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June 18, 2007


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Will Baird

Oh? What's your "illegality", Doug?

How did these laws interact with Native Americans, btw? That's something that goes back a pretty far. Did they count, as One Of Them Others?

I suspect that there were some native americans in my line and some rampaging mongols in Lyuda's, but the contributions predated the race laws there by a long time, I suspect.


You know, I saw Mrs. Loving's statement, thought about posting something about it, then realized that you probably would, better than I could. And you did.



I believe Doug is an Octoroon, if such a word were still, uh, tasteful.

As for the Native Americans, well, it's a state thing, so it'd vary state by state. Presumably, the core of the 16 were the Old Confederacy, with probably TN, KY, MO thrown in for good measure. I'd guess the last two would be California and someone else. Alabama held onto its law until 2000

The Old Confederacy and its near neighbors would be more concerned with 'black bucks' and white women than anything else, but some of the other states might have something to say about Indians, if at all.

As for you and Lyuda, well, as long as it doesn't register visually, I doubt anyone will care.

I, meanwhile, am banking on Loving for when I move to Virginia with a husband. But I suspect I'm several heart attacks/rampaging deer short of said marker.

Jussi Jalonen

Hey, even _I_ know that story.

The record where "James Muir manumits Eliza and her two sons, Osmond and James Junior", should supposedly be available online, even though at the moment, I'm unable to recover it.

Carlos, of course, is half-Danish (AAARRGGHHH!), but I've eventually managed to bury my prejudices on that count.

(To be fair, not all Danes are fat and lazy chain smokers. Brrrr. Still, I don't think that I could breed with any of them.)


J. J.

Doug M.

Wow, good memory.

It is available online. Just not for free.

For completeness' sake, I should add that I got a detail wrong -- Eliza was James' mother-in-law, not his wife. This stuff gets confusing thanks to the family habit of giving the same names over and over. (Which we're still doing; my son Alan is the grandson and great-grandson of Alans, and I'm the nephew of another Doug.)

A family connection I have yet to tease out: Eliza and her daughter Catherine, James' wife, were named "Wedgwood". Family tradition says they were descended from Josiah Wedgwood.

I am skeptical. There's a gap of two or three generations there; the Wedgwood in question would have been a grandson or great-grandson of Josiah. However, the Wedgwood family tree is very well attested, and I have yet to find a male Wedgwood who would have been in the right place at the right time. So, probably just a legend.

Anyway, key point: two generations back, the Muirs went from being "light skinned blacks" to "dark skinned Scots". This was a deep family secret: my grandmother literally carried it to her grave. We only discovered it when we went through her papers afterward.

Probably deserves a post of its own sometime.

Doug M.


Hey, I'm a quaddane. If family photos are any guide, we're from the lanky, long-faced, dark-haired, melancholic Danish phenotype. Pipe smokers. People made for tweed or heroin chic.

Bernard Guerrero

Doug, as a fellow product of miscegenation (somewhere back there), I salute your post! Huzzah!

Dennis Brennan

I'm reasonably certain that I know the ethnicities that three of my grandparents would have self-identified as(FN1); I'm hazy on the fourth-- maybe Scotch-Irish, maybe something else.

On the other hand my Lithuanian grandmother and I (and my son) have what a geneticist that I happened to meet called "some vaguely east Asian facial features", so for all I know there's a Mongol in the woodpile or something. I'm also lactose intolerant and I have dry earwax, which if I recall correctly also very vaguely correlate with east Asian ancestry.(FN2) What's the reliability of those services that take a swab from your cheek and then tell you your genetic ancestry?

FN1: Full blooded-Irish(FN3), full-blooded German, full-blooded Lithuanian.

FN2: Maybe I was right all along-- the Irish and the Koreans really are the same race.

FN3: Actually, not that simple either-- one of the Irish ancestors got himself on the Schuylkill County, PA Molly Maguires and, as a result of the MMs doing various naughty things to said ancestor, said ancestor disowned the Irish race and thereafter, for several generations, that branch of the family described its heritage as "American" and never as "Irish".

Dennis Brennan

At what point in America did the "ick" factor in inter-racial (specifically, black and white) relationships go away? I guess, certainly by the 1990s you've got well-known black celebrities such as Denzel Washington, Michael Jordan and Halle Berry (admittedly, not the best representative example, maybe Naomi Campbell would be better) whom I would guess most white people of the appropriate sexual preference would consider "hot". What was the earliest time that a black entertainer had that kind of cross-racial sex appeal? Dorothy Dandridge? Grace Jones?


Don't look at me. Anyway, it's generational.

Let me throw out a completely spurious date for the beginning of the transition: when Quentin Tarantino saw his first Pam Grier movie. Call it 1978.

