It should go without saying that we’re not against interracial dating, relationships or marriage. What we are against, however, is the fetishization of non-Afro women by men of the diaspora and the preferential prominence of interracial imagery over that of black-on-black love. And yet, all those frustrations withstanding, we still can’t wait to see Loving in theaters this fall.
The feature-length film is Hollywood’s adaptation of the real-life story of Richard and Mildred Loving, the black and white couple whose fight against anti-miscegenation laws in Virginia following their marriage landed them in Supreme Court in the late ’60s, and, honestly, the November 4 release of the flick couldn’t be more on time.
There’s no denying most of the United States is seeing black and white (as well as blue) right now, but instead of further showcasing those things which racially divide us, Loving serves as a reminder that blacks and whites can be on the same side in a fight, particularly when love is the foundation of our interactions rather than hate.
It’s obvious why comparisons are being drawn between the fight against police brutality today and the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and if nothing else, this film will serve as a strong lesson in resilience and the importance of fighting for one’s civil liberties. At just 18 years of age, Mildred, who was of African and Native American descent, became pregnant by Richard, a white man six years her senior, in 1958. To escape anti-miscegenation laws which forbade marriage between whites and “coloreds” (which 16 southern states had by 1967) the pair traveled to Washington D.C. to marry. But when they returned to Virginia, police raided their home based on an anonymous tip and the husband and wife were charged with violating a specific section of Virginia code which prohibited interracial couples from leaving the state to marry and then returning. (They sure thought of everything back then huh?)
Although they were sentenced to one year in prison, the couple’s sentence was suspended on condition they leave Virginia, which they did. However, the inability to travel and visit their families led Mildred to protest and eventually the American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion for the court to vacate the judgement. The Lovings also filed a class action suit which is what led to the 1967 Loving v. Virginia ruling that declared prohibition of interracial marriage unconstitutional.
Unsurprisingly, interracial marriage increased upon the issuing of that judgement, but the Loving case also set a precedent that would later be used to dismantle laws against same-sex marriage, which became legal nationwide just one year ago.
As the black community continues to question the lack of support from our so-called allies, both in our personal lives and on a national and international level, Loving is a clear manifestation of Martin Luther King’s words that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Were it not for Mildred and Richard, many interracial and same-sex couples may not be enjoying the freedoms of marital bliss the couple’s fight for justice affords them today. And it would reason that those who don’t immediately see themselves in the faces of the black men and women routinely killed by police today should be aware that failure to stand for justice today means it could be them another day. Let that be the Loving takeaway from this movie.