Interracial Relations have been a bit more visible and in the news lately and I have blogged about them before… Given I am so angry with our society in general for bigotry and racism and homophobia to name a few, and many other social ills I am still pleased that there has been considerable positive movement in being tolerant of differences in people in the United States… but make no mistake we have a long way to go and grow in this area.
Having not dated let alone anything… else with a woman who was not racially different from myself for 2 decades plus I find the trend to acceptance a good start, but ONLY a start….. and there are many many challenges in a relationship between 2 adults anyway, the racial and cultural issues further complicate this. add family to the mix and their biases and prejudices …. well there is a long long way to go in this society.
Hopefully the explosion in multi-racial children will help bring that about as long as they are raised with love and are taught that they are not so much the product of racial blending but are unique and special individuals born of love from 2 people who were bigger than the racial barriers that society has put up and that they need to be recognized for who they are as a person and not because they do not belong to a specific racial or cultural group.
These children need to be encouraged to achieve what others may never be able to achieve and to reach for accomplishments they may never have thought possible before.
I have a small confession to make in this part of a much longer article. I have been trying to encourage one woman in particular to grow beyond her current situation. She is multi-racial/cultural in her heritage.
I have taken particular interest in her because of many reasons, but despite what others may think I am bound and determined to see her become someone much more than she is if she listens and lets me encourage her. …. that having been said… lets move on to the real thrust of this post which is inter racial relationships.
I have to start (it is the academic in me) with certain statistics. and then a pre explanation of marriages with people from different cultures and countries.. you can scroll down to see where there is a section you may like more…. I wont be offended as this article is well over 10,000 words so there is plenty you can read that is not as dry as the next few hundred words….. but please if you did click on this try to read somethings throughout this post as I think it may either enlighten you or help you in understanding more on this topic.
Interracial marriage is an indirect measure of race relations and intergroup social
distance. High rates of interracial marriage indicate the weakening of group boundaries and suggest frequent interracial contact between groups.
Witnessing the rapid increase of interracial marriage in the 1980s, race relations have improved and racial distance has declined. However, rates of interracial marriage remain low, accounting for less than 3 percent of all marriages in 2000.
Interracial marriages also are uneven across racial groups. African Americans are least likely to outmarry while American Indians are most likely to marry whites. Differences can be explained in part by racial differences in educational attainment, which is positively associated with interracial marriage.
OK.. so the SOCIOLOGIST rendition above is a bit formal… lets look at the human side of this:
Interracial marriages have a hard go at it. They suffer not only from the prejudice of others, but also from inherent problems of differences between their respective cultures which combine with those already present in a marriage. Ethnic groups bring variety and richness to a society by introducing their own ideas and customs. Interracial marriages introduce such variety. In a perfect world, everyone should celebrate this. However, the world does not look at all marriages as love between two people without regard to their race.
Here is a bit of a piece I read off the Internet that gives some background on this problem.
“If we were truly color blind, we accept interracial marriages. Nearly 500 years after America was discovered “Americans” are still preoccupied with race. Today, America is still billed internationally as one of the best multicultural societies in the world. Nevertheless, most Americans would disagree.
With so many marriages happening in the United States, it is hard to believe that as recently as 1966, 17 states actually had laws against interracial marriage. And all of the states regulated marriage between whites and other races. The Supreme Court overturned every states antimiscegenation laws (laws against marriage between different races) in 1967 . In the legal case of Loving vs. State of Virginia, a white man and black woman won the right to return home after having fled their state to avoid a year’s jail sentence for getting married. “But as late as the seventies at least twelve states still had laws forbidding marriage between whites and other races” . Why have such laws? A person should not have to worry about a law when marrying the person they love. If the United States is really a melting pot, than citizens should not have to worry about falling in love and having laws that could separate them.
Noting that the idea of race itself is now under attack by scientists who are attempting to decide a definition for what constitutes a different race is important. What they use now as a definition simply refers to the observable differences such as skin color, hair texture, and the shape of one’s eyes or nose .
Considering all the biological differences within the human species these are at best superficial, and they cannot come up with any significant set of differences that distinguish one racial group from another. Why do interracial couples still have trouble being accepted simply as two humans that love each other?
Both racial and cultural differences put pressure on the relationship. With two different cultures, a family has to recognize such differences in order to understand each other. Some couples embrace interracial love for rebellious, escapist, or other negative reasons. Parents want their children to be happy, but in a racist society, they know what happens to black-white couples and their children.
Americans do not accept the children in society because people do not know how to treat them. Unless interracial families live in cosmopolitan cities where interracial marriages are becoming more common, they face challenges monoracial couples don’t experience. “They need to use more energy and imagination to balance and celebrate two cultures. They must be strong enough to endure the stares, tough enough to keep working at their cultural differences and confident enough to raise confident children” .
In raising such children, the parents need to realize the child needs to embrace both cultures and teach him or her who they are. Most Americans would like to consider themselves as modem idealists who are not prejudiced. Americans do not mind the idea of interracial marriage but when children are involved the issue changes.
People would like to place these children in one class such as black or white. We do not understand the way being multiracial accepts these children in our society. We think of the children as not knowing who they are or where they belong. Americans feel that they have to place the child in one race or the other no matter how the children see themselves.
With this persistent thinking the country will perceive this child as black. With this specific label, the child grows up learning from others that he is black and experiences that life. The child needs to grow up in an environment where he or she can experience life through both parents. Lisa Jones dedicates her writing to exploring the African- American culture.
