Thursday, December 9, 2010

Miscegenation in America

For my movie review I watched Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?. When researching about the era that surrounded the production of the movie, I read about the Supreme Court case Loving vs. Virginia. Mildred and Peter Loving were a typical couple, except for one detail, they were in an interracial relationship. They had been married in the District of Columbia because under the Racial Integrity Act of Virginia a white and non-white were forbidden to be married. Virginia police broke into the Loving house, discovering the couple asleep in their bed, and arrested them for miscegenation. Miscegenation is the reproduction by two people who are of different races and in Virginia it was a felony punishable by one to five years in prison. In an unanimous decision the Supreme Court disregarded the Racial Integrity Act.

I was shocked to learn that there were still state laws forbidding interracial relationships until 2000. Only 58% of residents voted to remove the language that established these laws from the Alabama constitution. Regardless of how strictly the anti-miscegenation laws were enforced, the fact that the language remained in the state Constitutions shows that there are still racial tensions in the deep south. These laws are designed to preserve the ideas of racial inequality and White supremacy. Last year in Hammond, Louisiana an interracial couple were denied a marriage license by the local justice of peace, Keith Bardwell. The governor called for “disciplinary action [to] be taken immediately - including the revoking of his license,” because not only was the justice violating the Constitution and Supreme Court rulings, but it is not his job to approve of a unity, but to conduct a ceremony. Bardwell claimed “I’m not a racist...I do ceremonies for black couples right here in my house. My main concern is for the children”.

The ‘concern for the children’ was also an issue in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?. Joanna’s father based his objection on his concern on how society would treat his daughter and their children because their father would be African American. There are many situations, familial or otherwise, that I can think of that are much worse than being biracial. I have many friends who are half Black, half White, and have much healthier relationships than my all White friends. As Joanna’s father realized, being happy can be reduced to one thing: love. If the children grow up in a loving family that teaches them patience, then they will teach themselves that those who judge them due to their parents are just ignorant.

For more info on the Louisiana couple:


  1. Wow, I am truly blown away that anti-miscegination laws still exist in America, and that they are still being justified. I also recently watched Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, and I think that while it is, perhaps, a highly idealistic and "liberal" portrayal of the issue of interracial marriage, the matter of love is paramount. Questions of institutional integration and segregation aside, it is absurd to think that miscegination is naturally immoral. The issue of legislating love is clearly still alive in our society. One also sees the legislation of love occuring around the question of gay marriage. I think that there are some definite parallels between what you described in your post regarding interracial marriage and the more popular topic of same-sex marriage. Maybe in thinking about the Civil Rights Movement simply in terms of race we are missing some other dimensions. The movement speaks specifically about civil rights which are not limited simply to questions of blackness and whiteness. Gender and sexuality are also issues that the movement can speak to and inform, and perhaps one can begin to conceive of the movement in even broader terms. Nice post. It is definitely interesting to know that anti miscegination laws are still in place.

  2. I am also very shocked to hear that anti-miscegenation laws were still in place in certain States in the United States and the fact that people support such ideas really disgusts me! I cannot believe that people living in a modern society in America, “the country of freedom”, can still believe in such archaic ways and inflict it on people. And they do this with the help of the law to justify their acts! There are so many contradictions in the American system, constitution and law. These laws should be forbidden and people using them should definitely be prosecuted.

  3. You and your life partner have chosen it's the ideal opportunity for him to "meet the people." So, you are taking him home for the occasion. Is there anything you can do to guarantee an awesome initial introduction and evade a "Meet The Fockers" experience? Guess Who's Coming to Dinner' dad