Mixed-ish Like Me: A Roundtable with Biracial Folks About Being Both - MEL Magazine
When I was a boy, the church I attended with my family in Atlanta was located across the street from the Martin Luther…
Reality of Race….
Here is my reality…They (my parents) were married in 1944, over 30 years before the Supreme Court ruled in Loving v. Virginia that the laws on the books in 16 southern states that banned intermarriage were unconstitutional. I grew up with the proof of America’s legal and civil progress standing there before me. These friends of my parents were living out the dream of that great and fallen civil rights leader whose eternal flame burned across the street from our shared church:
This is the reality my parents faced in 1944. Now remember in 1943 the United States was in the middle of WWII and was losing…and race was a major factor in the reaction to the Pearl Harbor attack and the relocation of millions of Japanese Americans. The military of the United States was not integrated until 1948! And this happened only because a combat Mexican American was denied burial in a white cemetery and his wife carried her complaint all the way to Harry Truman!
In a real sense, white supremacy doubled down in 1943…Our class just looked at discrimination in spite of laws of the federal government, segregating society with red lining; etc., up to present time!
“On May 5, 1943, a new law went into effect in California, requiring that all marriage licenses indicate the race of the parties to be married. This law, passed unanimously by the all-white, all-male state legislature, was designed to help the state enforce its existing ban on interracial marriage. As California law declared at that time: “no license may be issued authorizing the marriage of a white person with a Negro, mulatto, Mongolian, or member of the Malay race.” Any interracial couple who defied the statute, or any clerk who provided a marriage license to an interracial couple, faced a fine of up to $10,000 or up to 10 years in prison.”
No wonder my parents eloped!
So 1967 the SCOTUS finally stopped he banning of inter cultural marriages…In 1967!
Many people would guess much earlier..and they would be wrong.
My parents eloped in 1944…I never could figure out why, since my mother came from a large family, and marriages of spouses was a big deal.
Except for my parents who simply never told us….as I have stated before, I learned about this when I turned 50; via a genealogy from an in law, I found out I was part Cherokee.
I know, I know, Trump made that phrase a dog whistle. And Native People react negatively even today, because some people fake their lineage to take advantage of Casino Money. That’s right white people try to be native people for money…
My great great grandmother, who survived her Cherokee husband who was lynched for being with a white woman, refused to sign the Dawes Act, that would have given her land in Oklahoma that one day was discovered to have oil beneath it. The Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma and parts of the Midwest, is today well organized and wealthy; in fact a judge in Oklahoma has ruled that the Oklahoma territory that was promised at the end of the Trail of Tears is rightfully the possession of the Cherokee Nation.
That was the deal, and thanks to the Doctrine of Discovery it was another deal broken.
So my great great grandmother refused to sign the Dawes Act, losing tribal rights for my Dad’s side, forever. No tribal rights.
This happened often; especially when oil was discovered all over the place in Oklahoma and Texas. These “no man’s lands” as the Comanche called it, where the Cherokee traded their beautiful land in what now is most of Georgia, for high desert in Oklahoma…with millions of dollars of oil underneath it!
In about thirty years oil was discovered…and guess what, white privilege interests embarked on yet another genocide, killing those who accepted the land under the Dawes Act in such large numbers that THE FBI WAS STARTED TO DEAL WITH THE MURDERS.
The last Boarding Schools closed in the 1970s…interracial marriage was finally declared legal in 1967….finalized in the 1970s…My great grandfather on the white side, as my parents called him “Beale… a really smart school teacher” actually taught at a Boarding School in Ft. Sill Oklahoma…My grandfather told me the stories when as a child he actually saw Geronimo who was imprisoned at Ft. Sill…He said he glared at my grandfather, neither knowing the nature of the other….
Interracial marrige was made legal just a few decades ago…I was in graduate school….when my parents were finally no longer criminals….technically I was a bastard illegal….
Most people think this all was decided in the 1800s…with Wounded Knee: it wasn’t. Most people think that America is a beacon on a hill…except the hill was Wounded Knee or pick a city in the south for attacks on people of color. The beacon never was…
Basically, white supremacy was literally legal in all the United States until almost 1970…
And of course right now, we see a resurgence of racism vis a vis laws against teaching the truth about racism and prejudice in America. We see attacks on the capitol with whites carrying the confederate flag…that means something so repugnant to people of color it cannot be adequately described.
It still is going on, with oil pipelines running through Sioux reservations and sparking yet again widespread protests. Meanwhile climate change is ravaging the birthright of all indigenous people; and us all!
That is reality; just like the mixed culture people my parents are depicted here. It had to be hidden because it was against the law…see quote above….
Mankind meets woman kind, and creates new cultural mixes. And nothing can stop it. However, many have suffered banishment and discrimination up to and including hanging for simple falling in love with a person of color.
Eventually this has to end…but when….my mix up in years is a product of this tragedy…open racism and prejudice was legal in our country when we were still in college…
NO WONDER MY MY AMERICAN PIE HAS A LEVEE THAT IS DRY…