We got to talk about “The Lovings”
Despite the redness from insomnia and stress, my dad’s eyes are almost always blue. But sometimes, in daylight, usually when he’s relaxed and out of his heavy work routine, his eyes turn into a pure green. I’ve always admired that, but it’s funny how I never imagined inheriting those eyes on my face.
I also never imagined having the same coil hair as my mom, although I always thought it was absolutely beautiful. I still remember that every Saturday morning she would stoop down in the backyard to do her hair moisturizing ritual, usually with aloe vera picked from my dad’s garden.
She always reserved some for my hair too, which despite being wavy, almost curly — halfway between my dad’s straight hair and her coils — didn’t need as much hydration as hers. I always joke about the fact that one side of my head is smooth and the other is frizzy. One side of my mother, one side of my father.
My grandmother from my mom’s side is the daughter of a native Indian and my grandfather is of Syrian descent. I’m a Brazilian, and like the majority of the Brazilian people, I am the result of a great mix of races. The classic “coffee with milk”.
But during the 24 years that I lived in Brazil, I never felt weird, or inferior because of it. To be honest, I never even thought of the matter, until early 2020 when I arrived in the United States. Back then I learned that I would have to face xenophobia during my journey there, where I was participating in an exchange program, commonly known as Au Pair.
Au pairs are young adults from overseas who live with American host families providing childcare. As an au pair, is a requirement to complete a 6 credits class in any topic of my choice.
One of the classes I took was American Law Through Popular Culture, with Hudson County Community College and lectured by the amazing professor Mona Ressaissi. During the class, Mona exposed the students to a great selection of articles and documentaries. One of them is the movie “Loving” — available on Netflix ;) — which tells the factual love story of a young couple who fell in love back in the ’50s.
Although the movie is good — and I do recommend it — at this time, I will share spoilers. That’s because this is an important history that needs to be spoken about, like right now!
In the small town of Central Point in Caroline County, eastern Virginia, they could be just one more family starting a normal life in the country, raising their three children. But because of the difference in their skin tone, they had to face jail and a court battle that lasted for nearly 10 years.
Because of the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, interracial marriage was illegal in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Therefore, Richard Loving, a white man, took Mildred Delores, who was of African American and Native American descent, to get married in Washington-DC.
When they returned to their home in Virgínia, they were arrested. Then the judge sentenced them to a one-year jail term, which he agreed to suspend if the couple would leave Virginia with the promise of not returning for 25 years. TWENTY-FIVE YEARS.
The Lovings moved to DC. Mildred is the one who deeply feels the impact of having to leave her community. It’s difficult for her to raise her children away from the tranquility of the countryside, the place where she is happiest. Meanwhile, Richard worries a lot about taking care of his family and dreads having to see his wife behind bars.
When Mildred sees the possibility of fighting the Virginia state decision, she has hope, while Richard, who despite not having a court battle as his priority, understands his wife’s reasons for wanting to fight for the right to finally be able to return home.
So with the support of UCLA lawyers, The Loving’s case went to the Supreme Court. For Richard, the whole process of having to talk to lawyers and having journalists and TV shows coming to his house seems to be too disturbing. He seems to be a shy man who only wants tranquility.
On the other side, Mildred is willing to take every necessary step in the process. But for her, it is important to have Richard by her side, so when he decides not to attend the American Supreme Court, she stays with him.
At first, I must say that I judged Richard’s decision. But then, when Cohen — the lawyer — asks Richard what message he wants him to deliver to the Supreme Court, he just says he wants the court to know he loves his wife. This moment is crucial to remind us that they are just a family trying to live their lives and love in peace.
Finally, in June 1967, the United States Supreme Court voted in favor of the Lovings and ruled that Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law was unconstitutional. After facing the absurdity of not having the right to live their love, the Lovings finally won.
Cases like this should always be remembered, most importantly because this is part of recent history. Although we are slowly moving towards to be a more conscious society, there is still a lot to be done and achieved in terms of social rights. After all, people denying it or not, the effects left by slavery are still felt today MUCH MORE than we can imagine.
In September 2021, the image of Haitian immigrants on the Texas border being whipped by border officials shocked the world. Those people were desperate and saw no alternative but leave their country and come to seek asylum in the US. Arriving here, all they found was inhumane treatment and cruelty. Many faced deportations. Would that episode be a reflection of racism, xenophobia, and anti-human treatment? The answer we all know.
My parents started to live together in 1995. By that time they wouldn’t get arrested for being an interracial couple. But for the 25 years that they remained together, they both had to face the disapproval of others around them. My mom also faces racism. And I, today in the US, face xenophobia.
It’s common that, behind the cases of xenophobia, there is also implicit racism, as a person’s nationality often implies a different ethnicity. Given this, it is important to raise the discussion to a higher level, as it is good to remember that North-American society is and is becoming even more mixed.
According to Pew Research Center’s analysis of Census Bureau on 2015 data, one in seven US babies were multiracial or multiethnic.
That said, personally, it’s impossible for me to pick just one big problem of social inequality when in fact they’re all so tied together. There is an urgency on raising social awareness among all kinds of people, age, color, and financial situation, and not less important, to take a look at the past.
A good example is The “Loving Day”, an organization supported by volunteers working on the mission of sharing the loving day — which is the anniversary of the historic decision on interracial marriage — to fight racism through education, creating visibility, and building a community.
Therefore, what people need to understand is that they are indeed related to those Haitian or other immigrants from all around the world, to black people being cruelly killed by the police, women dying in clandestine abortion clinics, and even LGBTQIA+ people being killed for only existing. We are all attached to these facts because they do not come from another world, these are facts of the world we live in today.