Race, Love, and Marriage

A Look into the Lives and Stories of Interracial Couples

Race, Love, and Marriage

Begai Prom, Editor

In 1967, the Supreme Court ruled intermarriage to be fully legal in all US states. Prior to this decision, interracial couples all over the country were forced to either live in secret or end their relationships. The January panel at SSFS displayed the different experiences each of the couples went through on their journey and highlighted the pressures put on them by the law, as well as their families.

One of the things that stuck out to me most was the dynamic between the older couples and younger couples on the panel. In the 60’s, interracial marriage was harder to achieve and one of the older panelists noted how she and her husband desperately searched the country for a church that would perform the ceremony. Around the time that younger couples wanted to get married, interracial marriage was no longer against the law. These couples mostly mentioned how, for them, the problem never lay within the law. It was more of an issue with the perceptions of their families and the public.

At an event attended by my brother and his wife, the two reflected on an instance where they felt isolated from the predominantly white crowd. My sister in law later stated, “There’s a difference between being the only black person in the room, and feeling like the only black person in the room.” When attending the panel discussion, I reflected back on what my sister in law had said and applied that to the experiences shared by the panelists. When asked how her spouse’s family reacted to her becoming a part of the family, Heather stated, “I am still a curiosity after all these years.” The panelists shared a common feeling of being left out and experiencing difficulty when adapting to a new culture. For many of the panelists, being accepted by their partner’s families was both the most important part and the most difficult one. Granted, the panelists did share how, over time, the families became increasingly tolerant towards them being of a different race.

Race has always been a sensitive topic. When that aspect of one’s identity becomes a defining factor of who they marry, it takes the complexity of the topic to a completely different level. Like every other form of discrimination, it all begins with fear. Fear that if these two races combine, hell will break loose. Fear that someone’s black son will never be completely understood by his white wife. That the environment of these two cultures will eventually clash. When race is brought into any situation, it makes the situation more intense. However, when race is brought into love, it calls for the rise of the true meaning of tolerance and equality.