Interracial Relationships, More Common But Still Not Universally Accepted

In 1967, a white man named Richard Loving fell in love with an african american woman named Mildred Jeter, she got pregnant and they decided to elope in Washington, D.C. Once they returned home from their trip their newlywed bliss was soon interrupted when their home was raided in the middle of the night. The officers were hoping to find them having sex but instead found them sleeping peacefully. During this time interracial marriage and intercourse in the state of Virginia was illegal. As a result they were arrested and charged for miscegenation, a felony that was punishable by a prison sentence. They both pleaded guilty to the charges and were sentenced to one year in prison, simply for falling in love. The judge agreed to suspend the sentence under the condition that they leave Virginia and never return together for at least 25 years. After their release the couple moved to the District of Columbia, leaving behind their families and friends. Frustrated by their financial difficulties and social isolation Mildred wrote to the Attorney General and on June 12, 1967 the U.S Supreme Court overturned the Lovings' convictions in an unanimous decision. This case made interracial marriage legal throughout the entire United States.

This U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized interracial marriages across the United States was only made 50 years ago. Although the United States has come a long way since then, there are still a lot of prejudices and discrimination that interracial couples face. There are an estimated nine million interracial marriages in the United States, that is 2.9% of the population. Although interracial couples are more common they are not universally accepted. In 2016, 14% of adults in America said that they would be opposed to having one of their relatives marry someone who is African American.

The popular dating site "OKCupid" conducted a survey that showed that African American Men and Women face the biggest "penalties" from daters of other races. This is a strong sign of continued discrimination against African Americans. PEW Research Center also conducted a study that found that almost half of Americans are still against interracial marriages.

When most people think of racism they think about lynching and the Ku Klux Klan. But racism doesn't have to be this extreme, giving someone a dirty look on the street because of their race, cutting off your family members because of who they chose to date and even small digs about a persons race can all be classified as racism.

Growing up as a white girl in suburban New York I never really experienced racism, that was until I started dating an African American man. Once me and my significant other started holding hands in public I began to notice the stares. At first it was easy to ignore but then it became so bluntly obvious that I couldn't just ignore it. It made me angry that people were so quick to judge us based on something neither of us could control, why did these strangers hate us so much when all we did was fall in love? When I started voicing my opinion to every person who gave us a dirty look or stared for just a little too long my boyfriend told me that this happens all the time and I should just ignore it. But that doesn't seem fair to me, we shouldn't ignore things that are not right simply because it is the easier thing to do. If we use that as our philosophy things will never get better and they may even get worse.

I was fortunate enough that my family accepted who I date as long as they treat me right but many people are not. I have distant cousins who have actually disowned their own sister and her son because she has chose to be with an African American man so I grateful that I was not raised with disdain for other races like other children are.  Racism begins at home, if parents stop treating interracial relationship as such a taboo subject I strongly believe that racism will decrease a great deal and may even be eradicated completely.

By Kristen Catalano

Reflection Magazine