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Interracial relationships increase

Published: Sat, July 3, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m.

America has elected its first biracial president, who, by the way, identified himself as black in the 2010 census even though his mother was white.

But I wondered what are the most recent statistics on another race-related topic: interracial marriage and dating.

I saw a recent report on CBS News that said, according to the latest Census figures, interracial marriage was rising but not as fast as from 1990 to 2000.

A CNN report from June 4 said interracial marriages are at an all-time high. The CNN report used figures from a Pew Research Center study, which showed that one out of seven new marriages in the U.S. is interracial or interethnic.

Some other tidbits from the CNN report and the Pew study:

Asians and Hispanics are most likely to marry outside their race.

In 2008, African-Americans were three times more likely to marry outside of their race, compared with 1980. There is a big gender difference, however. Pew researchers found that it’s more common for black men to marry outside their race than for black women.

Americans, particularly those in the 18-29 age group, are more accepting of interracial relationships.

People who live out West are more likely to wed outside their race than people who live in the Midwest and South.

The CBS report, using the Census statistics, produced these nuggets:

Hawaii was the state with the highest share of mixed marriages, 32 percent.

Mixed marriages jumped from 2.25 million to 3.7 million, or 65 percent, from 1990-2000, as such unions became more broadly accepted in Southern states.

The statistics appear to show that slowly but surely, race and ethnicity are no longer the pre-eminent factors in marriage or dating.

As a baby boomer, I grew up in a generation where interracial dating and marriage were just beginning to become acceptable. The music, movies and literature of the late 1960s and early 1970s focused on a better America where we could all live together in perfect harmony. No longer would heads turn and tongues waggle when a black man and a white woman held hands and shared a kiss in public.

Now there are still some people in all races opposed to interracial marriage and dating. But it appears that America, in general, is more accepting of such activity.

What a contrast from the time when many states had laws that made it illegal for marriage between the races. In fact, an interracial Virginia couple — a white man and a black woman — got married in Washington, D.C., in 1958, but were arrested when they returned to Virginia. Virginia was one of the states that made interracial marriage illegal. The couple sued the commonwealth, and their case, Loving vs. Virginia, eventually was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that laws banning interracial marriages were unconstitutional.

I’m sure there are many cultural reasons people have for denouncing interracial dating and marriage, and I know racial boundaries are not going to disappear anytime soon.

But I’m glad to see more Americans now realize that marriage is more about a man and a woman forging a life together based on similar life experiences, education and values as opposed to the color of their skin.

XErnie Brown Jr. is a regional editor at The Vindicator and writes a monthly column. Contact him at ebrown@vindy.com

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