Miscegenation as protest against a racist society.
There are many ways to promote tolerance. Intolerance stems from fear, which all too often a mere instinctive reaction to something unknown. What is familiar is something that people find hard to be afraid of. Wary, yes, aware, yes but fearful, in the sense of a full-blown instinctive, blind panic – no, such a phenomenon is very rare. It had been Plato that said first that men who do evil deeds commit them out of ignorance. This is especially true of the evils of intolerance, which are possible only as long as you do not understand a phenomenon. By depicting a particular problem, an author can make people look at it from a different perspective, and the moment they sympathize with the problem in any way, the intolerance is gone at least in part, leaving a grudging tolerance at worst and acceptance at best, except in rare cases. The depiction of inter-racial romance is especially important in this respect, especially at the time the Indian novels were written, because they allowed people of another race to be perceived as fully human, and not merely some man-beast.
Differences are always noticed first in interaction, similarities are usually found later. This essential law of human communication is especially true of inter-racial interaction, especially if the members of different races are not used to such. A member of a race often displays prominent psychological differences from a person of a different race. This leads to misunderstanding, and this means fear, and “fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering”, as Lucas’s wise Yoda says.
There are only two ways to remedy this fear. One of them is constant exposure to members of another race, constant forced interaction, such as being pressured into the social circle of another race. This, however, is a painful and long process, and one which does not always lead to desirable results. Such interaction is by definition at first filled with mistrust and, at best, hidden antagonism. It takes time for people to adjust to each other in the best of circumstances, and where racial psychology is involved, not even the best of social circles can remove the problem of a new member which doesn’t know first thing of members of other races.
Luckily, there is another way to solve this problem. It is allowing a person to see that members of another race are people from a distance, by the means of long-term constant media exposure. Not good, not angelic – merely as human as he or the girl down the street. The person will know that there are different kinds of people from his own life’s experience, and he will automatically relate that to members of another race. See them as human, and the problem is, if not completely remedied, at least halfway healed.
One of the more important aspects of seeing someone as human is appeal to one of the basic instincts, that being the Eros instinct. If one is perceived as a possible target for eroticism, the living being is perceived either as an object or a member of the same race, at least human if not the same. Another humanoid is difficult for the human mind to perceive as an object – thus, when a member of another race depicted as a possible target of Eros, and when the reader sympathizes with it, he accepts the inherent humanity of this target, and thus the stereotyping, if not removed, is at least directed in a more constructive way. When met with such a person in life, they are perceived as someone.
However, this is also why, when depicting miscegenation in modern times, to depict the minority member as an object of romantic interest, not as the object of the mere lust. We are living in an age when sex is perceived less and less as a sacred act and more and more as a mere physical process. Thus, the old stereotypes no longer work the same way, and need to be added to for greater effectiveness. Luckily, what we are perceiving is the process of mind triumphing over matter, with the consequence of that not only physiological compatibility is required for acceptance as a human being.
Thus, the depiction of miscegenation is thus quite important in either removing or redirecting racial stereotypes in a constructive way. This method appeals to the instincts, removing intolerance on a subconscious level, and to the greater feelings of love, improving the reaction of the conscious mind, as well. If widely utilized by the media to infiltrate into certain social groups, it would aid greatly in places where such intolerance is still greatly present.
Debra F. Rosentbal, Race mixture and the representation of Indians in the U.S. and the Andes. Cumanda, Aves sin nido, The Last of the Mohicans and Ramona. Mixing Race, Mixing Culture: Inter-American Literary Dialogue Ed. Monika Kamp, et al, Austin, U of Texas P, 2002. p. 122-139.