Source : Google photo
Synopsis: There was a time in the United States when the mixing of races was banned but such laws have been annulled so many people of various races get married and raise wonderful children these days . I believe this trend will continue as more and more people worldwide realize that racism is outdated .
Did you know that as late as 1967, there were laws in the United States against inter- racial marriages in most states? Such couples faced almost nationwide discrimination and were socially outcast. They could not easily rent a house, faced looks of disapproval and even violence everywhere and their children suffered in school.
This prejudice came due to inherent racism the whites practiced against people of other race and color and made laws that the police and courts rigorously enforced making life very difficult for two people of different race who loved each other and wanted to live somewhere peacefully and raise their children normally.
Such couple were arrested, jailed and their families torn apart. They were often viciously attacked by the whites and the waiters refused to serve them in restaurants. You have to understand this kind of naked racism in the context of the bitter racial hatred generated by the era of slavery in the United States where blacks marrying whites were lynched publicly and often killed by the KKK whose members included the police and even the judges.
But the Supreme Court struck down the law the states used to prosecute mixed married couples that opened the way to more inter racial marriages but it is harder to change people than the law. It is harder to root out racism by making laws because those who have to implement the laws are often the ones who promote the racism they learned from their parents and grandparents.
The case of Richard and Mildred Loving:
Source : Google photo
Richard P. Loving and his wife, Mildred, pose in this Jan. 26, 1965, file photograph. Residents of Caroline County, Va., the Lovings married in Washington, D.C., in 1958. Upon their return to Virginia, the interracial couple was convicted under the state’s law that banned mixed marriages. They eventually won a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June 1967 that overturned laws prohibiting interracial unions.
This was a landmark victory for the Loving couple that paved the way for more inter racial marriages in the country.
The racism is deeply rooted in low level of education; misguided belief system that whites are superior to others so must not marry nonwhites, in the social ostracism against such people based on purely racial hatred and a firm opposition to mixed marriage that “diluted their pure blood”.
From less than 3% couple marrying outside their race and ethnicity in 1967 to more than 10% now shows a gradual trend in the growth of inter-racial marriages and a greater level of acceptance from the new generation that has moved away from their hard line parents and grandparents in most parts but this has something to do with the greater workplace assimilation and a higher level of education in general although this is limited to great urban areas.
The heartland of the country where most of the uneducated or people with low level of education living in poverty or even below the poverty line are still the champions of racism and they happen to be white who do not care much about the law against open or not so open discrimination against anyone based on skin color or ethnicity. These are the hard core people who still cling to the outdated idea that their skin color makes them superior to others.
Social changes to make the society better comes slowly anywhere no matter what the law says because as I said before, it is easier to enact a law than to change people and their attitude they have acquired over generations and are loath to let go. The idea that all men (and women) are equal in the eyes of the law is easier written in the constitution than practiced. Some will still smirk and say “some are more equal than others “or some such nonsense.
Through all my travels all over the world, I have noticed that in some countries, people tend to be more accepting and liberal in their attitude toward mixed marriages while in other countries they are still struggling with the idea that we are all of human race and should value our humanity first.
When I was leaving India in 1967 for Vietnam, many people told me not to bring back a foreign wife because they said that it was not the right thing to do although at that time I was very young and was not thinking of getting a wife foreign or not. Someone even pressured me to get married to a Bengali girl before leaving for abroad and leave the poor girl with them so that I will return someday. It goes to show the decadent mentality that existed and still persists in our society.
There was a gentleman who went to Germany to study and work where he married a beautiful German girl. When they returned to India for a visit, the relatives roundly criticized the poor German girl who asked for bottled water among other things. They criticized her short dresses, her demand for cleanliness and who did not like spicy food. Most of it was culture based but there was a latent disapproval of the foreign girl who was trying hard to please her in laws.
