Wednesday, December 7, 2016

If Loving Is Wrong

Photo Courtsey Of Erin Benach 

I've had several friends, family members, staff at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and a lawyer, yes! Michael Klarman, explain the complex system of segregational and Jim Crow laws existing in The South, pre-Civil Rights Movement. Although The North had its own set of convolutions pertaining to African-Americans, "You could be high but not close", in contrast to The South where "You could be close but not high"; black and white folks the Confederate States of America, both ante and postbellum had a history of living within proximity. This "communal" living in turn gave birth to its own set of informal rules adding to the confusion of what was considered legitmate in the eyes of the people. Be close, but don't you dare get married, was the order of the day.

It's in this unsettling setting that couple, Mildred Jeter (Ruth Neggar) and Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton) find themselves in the true to life drama, "Loving" (2016), when they in 1958 drive to Washington D.C. to get married, fully aware that they're violating the Racial Integrity Act of their home state Virginia. Shortly after their road trip the newly weds are hauled off to prison where they face a 25 years sentence for their defiant deed.

Mrs. Loving is expecting when the couple is conditionally exiled after the judge suspends their stipulated punishment. The birth place of their first child marks their second act of open resistiance and subseqeuntly heralds their third.

Written and directed by Jeff Nichols, the period piece "Loving" is a pitch-perfect movie that moves you without ever raising its voice. Every abuse and agony is implicit in the characters' silent and subtle gesticulations, including the antagonists', too. In one scene at the county jail, Sheriff Brooks, played by Martin Csokas, almost empathetically excuses Lovings's swirling ways based on the fact that his father didn't know any better.

However, past events do not excuse the fact that Brooks is a racist separationist because his father probably was one, too.

"Divorce her?" Loving ponders when informed in a local bar that he, unlike his black peers, has a choice and an easy way out of his predicament.

"Tell the judge I love my wife."

Richard is right.

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