Seasons of Love, a Post for Valentine’s Day.

 

Love, giddy and new.
An unknown future
Unquestioned.

Vows, veil, and a bow tie.
Leaving the church
As husband and wife.

A trio of love
In springtime.

 

In sunshine and shadow,
Autumn’s child
Sleeps on Daddy’s chest.

The family complete.
A new season begins
In the Philippines.

Work and travel.

 

 

Parties and dances.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the children leave,
Moving on
Together.

 

On Valentines Day we celebrate love as it is at this moment in time. But love has a history. It has ups and downs and–as I highlighted in the pictures above–it has seasons.

Today I want to mention a season of love we seldom mention. It’s that time after one partner is gone. Widows and widowers may not send or receive flowers on Valentines Day, but I believe the day still has meaning for anyone who has loved.

So happy Valentine’s Day to all.

family, life, Philippines, seasons , , , , , ,

Everybody Has a Rat Story.

It was a few days after Christmas, and I’d just brought my car in for service. That morning, out of the blue, it had started misfiring.

I slid into the seat of Magic Toyota’s courtesy car eager to tell my story to the first person I saw. Only moments earlier the mechanic had given me the disgusting, exhilarating news. I turned to the middle-aged Somali driver who must have been expecting me to give him my address and announced, “They found a rat’s nest in my engine.”

I pulled the car door shut and continued. “They said the nest was this big.” I spread my hands about fifteen inches apart and looked at the space between them with renewed amazement. “The rat gnawed some wires clear through.”

The damage was going to cost me $500 plus tax. And yet, there’s something pleasing about having a good story to tell … even if it actually is a bad story.

The driver smiled. “Last week,” he said, “a woman came in with a big nest in her engine. And,” he added, topping my tale, “there were five baby rats in it.” He shook his head. “The woman never even looked at her engine.”

He shook his head again as though that detail puzzled him. But really! Who looks under the hood? I certainly don’t.

That afternoon, following the advice of Toyota’s mechanic, I went looking for mothballs. A helpful clerk at Bartell Drugs showed me to the correct aisle. I picked up the box of mothballs and told him my rat story. Not surprisingly, he had his own story to tell.

One morning, he said, his new Lexus wouldn’t start, and he had to have it towed to the garage. When the mechanic got back to him, the first thing he asked was where the man kept his dog food.

“In the garage,” he answered.

The mechanic nodded. “It looks like a rat filched about two pounds of the dog’s food and dragged it up your tailpipe.”

That night I mentioned my rat problem on Kate’s blog: Views and Mews. In the comments section, Kate and then Nancy shared tales of other gnawing critters: field mice getting into a heat pump and squirrels doing damage to the neighbors’ cars, $5000 damage in one case.

During the last couple of years, the Seattle area seems to be having a particularly big rat problem. So why are there so many more rats here than there used to be?

Here are some possible explanations:

  1. Global warming. Usually rats stop breeding in the winter. If it’s too cold, some of them don’t survive. But Pacific Northwest winters are becoming warmer. And when one female rate can give birth to up to 150 offspring in a single year, a few extra months of breeding results in quite a few extra rats.
  2. Unlike many cities, Seattle has two kinds of rats: Norway rats that burrow and live in sewers and roof rats that live in trees, vines, and attics. We have a great habitat for both of them–lots of trees for the roof rats and lots of green space and soft soil for the Norway rats. Plus we have streams and water retention ponds for both of them.
  3. Our construction boom. The Seattle area is undergoing a growth spurt. Over the past couple of years, an average of 236 people moved here every single day. This summer there were 58 construction cranes in Seattle, more than in any other city in America. When you knock down old buildings or build on abandoned properties, the rats that used to live there rush out and find a new home … perhaps in your basement or attic or nice warm car engine.

So I guess that’s why we’re beginning to notice the once-hidden presence of rats. As for my own attempts to solve the problem … this afternoon an exterminator is coming to set some traps in my garage. Wish me luck.

