It wasn’t until the United States ended the formal chattel slave system that authorities wanted to prevent the birth of more mixed-race children, when those children were no longer viewed in terms of their potential profit to white slaveholders but were instead viewed as symbolic threats to white supremacy.
If white supremacy says that blacks, particularly black women, are subhuman, then the symbolic resonance of whites and blacks, particularly white men and black women like the Lovings, belonging to the same nuclear family shakes the foundation of white domination.
Mildred, a black woman, and Richard, a white man, were arrested in Virginia in 1958 for being in an interracial marriage.
They sued and took their case all the way to the U. Supreme Court and won, helping to strike down anti-miscegenation laws across the country.
Over the years some have questioned the significance of the court case, but I think it’s important for us to recognize the interconnectedness of marriage and “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy” (bell hooks) here in the United States. One of the most interesting aspects of this new movie in 2016 is that it depicts interracial love in which the woman is black.
Marriage is more than just a trivial matter of personal and private choices. While we might be quite accustomed to seeing the black man-nonblack woman pairing, we’re far less likely to see depictions of black women in interracial marriages.
Marriage is an institution whose bricks were mortared with white supremacy, capitalism, and patriarchy just like all other U. (And I intentionally use words like “love” and “marriage” as opposed to a looser term like “relationships.” I will explain why in a sec.) Other writers have discussed why so few stories and images in Western culture feature black women as the love interest in interracial romance.
For example, Brittany Slatton’s book (2014) concisely depicts the intense levels of misogynoir in the United States.
Among these myths are ones you’ve probably heard of (perhaps some you’ve believed): black women in general are inherently less feminine/more masculine, have animalistic and uncontrollable sexuality, lack intelligence and civility, and are lazy and irresponsible.
A significant aspect of the marriage institution is combining economic assets and bearing “legitimate” or legal heirs to the family’s legacy.
By making it illegal to marry black people, white society tried to guarantee that their wealth would never fall into the hands of blacks.
Laws preventing interracial marriage really just applied to white people.
The creators of anti-miscegenation laws couldn’t care less about the coupling of various other races and ethnic groups.
For one, the movie doesn’t appear to alleviate the underrepresentation of dark skinned black women in leading roles, especially as love interests.
This is a legitimate industry problem, but I don’t see this as a problem inherent to the movie itself (as it is in other notorious biopics).
What the book does remind us, however, is that while society doesn’t view black women as suitable marriage partners, society has always viewed black women as sex objects with whom white men (or any men) could do as they pleased.
And this is why I focus on the words “love” and “marriage.” It’s not enough to have stories or see images of men lusting for black women’s bodies in a purely sexual way.
Ruth Negga, who stars in the leading role as Mildred Loving, also Skyped in from London to do a live interview with us.
There’s still a surprising number of people who have never heard the history of Mildred and Richard Loving, despite its significance in the Civil Rights legacy.