12 June is Loving Day — Thoughts from a White Man in an Interracial Marriage During the 2020 Black Lives Matter Movement
I’m not Black. I will never be Black. However, my wife is Black and, because tomorrow is Loving Day (the Supreme Court issued an unanimous decision on 12 June 1967 to strike down all “anti-miscegenation” laws), I feel it is appropriate to comment on my experiences, which of course I do with greatest consideration.
I understand now that a recurring frustration in various media is when someone who is not Black tells a Black person things like, “I’m colorblind,” “I stand with you,” “I’m with you,” “I have Black friends,” etc. Comments like that are well-intentioned, I think. Then there are the “all lives matter” kinds of comments, which come off (intentional or not) as shady racist comments. I get that. Then there is the question of cultural appropriation and white people using their minority friends as props to show the world how “unracist” they are. I understand this too.
A year and a half ago, I married a friend who I have known for 20 years, a beautiful lady I went to college with and had kept in touch with. She’s Black. I’m a white Hispanic. We are a great team and I love her so much.
I never got followed in stores or Terry-stopped and still don’t, when I’m alone. After I married my wife, I got to experience both.
Being followed in a store is one thing, I think, unless the proprietor calls the police just because you are there. I mean, if the management sucks, we can vote with our feet and spend our money elsewhere . . . their loss.
What I did get to experience was a Terry-stop in South Carolina last June. Because I was heading to a year-long overseas assignment in July, we drove down to Florida. On 13 June, we were about ten miles from Florence, SC where we were going to spend the night and got Terry-stopped.
We were doing 69 in a 70 and the police car followed us for five or six minutes. My wife was driving, and then the law enforcement officer (LEO) pulled us over.
The LEO made my wife get out of the car and I was ordered to stay there.
I tried to record it but my hands were shaking from the Adrenalin rush.
I was feeling intense anger, rage, fear, and helplessness all at once.
Especially helplessness, because I was supposed to just sit there in the car while I didn’t know if more police would come, if they would try to violate our Fourth Amendment rights, if we will get detained or just her.
After 20 minutes of interrogation, the LEO let us off with a warning. I wonder if that’s because my wife is a veteran and I’m active duty (AD). Could it have been worse if we were not a veteran and an AD service member? What about how we talk? We are both educated and each of us has multiple college degrees.
For Black Americans and Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans and Middle Eastern Americans who get subjected to this every single day, I think I have a much greater understanding, though it only happened to me once.
I share this experience of the “Modern Jim Crow” because, especially now, I feel like I have to be aware in multiple ways. I am married to a Black woman, my soulmate and love of my life. Because I married her, I get to potentially experience injustice every time we are in public together.
But I’m white and people who don’t know me will assume I’m a wannabe or things along those lines.
Because I’m Hispanic, but also white and don’t speak fluent Spanish, I’ve been rejected by other Hispanics. I have been told time and again that I’m not “really” Hispanic despite being a child of an interracial marriage. I am the grandson of a Mexican lady who grew up living the full Jim Crow experience (buses, fountains, toilets, and schools) in Texas during the 1930s.
Because I’m white.
So I proudly and loudly proclaim and support for BLM and say I stand with Black Lives Matter. I understand I run the risk of being accused of insincerity and inability to fully understand.
But I’m white.
While I will never live the full experience, being in an interracial marriage has expanded my understanding of the issues Black America faces every day.
Despite the fact I’m white.
When a white person says he is with you today, he might actually be if he is married to a Black person.
Please keep that in mind when a person who “appears” white is sharing the same passion of the BLM cause.