anti miscegenation laws


“In the archive footage of this couple, there is this energy between them that is so beautiful and so alive. Joel and I wanted to re-create that out of a respect for the pair, but also because it looked like fun because they actually giggle, and just look like [they have] such a really lovely relationship.”

–  Ruth Negga on how she and Joel Edgerton strove to portray Mildred and Richard Loving in “Loving”


Loving v. Virginia was the landmark civil rights decision by the United States Supreme Court that invalidated laws preventing inter-racial marriage. Virginia had strict anti-miscegenation laws which prohibited marriage between ‘whites’ and 'coloreds’. The couple who brought these charges to the court was Mildred and Richard Loving—a black woman and her white husband—who were sentenced to a year in prison for marrying each other. The Supreme Court overturned the Lovings’ convictions in a unanimous decision on June 12, 1967, now colloquially known as “Loving Day”.

The case has been receiving renewed attention thanks to a number of recent works. From Chronical Books, Loving V. Virginia by Patricia Hruby Powell and illustrated by Shadra Strickland is a gorgeous “documentary novel” based on the case. For younger readers, there’s The Case for Loving by Selina Alko with illustrations by the author and Sean Qualls, available from Scholastic Books. Finally, in theaters now, Loving directed by Jeff Nichols, starring Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga, who is Oscar-nominated this year for her performance.

Richard and Mildred loving circa 1967. Their interracial marriage brought about the landmark Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia, in which the court unanimously struck down laws banning such marriages as a violation of due process and equal protection under the constitution. 

Every step along the way to the Supreme Court lower court rulings used fallacious reasoning to rationalize the blatantly unconstitutional law. The worst of which might have come from US. District Court Judge Leon M. Bazile when he stated: “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.”

Thankfully, the Supreme Court wasn’t having any of it and the ruling struck down anti-miscegenation laws nationwide (the only states where they had remained at that point were in the south.)

@shepbirdy replied to your post “thank you @shepbirdy, @politicallyactivevampire, and @cmbdragon666 for…”

If it’s okay to ask, what was the filipino case called?

I made a mistake; there was no Supreme Court Case about Filipino citizenship, as there were no petitions brought to the Court, as far as I can tell. However, there was a case brought up agains the anti-miscegenation laws that barred Asians and other people of color (eg, Black people) from marrying White people.  In the case of Roldan v. Los Angeles County (1933), it was ruled that a Filipino man, Salvador Roldan, was able to marry his White wife.  This is because Filipinos were classified as “Malays” at the time, not “Mongols,” and therefore were not included within the text of the document at the time.  Two weeks afterwards, the law was amended to include Filipinos in the anti-miscegenation law.

The Tydings-McDuffie Act reclassified Filipinos as aliens, and therefore unable to apply for citizenship (as they were not white; see Thind decision).  The Repatriation Act of 1935 offered to sail Filipino residents back to the Philippines, and was framed to be luxurious and grand.  In fact, it was just sparkly deportation. and Carey McWilliams of Nation pointed it out that it was more like “Filipino exclusion.”

Sources: Takaki, Ronald T. “Dollar a day, dime a dance.” Strangers from a different shore: a history of Asian Americans. Boston: Little, Brown, 1998.
Wikipedia (timeline)

Repeal of anti-miscegenation laws by US state.

In the United States, anti-miscegenation laws (also known as miscegenation laws) were state laws passed by individual states to prohibit miscegenation, nowadays more commonly referred to as interracial marriage and interracial sex. Typically defining miscegenation as a felony, these laws prohibited the solemnization of weddings between persons of different races and prohibited the officiating of such ceremonies. Sometimes, the individuals attempting to marry would not be held guilty of miscegenation itself, but felony charges of adultery or fornication would be brought against them instead. All anti-miscegenation laws banned the marriage of whites and non-white groups, primarily blacks, but often also Native Americans and Asians.

The problem with the “the Supreme Court undermined all these voters!” argument is that it ignores what the Supreme Court’s job is. The Supreme Court is supposed to determine if legislation is constitutional or not.

Did eliminating segregation through Brown v. Board undermine the voting wishes of a majority of Southern voters? Certainly.

Did ruling anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional in Loving v. Virginia remove a long-standing set of laws that governed what marriage was “supposed” to be? Of course.

When Lawrence v. Texas overturned Bowers v. Hardwick, were there still thousands of people who agreed with the Bowers decision and thought that legalizing sodomy “cast aside millennia of moral teaching”? Definitely. But that’s the point of the Supreme Court.

You think this decision undermines democracy? Not Citizens United v. FEC? Not Burwell v. Hobby Lobby? THIS is the one you take issue with? Because it lets people get married? What, exactly, does your idea of “democracy” entail?

At the most abstract level, capital is colour-blind: surplus value produced by white labour is no different to that produced by black, and when racist laws interfere with the buying and selling of labour, as they ultimately did in the Jim Crow South, capitalists will tend to support the overturning of those laws. Yet when the demand for labour falls and the question arises of who must go without, workers can generally be relied upon to discover the requisite division amongst themselves, typically along lines of kinship, ethnicity, and race. Capitalists thus benefit from racism even if they don’t create it, for in periods of growth these divisions undermine any collective bargaining power that workers might otherwise be able to achieve. Historically, rigid racial hierarchies have been the work not of capital, but of the state - especially, though not exclusively, white-settler and other colonial states. State racism is epitomised by anti-miscegenation laws, which aim to realise racial difference by outlawing racial mixing; the nation-state became a racial state. During times of economic crisis, racial states could be counted on to intervene in labour markets - which contingently assign workers to the employed and the unemployed - in order to assign these determinations methodically, along racial lines.

In the mid-twentieth century this state-orchestrated project of race-making broke down at a global level. On the one hand, exposure of the Nazi genocide and the success of decolonisation movements de-legitimated explicit state racism. On the other, rapid post-war growth led to tight labour markets, reducing competition for jobs between racialised groups. This was thus an era of assimilation, evinced by the partial victories of the Civil Rights Movement. What put this process into reverse was the reassertion of capitalist crisis tendencies in the 1970’s. Falling profits led to a fall in the demand for labour. Recently achieved formal equality did nothing to stop real economic inequalities being reinforced by heightened competition for jobs. Here the state would find for itself a new race-making role, this time not as arbiter of legal separation, but rather as manager of racialised surplus populations.

—  Brown v. Ferguson - Endnotes