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By then, we children of Nelson Mandela’s “born free” generation, kids who had moved from primary school to high school together and were witnessing many of our childhood friendships lose their color-blind innocence, understood the tacit rule that we didn’t date each other.
Akunyili Crosby leisurely reclines in his lap, her eyes squarely focused on her viewers, as he looks down tenderly on her, cradling her (possibly pregnant) belly.
Both women, fresh out of Sarah Lawrence College, are delirious with, but ultimately disappointed by,interracial love’s promise to create a new world of colorless, unraced people liberated from “the old, segregated ways of doing things.” The passing of the summer of ’63, the height of the civil rights movement’s push for integration, into the summers of ’64 and ’65, by which time “interracial couples [are] no longer to be seen holding hands in public,” prompts the narrator to ask: “And what of love, instead of politics? What about the love of two ‘human beings,’ who mate in spite of or because of or instead of or after the fact of?
” , an exploration last shown in 2012 of her own interracial relationship through evocations of notorious pairings of black women and powerful conquistadors, “pioneers,” and governors in the founding histories of the new settler societies of the Atlantic World.
Immediately after this law was passed, another was enacted that imposed the death penalty for attempted rape.
Because of the white settler fear of the “Black Peril,” the threatened rape of white women by black men, at least twenty black men were executed, while another 200 were imprisoned and flogged—whereas white men that black women are always-already sexually available to white men and so cannot make a “gift of themselves,” whereas “relations between a white woman and a black man automatically become a romantic affair.
Where Gordimer has imagined relationships between white men and black women, most pointedly in her short stories, “Country Lovers” (1975) and “City Lovers” (1975), it is through the prism of forbidden, and eventually failing, love between masters and servants. Coetzee, is similarly preoccupied with interracial unions in works that I would describe as his frontier novels, Duskland (1974), In the Heart of the Country (1977), Waiting for the Barbarians (1980), and Disgrace (1999), in which older white patriarchs attempt to resolve their, to use that famous first line from Disgrace, “problem of sex” through coercive sexual relations with black women, which we would today understand as rape.