why does the virgin have 8 arms?

July 2nd, 2009


esther was telling us about how in 19th century california, men from india were marrying mexican women. there were laws against brown people marrying white people*, but indian-mexican marriage was ok. they had similar material cultures (chilis, rotis, household altars, etc.) so one would think it would work out beautifully. but sometimes it didn’t, and we were picturing a terrible argument starting with “honey, why does the virgin have eight arms?”

*‘These marriages were more than a matter of individual choice, however, for the fact was that miscegenation laws prohibited marriages across racial lines in California until 1948 [<---OMG!! --ed.]. Most California county clerks saw the Punjabi men as colored, or “brown,” the word they used most often on the marriage license to describe the men’s race. Thus the women the Punjabis married also had to be perceived as “brown,” and that generally meant women of Mexican ancestry.’