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When interviewed by a pension official in 1893, Ellen Davis stated that she was fifty-nine years old, employed as a washerwoman, and that she was born in Scotland.
The widow spoke affectionately of her husband John Davis, a veteran of Company G of the 26th United States Colored Infantry who had passed away in 1887 at the age of seventy.
The vast majority of such relationships occurred between black men and white women often between an African-American male born in the United States and a woman who had immigrated from Europe, most of whom were Irish, Scottish, or English.
(2) While mixed-race couples in different regions and in different eras faced tremendous resistance, such couples were not uncommon in mid-nineteenth-century New York City.
First, these relationships were almost exclusively between immigrant women from Scotland and Ireland and native-born African-American men.
They did not take on the taint of improper behavior because these immigrant women were not perceived to be "white." (3) Second, these relationships generally occurred between people of the same class background and between individuals who lived in close proximity to one another in working class neighborhoods.
The Davis couple was well-liked in their neighborhood.
According to a local official, "He was a superior colored man, a sawyer by trade, and was considered an honest and truthful man....There’s a deliberate effort to flip the script on gender dynamics. And what I loved most was the response that it got. There’s an appealing hyper-realism to Strouse’s depiction of Boone and Jessica’s awkward, ambivalent courtship. Height has been very, very central to the development of my personality. I really felt like no matter what happened in that room, there were so many women and men who understood what I was talking about and were really supportive. I don’t have any regrets about the way I left, and when I left, and what I’m choosing to do. I mean that in the most eloquent way possible: F*ck. Jessica and Boone are opposites: He’s as self-deprecating and gibbering as she is self-assured and unnervingly direct. “What I loved about Jessica,” says Williams, “is that she’s a black woman, and that is part of her identity. They fought for me to be able to stand up here in the cold-ass snow in front of a bunch of white people wearing Uggs”); then for publicly tussling with Salma Hayek over matters of intersectional feminism at a lunch for women in Hollywood (Hayek’s position: reject victimhood; Williams’s position: for certain women—black and trans women in particular—“it’s not so simple”).“Race affects everything that I do, and everything that I create speaks to intersectionality,” Williams explains when I ask whether the film’s handling of interracial dating connects to the point she was trying to make at Sundance. Have there been moments since then when you’ve felt pangs of: I wish I could get back into the satirical news game? But their most visible difference—she’s black, he’s white—is never even mentioned in passing. But in this story, it’s relevant and also premiered at Sundance, so the film was long in the can by the time its star made headlines at the festival, first for delivering a rousing speech at the Park City Women’s March (“Williams is my last name, but it is not my real name. I only think of that when I come across people I used to work with, because I miss them. As a consequence, these relationships did not cross class lines and did not violate ideas about proper behavior within a certain class.