The Color of Love | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

The Color of Love

"You don't know who you are, holding that cracker's hand!" I heard a woman say as my husband and I walked down the street in San Diego. At first I didn't register what she said, and I didn't know if the words were directed at us.

But as the middle-aged black woman got closer, it became clear she was talking to us. She was shaking her head at me with judgment on her face. The only response I could think of was, "He's not white; he's Mexican."

Prior to moving here from California, I was a little scared of what it would be like living in the South as an interracial couple. Would people say ugly things? Would people stare? Would our mixed-race son have a hard time making friends and fitting in?

One in seven new U.S. marriages are interracial or interethnic, according to a 2010 Pew Research Center report entitled "Marrying Out," based on 2008 U.S. Census data. Pew is a nonpartisan group that studies the behaviors and attitudes of Americans through public-opinion surveys and data analysis. A 2009 survey conducted by the center found that more than six-in-ten or 63 percent of Americans "would be fine" if a family member told them they planned to marry outside their race.

The survey also found that younger Americans (ages 18 to 29) are generally more accepting of the trend than older Americans (ages 30 to 49.) The findings stand in stark contrast to a 1958 Gallup poll that showed only 4 percent of Americans approved of marriages between "white and non-whites."

Yet, in 2010, a Louisiana justice of the peace refused to marry a mixed-race couple. And in 2007 former Boise State running back Ian Johnson said he and his bride, Chrissy, received phone calls, letters and personal threats after he proposed to her during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma. Johnson is black, and Chrissy is white.

It appears things are looking up, but underlying tensions still exist surrounding this topic. When it comes down to it all, it shouldn't matter.

My husband has known me since I was 15. That's a long time, and our relationship hasn't always been harmonious. We've teetered between blissful highs and, at times, seemingly insurmountable lows. Like all relationships, we are two distinct individuals with our own ideas of how to do things. We entered into this union with our respective goals, dreams, issues and baggage--the majority of which has little to do with skin color.

In the late 17th century, North America passed anti-miscegenation laws that made it a crime to marry or have an intimate relationship outside your race. It wasn't until the 1967 Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia that anti-miscegenation laws were overturned.

The case involved a white man and black woman, Richard and Mildred Loving, who married in 1958 in Washington, D.C., because it was illegal to do so in their home state of Virginia. They were arrested in the middle of the night after they returned home.

A judge sentenced them to a year in prison or exile from Virginia for 25 years. "Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents," he said. "... The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix."

Wow. That's all I can say to that.

On the 40th anniversary of the historic Supreme Court decision, Mildred Loving said: "I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard's and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That's what Loving, and loving, are all about."

Mike is my partner in every sense of the word. He is a fierce protector of my honor and my heart. He has held me up during my darkest moments of depression and debilitating illness. He has taken on several jobs at a time, or jobs far below his education and skills, to provide for our family.

I have watched him mature in rearing our son to be a good man of character and integrity. He's grown in his relationship with God--daily surrendering his life, pride and shortcomings to be a better man for our family.

Mike is open with his feelings and sensitive to mine. And if that isn't enough, he moved across the country so I could be close to my ailing mother. That alone deserves a standing ovation.

When I look at my husband, I don't see color as the sum total of who he is. I see a man who continually loves me "for better and for worst." As we move into our eighth year of marriage, I know it's time for me to step up my game. Although I'd had quite a bit of life experience before I got married, I was still fairly young. At 25, I was still getting to know myself. Because of this, or perhaps in spite of this, I have not always treated my husband fairly. I have been selfish in some of my decisions and have not always trusted his judgment. I have not always given him my best.

It's said that behind every great man, there is a strong woman. As black women, we are expected to be strong. Our strength has been forged on the backs of our ancestors as they endured the atrocities of slavery and segregation. In marriage, it's imperative that we take that strength and not just hoard it for ourselves, but also pour it into the lives of the men we love. Use it to hold them up during the times life is trying to knock them down. Stand in his corner, cheering him on as he strives to accomplish his goals.

I will do better to guard my husband's heart, because men can be just as vulnerable as women. They have fears and insecurities, too. I will hold my tongue, and not allow my frustration to fling unkind and insensitive words that serve no purpose and produce nothing good. Instead, I will sow words and acts of kindness and gentleness into his spirit. I will exhibit understanding when he makes a mistake or fails, because I'd want him to do the same for me.

Despite his flaws (and we all have them), my husband is trustworthy, patient with my foolishness and loyal.

If I could go back to that day in San Diego I'd answer, "Actually, I do know who I am. I am a woman who chose this man, and in this man I've found an enduring love that I can only hope everyone else has in their lives."

