3 Stars – Thoughtful
Though most Americans now accept interracial marriages as an expression of the equality of all people, it was illegal from the founding of our nation until 1967 when Loving vs Virginia made it a constitutional right. Although some state courts had already made it legal in their particular state, with California being the first in 1948, it has only been a constitutional right for the last fifty years. The story of this final change in both our culture and our constitution is brought to the screen by Jeff Nichols who both wrote and directed Loving.
Appropriately named, the young white man Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton) was from a poor family in which his father worked for a black man. This multi-ethnic beginning allowed Richard to value all people and created a bond with the black community in which his best friend and girlfriend were black. So it was natural that he should fall in love with the capable and lovely Mildred (Ruth Negga). Since both knew it was illegal for them to marry in their home state of Virginia, they drove with her father to Washington D.C. and were married there returning to their hometown to begin living their quiet married life. However. this wasn’t to be. Five weeks after their wedding, with their marriage license clearly posted on their bedroom wall, sheriff Brooks (Marton Csokas) and deputies busted into their bedroom and arrested them.
The judge in their case, Judge Bazile (David Jensen) had a very unbiblical and divergent religious belief that he expressed in his historic ruling: “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his [arrangement] there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.” When a deal was reached and they were given the choice of a year in jail or leave the state, they left with the understanding that if they returned together they would go to jail.
Eventually after years in exile from their beloved families, the ACLU provided two lawyers who tried the case before the US Supreme Court and the ruling the judges unanimously gave ended the ban on interracial marriages throughout all fifty states.
Racism as been described by Jim Wallis as the “original sin of the United States.” This reality has created a systemic injustice that did not end with the ban on interracial marriage. The microagressions experienced daily toward minorities within our social, economic and political interactions have often been codified as it was in marriage, but also in a variety of other societal injustices. Beyond these discriminations, is the prejudice experienced in judicial systems with an inordinate percentage of minorities placed in our prisons. These are wrongs which we must intentionally and diligently corrected if we are to bring about the best in our nations, cultures and communities. In this goal Loving is a helpful reminder of the human beings who are injured by our injustices, prejudices and microagressions.
- Often an injustice is unintentional. However to correct such injustice intentional action must be taken to correct it. What are you doing to intentionally bring justice and affirmation in your relationships and economic or political activities?
- The presentation of Richard and Mildred as simple human beings trying to live in peace is purposefully unexceptional. Why the state would think that their union was harmful is difficult to understand now fifty years later. Why do you think this was and is true?
- Although racism is a global experience the proclamation that the United States welcomes people from every tribe and nation from all over the world makes racism particularly odorous. How are you working to help everyone be united in these United States?