Last month, Loving, a biopic about Mildred and Richard Loving—the couple at the center of the Supreme Court’s Loving v. Virginia decision which struck down bans on interracial marriage in 1967—was released nationwide. June 12th, 2017 will be the 50th anniversary of the historic trial.
As a way to celebrate the Lovings—and promote the movie—the Loving Twitter account began encouraging people to use the hashtag #ThankYouLovings. The hashtag has been shared across social media, accompanied by photos of interracial couples—everything from candid selfies to intimate wedding photos.
It’s important, beautiful, and in a sense almost surreal to see how much America has progressed—and how much it has failed—in one photo and one film. On one hand, there is no rule on who we can or can’t love. People of all races and, thanks to last year’s Supreme Court ruling, genders, can now marry. On the other hand, we’re no closer to ending systematic racism, sexism or homophobia, with the 2016 election being our most up-to-date example.
Yet there’s another side to the common narrative about interracial couples that often gets overlooked—whether it’s the fetishization of mixed race babies; the visual imagery that reduces “interracial” to merely “white/person of color”; or the idea that if we all just blended together, it would somehow solve systematic racism. Case-in-point: a video from NowThis News dedicated to the #ThankYouLovings hashtag.
The video features a handful of interracial couples (all of them a person of color with a white person) and their children (most of them with a light complexion and European-leaning features) with the tagline, “This is how America will look in 2050.”
That’s problematic for a number of reasons. Not all interracial relationships involve a white person. Moreover, not every child or person in America in the future will suddenly adapt European features. Mixed-raced people come in all different shades and hair textures.
“This is simply the colorist fetishization of light skin projected onto American mythologies of racial progressivism and post-raciality,” writer Zoé Samudzi tweeted.
The video also explicitly ties the Lovings and their fight to the future it is predicting. It’s true: We should be thankful for the Lovings and what they did. What makes their story moving is that their fight was a simple one. They wanted the right to be together and for the law to recognize that their love mattered.
But populating the world with mixed-race babies wasn’t the point of their struggle—and they weren’t expecting the court’s decision to then end the discrimination they faced right away.
And that’s just as true today. An increase in interracial marriages and biracial children won’t just erase America’s hatred and racism. I mean, we can just look at the past 50 years—or even the last eight years we’ve experienced under a biracial president—to know that’s not true. Nor does gauzily celebrating the progress that we’ve made address the very real racism that interracial couples and mixed-raced children still face. Unfortunately, no matter what America will look like in the future, we will still have to address these issues head-on. They’re not going anywhere.