Looking at the complex racial history of the United States, one might be set to think that the nation’s many “races” and ethnic groups don’t mix well. If you’ve seen shows like 90 Day Fiancé (or Keeping Up With the Kardashians, really) then you have some notion about this. Here, I want to look at how people mix on more than just a superficial level. What’s the chemistry like for different races in America? How much mixing do these different groups actually do? In many countries (definitely not all) interracial couples are pretty common, or at least aren’t seen as particularly strange. In the U.S., well, it’s a funny story.
Some Inter-Racial History
So yes, interracial couples do exist in the U.S.A. A lot, actually. But, racial mixing in relationships is still taboo in many parts. Why is that? I mean, it’s 2021! There are some good reasons behind this. Historically, mixed-race couples have been highly criticized within the U.S., especially between black and white people. In many ways, this combination is still the most controversial in the States, even though for black men the most common interracial combo is he, black and she, white. Still, what’s all that prejudice about?
You might know (or be able to guess) that this stems from times of slavery. Many black women were raped by their white master or his family members, forcing them to have mulatto children. Instead of being given more rights like in some other European colonies, the mulattos were still considered slaves. More often than not, they were treated with the same cruelty too. This is part of why mixed people or “light-skinned-ed” black people are often considered black in the first place. But that’s a different post.
Anyway, due to this complicated history of racial division and mistrust, the family of either partner in a couple may feel discomfort with the relationship. It’s not just between blacks and whites, given the historic tensions:
- Latinos/Hispanics – mostly for immigration and cultural differences
- Asians (especially Japanese, Koreans, and Vietnamese) – because of several American wars in the region, Japanese attacks during WW2, cultural prejudice
- Arabs/Muslims – recent wars, 9/11, cultural and religious differences
Native Americans make up a pretty small portion of interracial couples, but they are also one of the smallest ethnic groups overall. I do get the sense that they are more mixed and integrated into American society than in other American countries like Mexico or Brazil.
One contributing factor to so much prejudice around this topic is that interracial marriage used to be illegal in several states back in the day. Since it was decriminalized in the 1960s, interracial marriages have almost tripled. In all states and almost every county, interracial couples have increased and are continually on the rise. There are some differences though.
And now commencing: Montage of beautiful mixed families …
Trends & Perceptions about Intermixing
Interracial relationships tend to be more common in urban areas than rural areas. They’re also more common in the West or the Mid-Atlantic. That’s because those regions are more diverse anyway, so it’s a lot more likely you’ll meet someone of a different “race” in the first place, let alone marry them. As far as opinion, black people are more likely to accept intermarriage than white people are. Still, it depends on the combo.
For instance, black family’s would probably be more accepting of intermarriage with a white person than an Asian person. Meanwhile with white families, it might be the opposite. Still, intermarriage between groups like whites with Asians or Hispanics is more common than intermarriage with blacks in general. Most commonly with intermarriage, white people are more likely to get with someone who is white Hispanic. At that point, it’s less a matter of “race” and more of cultural identity.
Attitudes about race, regions where more diverse communities are located, quality of education, and employment opportunities are some factors that help determine the prevalence of interracial couples in any given part of America. All these factors considered, general tendencies with black people contribute to fewer marriage rates overall anyway. That’s stuff like higher incarceration and unemployment rates. Been to jail? Don’t have a job? It’s gonna be hard for her to accept that ring, player.
What’s “Interracial,” Anyway?
A couple of notes about race as it relates to this subject:
So, we all know about the strange American system of declaring who’s who and what’s what. Hispanics are considered an “ethnic group” of people from any Spanish-speaking country (from Mexico to Spain). Latinos are from any Latin-American country (from Mexico to Argentina, Brazil included — places like Haiti usually aren’t included). Asians covers anybody from East, South, or Central Asia (from China to India to Kazakhstan). Arabs considers everyone from an Arabic-speaking nation (from Morocco to Iraq).
Otherwise, there’s a separation between African-American and black since black could be from Africa, the Caribbean, or anywhere else, really. Whites are generally considered those with Anglo-Saxon (e.g. British, German), Slavic (e.g. Russian, Polish), or Mediterranean (e.g. Italian, Greek) backgrounds. This often excludes Indo-Aryans (e.g. Iranians, white Afghans) or whites from the Middle East/North Africa (e.g. white Algerians, white Lebanese).
All of this to say that the way interracial couples are recorded in the U.S. can be tricky. Let’s say Joe with British ancestry marries Susan with Syrian ancestry. Both could be white, but Susan would be considered Arab. Or Susan could have white ancestry from Cuba, but she’d be considered Hispanic/Latina.
Now Joe is black with deep African American ancestry, but now Susan has black ancestry from Cuba. Susan is still considered Hispanic/Latina, and their relationship “interracial.” Or let’s say Joe has Japanese ancestry and Susan has south Indian ancestry. Under the eyes of the census, they wouldn’t be considered interracial since both are from the Asian continent, even though they are ethnically and culturally worlds apart.
