Just three years after Emmett Till’s horrific murder, Virginians Mildred Jeter, an African American, married Richard Loving, a white man, in the District of Columbia.After returning to Virginia the Lovings were arrested for breaking the state’s anti-miscegenation laws but told the one-year prison sentence given to them would be dropped if they left Virginia and did not return as a couple for 25 years.
The raping of African-American women by plantation owners and other powerful whites during this period have cast an ugly shadow on relationships between black women and white men.
On the flip side, African American men who so much as looked at a white women could be killed, and brutally so. Taylor describes the fear that interracial relationships invoked in the black community in the Depression Era South in (1981), a historical novel based on her family’s real-life experiences.
When protagonist Cassie Logan’s cousin visits from the North to announce that he’s taken a white wife, the entire Logan family is aghast.“Cousin Bud had separated himself from the rest of us…for white people were part of another world, distant strangers who ruled our lives and were better left alone,” Cassie thinks.
“When they entered our lives, they were to be treated courteously, but with aloofness, and sent away as quickly as possible.
Besides for a black man to even look at a white woman was dangerous.”This was no understatement, as the case of Emmett Till proves.
While visiting Mississippi in 1955, the Chicago teen was murdered by a pair of white men for allegedly whistling at a white woman.
Till’s murder sparked international outcry and motivated Americans of all races to join the Civil Rights Movement.
Interracial relationships have taken place in America since colonial times, but couples in such romances continue to face problems and challenges. When slavery of blacks became institutionalized in the U.
S., however, anti-miscegenation laws surfaced that barred such unions, thereby stigmatizing them.
Incredibly, these laws remained on the books until the latter half of the 20th century, making interracial relationships taboo and posing barriers to mixed-race couples.
A major reason interracial relationships continue to carry stigma is their association with violence.