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The Loving Generation Explores the Lives of Biracial Children Born After Mixed-Race Marriages Were Legalized

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Topic

When you meet someone who identifies as biracial, what do you see? An imposter? A person in denial? A person who wants to acknowledge every part of themselves? Someone who wants to name a very specific experience? Or someone longing to place themselves adjacent to whiteness?

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A new digital documentary series on Topic, The Loving Generation, conceived by Jezebel founder Anna Holmes, dives headlong into the experiences and insights of the first generation of Americans born after mixed-race partnerships were legalized.

While the complexities of mixed-race and, specifically, black-and-white mixed-race identities have been well-covered, the video series chooses to focus very specifically on the generation of children born to one black parent and one white parent after the landmark 1965 Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court decision, which struck down anti-miscegenation laws around the nation.

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A press release about the project calls The Loving Generation the “first series of its kind to train a lens on this particular generation of Americans, many of whom have become recognized leaders in their respective fields.” All the people filmed in the series were born between 1965 and 1985.

The series is directed and produced by Lacey Schwartz (Little White Lie) and Mehret Mandefro, while O.J.: Made in America’s Ezra Edelman serves as the executive producer. Interview subjects include the New York Times’ Nikole Hannah-Jones, novelist Mat Johnson, academic Melissa Harris-Perry and VSB’s own Panama Jackson.

Panama Jackson (Topic screenshot)
Panama Jackson (Topic screenshot)

As Hannah-Jones tweeted on the film’s release: “I was very iffy about it all. Believing that to be black in America is to be mixed, I didn’t want to be part of something centering biracial angst. In the end, I trusted Anna [Holmes] and this is beautifully done.”

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The first episode of the four-part series, “Checking Boxes,” released today, delves into the process of self-identifying—how each subject came to terms with defining themselves as “black” or “mixed race” and what that decision means for them.

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The Loving Generation will run all Black History Month on Topic with a new episode debuting each Tuesday.

Staff writer, The Root.

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DISCUSSION

highonthepeople
Colored Black Negro

As a woman born of this generation, I can say that it has been my experience that self-identification was dictated largely by two factors: the race of your mother and your phenotype. Because my mother is Black and from South Carolina, those were the values I was raised with and what firmly guided my identity formation. Also, my parents, like many of my generation, met during the Civil Rights Movement. So my white father, who imparted such wisdom as “a liberal is someone who’ll hang you from a low limb” and other gems, gladly, earnestly, sat at the kitchen table after dinner reviewing Black history flashcards with my brother and me. I have always identified as Black. I continue to. Not Biracial, not African American, but Black. I grew up with a Colored grandmother, a Negro mother, I am Black and my niece and nephew are African American. I guess that is our story, and it is OUR story. But I know well the pain of walking beside one of my parents or the other and not being identified as their child, somehow othered by a society most definitely colorstruck. These days, being Biracial has a feeling of belonging. In my generation, for me, it did not. Blackness engulfed me in warmness, belonging, familiarity, a sense of history and taught me about myself, who I was and who I would always be. It is who I am today. People may still question who I am. But I don’t.