Will Baird

As for you and Lyuda, well, as long as it doesn't register visually, I doubt anyone will care.

lol. They don't at all. They think Lyuda's Russian [1] and me? They think I'm just another pasty folk and if they care to guess which ancestry, they say German. When I mention the Italian[2] they get a little cross eyed, but...lol.

To me, I couldn't give a damn what they think. I just find the whole roots thing interesting and the historical attitudes to the subject. I think I've noted already what the interesting, if odd for me, POV of Ukrainians on the subject is.

Yah! Outbreeding! ;)

1. She's mostly forgiving, but can get bent out of shape now and again when she's had a bad day.

2. Yes, yes, Noel still pasty folk from your POV.

Dennis Brennan

Gloria Hendry is credited on IMDB as the first black Bond girl (Live and Let Die, 1973), although I guess the first black Bond girl with a really meaningful part in the movie was really Grace Jones (A View to a Kill, 1985).

double L

Dear Dennis: I don't know if the "ick" factor ever went away, actually. I know that, from what I've observed living in Asia Pacific, most white men here would rather date and marry Asian women (language barriers and vast cultural differences notwithstanding) than moi. I think that many white men still consider a black woman to be too "other" to be a (serious) partner - as though we're only good for experimentation and fulfillment of sexual curiousity. The rich and famous, mentioned in your letter, are integrated on the basis of their wealth and beauty, but average women, like myself? I'm still the other.
PS: I am very pleasantly surprised to see this topic regarding "Virginia vs. Loving." Such an important part of our shared history. I'm gald my sister and brother-in-law weren't living in that era - I would have lost a very nice brother-in-law, who is both white and Jewish!


Just finished reading Adam Hoschchild's "Bury The Chains" about the 18th century struggle in Great Britain to end the slave trade. That slavery and official racism persisted until 1958 (and probably later) shows just how much of a slave society America was and how long it took to eradicate it (if it really ever was).

Colin Alberts

How did these laws interact with Native Americans, btw? That's something that goes back a pretty far. Did they count, as One Of Them Others?

At least in the case of the law at issue in Loving, there was a statutory exception. Section 20-54 of the Virginia Code provided:

"Intermarriage prohibited; meaning of term 'white persons.' - it shall hereafter be unlawful for any white person in this state to marry any save a white person, or a person with no other admixture of blood than white and american indian. For the purpose of this chapter, the term 'white person' shall apply only to such person as has no trace whatever of any blood other than caucasian; but persons who have one sixteenth or less of the blood of the american indian and have no other non-caucasic blood shall be deemed to be white persons. All laws heretofore passed and now in effect regarding the intermarriage of white and colored persons shall apply to marriages prohibited by this chapter.' Va. Code Ann. Sec. 20-54 (1960 Repl. Vol.)".

Chief Justice Warren noted in his opinion that "The exception for persons with less than one-sixteenth 'of the blood of the American indian' is apparently accounted for, in the words of a tract issued by the registrar of the state bureau of vital statistics, by 'the desire of all to recognize as an integral and honored part of the white race the descendants of John Rolfe and Pocahontas ... .' Plecker, the new family and race improvement, 17 Va. Health Bull., Extra No. 12, at 25-26 (New Family Series No. 5, 1925), cited in Wadlington, the Loving Case: Virginia's Anti-miscegenation statute in Historical Perspective, 52 Va. L. Rev. 1189, 1202, n. 93 (1966)."

In other words, if the exception hadn't been in there, it would implicated half the elite families of Virginia...

Will Baird

In other words, if the exception hadn't been in there, it would implicated half the elite families of Virginia...

I'm more French than Native American, so I think - think! - that Noel's pronouncement I still count as one of the pasty ones stands.

Noel Maurer

Dear Double L: I don't know where in East Asia you happen to be, but there's probably no small element of selection bias among the expat community. Americans who choose to live in Asia are more likely to feel an affinity with Asian culture and Asian people. Not all of course, but rather more so that those who stay back in the United States.

Brendan was, I believe, referring to sexual intercourse rather than marriage ... I mean, what teenage boy ever fantasized about marrying Vanessa Williams? (I refer to the woman from the Cosby Show and Melrose, of course.)

As for marriage, I can tell you from my own personal experience that I haven't seen anything resembling an ick factor.


In answer to a question: while there were black people who some white Americans found attractive, maybe for decades, the idea of actual race mixing was problematic to some people well after Loving vs. Virginia; I blogged about it on June 12. And know that there are STILL black AND white people who think it's a bad idea.

Noel Maurer

ROG: that's true, there still are people who think it's a bad idea ... but they're more marginal every day. Unless your close friends or relatives fall into that group, their opinions aren't likely to affect your life very much.

"The difference between an ideology and an institution is that an institution affects your life even if you don't believe in it."

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