Have you had any run-ins with rats or other gnawing critters?

home, life, rats, winter , , , , , , , ,

2017, the Year of the Rooster.

 The Year of the Monkey is drawing to a close. On January 28, we’ll enter the Year of the Rooster, sometimes called the Year of the Cock. (Funny, they never call it the Year of the Hen.)

As the previous year was ending, I heard lots of complaints about 2016. “Worst year ever.” “I’ll be glad when it’s over.” Likewise some of my friends have been expressing fears about what will happen in 2017. And, Heaven knows, we have legitimate reason for fear and complaint.

But tomorrow, as we pass beyond the sway of the mischievous monkey and into the Year of the Rooster, let me just say a word about the delights and tribulations of every year and also a word or two in support of monkey years and rooster years.

I’m partial to both of those years. Our oldest daughter was born in 1968, a monkey year, and our second daughter was born in 1969, a rooster year. For our family, those were very good years.

They weren’t good for everyone, though.

While my husband and I were celebrating our firstborn, North Vietnam launched the Tet Offensive, American soldiers took part in the My Lai massacre, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated, and Richard Nixon was elected president. A very bad year.

On the other hand, 1968’s Year of the Monkey also ushered in Boeing’s 747 Jumbo jet; Apollo 8 orbited the moon; and President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act.

Eighteen months later, during the Year of the Chicken, my husband and I celebrated the birth of our second daughter.

It was 1969, another good year for us. But the Vietnam War was still dragging on, anti-war demonstrations were spreading, and Charles Manson and his family of girls were committing grisly murders.

On the positive side of the ledger, in 1969, a man walked on the moon for the first time.

 

 

 

So what will 2017 have in store for us? Chinese astrologers have many predictions for the Year of the Fire Rooster. Here’s one of them:

 

We need to brace ourselves for a period of immense changes. Fire destroys Metal, and this destructive relationship means challenges double during the year. Yet, the Fire Rooster shines like a bright star in the dark sky, bringing hope and transformation to those who know how to act harmoniously around prevailing circumstances.

I like the predictions of hope, transformation, and acting harmoniously. Predictions aside, though, there is one thing we can be sure of: The Year of the Rooster will be a mixture of both good and bad.

May it be a good one for you and for those you love. Happy Chinese New Year.

China, Chinese New Year, family, fortune-tellers, holidays , , , , , , ,

Gaslighting

 

Words are an author’s paint and paintbrush; they’re our marble and chisel. But authors and other artists also create words. Shakespeare is said to have invented over 1700 words. Here’s a sampling of twenty of them, words like:  scuffle, swagger, hot-blooded, eyeball, and bedazzled.

The word “gaslighting,” was given to us by Patrick Hamilton, a British playwright from the 1930s. He invented it not by including the word in one of his plays, but by writing a whole play that illustrated the concept.

Ingrid Bergman

The 1944 American film, Gaslight, starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer, popularized the story. It’s a mystery-thriller that starts with an opera singer being murdered for her jewels. Her young niece, Paula, interrupts the killer who escapes without the jewels.

Years later, Paula (Ingrid Bergman) meets Gregory (Charles Boyer) in Italy and marries him. He takes her back to London to live in her aunt’s townhouse.

Then things turn bizarre. A picture disappears from the wall, and Gregory tells Paula she took it. She hears him walking in the attic where the dead aunt’s belongings are kept. She sees the gas light dim and brighten for no apparent reason. And he tells her she’s seeing and hearing things. He plants his watch in her purse and tells her she took it. She’s on the verge of being convinced she’s a kleptomaniac and going crazy when an inspector from Scotland Yard enters the scene.

In the end it becomes clear that Gregory murdered the aunt and he’s been looking for the jewels in the aunt’s townhouse.

In the parlance of today, Gregory was “gaslighting” Paula.

According to the Oxford Living Dictionary, to gaslight is to “manipulate (someone) by psychological means into doubting their own sanity.”

