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Interracial Marriage: History and Future Developments Research Paper

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Updated: Oct 13th, 2021

America, the vast scenario of racial diversity and multicultural society, is a country that enjoys diverse cultures, rituals and beliefs. The history of America begins from the geographical expeditions undertook by adventurous sailors from Europe. From the beginning itself, America was an amalgam of unity in diversity. But before colonization by Europe, there lived natives, and gradually they got marginalized from the mainstream of society. The slaves who were brought in from African continent comprise a major part of population. So there was high chance for interracial marriages between these different racial groups. Basically interracial marriage, in the context of America, is considered as the marriage between black and white. In the first part of this work, the development, maintenance and future of race relations in the United States is closely examined. Then the relation between interracial marriage and racial relations and their forms are discussed. The third part discusses the problems faced by this group with reference to economics and housing. The last part of the work deals with the expected future developments in interracial marriages. Moreover, the whole work develops on a historical and contemporary context of interracial marriage in the United States.

The development of interracial marriages in the United States lies deep in the interracial relations among different races. Earlier, interracial relations and interracial marriages were not common. There were restrictions imposed by South Caucasian Americans on African Americans. This restriction hindered the interracial marriages and mingling of various races in the United States. In America, the racial segregation and exploitation due to racial issued came to an end by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Jay A. Sigler in- “Civil rights in America: 1500 to the present” is of the opinion that the civil rights of the citizens of America is helpful to make and end to the racial segregation in America. “Politics of civil rights: ending racial segregation in America.” (Jay, 1998).

From another view point, the increased rate of interracial marriage will help in reducing or ending racial segregation. Moreover, the civil rights are not against the interracial marriage and relation. These laws resulted in a steady increase in interracial marriage in the United States on America. The Caucasian Americans are the people who oppose inter racial marriages. But there is a slow but gradual increase in the occurrence of interracial marriages among these people. Mary E. Williams, in –“Interracial America: opposing viewpoints” makes clear that the racial and ethnic differences are against American Culture. Through interracial marriages, this problem can be resolved. “Racial and ethnic differences endanger American culture.” (Williams, 2001).

Thus, interracial marriages can be understood as helping to enrich American Culture. Due to the changed circumstances, marriage between Caucasian Americans and Asian Americans are becoming increasingly common for both genders. Among African Americans there is a high tendency of interracial marriage. This tendency is behind the low rate of same race marriage between African American male and African American female. Interracial marriage between Native Americans and Asians also show an increase in rate. Another group who are behind the high rate of interracial marriage is the Filipinos in America. The Filipino Americans show the tendency of interracial marriage and they have relation with Native Americans and Alaskan Native people. Centuries ago, Filipinos were under the rule of Spain. There existed Pilipino trade, i.e., human trade, between Philippines and America. The Filipinos who happened to reach the American continent as laborers to the plantations settled in Mexico and Louisiana and they began to marry Native American women. The Filipinos who settled in Alaska began to marry Native Alaskan women. But the Chinese men who settled in America faced a different problem that the number of Chinese females was far too less than that of males, which forces them to marry native American females. But when one go through the marriage among Native Americans and Caucasian Americans it can be seen that the rate is so low. American women in USA. So they were forced to marry African American women. But the rate of marriage relation between Native Americans and African Americans is relatively higher. There exists a large number of population of mixed African Amerindians in USA. This tendency of mixed marriage shows a gradual increase in rate from 18th century, which became strong in the early decades of the 20th century. Because of the increase in interracial marriages among the African American men, they faced the problem of “marriage squeeze” and they were forced to marry-African American women. It can be seen that interracial marriage made the American society more diverse than ever. Moreover, interracial marriage among different racial groups in America developed through ages and it played an important role in peaceful co operation among diverse cultures. Samuel Walker, Cassia Spohn, and Miriam DeLone in – “The color of justice : race, ethnicity, and crime in America” points out that some crimes that the reason behind some crimes that are committed in America is interracial hatred. “Crime as an interracial (hate) event.” (Walker, Spohn & Delone, 2007).