Here, she said, she feels comfortable and historically grounded. She has found family there, whereas no white people have embraced her with their culture. “I choose this class because if I call myself interracial I would need my “white” mother s presence to validate my half-whiteness”. Lisa Jones grew up not learning about both cultures so she has lived her life as black and not white. It is also important to note that not all blacks embrace interracial marriages themselves.
Black parents object as much to mixed marriages as do whites. They feel that the person entering such a relationship is trying to deny his heritage and that they will lose their culture and identity. They see it as assimilation into the melting pot. African Americans also resist it because of the shortage of marriageable black men.
Black women feet betrayed or deserted when a black man marries a white woman. Black activists feel mixed marriages weaken the African-American solidarity. Yet, interracial marriage is increasingly common. According to a recent Time Magazine poll, 72 percent of those polled know married couples of different races. In our own neighborhoods we see even more black-white couples. In America today, there are 242,000 black-white couples; almost four times as many as in 1970 (Interracial Baby Boom 54). Such marriages are now common enough to cause the Census Bureau to consider adding the category “mixed” to its racial classification to describe the children of interracial marriages. The Census Bureau and the Office of Management and Budget are receiving pressure from multiracial individuals and their parents to reexamine the 18-year-old method of classifying people.
The Census Bureau will not decide until 1997 and then the change would take affect in the 2000 census. Only four states require a “multiracial” category on their school form. It is still primarily a black-white issue. Half the female Asian immigrants are married interracially, but many don’t consider that an interracial marriage. Black-white marriages receive the most negative reaction because of the 40-year history of hostility and tension.
In a recent poll in The Futurist the number of mixed-race married couples increased from 3 1 0,000 to 994,000. One researcher explained that this trend is happening with all racial and ethnic groups but each individual pattern is different. With the upward trend of more mixed births, this could show a sign that the social meaning of mixed births is undergoing change in the United States (Up to Separatism 30).
A multicultural society shows how much diversity is in America. People from all over the world have immigrated to this country. With so many cultures present today, everyone needs to be excited that others are sharing their way of life with us. As the children of today grow up they must have an open mind about the people around them and what they can learn from them.
With the increase of interracial marriages maybe they will become more accepted and not looked at as something that is not right”.
Before my friend and his wife were married in Korea in 1983 they attended a pre-marriage seminar. They were told at that time that more than ninety percent of Korean-American marriages end up in divorce before the first five years is over. Not exactly encouraging information for a new couple.
But they have made it and so can you. All it takes is learning how to communicate and understand the differences between the two of you. This is beyond the differences inherent of male and female, but is also cultural as well.
For instance you might find in the beginning of the relationship that everything is new and fresh. But as time goes on you begin to notice differences in the way you both look at things. Men and women are different for sure, but add cultural differences and there are even more magnified problems than those in non-interracial marriages.
When you have two people from two different countries, or from two different races, you have vast amounts of difference from many different angles. First, there are established differences because of the different ways that people are brought up. For instance in my my friends marriage there was a marked difference between the way he was brought up here in the U.S. and the way his wife was brought up in Korea –the difference between eastern thought and customs and those of the West are huge.
Even some place as close as Guyana where my most recent ex wife was from did little to help the cultural differences. Only patience and understanding and more patience in the adjustment period helped and resulted in many years of true bliss.
For example there is a difference in the way women in the east (Asia) view the marriage relationship and specifically the role of the husband and the wife, and how a marriage is viewed in western thought. How this difference affects a marriage is determined by the expectations each partner takes into the marriage. If for instance the woman is from a country where women were traditionally housewives, with no aspirations of a career of their own, when they marry a man from the west they may immediately run into a problem. While the landscape is changing, much of the older world is still involved in playing specific roles. That is, the role of the man and the role of the woman – as in husband and wife. In the west, while still extent to this day, these roles have for the most part disappeared.
That is because many men in the west while having an expectation or at least a desire that their wives will be home to take care of the roost, many more would like their wife to work to supplement the family income.
So in asking their eastern mate to work they might find a conflict. It is not that she is lazy; it is just that it goes against all she was taught or expected of her marriage. Later as she learns the ways of the west this may change and if possible goes into her own career.
More closer to home there are racial differences that are not specific with marriage relationships. They are the differences that occur across the board regardless of relationship, which happen because of prejudice and ignorance. Prejudice which has existed since the beginning of time along with it’s twin sister ignorance.
Take these common cultural differences combined with a marriage relationship with its own kind of problems and there are all the ingredients necessary for conflict. Each person in an interracial relationship has taken a chance. They have entered into a relationship that might not be acceptable by the prejudices of their own family or friends.
Stories of Mixed Racial and Cultural Relationships:
From One Man who fell in Love with a Korean woman:
For myself bringing my new Korean wife home in 1983 met with a lot of indifference from my family while other accepted her into the fold.
I wish now that I would have known then what I know now, and then I wouldn’t have made so many mistakes. There were a lot of things that l took for granted then. Like she would adjust to the American way of life with ease. I was wrong. While she adapted to many things rather easily, there were other things that she had great difficulty with. Because I lacked the knowledge on how to help her in those areas there was a great amount of friction.
For instance, in Korea families are close knit even long after the person leaves the house to start their own life. Yet in America, depending of course on that family’s cultural background, the nurturing stops sometime after puberty. The theme of the times and the environment is individuality. There is a separation of family unity at this point where a person begins to gain more individuality. In fact individuality is the theme of our western culture. It’s in all the media -magazines, songs, movies and TV. While in older cultures individuality is frowned upon and in some cases completely swallowed up in the mesh of the family unit.
This separation of affections affected my wife profoundly and for the most part negatively.
