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Come, Share Some Loving this June 9th

BY , June 7, 2012
Ken Tabanbe is a statistic. And an astounding one at that. He is one of the nine million people who selected “Two or More Races” on the latest US Census.
This statistic would have been scoffed at if it reached an audience living 60 years ago, when interracial marriage was banned in many U.S. states – something Tanabe knows all too well.  He created Loving Dayin 2004 as his graduate thesis project at Parsons the New School for Design to “fight racial prejudice through education and to build multicultural community.” Loving Day also marks the anniversary of the 1967 Supreme Court case, Loving v Virginia, that legalized interracial marriage in all 50 states.Had the 1967 decision not been enacted, Loving Day never could have come to be. So it is apt that an eclectic crowd now spends the day partying, mingling with others in the multiracial community (and their any-race friends). The Loving Day Flagship Celebration will be held this weekend on June 9th by the East River waterfront in Manhattan and is expected to be the largest one yet, hosting about 1000 people. Guests will enjoy free BBQ all day and beer (for the first hour). Top DJs Dhundee and DJ T-Mic will bring the love to the dance floor. Last year, one volunteer described it as “a big cookout to put people at ease.”

Loving Day has spread to the West Coast and even internationally to cities such as Barcelona and Tokyo. Don’t be surprised to meet couples who have married on Loving Day, either – the anniversary of this revolutionary Supreme Court decision, popularized by Tanabe, is becoming increasingly recognized by interracial couples and officially by the U.S. government.

Tanabe answers some question about what he expects will happen this weekend and how a stronger “multicultural community” can be built.

World Up: What will go down this June 9th during the Flagship Celebration for Loving Day?

Ken Tanabe:We get about 1,000 guests a year for Loving Day on the East River waterfront in New York City. We’ll have free BBQ all day, free beer for the first hour courtesy of Asahi, and two amazing DJ’s: Dhundee and T-Mic. But it’s also a family friendly event with an art area for all ages, and a chance to link up with the great community organizations we collaborate with – like World Up! Overall, it’s a great vibe.

What are some unique ways in which people have celebrated Loving Day in the past?

Most Loving Day Celebrations are barbecues, picnics, cocktail parties, and things like that. But we’ve seen entire academic conferences and film/literary festivals hosted in honor of Loving Day, like Mixed Roots. One year there was a Loving Day cruise. This year, our friend Jason Davis is doing the Denver Triathlon to support Loving Day. A group in Indianapolis is hosting a Loving Day ice cream social at a swim club that didn’t allow black members until 1982! I think that’s really meaningful. Many people choose to get married on Loving Day as well: lovingday.org

How has Loving Day been recognized officially by the U.S. government? How do you plan on getting more “official” recognition?

Loving Day has been officially recognized in a few places, including Washington, DC and the Lovings’ home town of Caroline County, VA. We’re collecting letters and artwork to ask the president for official recognition of Loving Day. If you’d like to contribute, please check out our website for more info: lovingday.org

As exponentially more multiracial children are born, the frequency of interracial marriages is also increasing. From your perspective, is there a strong enough multiracial community to withstand any prejudices that may arise? Will resistance diminish as the minorities become the majority?

The statistics show that our community is growing and that there is more acceptance of interracial marriage today. There are other signs, such as the election of Barack Obama. But racism still exists. We see it in hate crimes and even in our daily lives. We hope that Loving Day will counter that racism with education and community.

In 2009, Keith Bardwell, a Justice of the Peace in Louisiana, denied an interracial couple a marriage license. His argument was, “There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage. I think those children suffer and I won’t help put them through it.” What are your thoughts on his statement?

In 1967, lawyers for the state of Virginia defended their state’s right to outlaw interracial marriage. Part of their argument was the claim that children of mixed marriages were “the victims [and] martyrs of intermarried parents.” The Supreme Court unanimously disagreed with them. We need to know and share the lessons of history so we can move forward. We hope you’ll join us in celebrating Loving Day every year around June 12th as a way to fight racial prejudice through education, and to build multiethnic community. Learn more at LovingDay.org Loving Day will be held on Saturday, June 9th from 3:00-7:00 PM (rain date Sunday 6/10) at Solar 1, located on the East River waterfront at 23rd Street in Manhattan (2420 FDR Drive, Service Road East, New York, NY 10010). To learn more about Loving Day and its history, check out our blog from the 2010 flagship celebration.
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