Involvement of crime in interracial relation and to an extent, interracial marriages is a serious situation. In a multicultural society like America, the problem is more serious because there is close relation among different races. But interracial marriages resulted in some social and cultural problems. The most important one is the problems faced by the off springs of mixed married couples. The next generation with mixed ancestry may face serious problems because they are in a dilemma as to which culture they had to accept, father’s or mother’s? But it is evident that interracial marriages resulted in social change and the problems related to these are yet to be solved.

The experiences of black/white interracial couples are helpful to have a clear understanding on the issue of racial relations and attitudes of the society on racial relations. Earlier, the interracial marriages were banned and there were strict guidelines on marriages in the United States of America. But now, the democratic outlook and the freedom spirit of the people helped to resolve the problems and interracial marriages are common. Bruce Katz and Robert E. Lang in-“Redefining urban and suburban America: evidence from Census 2000”points out that “Racial and ethnic change in the nation’s largest cities.” (Katz & Lang, 2006). changed the social relation among various races in America. The change in the mind set of urban cities can be considered as a yardstick to measure social change. It is evident that there is a racial and ethnic change in large cities of the US. Most of the people of America are the off springs of the immigrants from Europe and other parts of the world. The diversity in nationality resulted in diverse culture. When one consider the natives of the American continent, the American Indians and other ethnic races come to the limelight. This native race of American continent was not against interracial marriages and interracial relations. Their relation with the people who immigrated to the mainland changed their outlook on culture and human relations. They accepted the immigrants as the part of their society. Earlier, there was rivalry and blood shed but through ages these people were forced to accept the immigrants and they were ready to accept the inevitable evil. The interracial relations among the various races in America helped in improving racial relations and it resulted in racial progress. But it does not show that the problem of racism and racial discrimination is diminishing and had vanished from the society. But it initiated positive change in relations. Kenneth Bolton, Jr. and Joe R. Feagin in their work –“Black in blue : African-American police officers and racism” makes clear that the black police officers who are working in American Police forces face problems within their community and in the society. “As they try to make policing fairer for residents of Black communities, their fellow White officers often view them as radicals, while some members of Black communities perceive them to be traitors.” (Bolton & Feagin, 2004).

When they try to help the people within their community, the white officers consider them as radical. On the other part, some black members consider them as traitors who help the white community. But, this acceptance of blacks by whites is a part of social change. Another phenomenon that can be seen among interracial couples is the opposition from their family, community and society makes the relation more strong. These couples can embody the best and worst of the racial relations. When they are able to love beyond the rigid laws and restrictions imposed by the society, they embody the best of the relation. When these relations solidify the racial segregation through opposition of black and white families, they embody the worst of racial relations.

