'The Loving Project' Explores 50 Years Of Interracial Marriage
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
This Monday marks the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia which struck down laws banning interracial marriage in the United States. A podcast is commemorating the landmark decision by exploring the experience of interracial couples today.
(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "THE LOVING PROJECT")
COURTNEY: I mean, I knew, you know, OK, he is a white man. And, like, I know that, and I still know that But it was always just David. You know, it was his personality and all of that.
DAVE: Yeah. And I wasn't - it was just another person. It wasn't like, oh, she's a black person. It was not really a factor.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Called "The Loving Project," the series is the brainchild of Brad Linder, a former news anchor at WHYY and Farrah Parkes, a social activist. Brad Linder and Farrah Parkes join us now to discuss their project. Hello.
BRAD LINDER: Thanks for having us.
FARRAH PARKES: Hi.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: We should mention that you are an interracial couple. Farrah, is that what the idea for "The Loving Project" came from?
PARKES: Yeah. Brad and I got married in the summer of 2006. And in the fall, I went back to school maybe a month, month and a half after our wedding and, you know, sort of the bliss of it. And in my family law and social policy class was the first time I learned about Loving v. Virginia.
And it just - I was struck by how recent that decision was and just the idea that at that time 39 years ago, we might not have been able to be married. And learning about this really resonated with me. So I've always sort of taken note of Loving Day which is June 12 every year since then, and we wanted to do something special to commemorate the 50-year anniversary.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Brad, you talked to a number of interracial couples along with Farrah for the podcast. What were some of the stories you heard? What were the common themes?
LINDER: So it's been really interesting doing this about 50 years after Loving v. Virginia because a lot of younger couples that we speak to have not spent a lot of time thinking that these are relationships that would not have been recognized by the U.S. government in such a short time ago, whereas some of the older couples do sort of remember a little bit more that civil rights history.
But a lot of families, whether it's 30, 40, 50 years ago or just more recently, have sort of shared similar ideas. For example, a parent of color being out alone with a younger child who might look different from them, might have lighter skin. And we've heard from mothers saying people look at them and treat them as if they were the nanny because they don't match the idea of what they expect a mother of a light-skinned child to look like.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Both to you, Brad and Farrah, what resonated to you personally from your own experience when you talk to other interracial couples?
PARKES: The couple we heard from earlier, Courtney and Dave, their interview really resonated with me. Courtney is a black woman, like me, married to a white man. And she talked about, you know, walking down the street and getting sort of stares, dirty looks, comments from black men which is something that I've experienced. And that really resonated with me as well.
So it's really a lesson for me personally to hear people tell stories that I really, really feel and understand and may have shared with other people. But, you know, like Courtney telling me that story was the first time I'd ever heard somebody relating that same story to me. And it was very, very powerful.
LINDER: You know, it's not like people in these relationships are suddenly, you know, perfect individuals who are free of all prejudice, right? Like, we all have a lot to learn about how other people see the world differently. And even the people we love might see the world differently. And I think the more we can understand one another, the better off we'll all be.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Brad Linder and Farrah Parkes of "The Loving Project." You can find out more at lovingproject.com. They also have an exhibit at the Bill Russell gallery in Philadelphia right now. Thanks so much for sharing your stories with us.
LINDER: Thank you.
PARKES: Thanks for having us.
(SOUNDBITE OF BEN NICHOLS SONG, "LOVING") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.