John Legend’s new music video for “Surefire” is shedding light on real-life stories, and it’s touching the hearts of so many people.
Widely known for his songs about love, John Legend’s new music video, “Surefire,” directed by Cole Wiley, is taking the power of love to a whole other level. John Legend is using his platform to raise awareness on issues such as love and how relationships are being destroyed because of the current climate on immigration. Grab a tissue, this hits home for so many of us.
Growing up, I remember placing my hand against my dad’s much darker skin. Our skin tones were always very different. People would say I looked more like my mother but I think they were just seeing the same white complexion. I didn’t have my dad’s deep brown skin or his jet black hair but I had his eyes and his way of looking at the world.
More than once while growing up, I had friends point out the difference between the two of us. While my mom had a mix of white European backgrounds, my dad had Mexican, Indigenous, and Spanish blood flowing through his veins. Her light skinned, slender form contrasted his dark and rotund one. However, I’ve never met two people who were more complimentary of each other than my parents.
In the 1980’s interracial marriage was still against societal norms in South Texas.
My parents married in a small church in Highlands, Texas during Holy Week. They were joined in celebration by my dad’s large Latinx family. On the other hand, my mom’s family wasn’t so eager to be there. The only reason they attended was that my dad provided their wedding clothes and personally drove them to the church. They didn’t support my mom’s decision to marry someone brown.
My dad’s family was happy to welcome my mom. Still, their welcome came with some trepidation. When they announced their engagement, my grandmother solemnly asked my father if this is what he really wanted. This was not a rejection of my mom but my grandmother’s concern about the ugliness that they would face as an interracial couple.
Officially, interracial marriage was legalized across the United States in 1967.
The decision to legalize came after the landmark Loving vs Virginia case. The Supreme Court found that the laws banning interracial marriage violated the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Though it was now legal, it wasn’t exactly popular at the time. South Texas was slow to adopt any kind of sweeping social change, especially if it was mandated by Washington DC. To put this into perspective, look at how desegregation was approached in the area.
Brown Vs the Board of Education reached its historic mandate in 1957. When my dad and his siblings were going to school in the late ’60s and early 70’s their school district had only just begun the process of desegregation. My father would tell me stories of being bussed to the “white schools” to fulfill the 1957 mandate. When he and my mother married in 1985, the city was still very segregated.
Though it was legalized 10 years after desegregation, interracial marriage had just as much trouble being accepted by conservative Texans.
Though Texas has a diverse population, outside of its major metropolitan areas, it’s still socially conservative. Texas is also part of the Evangelical Protestant Bible Belt and is home to close to ten million Catholics, Protestants, Methodists and Baptists.
The state’s religious breakdown is very relevant when we talk about interracial marriage. Historically, many religions practiced in the U.S. disavow mixed marriages. For example, the Christian Bible is often cited as a reason against the mixing of the races. However, there’s no actual text that prohibits interracial marriage. Both Deuteronomy 7:1-6 and 2 Corinthians 6:14 urge the Israelites not to intermarry with the Canaanites.
That passage in Deuteronomy reads:
“Neither shalt thou make marriages with them [Canaanites]; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.”
On the surface, this might look like a case against interracial marriages. Nevertheless, it isn’t as the Israelites and Canaanites were of the same ethnic group. The argument here refers to the difference in tribe and religious observations as reasons not to intermarry. Still, though there is no text to back this up, many continue to use religion to argue against mixed marriages.
Another reason why interracial marriage is opposed is something I have lots of experience with.
One of the social objections to interracial marriage has to do with the offspring of these marriages. Interracial children come from several different cultures. A common worry is that these children will never fully belong to any. Similarly, objectors claim that these children will be shunned by their respective cultures for being mixed.
This has been a major arguement as recently as 2009. Louisiana Justice of the Peace Keith Bardwell was exposed for refuseing to officiate interracial marriage. It was his opinion that these marriages do not last long. Additionally, he claimed he didn’t want the kids of mixed marriages to suffer unduly.
“I’m not a racist. I just don’t believe in mixing the races that way. There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage. I think those children suffer and I won’t help put them through it.”
I can honestly say that Bardwell is absolutely wrong in his thinking.
A little over 35 years ago, my parents met, dated and fell in love. They had me — their oldest daughter — 13 months after they tied the knot. My little sister joined the family 18 months later. She and I have never felt unloved.
We were raised with my dad’s side of the family. As such, we grew up with quinceañeras, authentic Tex-Mex and my grandma’s telenovelas filling our childhoods. While we were lighter in complexion than my fully Latinx cousins, we were no different.
My mom didn’t have the same sort of family support my dad did. Long before their wedding, her relatives were family in name and name only. However, she loved my dad with all her heart. That included his culture.
My mom had no exposure to Latinx culture before my dad — she didn’t even have any Hispanic friends at the time. Still, she embraced my dad’s family and heritage; learning Spanish words, cooking Mexican food and teaching her children about our culture.
While my parents found acceptance from his Latinx family, not everyone was as accepting.
Unlike the questions I got from childhood friends, some microaggressions were meant to genuinely hurt my parents. In their neighborhood and, later, when they moved to Houston, my parents didn’t face discrimination or harassment. It was outside these safe places that they experienced bigotry.
My mom has told me stories of times when she and my dad were stared at; sneered at even. Traveling through the small towns of South Texas, my parents’ relationship was sometimes treated with hostility and, other times, like an oddity.