There are so many problems regarding to economics and housing in US. Some of these problems have close connection with the problems of interracial marriages. There is high chance for an interracial couple and their children to face problems in the workplace, in housing, with friends and with family. There is no evidence of status exchange in interracial marriage to whites. But there exist an exchange of income among the marriage of Asian husband- white wife. When one consider the equal status exchange in interracial marriages, it can be seen that certain racial groups in the U.S. like Native Americans, Native Hawaiians and Hispanics show this characteristics. In the US, Asian Americans engage in more interracial relations. The Asian American family is ready to accept interracial relations. They now that interracial marriage is common in a multicultural society and they are ready to accept it as the part of diversity. Another positive side of interracial marriage is that it helped to move the society to progress. Moreover, it helped the blacks in America to grab new opportunities and to attain new heights in the society. For the first time, interracial marriages helped to minimize the differences and problems among the races in US. When interracial marriages take place, the difference in culture, rituals, and even language is out of focus. Some people consider marriage as a private contract between two persons but it possesses a wider meaning. It is also a social contract. The most controversial interracial marriage in US is the marriage between white and black. As earlier pointed out, marriage is a social agreement, but interracial couples face extra difficulties to keep their marriage viable. The problem is that there is no supportive social environment for interracial couples. There are so many problems faced by interracial couples and their children in the work place, in housing, with friends, and with family. The interracial marriage is a rebellion against family so the couple will have to live outside their families. Most of the people who are engaged in interracial marriage face the problem of proper housing because the family may be against their decision. When they are in close relation, there is less chance to think about future problems like housing and economic matters. If one of the partners is with proper housing facilities and with sound economic background, there will be fewer problems related to these matters. The motive behind some interracial marriages is socialization and friendship. Whatever the motive, the real force that binds together two persons is attraction which may be physical or intellectual. When one thinks about the rate of divorce among the interracial married couples, it can be seen that it is lower than the rate the same race marriages. The large number of divorces in the US is of same race marriage. So there is no evidence that interracial marriage is an utter failure. When one considers the success of a marriage whether it is interracial or same racial, the success depends upon the ability of the couples to the problems they face in day to day life. Other than the problems created by the society, interracial marriages are similar to same race marriages. It can be seen that, interracial marriages display the courage and optimism in spite of the obstacles the faced.

The trends that are discussed are able to predict that the future of interracial marriages will not be so bad because the racial there is change in attitude towards the interracially married couples. Earlier, interracial marriages were considered as crime and it was a punishable offence. But the change in social outlook helped to overcome this problem. Since 1980 in USA, the number of interracial couples has more than doubled. This increased rate of marriage was sufficient to change the mind of the society. The diversity in population due to the interracial marriage and immigration makes the American society more and more diverse. Most of the people in US are ready to accept interracial marriages. Moreover, studies related to attitude towards interracial marriages prove that American attitudes towards interracial marriage also improved. Now most of the people of America do not consider interracial marriage as a strange thing. The future development can be predicted by studying the activities and attitudes of teenagers towards interracial marriages. The black parents in America are against interracial dating tendency of their children. But the fact is that interracial dating among blacks in America is increasing than ever. Joe Feagin and Eileen O’Brien in –“White men on race : power, privilege, and the shaping of cultural consciousness” points out that “Issues of interracial dating and marriage.” (Feagin & O’Brien, 2003). are closely related to the increased rate of interracial marriages in America. When the rate of interracial marriages began to increase, the issues related to this interracial relation also increased. But, it resulted in an open minded discussion upon this matter. When one tries to understand the reason behind the interracial marriage, it can be seen that there are differences in the life of a black person and white person in US. The desire of a black person to marry a white person can be termed as the desire to attain high social status. But the reality is that the interracial marriages take place between couples who are equal in social status and education. Most of the teenagers are of the opinion that interracial dating and marriage will not result in social difference. The educated women who indulge in interracial relations tend to select partners within or above their social and economic class. The women among African America race are ready to risk their life by marrying below their socioeconomic class. This is because the rate of eligible men to marry among this racial group is rare. These women are forced to marry men from other races. So the interracial marriages can be considered as attempt to resolve the problem of ever widening gap of ethnic divide. But it represents only a small percent of all the racial inequalities. But the role of interracial marriage as a safety valve to resolve the problems among different races in a society is so important. The future scope of interracial marriage is that the mixed race children gradually help to reduce the influence of racial boundaries that have long divided the nation. The increased rate of interracial marriages does not prove that racism and racial segregation is over. But it helps the racists to act more severe against these people. Now there is a tendency among the Native Americans that they like to marry whites not the blacks. Because of the efforts of the people who are not against racial segregation, the census Bureau was forced to change its rules and this allows the people to identify themselves by as many of the five official racial reporting categories as they see fit. This provides the people with the chance to take a decision of their own. The problem that is to be resolved is that the interracial marriage rate between blacks and other minorities show that blacks remain outside the mainstream of the American Society. The children who are born in interracial marriages face the problem of identity. While choosing culture, language, rituals and religion these children face some problems which are to be resolved. But the parents can guide these children to the right way. Eleanor Stanford in- “Interracial America: opposing viewpoints” makes clear that the problem of “School segregation is a serious problem”. (Stanford, 2006).

