Interracial Marriage

The San Francisco Chronicle had an article February 16, 2012 titled “Interracial marriages a record 1 in 12, study says”. With data, census records, topics of identity, it was right up my alley.

Couple for whom Supreme Court made interracial marriage legal in America, 1967.

Mildred and Richard Loving

It cited a study by the Pew Research Center a few years ago showing 8.4% of marriages are interracial compared to 3.2% in 1980.  The West Coast leads the trend as usual, perhaps because of its greater racial diversity, with 20% of marriages being interracial. It didn’t specify if the bride or groom was already multiracial.  In 2010, 15% of new marriages were interracial so the trend is rising.

This is not a new type of trend. When I look at my own family I see this melting pot. We no longer live in isolated towns, common in centuries past. My great-great grandparents were from Genoa. Their daughter married my great grandfather who was also Italian, but from a different region. Their son married my grandmother who was Irish not Italian, but was also European and Catholic. Their daughter, my mother, married my father who was not Catholic nor Irish-Italian, but was also white and Christian. My generation is, I would argue, statistically poised to marry across racial and religious lines.

Of course people have married outside these lines already, but my point is there is a loosening of ethnic imperatives in America. Not to pretend we have been on a constant trajectory toward freedom and equality, but we have a few centuries now to see how coupling has played out long term. So to those who think this is a bad thing, your ancestors would likely be furious at whom you married, for not conforming to their concept of a suitable partner.

Interracial marriage was illegal in many states until 1967 with the civil rights case of Loving v. Virginia.

It is estimated that the majority of Americans by 2050 will not be pure white. (Of course the fear before was that the majority might not be pure Anglo, which came to pass decades ago.) So we better develop some agile perspective on multiculturalism soon. Ignorance of racial dominance and hatred can’t be ignored. I see the refusal to challenge racism as a precursor to political or other confrontations on a national scale given the changing demographics. Let me reiterate that we are not bound to a trajectory towards freedom and equality; it must be a conscious effort.

The same article above also mentioned that 63% of those surveyed said it “would be fine” for a family member to marry outside their race. Is race what might be used to maintain ones cultural values? Phenotype is only part of who we are.


About Daniel Roddick

Daniel has a B.A. in American History with minors in both Ethnic Studies and Sociology. He also has an M.Ed. in College Administration and Counseling. Daniel has worked in the financial aid industry for over a decade. He has presented all over the country on financial aid issues related to equity, inclusion, and access to education. He is also a writer of poetry, fiction, and this blog, all of which touch on identity.
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