Interracial dating troubles

About 17 percent of new marriages and 20 percent of cohabiting relationships are interracial or interethnic.

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They lived in Central Point, a rural hamlet with a history of racial mixing that began in the colonial era, and they were considered felons under Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924. When wealthy planters transitioned from largely white indentured servitude to black chattel slavery in the second half of the 17th century, they feared that poor whites who labored alongside slaves and sometimes took them as lovers would rebel with them or help them escape.

Miscegenation laws in as many as 41 states helped to keep these dangerous whites from subverting slavery, and later Jim Crow.

Through intimacy across racial lines, a growing class of whites has come to value and empathize with African-Americans and other minorities.

They are not dismantling white supremacy so much as chipping away at it.

After Loving was decided, politicians dog-whistled for five decades.

Divide-and-conquer tactics like union-busting and gerrymandering destroyed the possibility of class unity among struggling people.

Culturally dexterous people have an enhanced capacity for intimate connections with people outside their own tribe, for recognizing and accepting difference rather than pretending to be colorblind.

And if one undertakes the effort, the process is never-ending.

Today, the “ardent integrators” who pursue interracial relationships are motivated by love and are our greatest hope for racial understanding.

Although America is in a state of toxic polarity, I am optimistic.

As a descendant of slaves and slaveholders, I embody uncomfortable incongruities — just as America does.

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