Wikipedia has an expanded definition: “Gaslighting or gas-lighting is a form of manipulation through persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying in an attempt to destabilize and delegitimize a target. Its intent is to sow seeds of doubt in the targets, hoping to make them question their own memory, perception, and sanity.”

You may have heard the word used a lot lately. We had an example yesterday when President Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer tried to convince us (despite the evidence of our eyes) that more people attended the 2017 inauguration than ever before in history.

At his first official White House briefing, he said: “This was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period.”

Here’s the official trailer for Gaslight. The whole movie is available online.

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Meet John Kang, my Online Chinese-American Friend.

After publishing Tiger Tail Soup, my novel about WWII China, I’ve made quite a few online connections with writers with a focus on China. John Kang is one of them.

Born in the US, John had to grow  into his identity as an Asian American. In this guest post, he briefly describes his fascinating “journey toward self-discovery.” Along the way, John also became a writer of fantasy novels. Read on to learn what Dungeon and Dragons and three weekends of major snowstorms had to do with it. Here’s John …


While 2016 will go down as one of the most tumultuous years of my life, it marked the beginning of my online acquaintance with Nicki Chen.  I was about to release my first Asian Fantasy, and came across her blog article about Weina Dai Randel’s spectacular debut, Moon in the Palace.

What struck me was that despite coming from different generations, Nicki and I shared similar experiences and histories. Her husband hailed from Xiamen, while my father had spent his early high school years there. Her father-in-law was a Nationalist official, while many of my mother’s family also held posts in the government. I suspect he and my maternal grandfather might have been involved in the same operation to secure boats and ships for the last of the Nationalist’s troops to reach Taiwan.

None of this shared history would have made a difference to me as a youth.  Born and raised in the then-urban blight of the Confederacy’s capital (now America’s up-and-coming foodie capital!), I grew up in denial of my Asian roots. There were no other Asians in my elementary school; and the very few I knew in middle and high school were all recent immigrants from China or Vietnam. To my insecure teenage eyes, they fit comfortably into the negative stereotypes prevalent in the 1980s. I was an unabashed Twinkie (yellow on the outside, white on the inside, and so fake, it’s hazardous to your health).

My journey toward self-discovery would be incredibly long-winded and even more incredibly irrelevant to this particular blog– but basically spans four years of college living among fellow American-born Asians, four years of acculturating to life in Japan and Taiwan, and four years basking in the generational and ethnic diversity of the San Francisco Bay Area.  It is a path where I first shed the baggage of identity denial, then came to appreciate my cultural heritage, and finally replaced my contempt toward the Asian immigrant with a deep sense of respect and admiration.  Along the way, I may or may not have been a little militant with Asian Pride.

I have since found a comfortable middle ground in my cultural identity. Living in my Southern hometown, I am still concerned with the portrayal of Asians in American media, and how that might impact my soon-to-be teenage girls. I have long felt we need to tell our own stories, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I thought I would do the telling.

Comfortable in my life as an acupuncturist and kung-fu instructor, I might have never started writing fantasy stories, save for two fluke coincidences: During the Christmas of 2010, while cleaning out childhood junk from my mom’s house, I came across my old Dungeons and Dragons world.  Before relegating the binder of maps and notes to the trash where it belonged, I decided to peek back and see what my 13-year-old self had created.

I couldn’t help but laugh at my teenage brain. Rivers flowed uphill.  Empires produced money faster than the Fed. However, a few of the premises had potential. For the next six days, I redesigned my world, taking into account things I had learned over the last 25 years.  Advanced stuff like gravity, evolution, and supply and demand.

On the seventh day, I rested.  Looking at my glorious creation, I was hit by the realization that I would never play D&D again.

A month later, the second event occurred:  three weekends of major snowstorms.   Stuck indoors for days at a time, I used my skills as a technical writer and pumped out a 120k word novel set in this multicultural world, fusing elements of Chinese Wuxia with the elves, dwarves, and orcs of classic western fantasy, and the scheming and backstabbing of Game of Thrones.