Previous Comments

ID
161573
Comment

In this world where love is a minority compared to hate, I admire you for not smacking the crap out of that woman. How dare she!!!???? Anyway, love is beautiful whether it's opposite sex or same sex; interacial or not interracial. It's really a shame that there are people in this world today who still think that they have the right to judge someone else's choices. I'm embarassed for that woman and for most of these idiots who seem to think that their way is the only way so it's got to be the right way. SN: Is there a way to remove this annoying silverado ad from the bottom of my page....i can't see jack! *Queen out*

Author
Queen601
Date
2011-01-12T13:20:02-06:00
ID
161579
Comment

Great article... but 1 out of 6 isn't 63%, it's less than 17%. Which statistic is correct? Do 63% of Americans say they would be fine with someone in their family "marrying out"? Or less than 17%? Definitely changes the conversation about the level of acceptance reflected in the survey results...

Author
BethIsadora
Date
2011-01-12T14:12:19-06:00
ID
161585
Comment

Dear Mrs. Jacomb, Thanks for sharing your story. It is true that love transends color. When we can only experience love based on the color of a person's skin,their race or ethnicity, we are not talking about love: This is fear, ignorance, sterotyping, shame, guilt, grandiosity, superiority and the list goes one. One might argue that their selection process (choosing who to love) is rooted in folk-ways and customs. Iraq is not the only country that have "honor killings". There have been many white females who have been killed or for sure, disinherited by families because of relationships with black males. I have also heard some disturbing things from black women about men who dat/marry white. It is interesting that there are fewer negatives about black women who marry white. Hang in there and my best regards to you and your family. Justjess

Author
justjess
Date
2011-01-12T15:05:57-06:00
ID
161597
Comment

Beth, it's 63%. Or more than six-in-ten. Sorry about that. Here is the link to the report if you'd be interesting in looking at the full study. There's some good data in there. Thanks for the catch!--ShaWanda http://pewsocialtrends.org/files/2010/10/755-marrying-out.pdf

Author
ShaWanda Jacome
Date
2011-01-12T22:36:19-06:00
ID
161599
Comment

JustJess- Thanks for the kind comments on my story. I have several female friends that are white who have married black men. And they have received far more negative comments than I have on their relationships. This might be related to what is known as the "marriage squeeze." This being, either the perception or reality, that the pool of "eligible" or "desirable" black men is less than the number of black women looking for mates. However, for me this raises an even bigger question, why is that? Why is the pool of "eligible" so small? And to answer this question, we'd have to look back to our history. And we'd have to look at our current prison system, the inequalities in job advancement and the overall treatment of the black man in our society. That's a whole other can of worms. Yet regardless, I'm still NOT in favor of others judging or being negative about who someone chooses to marry. That's the choice of those two people. You love who you love. And if you're in a good relationship, then I think that is what's most imporatnt. I'm not saying everyone has to do what I did and marry outside their race, I'm simply saying that there's nothing wrong with it. It's a personal choice. My co-worker, Natlie Collier, wrote a similar column this week from the perspective of a single black women. You should check it out: http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/index.php/site/comments/collier_single_black_female_011211/

Author
ShaWanda Jacome
Date
2011-01-12T23:10:08-06:00
ID
161600
Comment

Queen, I know the nerve of that lady. I think I was so stunned, that I didn't have time to react. That's probably a good thing though. And yes love is such a beautiful thing. With all the ugly things that happen in our world, if you can find true love then embrace it. And the rest of us should be happy and rejoice with them.

Author
ShaWanda Jacome
Date
2011-01-12T23:15:05-06:00
ID
161605
Comment

So agreed!!!! One of my friends just said yesterday how beautiful it is to see friends and those we care about in love and I had to agree. It warms my heart to see the real kind of love. The kind where they don't have to tell you they are in love, you can feel it; see it. Oh the small blessing we have and don't pay attention it - witnessing love is one of them. Thanks again for the article. NOTE: I don't condone violence....I wouldn't have slapped the woman either (I don't think LOL!!!). Clearly she wasn't worth the time or energy and unfortunately, it wouldn't have changed her opinion.

Author
Queen601
Date
2011-01-13T09:40:30-06:00
ID
161661
Comment

That happened in San Diego? I used to live there and I found most people to be quite open-minded. But it doesn't matter where it happened, you found somebody you're happy with and who cares what others say or think.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2011-01-14T14:39:49-06:00
ID
161675
Comment

I know, I was shocked that it happened in San Diego. I think that's one of the things that caught me off guard.

Author
ShaWanda Jacome
Date
2011-01-15T17:54:05-06:00
ID
161677
Comment

Being raised in the Pacific Northwest, I had no clue about racial issues. When I moved to Mississippi in my early teens, it was like another world. A step back in time if you will. African Americans have never tolerated racial slurs out west and most of the women here have a zero tolerance. Change is slow to come in Mississippi because it involves generations of teaching hate to the young. I was appalled when I read in the paper that a Jackson elementary school actually forbid young kids from expressing their excitement over President Obama winning the Presidency. They didn't want the white kids getting upset. It all goes back to generations of teaching your children well. Obviously the teachers can only teach what they themselves have been taught over the years. They still have a lot to learn.

Author
DeGuyz
Date
2011-01-16T12:06:58-06:00

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