Minority Within a Minority

Bloggers like me have been discussing interracial marriage for years now. What happens inside the relationships, and we attempt to explain why. One trend that we’ve all observed has now been expressed in hard numbers by the Pew Research Center, a respected think tank. Several weeks ago the group published a study that found the rate of interracial marriage had spiked in the United States in 2008. In that year, 14.6% of new marriages were between members of different races or ethnic groups—double the rate in 1980, and more than six times the rate in 1960. You can see the executive summary here, as well as download a copy of the PDF.

Pew also zeroed in one something we’ve been saying for years, that for whatever reason, black women are far less likely to date outside their race than black men, and that Asians don’t have the same hang-ups and peeves that we seem to have about interracial dating.

• Gender patterns in intermarriage vary widely. Some 22% of all black male newlyweds in 2008 married outside their race, compared with just 9% of black female newlyweds. Among Asians, the gender pattern runs the other way. Some 40% of Asian female newlyweds married outside their race in 2008, compared with just 20% of Asian male newlyweds. Among whites and Hispanics, by contrast, there are no gender differences in intermarriage rates.

I read this part to Hubby, and joked that we were real freaks. There are very low rates of intermarriage among black women and white men. How in the world did we pull it off? He just chuckled and quickly dove back into serious paying work. So I went back to reading, quietly, some of its other interesting findings:

• Among all newlyweds in 2008, 9% of whites, 16% of blacks, 26% of Hispanics and 31% of Asians married someone whose race or ethnicity was different from their own.
•  There is a strong regional pattern to intermarriage. Among all new marriages in 2008, 22% in the West were interracial or interethnic, compared with 13% in both the South and Northeast and 11% in the Midwest.
•  Most Americans say they approve of racial or ethnic intermarriage — not just in the abstract, but also in their own families. More than six-in-ten say it “would be fine” with them if a family member told them they were going to marry someone from any of three major race/ethnic groups other than their own.
•  More than a third of adults (35%) say they have a family member who is married to someone of a different race. Blacks say this at higher rates than do whites; younger adults at higher rates than older adults; and Westerners at higher rates than people living in other regions of the country.

I hope the study suggests this country is becoming more comfortable talking about and dealing with race, and that we can all maintain our racial and cultural richness, while treating each other with respect. Feel free to talk about what you think the study means; I’d like to hear what you think. Please, just be respectful. This is a family program!

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2 Responses to “Minority Within a Minority”

  1. I think they need to work out what class the black women come from. If they are professionals (and even have their own business), are college educated, have college educated parents, and they live in a more diverse neighbourhood, then most of those ladies are married, and their husbands are more likely to be of a different race.
    However if they live in predominantly black neighbourhoods, they would less likely to be interracially dating. It depends on the individual.

  2. I think it depends on the individual tastes and how much ‘grrr’ they have to buck the system. No one wants to be the one to upset the apple cart. My family is from deep south, Mississippi, where even if you were ‘hi-yella’ you were an outcast or passable for white.
    My aunts taught me to look for someone who treated me with dignity and respect, what they failed to add was ‘as long as he is black’. So when I came home with the white man on my arm, who had tattoos on top of being white, lets just say there was silence in the room.
    After a while, the shock wore off, and they realized this man wasn’t going anywhere.
    A successful professional black woman is successful because she has the right amount of grr that it takes to get ahead, a trait that also helps in the dating pool. That same woman will have enough grr to buck the system, forget what tradition says, and date outside of her race.

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