Friday, June 13, 2008

June 14, 2008: Loving Day, Huh? Who Knew?

As I write this, the great Tim Russert has been gone for less than twelve hours. What I remember about him is that he prepared incessantly in order to get things right. This blog entry didn’t start out as a salute to his journalistic greatness, but trust that Russert’s legacy is germane here.

I think about getting things right quite a lot. Nothing is worse than having someone call you on facts that you haven’t gotten straight. Talk about having to have toast with the egg on your face! I thought about this last week when Barack and Michelle Obama gave each other dap minutes before Barack’s victory speech as the Democratic presumptive presidential candidate. This little love tap resulted in a myriad of dominant culture columnists trying to explain what the hell it was, from Reuters calling it a “celebratory fist-bump” to some unenlightened commenter on the Human Events web site erroneously labeling it “Hezbollah style fist-jabbing.” Again, illustrating that people can write with such brio and conviction about things of which they know or understand nothing, neglecting to get things right. Slate reporter Christopher Beam had to break it down for them here.

Then this week, my girl and former Book Squad co-host Karyn Langhorne called me up and said something like, “Hey, I’m writing this Op-Ed piece in The Washington Post about Loving Day.” Thankfully, she couldn’t see my blank expression over the phone. I say thankfully, because I, Wendy Coakley-Thompson, survivor of an aggressively unsuccessful interracial relationship… author of fiction in which the protagonists have interracial and multicultural relationships… author of a dissertation exploring the lives of biracial offspring, had no clue of what Loving Day was.

I had no excuse. I wrote about the Loving V. Virginia decision in my dissertation. Here are the Cliff Notes: On June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court struck down anti-miscegenation laws that had prohibited people from marrying across racial lines. Today, interracial couples and their children celebrate June 12 as Loving Day. There are parties and commemorations, like the Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival jumping off this weekend in Los Angeles.

Karyn’s Washington Post piece is fabulous. Click here to read it.

I write this missive to say that, even though it took me some time to discover that Loving Day was an actual holiday, I hope that in my fiction, I have lived up to the Russert credo of getting things right, of conveying the significance of interracial relationships and how they show the importance of not limiting oneself to prescribed essentialist notions of love. I hope that my writing reflects that I speak from an informed place, illustrating that, with all its trials and tribulations, love is a beautiful gift – no matter the color of its wrapping.