Interracial marriages have become common in the US ever since it was legalized by a Supreme Court decision in 1967. The population of multiracial Americans continues to increase even though they only form less than 5 percent of the entire US population.
Issues surrounding interracial marriages have been perceived differently through two main points of view. This includes cultural conservatism and egalitarianism. The views of cultural conservatism are mainly held by the older generation who consider interracial marriages to be socially unacceptable.
However, the younger generation leans towards egalitarianism, where interracial marriage is seen as an acceptable phenomenon. Among the Asian American community, many view the issue of interracial relationship and marriage as a natural progression of the community to be integrated into the mainstream American culture. On the contrary, other members of the Asian American communities think otherwise about the phenomenon.
They consider interracial marriages and relationships as a way of renouncing the cultural identity of the community. However, the last two decades have witnessed changing trends in interracial marriages and relationships of Asian Americans. This paper seeks to explore the changing trends and explains the reasons behind the changes.
The differing views on the issue are best supported by statistical data on the current trend regarding interracial relationship and marriages within the Asian American community in the US. According to data from the Census American Community Survey, there has been a decline in marriages involving White Americans and Asian Americans between the year 2006 and present (Kenally).
A different survey conducted by Pew Research Center also reported a decline in interracial marriages among the Asian American community (Kenally). However, the survey indicated that the Asian American community is more likely to marry outside their race than the other races. Despite the tolerance of interracial marriages among young people in the community, more young people still choose to marry from their own.
Interracial marriages and relationships among the Asian American communities show the extent in which they have been assimilated into the American society. A growth on interracial marriages suggests an improvement in race relations within the American society. All the minority groups in American have experienced an increase in interracial marriages with members of the White American community since the 70s.
However, within the period from the 70s to date, there has also been an increase in marriages with immigrants (Kenally 8). The phenomenon has left no guarantee for further increase in interracial marriages among various minority groups. Immigrants from Asia specifically have expanded the pool of marriage with US-born co-ethnic minorities.
It can be argued that the reason for early increase in intermarriages among the Asian American community was because of the lack of marriage partners from their own community. However, increase in the population of immigrants from Asia raised the supply of potential marriage partners.
In effect, this also explains the decline in interracial marriages and relationships among Asian American community. Each year, immigrants from Asia and Latin America enter United States legally. Over the past decade, the number of legal Asian and Latin America immigrants has risen to approximately a million (Qian 275). This attributes the changing trends in interracial marriages within the two American communities. There is a general strengthening of racial endogamy as interracial marriages decline.
According to Seong-ku (55), there is a significance difference in interracial marriages among Korean women and Korean men. She further says that the difference needs to be explained in a cultural perspective.
The author asserts that Korean women have subscribed to an egalitarian mindset when it comes to the issue of marriage and relationships. Most Korean women prefer to intermarry with White Americans (Seong-ku). She further notes that White American men have a general fancy for Asian women as opposed to the white women fancying Asian men.
The media has been used to portray a negative image of Asian men. The impact therefore reduces fascinations for Asian men by other races. In addition, most Korean women prefer to marry outside their race because they largely seek for white men. Seong-ku also agrees to the notion that interracial marriages are critical to the process of assimilation within any society. It is an effective way in which two cultures can be merged to create a well-blended society.
According to Qian (263), interracial marriages and relationships not only vary by race but also by sex. This supports the findings of Seong-ku, who says that Asian American women out-marry more than their male counterparts. In his article, Qian sought to examine interracial marriages among different communities in America between 1980 and 1990.
Using log-linear models, Qian explored both the sex and racial composition of interracial marriages. Within the time frame of 1980 and 1990, Qian managed to find a general increase in the number of interracial marriages within Asian American community (Qian).
However, despite the increase, racial endogamy remained strong. Qian establishes that interracial marriages between Asian Americans and White Americans are the most common. Breaking the barriers that prevent interracial marriages is less difficult for Asian men who have attained higher education than for women with higher education. This means that Asian Americans who have attained higher education prefer not to subscribe to segregated racial communities.
Another similar study that sought to examine the changing patterns of interracial marriages within the multiracial American society used data from the 1980 census to 2008 census. The study by Qian and Lichter reports a decline in interracial marriages among Asian Americans. Interracial marriages and relationships among US-born Asian women and immigrants, however increased (Qian and Litcher).
In a study conducted by Herman and Campbell, majority of white Americans endorse interracial marriages with both the Asian American and black American community. Out of all the respondents interviewed, less than 30 percent think otherwise by rejecting any possibility of out-marrying to other races (Herman and Campbell).
However, white Americans do not have any problem with dating from outside their race. Their major concern is bearing children interracially. According to the study by Herman and Campbell, most American white males have a receptive attitude towards females of outside races especially Asians. This concurs with the findings of Qian and Litcher that reports an increase of interracial marriages between white men and Asian women.
The general attitude and perception towards interracial marriages and relationships have little to do with actual interracial marriages. Interracial dating among young Asian American cohort has been identified by Herman and Campbell to be most common. However, these relationships never proceed to marriage as the young cohorts always prefer marrying from their own. Interracial dating is perceived by young people to be part of growing up, especially in an environment that embraces diversity.
Researchers argue that the major reason for the decline in interracial marriages among the Asian American community is resurgence of traditional culture and language interest. Young Asian Americans are reconnecting back to their roots by gaining interest in their traditional language and culture. They tend to feel that interracial marriages would prevent them from reconnecting with their roots by killing the resurgent interest into their culture (Herman and Campbell).
The media also has an influence on the issue of young Asian Americans marrying one of their own. Contrary to the findings of Seong-ku the media has changed its depiction of Asian men from the “low life” henchmen and houseboys to hunks. There are a lot of Asian men being shown in the media in some impressive ways that make them attractive to Asian American women. This effect, however, can also be argued to increase the attractiveness of Asian men among women from outside races (Seong-ku).
From the results of the literature materials analyzed in this paper, it is apparent that interracial marriages within Asian American community have decreased mainly due to the resurgence of interest in reconnecting with their roots. A surge in the population of Asian immigrants has further contributed to the decline by increasing the supply of potential marriage partners within the community.
Racial boundaries are gradually breaking down. However there are new boundaries forming as a result of the breakdown. One such as boundary is that of nativity among co-ethnics. Even though the decline in racial intermarriages among the Asian American society is still projected to continue, it is not associated with bold racial lines. It is only linked to a possibility of nativity among Asian American community.
Herman, Melissa R. and Mary E. Campbell. “I wouldn’t, but you can: Attitudes toward interracial relationships.” Social science research (2012): 343-358. print.
Kenally, Jeff. “Interaccial Marriages.” The Messenger magaine 4 June 2003: 8. print.
Qian, Zhenchao and Daniel T. Litcher. “Changing Patterns of Interracial Marriage in a Multiracial Society.” Journal of Marriage and Family (2011): 1065 – 1084. print.
Qian, Zhenchao. “Breaking the racial barriers: Variations in interracial marriage between 1980 and 1990.” Demography (pre-2011) (1997): 263-275. print.
Seong-ku, Ha. “Interracial Marriage and Residential Well Being: Consequences of Interracial Marriage for Korean Women in the US.” Asian Journal of women studies (2002): 55. print.