Where Interracial Marriage is Still a Taboo Subject

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary In a survey conducted among Republican voters in Mississippi late last year by Public Policy Polling of Raleigh, North Carolina, 46 percent said that interracial marriage should be made illegal while 40 percent said it should be legal and 13 percent were undecided. The poll was conducted late in 2011. After the last law against interracial marriage was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967, and after almost 50 years where every state has withdrawn all laws and legal requirements against interracial marriages, it is almost unimaginable that anywhere in the United States in the 21st Century that any significant areas can even be against something that is now taken for granted in most parts of this country. And yet, there are areas where people honestly believe that interracial marriage is not only “wrong” but should again be outlawed. There are still areas where someone wanting to marry another person of a different race is still frowned upon.

It is true that the State of Mississippi was one of the last bastions of racial discrimination in the United States and where interracial marriage was still illegal. And while no legal barriers exist anymore two people of different races to get married, there still seems to be a barrier in some parts of this country where families, parents, church members, and neighbors frown upon the idea of interracial marriages. To me it is not a question of whether those people identify themselves as Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or Communist…..what bothers me is that anyone can see a reason why there should not be a union of two people simply because of race. And for a whole section of voters to think along these lines is truly terrifying. So far in the rest of the world there is no legal reason forbidding a marriage between two people of different races. The last country that had this, South Africa, abolished all its laws forbidding marriage between people of different races in 1994.

Of course there are still very much cultural, social and economic blocks to marriages of people of different races as well as to people of different religions (especially in some Muslim countries), and people of different class backgrounds. But all of these taboos do not have the same power of laws on the books actually forbidding people from different races, religions and ethnic groups from getting married. Laws give the state and any government carte blanche to forbid such marriages with punishments such as, fines, prison, torture and even execution. Over 50 years ago a person in a number of states in the United States could be imprisoned and fined for marrying someone of a different race. That this was law then is a blot on the historic record of how Americans back then viewed race. What is scary is that in some regions of the country there are people who still hold the same views that were true 50 years ago. Given this and the fact that several states have passed state immigration laws that are in direct contradiction to federal law, I am concerned that some people might pass laws forbidding marriage due to race. Is it impossible, given how much has changed in the past five decades? I hope for all our sake that we never again see a return to any bans on interracial marriages in any part of the United States. This is one area we should never allow the clock to be turned back.

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