When I submitted my masterpiece to an online critique group, I learned a hard truth: fiction writing and technical writing were two different beasts. My magnum opus read like Ikea furniture instructions, with no pictures.

Not one to give up, and with the help of some awesome crit partners, I ended up writing and revising the prequel to the original story, followed by a sequel, and then a prequel to a prequel.  The stories follow an imperial princess as she grows from awkward and naïve to graceful and cunning, while learning how to channel magic through music.  The first book, Songs of Insurrection is now available on Amazon.

 

 


I hope you enjoyed this guest post by John Kang.

books, China, Culture, Xiamen , , , , ,

Mall Shopping on a Saturday before Christmas

“You’re not going shopping tomorrow, are you?” My hairdresser swung the scissors away from my head and gave an open-mouthed look of incomprehension to our reflections in the mirror.

“Not the best plan,” I admitted.

Sure enough, when I left home the following morning, nothing seemed to be going my way. It was raining, the freeway was crowded, and the first two floors of my favorite parking garage were full.

There was still a third floor, a.k.a., the roof. So that’s where I parked. Leaving my coat in the car, I dashed through the cold rain, down the stairs, across the sky bridge, and into the mall. Time to begin.

Lately, mall shopping seems to have lost its glow. People tell me they never go to the mall anymore or they hate shopping or they always shop on line. It’s just so much easier, they say.

I, however, still like mall shopping. I do a fair amount of shopping on line, but I also like a bit of the real thing. It’s a tactile experience; it’s friendly; and it even involves a measure of exercise.

My first stop on that Saturday before Christmas was REI where I bought socks for a gift. I also found a wonderful, warm hat for myself. With all the part-time employees REI hired for the holidays, the clerk had plenty of time to tell me a little history about my hat. A Seattle family, he said, sponsored a visit here for a Sherpa. So when the Sherpa returned to Nepal, he set up a business for hand-knitted warm hats. I thought that was a fun fact for me to know about my new hat.

As I continued my shopping, I ran into other friendly, informative people. There was the young man who helped me choose the grassiest green tea at DAVID’s TEA, and the woman at Macy’s who showed me perfume and then sent me off with five sample spray bottles of Chloe to keep in my purse.

The main “boulevards” of the mall were thick with shoppers walking alone and in groups of all sizes, many of them moving more slowly than my preferred speed. Crowded sidewalks and malls always remind me of Hong Kong and how much fun I had there dodging and weaving, seeing how fast I could go without bumping anyone. That was a while ago, but I can still dodge pretty fast.

When my shopping was done, there was still more fun to be had. A cilantro lime shrimp salad at Nordstrom, and after that, a 30-minute massage by the Chinese guys who work in the mall hallway.

Christmas, Culture, holidays, winter , , ,

December 7, 1941: “A Date Which Will Live in Infamy.”

Pearl Harbor, photo courtesy of lefatima

Pearl Harbor, photo courtesy of lefatima

Seventy-five years ago today, The Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. President Franklin D. Roosevelt called it, “A date which will live in infamy.” The following day, the United States declared war on Japan. Three days later, it declared war on Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.

In an earlier post, I wrote about Pearl Harbor from the point of view of two families. Today, on the seventy-fifth anniversary of that attack, I’d like to run that post one more time.


Pearl Harbor Wasn’t the Only Target

If you’re a history buff, you probably know how expansive the Imperial Japanese Navy war plans were for December 7, 1941. Besides attacking Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, they planned and carried out simultaneous strikes and movements against several other targets, attacking the Philippines, Wake Island, Guam, Midway, Malaya, Thailand, Hong Kong, Java, Sumatra and Shanghai.

There was at least one other place they invaded on that day. But let me keep you guessing for a while.

Two Families Half a World ApartMom&Dad 001

Less than two months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, my parents were married in Mount Vernon, WA. In keeping with wartime frugality, it was a simple civil ceremony. Soon thereafter my dad, who was still actually a Canadian citizen then, was drafted into the United States Army and sent to Fort McClellan in Alabama for basic training. When he completed training, he was shipped out to fight in North Africa and then in Italy, France, and Germany.

