April 9th, 2009

alan - joshua tree bloom

Good Morning!

I am amazed at the array of news I have choice to peruse and absorb or dismiss each day.

I was born in Chicago, but my parents moved to Iowa when I was six weeks old.  I lived in Ames, Des Moines, and then outside Bettendorf in a beautiful home overlooking the Mississippi River.   I love the movie The Straight Story because it allows me to re-visit some of that landscape. Actually I love that movie for every reason.  I recommend it. 

We left Iowa when I was in sixth grade and went to Florida, and then, came to San Diego as I began eighth grade.  When we left Iowa, my uncle who, like my mother, was raised in Indiana, said I would never see soil like that again.  I haven't except when I returned a few times.  

I suppose we always keep a piece of our home landscape.  I still hum in my mind these words, "Oh, I'm from Iowa, Iowa, that's where the tall corn grows."

Op-Ed Contributor

Iowa’s Family Values

Published: April 8, 2009

IF it weren’t for Iowa, my family may never have existed, and this gay, biracial New Yorker might never have been born.

In 1958, when my mother, who was white, and father, who was black, wanted to get married in Nebraska, it was illegal for them to wed. So they decided to go next door to Iowa, a state that was progressive enough to allow interracial marriage. My mom’s brother tried to have the Nebraska state police bar her from leaving the state so she couldn’t marry my dad, which was only the latest legal indignity she had endured. She had been arrested on my parents’ first date, accused of prostitution. (The conventional thought of the time being: Why else would a white woman be seen with a black man?)

On their wedding day, somehow, my parents made it out of Nebraska without getting arrested again, and were wed in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on March 1, 1958. This was five years before Nebraska would strike down its laws against interracial marriage, and almost a decade before the Supreme Court would outlaw miscegenation laws throughout the country in Loving v. Virginia.


Collapse )