At one time anti-miscenation laws in this country made marriages between two persons of different races illegal. The most obvious of these would be Black and White marriages, but they also extended easily to Americans of Asian descent and White unions, as well. While the concepts of people of mixed race aren’t a big deal to most people nowadays, this race based law was still considered legal up through 1967, when this law was finally declared unconstitutional.
We can thank Mildred and Richard for that. By the 19th century, anti-miscegenation laws were enacted in most states, and in 1880, California passed a law prohibiting the marriage between any white person and a “Negro, mulatto, or Mongolian.” In June 1958, Mildred Jeter, an African American, and Richard Loving, a white man, were married in the District of Columbia. Shortly after their marriage the Lovings returned to Virginia to establish their marital abode. In October 1958 the Lovings were indicted by a grand jury with violating Virginia’s ban on interracial marriages.
The judge, in his opinion, stated, “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.” With a suspended sentence, the Lovings moved to DC and in November of 1963 filed a motion to vacate the judgment and set aside the sentence on the ground that the statutes had violated the Fourteenth amendment.
People of mixed race have existed in the United States for hundreds of years, despite anti-miscegenation laws. Some have created their own distinct mixed reality of culture, history and tradition, notably the Creoles of Color and the Black Seminoles. Increased mixed race marriages and the increase of minority populations have been giving rise to Generation M, whose numbers on the 2000 US Census quickly attracting the attention of demographers. It will be interesting to see the changes in Census 2010.
Persons of mixed race are not only a growing demographic, but also one that is beginning to develop its own group identity. This movement runs counter to assumptions that the offspring of increasing mixed marriages will lessen the importance of race and ethnicity through assimilation.
There have been many books written about and for biracials and multiracials and their unique experiences. One word that has long been used within the Hawaiian and Japanese American community is hapa, which means “part Asian.” One of the experiences that many people of mixed racial backgrounds have experienced often mirrors what visible minorities have experienced, where oftentimes they are asked by someone who is objectifying them, “What are you?” or if their phenotype looks markedly like another racial group, they’ll also get the perpetual foreigner syndrome thrown in and be asked, “Where are you from?”
The Chicago Field Museum will be hosting an exhibit by Kip Fulbeck, called: “Part Asian – 100% hapa” on April 11th, 2010. Mixed race persons are increasingly the face of our new United States, and this exhibit is a must see for anyone interested in changing demographic trends, culture and societal changes in our nation.