Mixed-race couples reflect on their experiences
INDIANAPOLIS, In. (NNPA) –Are interracial relationships still taboo?
According to findings from a Pew Research study which found that a record 14.6 percent of all new marriages in the United States are between spouses of different racial backgrounds. An indication that what was once taboo is slowly becoming more mainstream.
From Hollywood movies and cereal commercials on television, couples of mixed race are more visible and accepted. Yet the attitudes of those who disagree continue to exist, although not nearly as intense as they were in years past.
Miscegenation, which comes from the Latin words miscere (to mix) and genus (type, family, or descent), was illegal in several states up until the landmark 1967 Supreme Court case of Loving v. Virginia, which deemed anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional.
The case of Mildred and Richard Loving, a couple of childhood sweethearts who fled their home in Virginia to get married in Washington D.C., only to return and find themselves jailed as a result of unlawful cohabitation was less than 50 years ago. However, life in 2014 for those in interracial unions, although not as harsh, still has its challenges.
A recent release from the Indiana Civil Rights Commission revealed that a female bartender was terminated from her position at the Lebanon Moose Lodge in Lebanon, Ind., due in part to the fact that she is engaged to an African-American man.
Larron and Caitlin Smith, who have been married for four months, met while they were both attending Union Missionary Baptist Church in Muncie, Ind. Caitlin, who had never dated interracially before admits she went into their relationship with a certain level of naiveté.
Prior to dating Larron, she shared that she never gave much thought to what people outside their relationship would think as her immediate family was supportive of them from day one. “I liked Larron and it didn’t matter to me what color he was. I was like, ‘all right he seems like a nice guy, and he loves the Lord, why not?’”
Larron, who had previously dated outside his race shared that communication has helped them navigate tough situations. “I told her that there may be some people who won’t like you, and they may look at you funny now that you’re dating someone who’s not your same race,” said Larron. “People are going to say things and have their own points of view, but we have to love each other regardless.”
Christopher Jones, who has been in an interracial relationship with Christina Andree for seven years, has had similar experiences. He said early on in their relationship he and his girlfriend would receive mixed reactions when they went out in public. “Some people look at us like they don’t understand why we’re in a relationship,” said Jones. “And some people just see us as just another couple.”
Jones recalls the first time he met his girlfriend’s father as a particularly difficult experience. Andree’s father, who lives in California didn’t care for Blacks and upon finding out about his daughter’s relationship with Jones was initially “against it.”
“The first time I met him he was kind of stand-offish,” said Jones.
Since then he said things have changed for the better. “I feel like I’m a part of the family now. I believe they enjoy being around me.”
Although the Smiths have never experienced any extreme cases of racism, they have however encountered some less than friendly responses from strangers.
“Today, people aren’t outwardly vocal about how they feel about us, if they were to feel a certain way they may give you a cold shoulder or a look,” said Larron. He went on to say that they have not allowed the opinions of others to affect them negatively, due in large part to their faith in God and the support system they have found in friends, family, and other interracial couples.
“We’re thankful for those older mixed couples that have given us advice because it hasn’t been easy. I’m grateful to the people who made those sacrifices and made it easier for me to deal with things today,” said Larron. “We try to practice approaching every situation with love regardless of how somebody feels about us.”