They made him an engineer, which meant he was sent out beyond the front lines to build bridges and such.

Andy Cromarty and his best friend before the siege of Monte Cassino

Andy Cromarty and his best friend, Chet, before the siege of Monte Cassino

During the siege of Monte Cassino, Chet, was killed. Losing his best friend was so painful for my father that he avoided having a best friend again as long as the war continued.

In Nov 1944 during the Battle for Bruyeres in Alsace, France, my dad and another Army engineer were sent out to locate mines by stabbing the ground with a knife. The other man made contact with a mine and was blown to bits. My dad spent the next six weeks in a French hospital before returning to the front.

When my dad was at war, my mom was pregnant with me. After my birth, she sent him pictures of the baby surrounded by hearts and lacy doilies. My dad, who was generally quiet and low-key, wrote mushy letters back to her. (She saved them all.) My favorite quote from him: “I love my wife, baby, rifle & foxhole.” When he returned from the war, I was already three years old.

On the other side of the world my future husband’s family was affected more directly by the attack on Pearl Harbor. They lived on the small Chinese island of Kulangsu (now known as Gulangyu). The area surrounding them had been occupied by the Japanese since 1938. But Kulangsu, which was an International Settlement or Treaty Port, had been spared. Then at 4 a.m. on December 8th 1941 (December 7 on the other side of the International Date Line), the Japanese Marines crossed over from Amoy, and for the next three and a half years, the 70 American, British and Dutch citizens and the nearly 80,000 Chinese on the island lived under Japanese occupation.

While my mother-in-law and her children struggled to survive the occupation, my father-in-law fought the Japanese. He was an engineer too, but unlike my dad who was self-taught, my father-in-law had a degree in engineering. He was a Kuomintang (Nationalist) officer who fought the Japanese for seven long years. In 1949, when the Nationalists retreated to Taiwan, he helped arrange for some of the last boats to ferry Nationalist soldiers and their families to Taiwan. By the end of the evacuation, they were lashing small boats together like rafts to cross the Taiwan Strait.

A Few Statistics

After Pearl Harbor the United States declared war on two fronts. By 1945, 418,500 Americans were dead. More than three hundred thousand of them died in Europe; 106,000 in the Pacific Theater.

China, which had been fighting on its own soil since 1937, lost three to four million soldiers and around sixteen million civilians.

Thankfully, my future father-in-law and my own dad were among those soldiers who survived. But as the numbers above show, it was particularly dangerous to be a Chinese civilian during the war. Without adequate food, fuel, clean water and medicine, many people starved or fell ill, my husband’s baby brother among them.

My novel, Tiger Tail Soup, is set in southeastern China immediately before and after the events of December 7, 1941.

If you’re like many people in the world, you have some connection to Pearl Harbor. Do you have a story to share?

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The digital version of Tiger Tail Soup is currently on sale for $1.99. The paperback at $16.95 might suit someone on your Christmas gift list.

China, family, Second Sino-Japanese War casualties, war, WWII in China , , , , , , , , ,

Transitioning from News to Music

 newspapers and music CDs

I’ve been listening to too much news lately, especially during the presidential campaign and its aftermath. It’s like a soap opera with real life consequences—hard to turn off. Like a box of See’s candy or a sack of bite-sized Snickers—bad for your health but oh, so tempting to overindulge in it.

My solution: listen to more music. I don’t mean to say that I’m opting out of the news. I still feel the need to know what’s going on in my country and the world. To be a knowledgeable citizen. To do my part.

But for a while I was going overboard. And so, in order to gain more balance in my life, I’ve decided to turn to music. Or at least I’m trying to make at least a partial transition from news to music. Old habits die hard.

One old habit of mine is listening to NPR while I drive. Sometimes I listen to music CDs when I’m in the car, or even to “the sound of silence.” Lately, though, NPR has had the lion’s share of my driving time. The mix CDs my daughter made for me deserve more attention. And really, there’s nothing wrong with a little silence now and then.