After a few years though she grew to understand it and accept it. But it was a rough and really unnecessary road to travel. I could have helped her through the transition if I would have known how.
Another man found his love in Zambia
For those who know me this has special significance and romantic implications:
Jeff never had trouble meeting people, given his gregarious nature and his line of work—he’s a snowboard instructor, drummer, and D.J. whose handle is “DJake.” But he’d found he was most compatible with black women and he wasn’t meeting many of them in his area. What’s more, Jeff was very eager to meet his match and knew that hoping for the occasional chance meeting might keep him waiting for a long time.
“I wanted someone to fill my lonely heart, and yesterday,” Jeff says. So he decided to try our site. “Within the first month, I was talking to so many ladies that I quit searching to meet new ones,” he marvels. “Several of them are now some of my best friends. I’ve been teaching one of the girls’ daughters how to do magic tricks!”
Kalama was getting plenty of attention of her own, but she had specific ideas about the kind of man she was looking for. When she found Jeff’s profile, it struck her as a bit long, but fun and genuine. She liked that Jeff knew what he wanted. His profile declared he was “Ready for Love.” Their personalities seemed compatible, and so did their relationship goals—both wanted to start a family, sooner rather than later.
There was just one wrinkle to iron out—Jeff was in Ohio and Kalama was in Africa! Undeterred, they started talking on Skype. This was enough for Jeff to learn to love Kalama’s laugh, her beautiful smile, and her witty sense of humor.
Jeff decided to go to Africa for a visit to see if their connection would work in real life. The pair met in person for the first time when Jeff got off the plane in Zambia. “When I finally met her, she was the same person as on Skype, but so beautiful,” Jeff recalls. “Her embrace felt so much warmer than a keyboard!”
The young couple felt a little anxious at first but their nerves settled down as their conversation took off. Jeff and his sweetheart would dance for hours at a local club, until they were the last people on the dance-floor. Later that night, their first kiss came in the back of the cab on their way home.
Jeff would spend seven weeks with Kalama’s family. The couple toured the area to see Africa’s wildlife in its natural habitat and visit the world-famous Victoria Falls. Along the way, they fell madly in love. By the time Jeff headed home, he was a married man. Yes, it’s true—Jeff and Kalama got hitched!
Sadly, difficulties with Kalama’s immigration are keeping the couple apart for now. But Jeff and Kalama are making plans to reunite in Africa. In fact, they hope to visit impoverished villages in Zambia, offering children entertainment, inspiration and gifts.
“Kalama’s smile, heart and love are greater than I ever could have imagined,” Jeff says. Something tells us that no government can keep this couple apart for long.
- Now I am going to skew this article a bit and focus as I have already on white/Caucasoid men and women of other ethnic backgrounds a bit more. It is because I am pigmentation challenged (AKA A white male) that I do this as I can relate the best. and later you will read about having children with mixed ethnic heritage. both bi and tri-racial children
- Ever wondered why some white guys, love black women so much?
It seems that being a white male and proclaiming your attraction to black women (not only sexually, but also romantically) may lead to a lot of controversial and dangerous things. Let’s leave the debate of why more black women may be opening themselves up to white guys. The main focus of this debate is: why some white guys are opening themselves to black women. Let’s concentrate on that.
Most white males don’t feel like they are running short of white women to marry. White males just marry at high rates. So question is: Why black women? The thing is it will not be fair to bundle up black women as one since everyone is their own person… be it in appearance or personality.
However, one thing that a white male friend of mine said… and I let him get away with bundling it all up is: “We love a black woman’s confidence, her tenacity and her undeniable achievements in the face of great adversity…᾿ Since this info was coming from a man, there was definitely the mention of the lips, the curves, and that wonderful skin as well.
So what about stereotypes like “black women are either sexually conservative or total sluts?” Many people give so much lip service to interracial dating. You would think they have never done it. But those uptight individuals are the ones that spread these stereotypes. What happened to the highly educated black woman? How about the caring, decent and involved black woman?
Probably most white guys and others are confused with the stereotypical trash people spread around and if you are one that falls for such lame ol’ lines, then you sure as hell haven’t dated a black woman.
Bottom line, you don’t have to sacrifice who you are for a white guy. They will love you anyway. Just be you and open yourself up… and if you like white guys, some white guy will find you too.
Now lets switch it up with another story
“Why some Black women only date White Men”
We always talk about Black women and how they can’t date White men. Well, there are those women that only date White men. I remember a pal of mine telling me once that she will never get married to Black man. And even as kids, when playing make believe, she was always married to a White guy.The reason for women like her who only date white men may be very similar to the reasons why most Black women only date Black men … attraction. Some also feel that Black men treat them better than any other man ever could, and they feel that they’d rather have what they know instead of experimenting with what they don’t know.Some Black women are just not physically attracted to Black men. And as much as parents usually like hooking us up with people of our own race, well it reaches a time when you have to be honest with yourself. Imagine my pal for example: As a child, her first crush was Adam Sandler, then as she got older, she fell in love with Mel Gibson. This doesn’t mean that Black men aren’t handsome – they are just not her type.Some also feel that White men (not ALL but many) find black women to be remarkable in every sense of the word; hence Black women tend to gravitate towards those affections. Much as her husband treats her better than any man ever had, one lady admits that she has been with some White men that disgusted her with their behaviors. But she says that generally, older White men and very mature on a broader level than with Black men on many levels.Some are just wildly turned on by the differences … skin color, hair, being raised in different cultures, music, foods … the list is endless. Its all about the desire for the mysterious and unknown. And for some, its just pure love because there are those that forget that we are ‘black’ and ‘white’ and just coincidentally happened to fall in love with a White guys.One thing we all have to remember is that not every White man is a Black woman’s dream. It all depends on the individual … good and bad comes in all colors.With that said, the generic phrase – ‘It should be about love and not color’ – is cute. But in this case, not entirely truthful. Its not only about love. Much as love gets cultivated eventually, there is physical attraction and a declaration to date only one race. Racist or preference?TOO Often I see only black men with white women… where I live that is more acceptable and common then black women with white men.. and as my entire adult life I have not even so much dated a white woman it has been extremely difficult for me to fond a social partner that I am attracted to. I have written about white men and women of different raves as I don’t see it nearly as often and it appears that the social society may now become more accepting of this change of acceptance with white men loving and marrying women of different races. FACT: I do not care what race or gender you are…. if you are in love or attracted to another human being then in my mind and my heart that is ok… regardless of race. culture or gender. so .. one story about that kind of love:
Shane and Sharicka had something in common long before they ever met—both were very busy with work and family. And both saw online dating as the most efficient way to meet new people while fulfilling their personal responsibilities.
