Loving Day creates translators across racial divides
On Saturday June 12th 2010, we celebrate interracial marriage. That’s right, there is a day for it and it is called Loving Day. It was a landmark case, Loving v. Virginia on the same day in 1967 that gave people of all races the legal right to finally marry across races, color and shade. This victory ultimately impacted 42 other states — and goes on to show how love cannot be contained.
But as romantic as notions of boundless love sound, the reality is that many different races and cultures are still afraid, intrigued and curious about others that are different from their own. And people who are ethnically ambiguous mutts like myself, tend to be put in the wonderful and important position of explaining or translating a cultural tradition or point of view.
In case you are wondering, both of my parents are products of interracial couples. On my father’s side, there is Welsh, Black and Cherokee Indian. On my mother’s side, there’s black and Jewish, or so we think. The story gets scandalous, but that makes it so much more fun.
As a kid, and even to this day, I have always had friends of all races, colors, shapes, sizes and tastes. In my adult life, it was primary on the coasts between New York and California. My friends were from immigrant families from China, Eastern Europe, Cameroon, Brazil and Mexico. But childhood in Missouri was not quite as diverse, it was pretty much just white and black.
Surprising or not, across all groups of friends, I became the one who was asked to relate to the locals when traveling. Or I was the one who was asked to get us out of a difficult situation in a restaurant. Yes, I was like The Dog Whisperer.
This whisperer or translator role became ridiculous at times. I even felt as if I was part of german translation agency! Like once in the Navy, my Midwestern friends and I found ourselves in Tijuana, in uniform and in the middle of a dark alley. Who was asked to shake hands with the suspicious fellas in front of us in order walk by without wetting our pants? Yours truly.
There was also an instance while in college in Atlanta, Georgia with my black friends. We found ourselves, for some reason, in a small establishment that served waffles in a part of the South I swore was out of a 1960s movie set. Who was asked to order our food? Yours truly.
Finally, and most recently in bustling New York City, an evening with my friends from China included dinner at a Latin fusion restaurant. Who was asked to settle a problem with the bill? You guessed it, yours truly. And weird, since I am neither Asian nor Latino.
But this role of translator continues to be fun. My dear associates and friends run the range of all colors and shades, from dark chocolate to bone white. And because I am the product of interracial love, or hooking up, although I have a unique experience, it is one that is growing by leaps and bounds here in the United States. Interracial marriages are at an all time high. What do I say? It is about time and let the seeds grow.
Celebrate Loving Day even if you are not a product of an interracial couple or even in an interracial relationship. Celebrate Loving Day because it stands for two things we should all believe in and acknowledge. The first, that our country, although flawed at times of course, has an ability to do the right thing over time. And second, the idea that love, in its purest form, cannot be contained or regulated.
Understanding between groups of people is a beautiful thing. Therefore, more translators and whisperers, who are products of interracial love are needed by our country, society and the world. And even if you are not, go translate, go whisper, go celebrate.