Living After Loving
June 12 is the 50th Anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, the landmark decision by the Supreme Court that made interracial marriage legal in the United States. We were legally able to marry someone of another race, which I did in 1981. Life didn’t change much for my husband and me in those days. No one taunted or insulted us and we rarely got those crazy stares that some interracial couples report. Then we had children.
My children are multiracial. You might also call them biracial, mixed-race, or other terms. Terminology is important. We choose to use “multiracial” because it is inclusive and covers people who are not only two, but even more races. A Pew Research Center analysis recently found that one-in-seven infants were multiracial or multiethnic in 2015—that’s a whopping 14% of the population and is nearly triple the number in 1980. That’s huge. In Hawaii, 44% of infants are multiracial or multiethnic. Our children’s population will only continue to grow. What we call them—and what they answer to—will be vital to their future. I personally do not like the term “mixed.” It just hits me the wrong way, so I really thought about it one day. Why do I find the word so distasteful? I think it’s because “mixed” is the opposite of “pure,” and do we really want to separate people by purity? Perhaps it’s my Jewish heritage that puts me at odds with that terminology.
Multiracial Heritage Week (June 7 to 14) is also celebrated to coincide with the anniversary of the Loving Decision. It is a national celebration of multiracial children, not interracial marriage. We hold this annual event because inclusion also matters and there are real benefits to seeing yourself represented. At 14 percent of the population, you bet multiracial people matter. They matter to elections, advertisers, corporations, media, and the United States Census Bureau, which tracks them as “two or more races,” over the preferred terminology of “multiracial.” Our families have to live with that for now, but certainly not forever. Diversity starts with the decision makers, and the bigger the multiracial population gets, the more they will listen to us—at least that’s the hope.