By Alicia Ygarza –
“‘Why is that black girl dating him?”
MaryKate Wells heard that comment from one of her own peers about her and her white boyfriend, Austin Wilson.
Although recent studies show interracial relationships are at an all time high, some are prejudice towards these relationships that remain in modern society.
“Society is still marked by racial inequality, and my worry is that it won’t get addressed,” said Rebecca Bigler, a director of the Gender and Racial Attitudes Lab at the University of Texas-Austin in USA Today’s article, New generation doesn’t blink at interracial relationships.
The Loving Story is a recently released documentary about an interracial couple whose last name, coincidentally was “Loving,” living in Virginia during the 1950s. Their lawsuit against Virginia for forbidding them to live together as man and wife in the state prompted a landmark change in the law.
The case was called Loving v. Virginia, and on June 12, 1967, the supreme court overruled Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act, allowing the Lovings their marital freedom.
The Supreme Court overruled Virginia’s law, saying that denying the Loving’s “fundamental freedom” of marriage because of race is taking away each citizens liberty without a action of law.
Go to http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1759682/ to view The Loving Storytrailer.
Although the U.S. Supreme Court decision helped rescind discriminatory marriage laws in many other states as well as Virginia, Alabama held on to their laws until as recently as 2000.
The HBO documentary detailed the lives of Mildred Loving, a half-black and half-Cherokee woman and her husband, Richard Loving, who was white.
The couple did not understand why their marriage was banned by their government and tried hard to maintain their peaceful marriage in Virginia in violation of the laws at that time.
Being married in Virginia during the 1950s was a criminal offense, and the Lovings were banned from Virginia due to their marriage.
But the country has come a long way in the last half-century.
According to CNN News, “nearly one out of seven new marriages in the U.S. is interracial or interethnic,” reports researchers from the Pew Research Center.
The generation of today is less color conscious than past generations, and possibly because “six of 10 teens say their friends include members of diverse racial backgrounds,” according to a report in CNN.
Statistics show that nowadays people are more open-minded to interracial relationships, and Wells confirms this.
“I believe everyone should try dating someone different, and not just their own race. Each person is unique in their own way, and should be able to share that with the person they want,” said Wells.
That is exactly what Sam Smith and Joziah Rodriguez did when they began dating in 2011.
Smith is a white teen at Penn Manor and Rodriguez is Puerto Rican teen. Although they say they have not been judged by their friends, they have had trouble dealing with their parents attitudes.
“My mom was excited to meet him, but she said be careful because of the Hispanic boy stereotype,” said Smith.
“Hispanic men are stereotyped as being poor, uneducated migrant workers who have the tendency to seduce women, and leave them once they become pregnant. They are considered heart breakers, like the infamous Don Juan,” according to Chimes: Stereotypes and Gender.
But Rodriguez’s parents were just as skeptical. At first.
“My parents approved [of Smith] after they got to know her,” said Rodriguez.
Many people in past generations believed interracial relationships were wrong because of the couples’ biracial children, and these thoughts still go on by some even today.
Keith Bardwell, who is a white Louisiana justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, did not marry an interracial couple because he was concerned for the children they would have, The Grio News.
“There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage,” said Bardwell in the article, Interracial couple denied marriage license in Louisiana.
One Virginia judge told the Lovings that their marriage and mixed-race family “violated God’s plan for humanity,” according to womenmakenews.com.
“’Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix,’” wrote the judge in his decision, according to womenmakenews.com.
However, Wells whose mother is white and father is black, is proud of being biracial, and feels it separates her from others.
“Having a white mom and black dad makes me feel unique. I have the talent and athletic ability from my dad, and the smarts and beauty from my mom. People always ask my race, and ask if one of my parents is black, and I’m not afraid to tell them the truth,” said Wells.
Wells said her parents’ relationship has taught her to open her mind beyond skin color in her relationships.
The biracial population has increased by almost 50 percent, to 4.2 million, since 2000, according to nytimes.com.
“The rise in interracial marriage indicates that race relations have improved over the past quarter century,” said sociology professor at Cornell University, Daniel Lichter.
People like Wells are making color the last factor in their life, and are putting their hearts first.
“Every person deserves to love whomever they want. No one should be forced to love anyone of their own race, but should be able to have an open mind and an open heart to whoever they want to fall in love with,” Wells said.