WHY TALK ABOUT INTERRACIAL RELATIONSHIPS?
In most of my novels, I bring in interracial relationships. Why? First of all, my marriage is such a relationship. I am a white man who is married to a Latina. For young people today, that’s no big deal. But for the older generations, who are the majority and who politically are in control, it still is a big deal—whether they will admit it or not.
It is hard for a young person today to grasp the idea of going to jail for marrying a person of another race. But until 1967, when the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional, over half of the states—and at one time two-thirds of the states—made what was called “miscegenation” a crime, punishable by imprisonment. (See: Loving v. Virginia.) That is, if a white person married a person who was legally non-white, the two parties were subject to criminal punishment and their marriage was not recognized—similar to the situation today for same-sex relationships in some states.
I married my wife in 1971—only four years after the above Supreme Court decision. As everyone knows, a court decision does not mean that attitudes, emotions and cultural acceptance of something automatically changes. In part, I left Texas and came to California so that I could marry Virginia, my wife, without having serious problems from the people of the Texas Panhandle, where I grew up. By many, include many of my relatives and friends, I was looked upon as a traitor to my race.
And it works both ways. I laughed all the way through the 1997 movie, Fools Rush In, starring Matthew Perry and Salma Hayek. So much of what was depicted was exactly what happened when I came to California and married my Latina wife. Her family had a hard time accepting “the first white guy” who married into her large extended and traditional Hispanic family.
So for me, the theme of interracial relationships is personal. And just as the comedy movie mentioned above helps people to understand the nature of what is still a problem, I hope that my romantic novels will help readers to see what maybe they don’t want to see …that interracial relationships still result in serious societal problems for many Americans who dare to put themselves in such relationships.