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The ‘Elle’ in Loving

By QuaWanna Bannarbie

By definition, the word “elle” is of French origin meaning “she.” It is the ending of the names of Danielle, Gabrielle and Michelle which are female versions of the Hebrew names Daniel, Gabriel and Michael. Besides names, the word “elle” appears in many commonly used terms such as intellect, seller and excellence. But those words do not refer to the feminine application as they do in words like mademoiselle and belle.

Have you ever considered the “elle” in loving? Yes, L-O-V-I-N-G.

There once was a woman named Mildred. In 1958, she became the wife of her love, Richard Loving. It is said that theirs is one of the greatest American love stories that most Americans know nothing about. They were Virginians, and yet many residents here know little of the landmark Supreme Court case, Loving vs. Virginia, in which Mildred and Richard Loving overturned the national law that prevented them from living their name and loving one another. In 1968, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that state laws prohibiting miscegenation were unconstitutional. It is downright preposterous that we actually live in a nation and in a state that once went as far as to think it had the authority to prevent a man from loving his wife. This history reveals to us much of the reason why we are still dealing with fundamental error in our governmental rules and societal norms. Something about man that has the audacity to believe he can control something he did not create himself.

We acknowledge the Supreme Court ruling with a day of remembrance called Loving Day on June 12. The day came and went this year, and I probably would not have given it a second thought until I did. Something urged me to consider her. Mildred. Her case was not about race; it was about love. When we speak of loving, we cannot dismiss her.

It is not lost on me that she is a woman of color. It is not lost on me that this woman of color was loved by a Virginian man in a state of rich American history that brags of being the birthplace of eight white presidents who were native sons of its soil. Richard was a son of the South, and yet the South did not love how he loved. He loved this woman. Mildred.

Mildred represents to me the strength of a woman to give voice to our anguish and pains. Mildred follows in the footsteps of many women like her that have led the charge for what they felt had to change. You know them by names such as Ruby Bridges, Linda Brown, Ida B. Wells, Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman. She desired to see liberation for things that pervert this supposed free nation. It’s been to this nation’s benefit that our women are so sensitive that they have difficulty making themselves numb. In many cases, it has been a woman’s courage and passionate loves that have led us to freedom.

I encourage you to consider the “elle” in Loving, because I think it is really something that the love of a woman of color opened our eyes to the kaleidoscope of loving. Loving is a changing and enjoyable display. Hate makes us rigid and hardens our hearts. If we can love no matter the color and see one another as sisters and brothers, our kaleidoscope would create images we are happy that show up in our mirrors.

QuaWanna Bannarbie is an adjunct professor of nonprofit leadership and management with Indiana Wesleyan University, National and Global. Her children attend Suffolk Public Schools. Connect with her via QNikki_Notes or iamquawanna@thebiggerme.net.