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Sweatpants & Equality | Happy Loving Day, from my Family to Yours

By Ottum Yates

Love is not black or white.
It’s not meant to be a fight.
A right that was stolen in the middle of the night.
A demonstration of discrimination who’s limitations imprisoned and segregated
Only to eliminate.
But, WAIT!

Love is not blind.
Rather, the world is in color!
My husband is a kind, gentle man.
AND A BROTHER!
I am his Wife.
I am a Mother
To a future queen

Promise, you see,
if someone loves someone,
they have a right to marry
It’s more than constitutional
It’s necessary
1967 was more than a victory
More than justice
THE LOVINGS DID IT FOR ALL OF US

Fifty years ago today, June 12, 1967, Loving vs Virginia, a civil rights decision, was passed by the United States Supreme Court, the ruling that negate laws prohibiting interracial marriage.

A wife and mother in an interracial marriage myself; would not have been at all possible without the strength and courage of Mildred and Richard Loving. The Lovings were ordinary people, but their love, their love was nothing less than extraordinary.

My husband is my best friend and soul mate. We have been together for nearly seventeen years. He is a black man. His experiences and the harsh realities of racism, which are so different than my own as a white woman, have affected and at times, infected our relationship with ignorance and hate. Racial stigmas and tension weigh heavily on interracial relationships.

Sadly, interracial married couples only make up a small percentage of our population. So, last year when I was asked by Focus Features to write a few of my thoughts to recognize the Lovings and invited to attend the red carpet movie premier for Loving, I was honored … and anxious.

Unfortunately for my husband and myself, both of our communities have a problem with our relationship. Even now, many people will stop, whisper, or stare … Many are angry and have attacked us verbally and physically.

White vs Black. Black vs White.

I’d been in a relationship with this man for half my life and I had never thought of him as a “black man.” That is, not until we married. It was as if the world got a racial memo: Phil and Ottum were no longer the boyfriend and girlfriend that were “experimenting.” We weren’t going to “grow out of it.” It wasn’t a phase, as society had hoped.

After dating for 10 years, we found our marriage sealed our fate. My husband became the black man married to the white devil, a white woman. I became the white woman married to the black man, a ni**er lover. Our daughter, although revered as beautiful, is treated like a product of confused identity. At times, she has been made to feel different and out of place. The tug of war. She’s black! She’s white! She’s both!!

As parents, we are raising our daughter to be the best person she can be: herself. A good and kind human being. We are an interracial family, but most importantly we are people, human beings. We love one another and we take care of one another. We laugh, cry, and bleed like anyone else.

Being a part of the movie Loving was overwhelmingly beautiful and satisfying for my family and me. Arriving at the premier with my family by my side is a moment that I will never forget. I have never been so proud of my husband, of my daughter, of us, of our love. Our hardships and struggles, our choices, our marriage, all of it. I was damn proud of myself. The movie tugged at my heart strings. My emotions ran high with every breath that I didn’t take. I witnessed Richard and Mildred’s love; I felt their pain as my own. The realization that not long ago our very own parents and grandparents were born into this life was sobering. They lived a life of segregation and racism. They were taught indifference, prejudice, and hate. I thought of the privileges of opportunity and what the lack thereof meant. The constant underlying, “You should know better…” Know better than to love?

Loving vs. Virginia directly affects us all. My interracial family, your same race family, our history, and the world as we know it. Without the Lovings, many of us could not freely love the ones we love. We could not freely parent our own children. We could not be a family, not by law, not recognized by the government and its officials, not amongst family and friends, not by any other human being; out of fear and because of fear.

My family and I ask that you see Loving, or take the time to read the story of the Lovings. Embrace and celebrate LOVE today. Loving Day doesn’t stop here. It starts here. Educate yourselves, your children, your family, and friends. LOVE. It’s not black and white.

All love is created equal. The Lovings fought for us all, and ANYONE who loves someone has the right to be married. Happy Loving Day from my family to yours. Today, right now, these prejudices and injustices are happening in America. Although the Lovings affected change, it is our duty to recognize their struggles, to continue to fight and protect these rights, your rights, our rights, and our children’s future.

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