One day, Shane noticed that Sharicka had viewed his profile. He checked out hers, liked what he saw, and sent her an email. “We hit it off from Day One,” Shane remembers. What impressed him the most were her smile and evident intelligence. She felt the same way about him. They even shared an interest in mixed martial arts!
The couple’s first date was at a Chinese restaurant. As their conversation touched on various topics, Shane wasn’t sure what kind of an impression he was making. “Sharicka thought I was a radical nut,” Shane jokes. “However, we met for a second date. Now we are married!”
Having made that lifelong commitment, the couple look forward to a long and happy future together. They feel they are a perfect match—best friends and soulmates—so they’re very glad they took time out of their busy schedules to look for love online.
In Jennalee’s experience, nothing good had come of meeting people in clubs and bars. For Robert, the mission was to meet someone who was truly ready for a relationship. And so, for both of them it made sense to try out online dating.
“One day, in between classes, I had just a few minutes and so I got on the website and started looking,” says Jennalee. “I noticed Robert’s profile and liked what I saw.”
Not only did Robert live in Jennalee’s area, he had taken the time to take good pictures and write honestly about himself. Jennalee was intrigued, but she didn’t have time to email him right away—she had to get to class.
When Jennalee logged in later that night…she was impressed to find a message from Robert already waiting for her! They began trading messages frequently. After two weeks and several phone calls, it was time to make a dinner date.
Jennalee arrived first and nervously awaited Robert’s arrival at the restaurant. “When he walked in, I was instantly drawn to his smile,” Jennalee recounts. Robert’s own nervousness evaporated within five minutes of talking to her. They were chatting so comfortably when the waiter arrived that they could hardly manage to concentrate on menus.
“There was never a lull in conversation,” says Jennalee. “We had a lot in common. I didn’t want the night to end!”
Robert walked Jennalee to her car and told her straight out that he wanted to see her again. Three months later, the couple are still dating and say it feels like they’ve known each other much longer than that. “I’ve never had a relationship so wonderful,” Jennalee reports. “He is very trustworthy and dependable, which are two things I think are very important. He makes me feel so special every day.”
While they’re still getting to know each other, Jennalee and Robert are also discussing the future and their common goals. “I am so glad I gave online dating a try and especially glad that I picked your site,” Jennalee exclaims. “It was a wonderful experience and the website was very user-friendly. I would recommend the site to any of my friends who are looking for love.”
Interracial marriages are a growing issue in our society. Over the past century the number of interracial marriages has more than multiplied. This is an interesting fact considering that not too long ago many states in our country had laws that banned and punished any type of relationship between people of different races. In this paper I will discuss the history between interracial marriages, reasons why interracial marriages are increasing in our society, common characteristics of the people who choose to marry interracially and the reasons why they choose to do so, the three stages of marriage and how they affect an interracial couple, the potential pitfalls of interracial marriages, and I will conclude with the issues of biracial children.
History of Interracial Marriages
In history of interracial marriages there was no support to those couples that choose to date or marry someone of a different race. The biggest problem our country faced with this issue arose in the era of slavery. The White race wanted to maintain the race superiority and thus used laws against interracial, especially Black and White unions of any kind. Our early history is an indicator that Black and White interracial unions have always faced the most social pressures. During the slavery era, the White race was concerned that marriages between Blacks and Whites carried implications of social equalities. Social equalities were exactly what the White race was trying to avoid, so these unions were not to their benefit.
It has been said that there is no better place to examine prohibitions on interracial relationships as in the state of Virginia, because this state possessed a vast amount of leadership in the concept of slavery, and it was also the first state to legally define race. Virginia has an extensive background for its opposition to interracial marriages.
In the late 1600′s Virginia enacted laws against marriages of different races. The laws were specifically targeting the union between Whites and Blacks. Their justifications for banning interracial marriages were: White supremacy, protection of White womanhood, and prevention of mixed children. The law creators believed marriages between Whites and Blacks reduced White supremacy because social equality was slowly emerging as these marriages occurred. Protection of White womanhood refers to White woman remaining pure, away from the hands of any Blacks. Lawmakers wanted to prevent mixed children because mixed children were considered mentally and physically inferior to pure White race children, although there was no scientific proof for any of these inferiorities. The lawmakers also disapproved the idea of mixed races because the physical characteristics of a person defined their place and benefits in society. If the person was White then they received privileges, if they were not White then they were rejected by society and did not receive any privileges. This became a problem when interracial couples had biracial children who looked White; the burden was on the state to try to prove that the person was something other than what they looked. To avoid these situations, the states simply made laws to try to avoid them from arising.