There is a particular story my mom has shared about this. When she and my dad were newlyweds, they went to eat at a cafeteria-type diner. Walking in, dad was immediately aware that he was the only person of color in the restaurant. My mom explained that all eyes were on them the entire time they ate. They were treated as some sort of sideshow while they were there. As my dad put it, they should have sold tickets.
This isn’t the first or the last time my parents would be made to feel abnormal because of their marriage. I remember once they had glamour shot-esque pictures taken of themselves. The photographer applied a filter that completely washed out my dad’s complexion. Totally infuriated, my dad pointed out to the photographer that they made him look like a white man instead of a Latino. It was fixed eventually but the damage was done.
There are other bolder attacks and countless microaggressions but my parents paid most of them little mind. After all, they were together and happy.
Additionally, they were welcomed by my dad’s community and that meant a lot. When my dad died 33 years after they joined in marriage, it’s my dad’s Latinx family and community who rallied to support my mom, my sister and me in our grief.
My parents’ love created that world; one where my sister and I can always find welcoming and love. All the glaring bigotry in the world can’t take that from us.
It’s the Summer and lately, we’ve been feeling a little romantic. It has us thinking about the sweltering heat, moonlit nights and someone special to spend it with. All this romantic energy has made us kinda nostalgic about our own love lives and those moments that made them memorable. Whether our first kiss was fun and casual or with the loves of our lives, they’re a part of who we are now. To celebrate these smooches, we asked Latinas to tell us about their first kiss.
Here’s what they had to say about these monumental first.
The kiss that was packed with a lot of peer pressure.
“For my first kiss, I was about 8 years old lol. My older cousin made me kiss a little boy while visiting our abuelo in Mexico. The little boy lived next door to my abuelo.
I apparently wasn’t ready to have my first kiss because I was super shy and I didn’t have a crush on the boy, I just felt a little pressured because my cousin was like, “Kiss him, kiss him.” So me and the little boy kissed in front of my cousin and his brother.
It was a little peck, but at that age it felt like I did something horrible. I remember later seeing my parents and going up to them and telling them right away that I kissed a boy because I felt so guilty. They told me that I was too young to be doing that. I, of course, didn’t rat out my cousin for pressuring me into it, but blamed myself more.
Eight years old… yup that’s way too young. Funny first kiss though lol. Now everytime I go visit my abuelo in Mexico, I look at the front of the house where I kissed the little boy and just laugh. ” — Jenny, Los Angeles
The kiss that started it all.
“I had my first kiss when I was 16 and it honestly felt like it would never come. I had a flirtation with a boy in my Algebra class so — on a whim — I invited him to a game night sponsored by one of our school’s clubs.
During the evening, he and I decided to take a walk together. It was nice but he kept stopping and staring at me. I’d later find out he was working up the nerve to kiss me but at the time I was a wreck! We didn’t kiss that night but I invited him to my house the following day.
We were upstairs sitting side by side on the family room couch. It was so peaceful with just the two of us. Suddenly, my mom called us downstairs and totally ruined the mood! When we sat up, we turned to each other and both leaned in.
We kissed three times before nervously heading downstairs. I was totally in love! Seventeen years later, we’re married with three kids. I think my first kiss came exactly when it was meant to.” — Samantha, Houston
The kiss that was a playdate peck.
“I was 5 years old and he was my best friend. He was the son of my mom’s best friend, actually, and we were inseparable as little kids. One day, we were reading Sleeping Beauty and, in the end, they kiss and the princess wakes up. I don’t remember which one of us said it but we got the idea to try it. And we did!” — Irina
The kiss that was practice for the real thing.
“My first kiss was actually with a girl. My best friend and I had grown up together since we were 7 years old.
Because both of our parents worked we spent a lot of time over at each others houses being ‘watched’ by our older siblings or baby sisters. Most of the time that including the older caretakers flipping on the TV and having us watch it while it watched us for them. So, many of our hours in the summer were spent watching tv shows and movies that were romantic in nature.
When we 13 years old we watched ‘Wild Things’ and realized that we could practice for our first kisses on each other. TBH it was a sweet, non-sexual exchange between friends. And we still are to this day.” —Ana, Brooklyn
The kiss that was twenty years in the making.
“I had a crush on this boy for years in grade school who I had known since we were four. I was a very late bloomer when it came to sexual experiences because I grew up in a very sheltered household. So, by the time I was in college and 20 years old I was pretty convinced it would never happen to me.
Finally, I went out to a party with friends and saw my former crush from elementary school. We caught each other early on in the night and later in the evening after a few drinks saw each other again. While we were catching up outside of the party he kissed me.
It was such a relief at the time, but pretty heartbreaking later when I realized most people in college just go around kissing people for fun and it doesn’t mean anything! Haha!” — Gabby, Texas
The kiss that never should have happened.
“My first kiss was from an uncle who was a complete pervert. I don’t really like to talk about it and normally when people ask me this question I just say that it was from the second person who ever kissed me.” —Anonymous
The kiss that exceeded all the hype.
“I think by the time I got around to getting my first kiss, so many of my friends had assured me that it was no big deal, and it would be nothing special. I think that that’s why when it finally came around it felt truly special and intimate.
At the time, I was in a church group during the summer when I was 15 and had liked a boy in my class called Mateo. He told my friends during a break that he wanted to kiss me one week and I had been so scared, even though I liked him, that I just avoided him. My heart would beat so fast every time we were around each other.
Finally after what felt like years but was probably just a couple of weeks I told him that I liked him and wanted to kiss him too. He kissed me outside under a tree. It was very sweet.” — Veronica, Chicago
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