Interracial marriages on the rise

by Maria Morales
For New Pittsburgh Courier

(NNPA)—“Guess who’s coming to dinner?” is becoming a standard refrain in many homes as the number of interracial marriages reached an all-time high in 2010, according to a study just released on Social and Demographic Trends project by the Pew Research Center.

HBO DOCUMENTARY—In this 1960s image released by HBO, Richard Loving and his wife, Mildred, are shown. The Lovings are the subject of an HBO documentary “The Loving Story,” which premiered Feb. 14. Convicted of violating a law against interracial marriage, the Lovings fought for their rights and won a landmark 1967 Supreme Court case that struck down such bans nationwide. (AP Photo/HBO, Grey Villet)

“The upward trend of intermarriage is many decades old,” said Russ Oates of the Pew Center. “Marriage across racial and ethnic lines continues to be on the rise in the United States. Just as intermarriage has become more common, Americans’ growing acceptance of intermarriage is echoed on a personal level.”

The infamous line from the 1967 movie by the same name starring Sidney Poitier, who meets his White fiancée’s parents for the first time, is being repeated more frequently as acceptance of couples of different racial and ethnic backgrounds is also on the rise, according to the report.

The report tracks data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) in 2008-2010, the most recent year data is available, on newlyweds who marry spouses of a different race or ethnicity, and compares couples who “marry out” with those who “marry in.”

Nationwide, 8.4 percent or one in 12 of all marriages in the U.S. are between spouses of a different race or ethnicity, the report found. That’s more than double the share in 1980, the first year Census data on interracial marriages is available, when three percent of newlywed couples were interracial. About 15 percent of newlyweds in 2010 alone were interracial couples.

“Intermarriage in the United States tilts West,” said the researchers. The West had the highest number of interracial marriages between 2008 and 2010, where 22 percent, or approximately one in five marriages, were between people of different races, followed by 14 percent in the South, 13 percent in the Northeast and 11 percent in the Midwest.

Hawaii has the largest rate of interracial marriages, where four out of 10 weddings between 2008 and 2010 were between interracial couples, mostly White and Asian mixed couples. Other states where 20 percent or more of the couples intermarried are all west of the Mississippi River. Top states for marriages between White and Black intermarried couples are Virginia (3.3 percent), North Carolina (3.2 percent) and Kansas (three percent).

The Pew Center noted “sharp differences” in what groups chose to marry outside their race. Black men are more than twice as likely as Black women to marry someone outside their race. Nearly a quarter of all Black male newlyweds in 2010 married outside their race, compared with just nine percent of Black female newlyweds. About one in six Black newlyweds married outside their race.

Education and earnings also play a part, the survey found. African-Americans who married a White spouse are more likely to be college educated than those who married within their group, with 14.5 percent of White-Black couples reported both attended college, whereas 10.2 percent of African-American couples were college educated. During this period, White men who married Asian, Hispanic or African-American spouses also had higher combined income than did all-White couples. As for White females, those who married an African American or Hispanic man had somewhat lower combined earnings. White-Black couples earned an average of $53,187 per year, whereas all-Black couples earned an average of $47,700 yearly.

The findings also explore public attitudes toward intermarriage from three nationwide telephone surveys conducted by the Pew Center. Laws banning interracial marriage were lifted in 17 states six months before Poitier’s movie was released in 1967. Alabama was the last state to officially remove its ban on interracial marriage in 2000. The public’s perception and acceptance of interracial marriage still sways.

More than four in 10 Americans, or 43 percent, say more people of different races marrying each other has been a change for the better in our society. Minorities, young adults, the college educated, those who describe themselves as liberal and those who live in the Northeast or the West are more apt to see intermarriage in a positive light.

More than one-third of Americans surveyed said a member of their immediate family or a close relative is currently married to someone of a different race. Also, nearly two-thirds of Americans say it “would be fine” with them if a member of their own family were to marry someone outside their own racial or ethnic group.

(Reprinted from the Afro American)

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