The issues got so out of hand that the Whites created ways of identifying how much Black heritage a person carried within them. This system has been labeled “passing” for the simple reason that it allowed some people with Black heritage to pass and be accepted as a White person. The categories Blacks could be placed in were as follows: Sacatra, Griffe, Marabon, Mulatto, Quadroon, Metif, Meamelouc, Quarteron, and Sang-mele.
A Sacatra was half Griffe and half Black. A Griffe was half Black and half Mulatto. A Marabon was half Mulatto and half Griffe. A Mulatto was half White and half Black. A Quadroon was half White and half Mulatto. A Metif was half White and half Quadroon. A Meamelouc was half White and half Metif. A Quarteron was half White and half Meamelouc. A Sang-mele was half White and half Quarteron.
People went as far as to define how much Black blood each of these categories possessed. A Mulatto had half Black blood and half White. A Quadroon was ¼ Black and ¾ White. An Octoroon was the child of a Quadroon and a White, this person carried less than ¼ of Black blood. A Cascos who was the child of a Mulatto and a Mulatto, carried less than ½ of Black blood. A Sambo, who was the child of a Mulatto and a Black, carried ¾’s of Black blood. A Mango, who was the child of a Sambo and a Black, carried the same Black blood as a Sambo. A Mustifee who was the child of an Octoroon and a White, carried less than 1/16th of Black blood. A Mustifino, who was the child of a Mustifee and a White, carried less than 1/32 of Black blood. This got complicated. Only the categories where the person had less than ¼ of Black blood was considered “passing,” but the individual must carry White physical characteristics. Some of the main problems with this system, including that this was accepted as a system, was that many interracial individuals were labeled Mulatto, and those who were labeled anything else, nobody knew if they were full-blooded or not, in order to do the classifications. There were many Blacks who arrived from other countries and nobody knew if they were already recipients of White genes before arriving in our country, and even the individuals themselves did not know if their ancestors had been previous victims of hybridization.
As with any laws there are always consequences, and this case was not the exception. The penalties for any person of the White race who chose to marry someone of the Black race, was banishment from the colony. Black men who married or had sexual relations with a White woman were convicted of rape and were put to death, yet White men were never charged with rape much less put to death for having sexual relations with a Black woman. Fortunately, by 1795 the death penalty for rape was abolished and other punishments were put in place. The issue of motherhood arose, White mothers were looked down upon for having interracial children more often than Black mothers because White mothers were committing the crime of assaulting White purity, and Black mothers were not convicted of this crime because they could never have pure White children. Punishments also existed for any person who had the authority to issue a marriage license, or the authority to unite two people in marriage, and knowingly united an interracial couple, whether it was through the law, the church, or both. The unborn children of these interracial couples also suffered punishments. In earlier times the child would be banished from the church and considered a warden until the age of 30. Later the church decided that the children of interracial couples would be considered bastards. Once labeled, the church would remove the child from their parents and take them into their own custody. The child became a servant of the church until the age of 30. At later times the terms were reduced, by 1765 if the “bastard” was male then he was obligated to serve the church until the age of 21, and if the “bastard” was a female she was obligated to serve the church until the age of 18.
This all came to an end, at least in the courts, on June 12, 1967, when the laws against interracial marriages were banned because they were considered unconstitutional. The reason the laws were revised was due to the Supreme Court Case of Loving vs. Virginia in 1958. This case was about a couple, Richard Loving, a White male and Mildred Jeter, a Black female, who were residents of Virginia and decided to travel outside of the state and marry were it was not illegal. The plan was perfect, with one minor detail, after marrying in Washington D.C. the couple returned to Virginia. The state of Virginia had enacted an Act in 1924 called, “An Act to Preserve Racial Integrity.” Under this act Whites were to marry Whites, those who married interracially outside of the state and then returned back were to be prosecuted, and the children born out of such a union were considered illegitimate and did not hold any privileges or protections. When the Lovings went on trial for marrying outside of Virginia and then returning to the state, they were sentenced to one year in prison unless they left the state and agreed not to return for at least 25 years. In 1961, the decision was overturned because issues of unconstitutionality that arose. At that time laws regarding interracial marriages, in the state of Virginia, were abolished.
Although laws have been banned, interracial dating, or interracial marriages are still in issue in our society. Some people have not accepted the fact that race should not be an issue in marriages or relationships. Three years ago, Bob Jones University in South Carolina had existing prohibitions against interracial dating. This became an issue with the public when our current president George W. Bush, visited the college, a very publicized visit, and did not have any comments to the college regarding their prohibition on interracial dating. Thanks to the publics concern and the bad reviews the president received for staying quiet about the issue, the college has now dropped the ban on prohibiting interracial relationships. This is one of many cases that are still provoking issues in our country. Banning the laws against interracial relationships helped, but some rare and obvious cases of banning racial relationships in particular institutions still exist in our country.
Are People Marrying Interracially?
Yes, people are marrying interracially. Actually interracial marriages are in an increasing state of being. Over the last few centuries’ interracial marriages have more than multiplied. Between 1970 and 1994 the number of interracial marriages increased from 310,000 to 1.3 million. Of the 1.3 million interracial marriages of 1994, 296,000 were Blacks with Whites. Although these numbers may seem significant they are less than 3 percent of the total marriages population in the U.S. But they are evidence of a changing America.
