#BlackLoveBooks Challenge Day 16: Interracial Love
Despite all the accolades and praise that surrounded Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? prior to its release, I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit I had never heard of Kathleen Collins. An artist of many facets, she was a playwright, filmmaker, and writer. She was one of the first black women to ever direct a major film.
Collins died of cancer at the age of 46 in 1988. She left behind a trove of unfinished work. Among them are the short stories that comprise Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? The stories were discovered in a trunk by her daughter, also a writer, Nina Lorez Collins.
The book’s title comes from one of the short stories of the same name. Pulling from Collins’ own background as a civil rights activist, it centers around a young “negro” woman fighting in the Civil Rights Movement in 1963 Harlem. Her white roommate is a community organizer dating a black poet. Much to the dismay of the protagonist’s bourgeois father she’s dating a young white man. Her father is unimpressed that he’s a freedom rider.
The summer the young couple met is the summer that “brought her one startling and overwhelming realization, that she could marry anyone, not just a colored doctor/dentist/lawyer/educator, but anyone: A Mexican truck driver. A Japanese psychiatrist. A South African journalist. Anyone. Up to and including a white man.”
We learn the names of some of the young characters late in the story. They’ve been arrested and injured for their right to live “inside the melting pot” instead of a segregated society. But seeing all the obstacles and objections by society and even their own families, the main character is left to wonder whatever happened to interracial love.