From the school, students learn more about the society. When some schools or some children in a particular school are segregated, they feel ill about the society. It will hinder the growth of the student to a duty conscious citizen.

The interracial marriage is the barometer of racial, ethnic relations in the US. So the recent changes in racial classical classification, rapid demographic changes in American society. Growing biracial population fuelled the growth of interracial marriages between black and white. The reason behind the growth is, the rapid immigration, cohabitation, educational opportunities, and the ethnic groups like to forget and depart from their past. In 1990ies, there was a significant increase in intermarriage between blacks and whites. The latest tendency that can be seen in American society is that the people who are highly educated are not against interracial marriage. They possess a secular outlook. For example, the educated people among the Hispanics and Asian Americans are not against interracial relations. The most important role played by interracial marriages in American society is that it helped to break down the existing racial barriers set by the orthodox society. Moreover, this marriage pattern provided racial identification to blacks in America. The children from black intermarriages are racially identified from their family background. The study undertook by the US census prove that the nation is interested in mixed race people. So, it is evident from these points discussed that the multiracial people serve as a bridge for communal harmony between white and black. Studies related to the couples of interracial marriage prove that the stress that they feel due to the problems in their private life is high. There is more chance for break up. But this fact is not helpful to reduce the rate of interracial marriages.

The reason behind the interracial relations and the increases rate of marriage is in the steady flow of immigrants to the U.S. This helps the society to become more and more diverse. It helped to reduce the gap among various races and ethnic groups in America. The popularity and support among the younger generation towards interracial prove that there will be an increase in interracial marriages.

By exerting maximum pressure on the issue of racial segregation, interracial marriages influenced the socio, economic, and political spheres of the United States. The increased rate of interracial marriage is to be considered as the progress of a multicultural towards communal harmony. The development of interracial relation and interracial marriage is to be termed as the development of a multicultural society. The increased rate of interracial marriage explains the fact that it is a natural phenomenon because the society is with diverse population. The people who are angered in interracial marriage face the problem of money and housing but most of them are able to solve these problems or they are able to overcome these problems. The surveys conducted among the teenagers prove that there will be an increase in interracial marriages. In this new millennium, the borders which are set on race are so thin and it will not survive. The new age is of universal love and harmony. The new world is so powerful that it is able to reduce the whole world to a single village. The development of a society can be measured through the attitude of the people towards the social issues and how they react. When one considers the history of American Society, it is evident that the blacks were under racial segregation. Now, the situation is different and the people are ready to accept blacks as the part of society. The most important evidence of development of American society is that it is gradually accepting the interracial marriages and relations. So it can be seen that the interracial Marriage in American society is able to reduce the influence of race over humanity. The fore coming years will prove that humanity and universal brotherhood is above the narrow feeling on race and ethnicity.

References

  1. Bolton, Keneth., & Feagin, Joe. R. (2004). Black in blue: American police officers and racism. Consuls.
  2. Feagin, Joe., & O’Brien, Eileen. (2003). White men on race: power, privilege, and the shaping of cultural consciousness. Consuls.
  3. Jay. A. Sigler. (1998). Civil rights in America: 1500 to the present. Consuls.
  4. Katz, Bruce., & Lang, Robert. E. (Eds.). (2006). Redefining Urban And suburban America. Consuls.
  5. Stanford, Eleanor. (Ed.). (2006). Interracial America: Opposing viewpoints. Consuls.
  6. Williams, Mary. E. (Ed.). (2001). Interracial marriage: Opposing viewpoints. Consuls.
  7. Walker, Samuel., Spohn, Cassia., & Delone, Miriam. (2007). The color of justice: race, ethnicity, and crime in America. Consuls.
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