With that said, there are probably a lot more “intercultural” marriages and relationships in the U.S. than we might think based on the numbers. That’s why I like to use my eyes.
Use Your “Sense-us”
Based on what I can see, most of my family members are in “interracial & intercultural” relationships, and they live all over the country. I’m from a big city, so I have seen lots of interracial couples all over the place. If they’ve led to marriage, I’m sure is a different story altogether.
Because of recent growth in racial awareness, a lot more interracial couples and families are sympathizing more with each other’s identities. When a white person has a mixed black kid, it’s hard not to pay close attention to the police shootings of young black people. That’s just one example. In the end, I think this will be something that saves our nation and creates more sympathy for other cultures. The country is still pretty segregated compared to lots of Western countries. But I encourage interracial couples, we need them! Without them, I wouldn’t even be here.
**What do you think about interracial/intercultural couples? What about international couples? Have you ever been in a relationship like this? Would you want to? Comment and share your thoughts! Read more Doubts About Americans! And check these links below for more info. Stay safe out there! Peace.
Resources & Further Reading:
Perceptions & Trends of Interracial Couples
U.S. Census Results about Interracial Couples
Interesting thoughts! I’m in a polyamorous interracial (Black/white Jewish) American marriage, and most of my partners outside the marriage have been international. Interracial, intercultural pairings are inevitable, but they bring so many challenges. To love across cultural boundaries takes a ton of grit, a lifetime of learning, and a thick skin. I’m not sure that it ever gets easier- seems that deeper, more nuanced struggles unearth themselves the more we learn.
That’s true! It is an incredible challenge to have the kind of sympathy and understanding for intercultural relationships. I love that more and more people are taking the chance to learn more about another belief system and way of life. It seems like it would be hard doing that with multiple partners, so for you I can only imagine! Thanks for sharing your insights. I bet that a polyamorous/interracial relationship must have a whole other set of challenges, right?
Oh, yes indeed! Taken separately, polyamory and interracial love each elevate the difficulty level of love, IMO- both require that extra strength in communication and the ability to de-center yourself. But I wouldn’t say that the challenge compounds at the intersection of the two. In my case, the polyamory makes the interracial commitment possible. If we were monogamous, partnership with me would rob my wife of the opportunity to love and be loved by other Black women, which would be a deal-breaker for her. Loving outside of the convention al playbook isn’t easy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way 🥰
That’s a really cool take, I never thought of it that way. I think it’s something I’d be open to if my partner wanted to. I’m in an intercultural relationship so even though we are the same “race” we come from different countries and that adds a few difficulties. I think it’s awesome you found the kind of relationship that works for you, so few people have that kind of courage I think
Sweet of you to say. Thank you ☺️ Sounds like you navigate some similar challenges, probably some that are even harder. National identity is so defining of behavior, perspective, etc. I bet you and your partner see those differences manifest sometimes in unexpected ways.
It wasn’t as hard at first but as I’ve learned more about the US and gained a stronger identity, I have noticed the cultural differences. Luckily we share lots of beliefs and value so it’s not as bad, I guess it’s taught me to appreciate my own culture and that of others more.
Haha, being around Americans will do that to you 😝 Am I reading correctly that you’re Brazilian?
Well I’m in Brazil right now cause that’s where my wife’s from, I’m from the US though. That’s part of why I started this blog because of all the questions I got about Americans, figured I’d write about it haha
What’s your hometown/state if you don’t mind me asking? And do you write about relationship topics on your site?
I’m from the glorious city of Rochester, NY. For sure, my site deals with relationship topics. I’ll be sharing my poly experiences- my life is unusual, and I’m excited to explore the intricacies and contradictions of love as I live it. Thanks for checking it out!
Of course, thanks for checking me out. I wish you luck as you keep on your journey. I’m pretty new to blogging so I’m just trying to find my voice and all that. I’ll be back home in LA soon so I’ll get to really sit and plan it out haha.
I’m brand-new to blogging too. We baby bloggers gotta look out for each other. Your blog is cool. I’ll keep an eye on it. Safe/happy travels! And if you want to be my 12th follower, the seat’s open ☺️
Lol I thought I was following you already! For sure, I’ll follow along with yours as well. You’ve got a very interesting subject and I love the narrative style, thanks for the support and the comments! And good luck with your fam, I know y’all will make the right decision
Thank you 😊 We’ll wander down the path, and trust it to take us where we need to go.
Right on 👍🏼☺
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There are millions of interracial couples and the number of interracial marriages continue to surpass the numbers of the previous year. The history of slavery and lack of redress through reparations hinders a greater adoption and expansion. In any case, America is still moving forward and interracial weddings are taking place at record numbers.
Thanks for adding this comment! I think many people have a perception that Americans don’t really intermix by race or ethnicity. Apparently it’s happening a lot more often, as I’ve been a witness to, and a product of!
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