Commentary: The Ups and Downs of Inter-Marriage

A new study that looks into interracial dating in the United States is both comforting and sad, just like a rocky marriage.

Posted: 02/16/2012 07:57 PM EST
interracial marriage, Loving vs. Virginia, interracial dating, Pew Research Center

This year will be the 45th anniversary of the Loving vs. Virginia case, in which Richard and Mildred Loving successfully petitioned against America’s anti-miscegenation laws. Richard was white and Mildred was Black, and the state of Virginia didn’t want to allow them to get married. The Lovings took their case to the Supreme Court, which, in June of 1967, ruled in their favor. “Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’’ the Court wrote in its decision, “fundamental to our very existence and survival. … To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law.”

Nearly half a century later, interracial dating in America is still a sticky subject for some. Anti-minority — and anti-white — racism continues to plague some communities. And just last year, a man admitted to murdering a woman he was angry with for sleeping with Black men. But a new, and remarkably thorough, look into interracial relationships in America is a reminder that things are improving, albeit slowly.

According to the Pew Research Center’s new report, “The Rise of Intermarriage,” interracial marriage in America is at an all-time high. Reports Pew:

About 15% of all new marriages in the United States in 2010 were between spouses of a different race or ethnicity from one another, more than double the share in 1980 (6.7%). Among all newlyweds in 2010, 9% of whites, 17% of blacks, 26% of Hispanics and 28% of Asians married out. Looking at all married couples in 2010, regardless of when they married, the share of intermarriages reached an all-time high of 8.4%. In 1980, that share was just 3.2%.

Beyond people actually getting married, nearly two-thirds of people polled said they’d be fine with someone in their family marrying outside their race. And when the poll accounted for age, it showed a huge distinction between the attitudes of young people and old people, with the young ones being far more OK with inter-marriage than the older ones. In other words, racists who hate interracial marriage are dying off. What’s more, 43 percent of Americans said an increase in interracial marriages made society better.

Alas, all the news is not good news. When the Pew researchers asked about which specific races people would be comfortable with their family members dating, the responses were ugly: Only 66 percent said a Black person would be acceptable, while 75 percent said an Asian would be acceptable, and 81 percent said a white person would cut it. In other words, while people are growing more accepting of interracial relationships, they’re still a bit terrified of marrying Blacks.


Because Heaven forbid a white woman marry a Black man and procreate; they might mess around and make an American president.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.


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