalent as it is today. For the most part, we had the support of our families, but throughout the years have had to overcome the stereotypes of our relationship within the South.
Just to name a few of the ridiculous things we have to deal with:
- He usually has to drive so we don’t get as many dirty looks.
- He uses his card for our joint account to pay when we are in public to avoid dirty looks.
- Waiters/Waitresses never think we are together.
- When I shop alone, people are friendly and smile. When we are together, no so much.
- People seem to think it’s okay to say racist things around me like I won’t be offended because I’m white.
- I worry about him driving in larger cities in case we get stopped by the police.
- I worry about him (legally) carrying his handgun in case we get stopped by the police.
So, you can see, even though it’s been 50 years since this decision changed the landscape and faces that we are using to seeing, the racial climate in our country and especially the South isn’t perfect.
Just yesterday, I was scrolling through Facebook and came across a post highlighting a very serious racial issue within a county organization in my home county. This incident in particular and the accusations surrounding it bring the spotlight back on the fact that we are surrounded by racism and intolerance at all times.
…A little tangent
For all of you who happen to look like me, that spotlight that I’m referring to is my own White Privilege. There’s a lot of debate and confusion about that term, so let me break it down for you. The fact that I forget people are racist is White Privilege. My husband never forgets.
Back on track…
I’m very proud of how far the representation for interracial couples has come over the years and I’m hopeful that when my biracial nephew grows up, he will see images that represent his race on a more frequent basis.
That being said, our political and cultural climates have always been hesitant to progress and the necessity of human rights issues. I’m hopeful that things will get better all over, but especially in the South. I’m hopeful, but there will always be fear lingering in the back of my mind that some racist idiot could do something to hurt me, my husband, or my family.
So, who cares?
Well, hopefully, you care. Hopefully, you see the value in a cultural landscape that represents all people. Hopefully, you are vocal enough to stand up against intolerance of all kinds.
Human rights issues are important for the progress of a society. When those rights are dampened by a society’s government or its people, it’s the responsibility of others to stand witness and fight against that oppression.
Take that into consideration the next time your privilege blinds you.