family law; race


Loving v. Virginia has been heralded as the catalyst for a “biracial baby boom.” Loving marked the end of the criminalization of miscegenation between nonwhite and white individuals and the automatic illegitimacy of mixed-race children in many states, and it heralded the beginning of the celebration of interracial families as part of a new multiracial, and eventual postracial, era. The construction of whiteness has been tied to the management of interracial sex and marriage, and Loving razed antimiscegenation laws that, in former Chief Justice Earl Warren’s words, had been “designed to maintain White Supremacy.” Today, the media relies on demographic changes in the United States—such as the fact that 16 percent of new marriages are interracial—as proof of both diminishing racism and Loving’s legacy of racial progress. Yet, these stories gloss over the fact that most American interracial marriages are between whites and Latinos, Asians, or Pacific Islanders. Racial progress, therefore, is equated with the “whitening” of the United States. Furthermore, black men intermarry twice as much as black women, whereas the reverse happens among Asian American men and women. Much of the discourse on mixed-race marriages focuses on mixed race as being part white; exploring dualminority mixed people requires a rethinking of racialized hierarchies and implicates discussions of mixed-raceness as a threat or move toward whiteness. Thus, dominant narratives in the United States ignore persistent antiblackness, white supremacy, and patriarchy. Battles over how to remember the mixed-race past of the United States reveal Loving’s limitations.