The reasons interracial marriages have gained popularity include an increasing social acceptance, as well as an increase in interactions between the different races, family influences, and the media. Social acceptance began to grow once laws against interracial marriages were abolished and people began to understand that what matters are how people feel and not how people look. Increase in interactions has developed through many institutions; the most popular is college or the educational sector. A decrease in family or outside influences has also been recorded, which alleviates some of the problems interracial couples may face.
The media is an important source of information in our society, and it has also played and important role in the development of interracial marriages or relationships. A wider acceptance of interracial relationships has been registered in the media through their advertising. Advertising is commonly known for depicting couples of the same race, especially if they are addressing the issue of romance. Yet depicting interracial couples in advertising is gaining popularity. Some well known brands who are gaining popularity for depicting interracial couples include: Diesel, Club Monaco, Ikea, Guess, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, and Perrier.
With the growth of interracial relationships there has been the development of interracial support groups. These support groups have started all across the country, and since they represent a community in the making, their outlook on survival is very optimistic. Examples of these interracial support groups include the following: Kaleidoscope at the University of Virginia, Students of Mixed Heritage at Amherst College, Interracial Family Club in Washington D.C., Half and Half at Bryn Mawr, and Mixed Plate at Grinnell. These are definitely not the only ones, and many more are in development.
Types of People Who Choose to Marry Interracially
There are many types of people who chose to marry interracially. The most common people who choose to marry interracially share the following traits: highly educated, professional middle class or working class, marry at an older age, similar status, other interracial marriages exist in their family, and they are people who have been married before. Many of the people who marry interracially are placed into a category to try to explain their reasoning for marrying interracially. The types of categories include but are not limited to: outcasts, rebels, mavericks, compensators, adventurers, escapists, and unstables.
The outcasts are those people who do not feel comfortable with their race because they don’t agree with the norms. They are often questioning why they have to do certain things, and are not happy because they don’t fit in with the social groups of their race. The outcast will usually find a culture within another race that appeals to their needs. This provides the outcasts with the opportunity to marry interracially and begin a family within a different racial context.
The rebels are those people who disagree with the basic values, beliefs, and politics of their race. For them marrying outside of their race is not only a form of a long-life commitment to another person, but it is also a long life commitment to a form of protest. They disagree with one or more aspects of their race and they don’t care what anyone around them might think if they marry outside of their race.
The maverick may be seen as the non-conformist. People in this group are usually independent. Although the people within their race usually accept them, they would rather not belong to the “in group.” For the majority of the time these people are sufficiently detached to the different aspects of their race that they are happier not belonging to it, much less belonging to the “in group.” Marrying interracially allows the maverick to feel freed of the pressures to join and conform to the values, beliefs, politics, etc. of a race that they do not accept.
The compensator is the person who is always looking for their “other half.” These are the people who feel incomplete by themselves, who do not want to be alone, and long for a loving relationship. This may not sound exclusively for people who marry interracially, but it is because this type of compensator is under the belief that they can only find what they need with a partner from a different race. The compensator attributes the deficiencies in their life to their race. Many times the compensator belongs to a broken family where neither of the parents is present, physically nor emotionally. The compensator is not negative about their own race they are just under the impression that someone from a different race can provide what they feel they are missing.
The adventurer is the person who is always daring to be different. Adventurers marry interracially because they need the excitement from those who are different to them. They are risking their life with a race that is unknown to them, they don’t want a predictable relationship instead they want a marriage that will stimulate their life and make them feel special. Many adventurers cross all boundaries: race, class, religion, age, etc. Each additional difference makes the marriage and their life more exciting.
The escapist is the person who marries outside of their race in order to improve the quality of their life. The escapist may be marrying a different race to move up the social or economic ladder, they marry for the benefits. The majority of interracial marriages include some type of trade off between the parties involved.
Unstables can be described by deviance. They marry outside of their race to defy authority. The authority they are usually trying to defy is their parents. Once they marry outside of their race the family will consider them to be abnormal and unstable people. Not many people marry under this type of circumstance, but it does happen.
Outside of these seven categories where people can be placed to explain why they choose to marry interracially, exists love. Some people do marry outside of their race because they have simply “fell in love.” Love can sometimes become a problem because in the cultures of many races, romantic love is simply not a valid reason to join lives in matrimony and begin a family. Yet love is usually all it takes for many people to undergo marriage.
The Three Stages of Marriage
Regardless of the race of the parties involved in a marriage, the marriage usually undergoes three distinct phases. These three phases either aid the couple in developing a stronger bond or the stages simply contribute to weakening or breaking the marriage. The phases may be distinguished by the following categories: the honeymoon stage, the setting-in phase, and the resolution phase.
The first stage of marriage is the honeymoon stage. This is the stage when everything is new and wonderful. Both parties are optimistic and confident about their future together, they believe they can overcome any obstacle. They value their differences, and they work together to try to make the most out of everything and anything. In this stage interracial couples are at ease with each other, they face minimal if any problems between themselves. Unfortunately, this stage must and does end. This stage ends with the intrusion of an outsider who strains both persons. The outsider is usually somebody in the immediate family. If there is no outside intruder, then the marriage moves into the second phase when the individuals in the marriage stop valuing each other’s differences and begin to see their differences as obstacles. The couple begins to realize what each difference means in terms of spending their lives together.
