A case for interracial marriage

By Joy Freeman-Coulbary

Mildred Loving and her husband, Richard, took their case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in 1967 struck down bans on interracial marriage. (AP - ASSOCIATED PRESS) This past week, still pregnant with freshly minted 2012 resolutions, we commemorated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s visionary spirit and legacy. In keeping “with that legacy, what better overture to Dr. King’s dreamof racial equality than to become a completely post-racial, racially ambiguous society.

Interracial couples and marriages are at an all-time high; however, they still represent a minority of newly married couples, according to the Pew Research Center. Their research shows that one in seven new marriages in the U.S. is either interracial or interethnic.

The multi-racial Occupy movements show that green, as in cold-hard cash, or the lack of it, is the color on the minds of young Americans protesting the ever-increasing class and economic divide.

Dr. King’s post racial society is not one of complete homogeneity but a celebration of its complete heterogeneity. Dr. King’s open and free society is a positive utopia in which diversity is embraced and people are not marginalized, ghettoized or isolated based upon racial and ethnic differences. Interracial love and unions are a metaphor for this progress as well as the convergence of “races” and cultures.

At the recent Remaking America from Poverty to Prosperity tour at The George Washington University with Tavis Smiley, Dr. Cornel West, Suze Orman, and Michael Moore, the lack of bias amongst younger Americans was recognized as a national strength in facing down economic and social challenges by the panelists. In the spirit of MLK and progress, we should celebrate our “mulatto” diversity as manifested through the increase of interracial and interethnic unions.

As woman of African, Irish, Mexican and Native American descent, married to a husband of Senegalese and Portuguese descent, I believe that intermarriage contributes to inter-cultural understanding and diminishes racial prejudices and tensions. The less we adhere to “race,” the less racism persists. Romantically, it’s also spicy and thrilling to defeat our hardwired biases and find love in the less familiar.

A society with less discrimination and increased racial inter-connectedness is what Dr. King hoped for when he conjured up images of black and white children joining hands as sisters and brothers.

By coalescing around salient issues, instead of race, we can more effectively challenge unfair systems, demand accountability from our leaders and be more unified to fight elites and corporate interests. Breaking ourselves into racial subgroups dilutes our ability to unite aggressively behind issues that impact the vast majority of Americans.

After all, “race” is literally a science fiction. The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research, Human Genome Program has found that “race” does not exist and that it is a fallacy not based in science. My notion that racial classification is a faulty measure was inspired years ago by my former father-in-law Martine Rothblatt, who penned the book The Apartheid of Sex: Manifesto of the Freedom of Gender, challenging legal distinctions between the sexes.

Martine, formally Martin—a transgendered author, lawyer, pharmaceutical entrepreneur—transformed from a Jewish, white male to a human without boundaries, challenging preconceived notions about the differences between “races” as well as men and women. Through her own inter-racial marriages and scholarship, she promotes the notion that inter-racial unions create stronger and more diverse, adaptive gene pools.

We should challenge the utility of racial classifications as a method of state-sponsored data collection and categorization of people. We should be suspicious of government and corporate interests in keeping people divided—perhaps a distraction from the real issues of economic inequality and injustice.

In our lives, race certainly carries significant social and cultural bearing. There are those who want to retain their distinct racial and cultural background—remain ethnically, “racially” pure. My rebuttal is that “race” and culture cannot be so easily conflated.

Culture, unlike “race,” is based upon more fundamental commonalities, such as shared beliefs and values, religion, language and geographic location. For instance, hip hop is a cultural movement with supporters from diverse “racial” and socio-economic backgrounds who share a love for this urban musical and artistic genre.

“Race” on the other hand, is a wholly fallacious social construct that we’ve been tricked into endorsing as baggage from colonization and slavery, which lumps persons together purely based upon external physical characteristics.

Racial purity is a national illusion. Like Brazil and the Caribbean, we are already a “mulatto” nation, with 30 percent of whites having African ancestry, and blacks having as much as 25 percent European ancestry on average, according to research conducted by Mark D. Shriver, a molecular anthropologist at Penn State University. So, I’d argue that we are a “mulatto nation;” we just need to embrace and celebrate it.

Joy Freeman-Coulbary, a Washingtonian, is a pacifist, lawyer and blogger. You can reach her at freemancoulbary@gmail.com and follow her on Twitter @enJOYJFC.


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