Interracial Intimacy: The Regulation of Race and Romance
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Regardless of our social rhetoric of color-blindness, when it comes to choosing a spouse we seem to be remarkably aware of color, at least we were legally for more than 200 years and despite legal permission, society still exacts a social opinion on the matter. Law professor Rachel Moran examines this issue in Interracial Intimacy: The Regulation of Race and Romance and argues that the promise of racial justice is tied to integrating our most personal relationships. It is not that interracial marriages will solve the race problem in the United States. However, Moran argues that the lack of them is an indication of the strength of the problem and that they are part of the solution. Although many think race does not matter to them, evidence of overwhelming prevalence of same-race marriage leads us to believe that it matters more than Americans are willing admit.
Moran provides a history and context for antimiscegenation laws leading up to the landmark decision in LOVING v. VIRGINIA (1967), which struck down antimiscegenation laws. Maryland enacted the first antimiscegenation code in 1661, and Virginia followed a year later. Even before that, Virginia authorities in the 1630s and 1640s had whipped and publicly embarrassed those who participate in took part in interracial sexual liaisons (19).In the second part of the book Moran explores the appropriateness of transracial adoption and the politics of state recognition of multiracial identity. Although the focus is often on black-white relations filtered through the experience of slavery, Moran also discusses in detail the legal treatment of Asians, Latinos, and Native Americans who breached the color line.
Moran identifies interracial intimacy as a crucial site for the creation of and perpetuation of racial categories and hierarchies. She notes that intimate relationships between people of different races reveal our institutional unease with both color-blindness and color-consciousness. Society wants the government to ignore race in order to do justice, while it insists race must be seen to remedy injustice. Moran simultaneously contends that race shouldn't matter and that race does matter. She argues that distinctions between political equality and social equality have threatened both. Furthermore, different racial categories have been treated very differently. Moran makes certain to include those distinctions made during Reconstruction and the later Civil Rights Movement, which are generally perceived as positive. Penalties for black-white transgressions were often violent. However, officially, Latinos and Latinas were never subject to antimiscegenation regulations and in Virginia the "Pocahontas exception" meant that some families with Native American ancestry were considered white.
In colonial times black slaves and white indentured servants often worked side by side, and interracial sex was...