Another habit: watching or listening to the news while I’m cooking, eating or washing dishes. I haven’t always been such a news junkie. I suppose I fell into the habit after my husband died. The house had begun to seem too quiet, and the radio and TV helped fill up that sound space. This year, the outrageous presidential campaign and election overflowed into every nook and cranny.

My transition to music started a few weeks ago with the songs I have on iTunes. Those songs were getting a little stale, though, so I signed up with Pandora.

Here are some of the “stations” I’ve set up so far on Pandora:

Bruno Mars, Sam Smith, Smooth Jazz, Sara Bareilles, Santana, Fun., and Christmas Traditional, which I play when I’m wrapping gifts and addressing Christmas cards.

I still find it hard to tear myself away from the news–all those meaty, complex, outrageous things going on every day in my country and the world. When I listen to music, though, I smile more. I even find myself swinging my hips and twirling my way around the kitchen.

I feel happier. And that’s gotta be a good thing.

So … What do you fill your sound space with–news, music, talk, nothing at all? What type of music do you like?my signature

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Privacy Is a Moving Target.

 telephone-001

From public phone books to hummingbird drones.

For most of my life, my phone number and address could be found in the fat public phone book everyone received once a year. When I was a kid, we even had a “party line”—two short rings for our phone, one for the neighbors’. We didn’t listen in, but if we’d wanted to, nothing would have stopped us.

Before we had the internet, most of us didn’t worry about our privacy. Our lives were just naturally private enough. If we wanted to keep something to ourselves, we just kept our mouths shut.

shoesEven now, most of the intrusions are not too bad. I bought a pair of shoes online a couple months ago, and now I get emails from the company every few days. I could unsubscribe, but … you know … I like their shoes. Maybe I’ll buy a pair of boots for winter. Or some slippers. Mine are looking worn. I really don’t mind those ads from the shoemaker. In fact, I’m glad they keep track of me and alert me to their sales.

I might have a different opinion, though, if someone sent a drone disguised as a hummingbird over my patio. Sounds like science fiction, right? Nope. AeroVironment has already produced one. (For more fun facts about other frontiers in surveillance, take a look at Matthew Hutson’s article in The Atlantic,Even Bugs Will Be Bugged.”)

Elena Ferrante’s Loss of Privacy

Elena Ferrante

Last month the New York Review of Books published an article about an Italian author whose real name was made public against her will. Ever since, I’ve been thinking about the tightrope authors walk and the contradiction they live.

In my blog of October 16th, I wrote about one small aspect of the outing of the author known as Elena Ferrante. I was interested then in the problem of authors writing about people different from themselves. Most people, on the other hand, were concerned about the author’s loss of privacy. Why, they asked, shouldn’t she be allowed to hide behind her pseudonym if that was her desire?

Indeed. Why shouldn’t we all be able to choose what to keep private and what to make public?

We writers are a strange bunch. Many of us are introverts, at least to some extent. You may not notice it because we also like to spend time with friends and family. We may even enjoy crowds on occasion. But you can’t be a writer unless you have the ability to spend lots of time alone, thinking and writing, just you and your laptop or pen and paper.

It can be frightening for a writer to show words to the world that were written in private. And yet, if the writer doesn’t publish, all that work will have been in vain. It’s like cooking dinner only to find out that everyone has already eaten and all your work was a big waste of time.

I understand why Anita Raja, who now is assumed to be the real Elena Ferrante, would want to use a pseudonym. Many writers would like to do the same, if only we could.

Or could we?

*    *    *

Here are some quotes from Elena Ferrante from an article in The Guardian. They compiled the quotes from various sources before the events of last month.

“I don’t protect my private life. I protect my writing.”

“I’m still very interested in testifying against the self-promotion ­obsessively ­imposed by the media. This demand for self-promotion diminishes the ­actual work of art …”

“The fact that Jane Austen, in the course of her short life, published her books anonymously made a great impression on me as a girl of 15.”

