Few issues in the history of American race relations are more sensitive and misunderstood than that of romantic and sexual interaction across racial lines. A law professor and child of a marriage that crossed ethnic barriers, Rachel F. Moran examines in a well-documented and thorough treatment the growth of laws and customs in colonial and pre-Civil War America that governed how men and women of different races should and should not behave with each other. After 1865 the rise of segregation added new strictures against intermarriage to the interplay of black and white Americans. Moran also traces the complexity of Asian, Hispanic, and Native American involvements in state and federal law. By the 1960’s the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Loving v. Virginia that for the states to prohibit interracial marriages was unconstitutional.
As Moran demonstrates, the Loving decision did not end the difficulties of such marriages for the people involved nor still the controversies over how children of such unions should be viewed in both political and cultural terms. While the number of interracial unions has grown, the predominant pattern of marriages within racial boundaries persists. Moran is hopeful about the future of romance and intimacy as these barriers fall away, but she is cautious and realistic regarding the tenacity of stereotypes and attitudes that maintain segregation and prevent individuals from finding love as they wish.
This is an informative and sobering book, written with passion and a deep knowledge of the subject, about a topic that affects more Americans each year.