Ken Tanabe and I sat in a small park in Lower Manhattan, a camera crew straining their lens on us. You see, Tanabe's organisation, Loving Day has come of age, enough for its every move to be documented.
"Interestingly our name is taken from a Supreme Court case, 'Loving versus Virginia' in 1967, which legalised interracial marriage in the US. Before that ruling, states were well within the law to prosecute couples," he began.
"It was always about power. First the laws barred Native Americans and white colonists from marrying, later culminating in prohibiting interracial unions between blacks and whites, and Asian and whites. These are really white supremacist laws," he said. Tanabe, a graphic designer and of Japanese and Belgium descent has seen his Loving Day movement gain in numbers and popularity from its nascense and unassuming beginnings in the US.
"There are now chapters in Barcelona, Tokyo and Cobo in Japan, Canada and England," he noted. Its flagship celebration takes place annually on June 12 in Manhattan with thousands in attendance.
But the road has been also fraught with difficulties. Tanabe recognises the complexities and emotionally laden subject of race, although he viewed the term as a deliberate social construct having divisive implications citing the one drop rule hypo-descent that historically determined who is black.
"We have to accept the reality of race and work toward finding solutions from an individual, familial and social level."
He acknowledged that the new census forms allowing for wider racial categorisation should not threaten some traditional racial groups and uses president Obama as an example.
"The president is bi-racial but he is also 'black.' In other words, the two terms are not mutually exclusive. The use of one does not mean you disavow the other. It's about celebrating every aspect of your heritage."
Tanabe dismissed traditional beliefs that the children of multiracial couples have a harder time adjusting.
"Mixed and happy is what recent studies have shown." He lauded the latest research on race and the new curriculum in Critical Mixed Studies at the tertiary level as another step in racial accommodation and understanding.
Loving Day, he said, offers support and access to a network of experiences people who counsel couples in interracial and interfaith unions.
However, Tanabe is cautious in his assessment of race relations and admits that Loving Day has received a fair share of hate mails from organised groups and individuals in response to their You Tube messages-"too incredibly offensive to share." He said that his organisation "keeps these records," if only to gauge the overall sentiments toward his ambitious work. He advised against thinking that race has improved with the ascendancy of a black president, unthinkable even a decade ago.
He offered statistics that racial antagonism is greater than gender, faith and sexual discrimination and also conceded that many use differences in faith for not approving unions to really mask naked racism. More importantly, he stated that it is within the family that interracial couples receive the most hatred and contempt.
"This is not about the KKK coming after you. The problems start and escalate within the family." He explained the venomous attacks against family members as the result of "bias based on faith, pure racism and the preservation of class."
He went on to relate a story about a Caucasian woman who married an Asian man.
"Her father resisted but gave in, not wanting to lose his daughter." A dinner meeting with his son-in-law was arranged every day until the tension eased.
"You see there is always a path to a solution, no matter how painful," Kanabe stated.
On the future of racial and interfaith unions, the Loving Day director was measuredly optimistic.
"Things will never be perfect but just think how far we have come, and look at the technology at our disposal to spread this positive message." And on Loving Day in the Caribbean?
"Oh," he said, "that would be another huge gain for tolerance and harmony...and its so easy, just log on to www.lovingday.org," he said, smiling and visibly expectant.