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How the Loving v. Virginia Decision Inspires Us to Dismantle Race/ism and Celebrate Love

Lucretia Berry  •  June 5, 2024 

“Is she doing this because she feels guilty for marrying a white man?” a couple of Black women asked in 2016 when I met with a group to guide them through the What LIES Between Us course.

I thought the comment was ironic considering I’d been invited to lead this multi-racial group of neighbors through a course designed to help us see clearly and unequivocally how race – the ideology, the social construct, and caste system – has overshadowed the essence of who we are as a collective humanity.

My family featured in Aftenposten, Norway’s largest newspaper (2017) honoring the 50th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia.

No, I did not design a course and commit to leading racial healing because my husband is white. I do so because Holy Spirit invited me to serve in this way after guiding me through my own liberation from racist conditioning, equipping me with a PhD in Education, and encouraging me in how to be a wife and mom in a multi-ethnic family – all while living in a hyper-racialized country.

A year later (2017), in honor of the 50th anniversary of the 1967 United States Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia, which struck down all anti-miscegenation laws remaining in sixteen U.S. states, my husband and I sat down with another interracial couple to discover and share common experiences. We talked about public perceptions of our marriages, how our families of origin adjusted, and raising multi-ethnic children. Our conversation was delightful and thought-provoking – so much so that I was inspired to create Hues of You: An Activity Book for Learning About the Skin You Are In.

We posted the conversation on YouTube. Again, I found it ironic that two anonymous commenters (of course, they hid their identities) referred to both of us Black wives as ‘wenches!’ If you don’t know, a “wench” or “bed wench” referred to an enslaved Black woman who was coerced or forced into sexual relations with her white enslaver or other white men. These relationships were inherently exploitative, as the power dynamics of slavery meant that enslaved women had no autonomy or consent in these situations. The term “bed wench” was derogatory and dehumanizing, reducing these women to mere objects of sexual gratification for their enslavers.

Today, the terms “wench” or “bed wench” are used as a derogatory insult aimed at Black women who date or marry white men. This term is employed to question and demean our racial loyalty, suggesting that we are betraying our race by engaging in relationships with white partners. The term also serves to police Black women’s sexuality and autonomy. By labeling us with a term steeped in historical degradation, it seeks to control and limit our choices, reinforcing the notion that our bodies and decisions should conform to certain historically racist standards.

Richard & Mildred Loving. Source: USC Race & Equity Center

I must admit to you that it is disconcerting to be liberated to receive love from anyone who wants to generously love me but be punished for it by someone within my own racial group. Richard Loving famously told his lawyer, Bernard Cohen, to convey a simple yet profound message to the judges of the Supreme Court:

Tell the court I love my wife, and it is just unfair that I can’t live with her in Virginia.

This heartfelt statement underscored the fundamental human right to love, marry, and live regardless of a racial caste system erroneously constructed to justify and uphold slavery and segregation laws.

People discrediting and disrespecting my humanity, lived experience, and work simply because my husband is white underscores the severe stronghold of racist conditioning. For ‘racial purists,’ regardless of their racial category, it’s much easier to impose constraints on me than to liberate themselves from the racist ideology and systems that have shaped their thinking – or should I say ‘the absence of thinking?’

And for anyone who is worried about my loyalty to and solidarity with Black men, understand that the love for my husband cannot dissipate my love for my Black father, brothers, uncles, cousins, nephews, friends, colleagues, my children’s peers, and more. I am designed by a loving God to fiercely love in abundance!

On this Loving Day, June 12th, make time to commemorate this historic victory for civil rights and the triumph of love over racial discrimination. Reflect on and honor the Loving’s courage and the broader advancement towards justice. Celebrate LOVE regaining its liberation to do what it does best — HEAL!

The HIstory of White People in America: How America Outlawed Interracial Marriage

Learning Opportunity

Familiarize yourself with the Lovings’ story, the struggles they faced, and the impact their case had on civil rights and interracial relationships. Read books, watch documentaries, or explore online resources to gain insights into the significance of Loving Day. Begin by watching The History of White People in America, a series of animated shorts that teaches how and why race and THEN miscegenation were invented.

To gain a deeper understanding of how race has shaped our beliefs, thinking, and practices, enroll in the What LIES Between Us course.

Excerpt feature, Ankeny Business Journal, pages 30-31. Click here to read the article in its entirety (pages 30-32).

Lucretia carter berry
Lucretia Carter Berry, PhD, is a distinguished author, educator, and speaker, as well as the visionary founder of Brownicity, a nonprofit dedicated to fostering education designed to inspire a culture of true belonging and justice for all. Lucretia is also a valued contributor to incourage.me, sharing her insights and wisdom on topics of faith, resilience, and personal growth. Through her books, Teaching for Justice and Belonging – A Journey for Educators and Parents (2022), Hues of You – An Activity Book for Learning About the Skin You Are In (2022), and What LIES Between Us – Fostering First Steps Toward Racial Healing (2016), her impactful TED Talk, and her commitment to building just communities, Lucretia encourages meaningful engagement that transcends boundaries, fostering personal development, resilience, and the transformative capacity within each of us.