The second stage of marriage is the setting-in phase. In this phase both members of the marriage expose their behavior. The politeness between the couple is reduced and the couple finds itself constantly arguing because they have begun to defend their own ideas, and disregarding the ideas of their partner. The different types of qualities the individuals bring to the marriage are visible to each person during this stage. There is a revelation of love vs. compatibility in this stage, which relates to differences vs. similarities. The more differences the less compatibility, the more similarities the more love. In this stage interracial couples face more obstacles than couples of the same race, because there are more elements that need to be discussed. This is the stage where couples either make it or break it.
The third phase in the marriage is called the resolution. In this stage couples have either mutually agreed to stay together and ignore each other’s differences as well as each other, or they pretend nothing is wrong, or they are in a constant state of anger towards each other and the issues they face. Many interracial marriages don’t make it past the end of stage two and the beginning of stage three, unless they make arrangements that they can both understand and respect.
Potential Pitfalls of Interracial Marriages
There are potential pitfalls in any marriage whether the couple is interracial or not but there have been some common trouble spots that interracial couples have identified in their marriages. Some of the common trouble spots include: values, eating habits, sex, gender roles, friends, in-laws, and raising children. Some of these issues overlap, but there are some specific distinctions between each. Although these are potential trouble spots for any type of marriage, the degree to which they affect interracial marriages is greater.
Value is what is seen as good or bad, right or wrong, true or false, important or unimportant. Values tell us a lot about who a person is. Couples from the same racial group sometimes have different value systems, and couples from different racial groups almost always have different value systems. Value differences cause disagreements and misunderstandings between the couple, which may lead to many conflicts. In order for interracial couples to overcome value differences, there needs to be tolerance from both parties. It helps when there are more similarities than differences in their value systems.
Food and drink also become a problem in some interracial marriages. Food and drink does not only consists of what is going to be consumed, it also takes into account how the meal is prepared, what time the meal is served, where the meal is eaten, and how it is eaten. People from different races usually prefer different types of foods, even people from the same race who are from different locations have a problem with food, imagine what people from different races go through. How would an American feel about eating tortillas with all their meals, or how would a Mexican feel about eating rice with all his meals? Eating customs from different races can cause problems. In some races the time a woman takes to prepare a meal is significant of how much she loves her spouse, and in other races the spouse wont care if the wife picked up the meal at the drive through as long as he gets fed. So if food is really the way in to a man’s heart, what is a woman to do when the man does not like her specific choices of meals, and she doesn’t like his, should she sacrifice herself and eat what he prefers? For some races mealtime is family time, yet for some others mealtime may just be whatever time the person gets hungry. If the person is used to eating at specific times during the day and making a feast out of every meal, they may find themselves in trouble when the spouse is eating at random times of the day, not in the dinner table, but on the sofa watching TV, or the spouse simply does not eat at home but instead takes it on the go because his busy schedule does not permit him time to sit down and eat with the family. What if the couple does not share the same manners or etiquette at the dinner table, who is to say which one is the correct form, and how will the argument be settled? For many eating is a common and non-threatening event of their daily lives, for others, especially interracial couples, eating can become a form of pitfall in the relationship.
Even sex can become an issue in interracial marriages. Some of the issues that arise in sex matters are: contraception, menstruation, masturbation, number and importance of children, virginity and chastity, family honor, machismo and femininity, hygiene, premarital relations, marital fidelity, sexual practices, homosexuality, incest, dating, dancing, romance, holding hands, using cosmetics, and the way an individual dresses. One of the biggest reasons that sex can become an issue in interracial marriages is because the young couples don’t expect it to be an issue, so they don’t discuss many of the previously mentioned issues before marriage. If anything they are both under the impression that sex will be one of the few things they wont have problems with. Unless the multiracial couple holds the same moral values the topic of sex will usually become an issue.
Gender roles will cause problems when each individual holds different beliefs about how the other person should behave. In western societies women are given more liberties and freedoms, but in non-western societies the female is heavily expected to serve the man. When the races from these different societies unite some problems arise, especially if the man of a western society is marrying a woman of a non-western society and he is under the impression that she is going to serve him when no other women from his same race would do this, and the woman from the non-western society is marrying him because she believes he is going to offer her more liberties and freedoms, like no other man in her race can offer. Usually men and women want to take on the roles from the other race that they benefit from, and this becomes the problem. Outside expectations and pressures from family members can contribute to the problems. If a man from a non-western society marries a woman of a different race from a western society and accepts her liberties and freedoms, his family will usually become judgmental of the circumstances until they convince him to be different and thus he begins to have problems with his wife, and the woman’s family may find it rare for their daughter to become a “servant” to the man. The gender role expectations and pressures from outsiders have a great influence on the decisions and actions of each individual in an interracial couple, it helps lead the couple into conflict and problems.
In interracial marriages friends are difficult to find and keep. The difficulties in finding friends can arise because our society is not completely tolerant of interracial marriages, our society would rather keep each race to them selves. Same race marriages may become uncomfortable having friends of multiracial marriages because they do not have the same type of background and they are not living through the same experiences, they have a difficult time understanding each other. The majority of interracial marriages can easily adjust and they benefit from having friends who are also part of an interracial marriage or relationship. When they find friends from interracial marriages or relationships they have mutual grounds to discuss. These friends know and understand the types of problems that the other couple is facing and the majority of the time can offer productive and positive feedback to help the couple with problems. Interracial couples must find friends for their own benefit because an isolated couple is not a healthy or a happy couple.