This was in a country where most people are of dark skin and live in less than sanitary conditions that the Europeans are used to but have strong belief that they are a superior race so the Indian fellow should not have married a foreign woman. There are plenty of beautiful Indian girls to choose from so why bring a foreign woman who does not even drink our water or like our gorgeous food?
I will mention here another story related to this subject.
An Indian fellow who went to study in the United States married a white American girl who was beautiful, smart and educated. When they went to India to pay a visit to his relatives and introduce her to the Bengali society, they at first enjoyed the brief honeymoon period so to speak but soon the reality started to sink in and the American girl felt a deep sense of unease.
She felt that the women did not approve of her and her faith. They brought lavish gifts for everybody but that did not win their heart. The younger brother of her husband asked her help to get him an American visa so she promised to help by talking to the US consul. Then a young and obviously pregnant woman approached her and asked her help saying that she was impregnated by this rogue fellow who now wanted to go to the US and refused to acknowledge her and help her with assistance.
Her father in law who was a college professor wanted to get into politics and wanted her monetary support for his election campaign but she found out that he was into very dirty politics and was an immoral and unprincipled person who would do anything to win.
So she urged her husband to return to the US because she saw the very dark side of his family and was shocked. When she refused to help the father in law and the son, they turned against her. The only person who believed in her goodness was the grandfather who saw everything and who disapproved his son and his grandson.
What we learn here is that they did not like her being a foreign woman but took her expensive gifts and looked for more until she came to her senses and saw through their thin veneer of respectability and found only greed and prejudice. They returned to the United States and never to return to India.
I will now mention a third story related to this subject of interracial romance and marriage. This happened in the Philippines where racism persists and they look down on black people although Filipinos are not white.
One girl brought her black boyfriend to her small village to introduce him to her folks but they were shocked and disapproved. It did not matter to them that the fellow was very good looking, educated and smart who was trying very hard to win their heart.
Then one day a small boy fell into a well while others could do nothing but this young man quickly jumped into the well and brought the kid out alive although a bit traumatized by the accident. This incident changed their heart and now they saw in the black fellow a man of character and bravery.
So what we learn again and again is that prejudice and racism exists everywhere in various degrees but the root cause is ignorance. People who come to their senses and see a person and his qualities then change their mind and accept like those Filipinos in the village.
Two people who love each other and get married overcome all their differences of faith, skin color and upbringing because they commit to a lasting relationship based on mutual respect and admiration. Such bond thus created can be very resilient and outlast all disapprobation and difficulties unless the society as a whole stands up against them to make their life difficult.
I can imagine the mixed marriage couple still having a hard time in South Africa where not too long ago the apartheid regime insisted on strict racial separations.
Adolf Hitler took this separation to an extreme where he insisted on the mythical Aryan purity of his race although some say his mother was Jewish. Remember Jesse Owens when he won Olympic gold medals in Berlin in 1936? Hitler could not stand it that Jesse was black and was winning gold medal beating all his opponents including the whites and left the stadium in disgust.
As we make progress toward a more racially balanced society in some countries and make friends with people who are of different race or belong to other ethnic minority, we find that race and color makes no difference. Even different faith makes no difference as long as they find each other worthy.
In any society, I find women more progressive who are willing to accept such differences and give it a chance to succeed with perhaps the exception of India or some Moslem countries where traditions are more important than anything else.
I find women more willing to take their chances of marrying a person very different and of another race and color or faith to be happy. If you ask them if they are happy, most will say that yes they are very happy and proud of their husband and their beautiful children.
Such women then lay the foundation of a just society where people are not judged based on their skin color but on their qualities as a human being. Barack Obama comes to mind who gained the respect of the world who came from a mixed marriage himself.
As more mixed couple gain acceptance in the society where they live, they bring a new understanding to ignorant people who cling to their prejudices. I hope that someday people will learn to look at a person based on his or her qualities and appreciate that we are all capable of excellence. The world will be richer in knowledge and a better place to live when that happens everywhere. I am cautiously hopeful.