Tuesday, June 12, 2007

love bizarre

Since I'm sort of an NPR junkie, the wonderful folks at All Things Considered brought to my attention that today marks the 40th anniversary since the landmark Loving v. Virginia decision. That case, heard by the Warren court (the homies who brought you the Brown v. the Board of Education decision), struck down Virginia's anti-miscegenation statute, enabling the homesick Lovings to return to Virginia.

After surfing the web, I discovered Loving Day--an annual holiday which commemorates the Loving decision, and celebrates interracial couples... and legalized miscegenation. (Tongue-in-cheek... Really, I love racial mixing. How else could I have this afro?) Along with a list of Loving Day events on or around June 12th held throughout the country, the website includes legal history, testimonials from people in interracial relationships, e-cards, and a downloadable Loving Day kit for those wishing to start their own celebrations. (There is also a Loving Day Decision Conference being held in my own backyard. I don't particularly care for academic conferences, but I must admit that the "Multiracial Comedy Night" aroused my interest.)

What I found most interesting about the Loving site is its mission statement. One of the goals is to, "Build multicultural awareness, understanding, acceptance, and identity." I'm curious about the identity part; the creation of community/ies committed to uniting people under a multi-cultural/multi-racial banner. It seems to me that this kind of dedication to community building shows the limits of employing the courts to promote revolutionary social change in a way that makes race an actual myth. (Not that that's the point of such court cases.) For, though it may allow one to marry across racial lines (or go to the school closest to one's home), it seems that this kind of response understands that (assigning certain values to) race, though it may not connote inherent inequality, still implies difference beyond physical characteristics. That it is something so ingrained in our social psyche that efforts to integrate otherwise stratified groups simply create another ("mulatto minded" if I may borrow from Schuyler) identity that is equally based on race. The culture that results, I suppose, is a sort of reaction formation.

My point, if I have one, is that race--the way we understand it socially--still exists not only because racism still exists, but also because people continue to orient themselves racially. That difference, if we remember Morrison's, Paradise, is essential to societies; and in America, if we remember Schuyler's, Black No More, that difference is based on skin color, race. Though Marxists would have us believe that differences can be assigned to class, that is not the way people understand themselves. I have a tendency, for example, to add geography to the equation. Black culture often seems to overlap with Southern culture. When I think about it, though, I have to go one step further, for Southern--above the Mason-Dixon, at least--often means white, and black can often just mean Southern. In other words, I've yet to understand the concept of color-blindedness outside of an actual visual disability.

That said, you love who you love. It's hard to find a partner out there, and who am I to make political assessments via one's partner? This does not, however, deny that certain pursuers of partners outside of their own racial group aren't fetishizing the object of his/her affection. Yet, I believe that to a certain degree fetishization occurs in all relationships; some are just more easy to discern.

N.B. Along with a Loving Day Celebration Kit, I think organizers should also provide an, "I married an uber-Negroid man, and my kids didn't get 'good' hair kit" for potential non-Negro mothers. Such kits would include Vaseline, a pressing comb, some Blue Magic, emergency phone numbers, etc. I'm just saying...


language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. language alone is meditation. ~toni morrison


Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow i have missed your quirky takes on the world. How u been?

Your cyber friend,
Harold Gibson

5/7/07 19:37  

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