In-laws are a frightening issue in any marriage. Disapproving in-laws are an issue in the majority of interracial marriages. The problem with in-laws is that depending on their race; they hold different views regarding what rights they have over their children, even after their children marry. In some races the parents believe their children are owners of their life and have the right to decide anything for themselves once they marry or turn a certain age. In other races parents hold the belief that since they raised and took care of the children when they were young, the children owe them eternal respect and gratitude, part of this respect and gratitude is conceived as parents having the authority over their child and the spouse of the child. Patriarchal authority becomes an issue if one person holds customs where their parents do not have any say in their children’s married life. Interracial families find it beneficial to move away from both of their families to avoid this type of problem. Distancing themselves from the family may help alleviate the in-laws problem, but it can also contribute to issues of separation from a main source of support. Couples need to take into consideration the pros and cons of being away from the in-laws before they make the final decision to move away.
A couple is supposed to consider children and everything they bring to a family, a blessing. But when these children are born to interracial couples, the raising strategies may become more than a blessing, sometimes the issues will become condemnations. The models of upbringing children vary from race to race, and deciding which method to use will become a problem for many multiracial couples. The system of upbringing biracial children may become what many know as trial and error. Parents of biracial children can decide to try various things while upbringing their children, they can disregard the mother or the father, or they can do a combination of what both races believe. Biracial children benefit their exposure to both worlds, but the child may also easily suffer from contradicting each parent when he does what the mother or father prefers, in this case the child will be placed in a loose/ loose situation. Fortunately, most parents in interracial marriages find that the one thing they have in common is the need for their children’s well being, their basic beliefs and values pertaining to the children are generally similar.
Issues of Biracial Children
By Langston Hughes
My old man’s a White old man,
And my old mother’s Black,
If I ever cursed my White old man,
I take my curses back.
If I ever cursed my Black old ma
And wished she were in hell,
I’m sorry for that evil wish,
And now I wish her well.
My old man died in a fine White house,
My ma died in a shack,
I wonder where I’m gonna die,
Being neither White nor Black.
Poems like the one above reveal many of the issues children of interracial parents face on a day-to-day basis, and throughout their whole life. In addition, children of interracial couples suffer from the inequalities that their parents suffer. Although nobody should be suffering from inequalities based on their race, the children of these marriages sometimes experience the inequalities, both at home and in our society. Some of the issues biracial children face includes: racial identity, coping with racism, coping with grandparents, and coping with siblings. The number of children from biracial children has increased over the last few decades, especially after the period of slavery and the Civil war.
The issue of racial identity is the most popular problem that biracial children face. An identity crisis arises when the child can’t decide what group he belongs to, many times the child does not want to belong to any group but this is a conclusion they reach at an older age, children struggle to belong to a group when they are young. Children obtain a sense of identity from their parents, but when both parents posses different identities the child will face trouble. The biracial child may try to choose one identity over the other, but then one parent will try to pull him in one direction, and the other parent will try to pull him in a different direction. When the child finally decides, the parent who was not chosen will give the child negative feedback on his choice. This problem can lead children into emotional instability and a great resentment towards their parents, because they did not receive the support they longed for. Another problem biracial children face is when the parents and child agree on an identity but then society does not agree with their choice. The child blames the parents for the negative feedback society gives them; this adds to the resentment that children hold against their parents.
Coping with racism will become difficult for biracial children because they face more racism than individuals that can be placed into one category or another. People who try to place individuals into specific categories are going to have trouble placing these children into any one category, thus they might hold more resentment towards them and be more racist towards them. Our society will also place another burden on these children by not accepting them into any race. For example, a child of a Black and White marriage, may suffer because he is either to light to be Black, and too dark to be White. This biracial child would literally be stuck between two communities that reject him. Biracial children suffer conflicts with grandparents. These conflicts are mainly because the grandparents may distance themselves from the child for the fear of being stigmatized when they are seen with their biracial grandchildren. The physical attributes of the child usually pushes away one set of grandparents, and pulls towards the other, it just depends which side of the family the child resembles the most. In some cases the grandchild is what brings parents back into their children’s life. If a White person married a Black person and the parents of either party distanced themselves away from their children because of the marriage, then when a child arrives the grandparents may overlook everything else for the child’s sake, they will go as far as defending the children and their family, regardless of what they thought before.
Siblings are another potential issue that biracial children face. What happens when an interracial family has children that look like one parent, and other children that look like the other parent? What are the children to do? Is their relation any different because of the color of their skin? Most interracial families face trouble with this issue. The biracial children will have trouble getting along. When one child gets more privileges from the family and society because of their physical characteristics, the other child will resent it and take it against his sibling. Siblings can also cause problems if one of the children is trying to hide his true identity (i.e. passing) and then his brothers or sisters, gives the identity away. Resentment will build up in the family. Relations among siblings are difficult enough when the children look like each other; stirring in different racial characteristics does not help make the situation any better.
The main problem among interracial marriages is not: their history, their race, their marriage, or their children, the problem is society. If society were not so judgmental and concerned with race, people would live more happily. Relations among groups would be easier to develop if they didn’t have to face the strains from society. Many things still have to be done within our society to allow race relation in our country, especially among marriages, to take another path, a positive path.
- Overcoming the Prejudice and the Problems
How do you overcome the problems if you are in an interracial marriage? First by understanding that your situation isn’t unique. Your relationship is one of millions. Therefore there is help and support.
Some of the other things you can do are to find out as much as you can about your mates culture and background as you can. It will help you to understand your mate’s problems if you can determine the conflict between your culture and theirs. The bookstore is loaded with cultural books that explain fully what the other culture is all about.
Be patient and teach your partner your customs and culture. Not your prejudices and beliefs! Don’t expect that just because they are in YOUR country or YOUR cultural community that they should adapt to your ways. They probably will over time, but don’t apply the pressure. Let them grow on their own with your help and understanding.