Loving Day

Loving Day a poem

Five decades and three years ago
it was June 12, 1967.

Fifty-three years is
one decade more than me,
almost two less than my parents.

Fifty-three years is
twenty-two percent of the age
of these “United” States of America
(that’s only nine-and-a-half in Eric-years.)

 

Fifty-three years and one-day ago
it was illegal for a black person
to marry a white person
in sixteen states.

The Commonwealth of Virginia had
the Racial Integrity Act of 1924 to
protect “whiteness” against the
“negative effects of race-mixing.”

Worried that non-white human beings
might pass for white human beings,
they declared no white human being
could marry another human being
who had so much as “one drop” of
non-white human being blood—

unless you belonged
to a family of prestige,
from Thomas Jefferson or
John Rolfe and Pocahontas.

In which case, you were granted
“all-white privilege.”

They called it anti-miscegenation.

anti- — opposing or hostile to in opinion, sympathy, practice
-ation — the action or process of doing something
miscere — to mix (LATIN)
genus — race (LATIN)

Hostile to the process of mixing races.

As if white and black is black and white—
two races, two genera, two species,

which produce hybrid offspring,
like a jackass and a mare
producing a mule,
or a mulatto.

 

Mildred Delores Jeter descended from

African-Americans,
Native Americans,
and Europeans—

descended from lovers in Virginia
before Virginia was Virginia.

She fell in love with Richard Loving (white),
who she married in Washington D.C.,
and became Mildred Loving.

Loving and Loving were lovers.
(Virginia is for lovers. So we’re told.)

The Loving-lovers were expecting their first child,
sleeping side-by-side in their Virginia home,
when the Sheriff and two deputies
burst into their bedroom and
took Richard to jail.

Their marriage was illegal.
It was not for the common wealth.

 

Eventually, they went to court, where the judge
said that God created these so-called “races”
“white, black, yellow, malay, and red, and
he placed them on separate continents.
The fact that he separated the races
shows that he did not intend
for the races to mix.”

As if Eve
were not the mother
of all the living.

As if God
did not make
every language,
every people,
every nation,
every tribe,
every one
from one
man.

As if Virginia
were not for lovers.

As if.

And so, five decades and three years ago
the Supreme Court of the United States
said that such laws were subversive
of the principle of equality and
deprived citizens of liberty
in Loving v. Virginia.

 

June 12 is now Loving Day.

It hasn’t been that way
for all that long.