Interracial Marriage Bans in the United States

WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS TO BE SELF-EVIDENT…

Ironically enough, the Founding Fathers did not find these ‘truths’ to be self-evidence enough to apply them to black people or any other non-white Protestant landing owning male group. I created this viz in honor of #BlackHistoryMonth 2018 with one main goal in mind: displaying the evolution and magnitude of oppression that the United States government has been actively engaged with with since its creation. Looking at this viz, the left side of the red line chart in the middle portrays the beginning of white colonial rule of the North American continent and the right side of the red timeline represents today. Now look at the red lines in between. There is not a lot of space to the right of where those lines end. The main point is, during most of the US’s history the federal government has been actively involved in forcefully restricting the basic human rights of African Americans, among other groups (LGBTQ, women).

This topic is very personal to me, especially being in an interracial marriage. At the time of my parent’s birth, my wife and I’s marriage would have been illegal. When my grandparents (who are still alive today) were born, my marriage would not only have been illegal, but it would have been socially incomprehensible. My great grandparents, whom I have many memories with, would probably not even comprehend the possibility of black and white Americans marrying one another. 

After seeing Neil Richard’s soccer timeline viz I wanted to make sure to display time in a way other than a standard timeline (lines and circles). I hoped to make the red lines, in which I displayed the time gaps between states legalizing interracial marriage bans, symbolic of the pain that African Americans have endured and continue to endure by invoking the image of lash marks. The dark background and red color for the timeline were all intentional to create a sense of seriousness and pain. 

At the end of the day, we as Americans must come to terms with the reality that we cannot simply erase these horrific acts from our history. We must acknowledge them, own them, and deal with them appropriately moving forward. Hopefully this viz caused at least one person to think about the federal government’s holistic efforts to maintain white supremacy and segregation in a different light. 

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