“…what counts most for me is to preserve a creative space that seems full of possibilities, including technical ones. The structural absence of the author affects the writing in a way that I’d like to continue to explore.”

 

Do you have privacy concerns?

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You may be interested in these related posts:

Fame and Invisibility,

Secrets and Revelation,

Elena Ferrante Isn’t Who I Thought She Was.

P.S.- Maybe I should be more concerned about my privacy. Even though my phone calls and emails are pretty innocuous, I suppose a way could be found to twist my words. If I learned anything from the campaign of the past few months, it is to choose my words carefully and beware of hackers.

books, historical fiction, writing , , , , , , , , ,

“Loving,” the Movie, and the Crime of Interracial Love.

 wedding, cake, Eugene and Nicki Chen, June 17, 1967

I had no idea.

In June of 1967, Eugene and I were putting the finishing touches on our wedding plans.

At the same time, the United States Supreme Court was preparing to release its decision in the case of Loving v Virginia, a case that would decide whether our marriage would be legal in Virginia and throughout the country.

What?

I understood that our marriage would be unusual, but it never crossed my mind that it might be illegal. And not just in the South. Six days before our wedding, interracial marriage was illegal in sixteen states. If, after getting married, we’d decided to move to Tennessee or Texas or any one of fourteen other states, we would have been criminals.

us_miscegenation-svg-wikimedia-commons-by-certesUS states by date of repeal of anti-miscegenation laws:

gray: no anti-miscegenation laws passed

green: 1780 to 1887

yellow: 1948-1967

red: after 1967

Then, five days before our wedding, the Supreme Court made interracial marriage legal and anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional. Their reason: The laws forbidding interracial marriage had been enacted for the purpose of perpetuating white supremacy. (The legal reasoning is more complex.)

wedding, Immaculate Heart of Mary Church 001Eugene and I didn’t know it at the time, but by the date of our wedding on Jun 17, we were back on the right side of the law.

The Supreme Court decision wasn’t the end of it, though. Laws against interracial marriage remained on the books in sixteen states. In Alabama, local judges continued to enforce them until 1970, and they didn’t get around to striking them from their books until 2000 when a citizen’s initiative forced them to do it.

The story of Richard Loving’s and Mildred Jeter’s fight for interracial justice.

mildred_jeter_and_richard_lovingIt was just a coincidence (a happy coincidence) that one of the plaintiffs in the case of Loving v Virginia was named Loving, Richard Loving.

He and his wife, Mildred Jeter, went to separate segregated schools. But they’d been friends since he was 17 and she was 11. By the time Mildred was 18, they were ready to get married and raise a family. But Richard was a white man and she, a black woman. They couldn’t get married in Virginia.

So they left their home and drove to Washington, DC to be legally wed.

The trouble began five weeks later after they’d returned to Virginia. One night while they were sleeping, the county sheriff and two deputies broke into their bedroom, beamed flashlights into their eyes, and arrested and jailed them for unlawful co-habitation.

The judge sentenced them to a year in jail, but in a plea bargain he agreed to a suspended sentence if they would agree to leave the state and never return together for the next 25 years.

So they made a home for themselves in Washington, DC and raised three children there, taking separate trips back to Virginia to visit friends and family. They never could get used to city living, though.

In 1963, after five years in Washington, DC, Mildred wanted to move back home, and she contacted Attorney General, Robert F. Kennedy, who referred her to the ACLU. The case worked its way through the lower courts all the way up to the US Supreme Court. And on June 12, 1967, the case was decided in their favor by a unanimous verdict. Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote the opinion.

“Loving,” the movie.

The movie about their lives came out on November 4, but only in selected cities. I’m waiting for it to be more widely available. “Loving” is not the first movie to tell the story of the Lovings, but it promises to be the best. It received a standing ovation at Canne, and it’s already named as an Oscar contender.

Joel Edgerton plays Richard and Ruth Negga plays Mildred.

While you’re waiting for “Loving” to come to a theater near you, please enjoy this trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRXuCY7tRgk

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Culture, interracial marriage , , , , , , , , ,